This may make any of our North American friends smile, but hands up Europeans who knows Kelty as an outdoor brand or their pedigree in backpacks?  Not many hands would be raised on that one I shouldn’t wonder. Any american or foreign visitor like me who has poked around in outdoor stores state-side for many years will be familiar with the brand.

Kelty is a sister company to Sierra Designs whose brands we engaged with as soon as they were available in the UK last year. Looking at our invoice number on the intial stocking of products, I'd say that we were one of the very first retailers who purchased stock when both ranges come out in July last year.   Kelty have an extensive range of sleeping bags, tents, camp furniture (and backpacks) which is the focus of this blog post.  Sierra Designs produces many innovative products such the Flex Capacitor a volume adjusting backpack which is pretty unique.   Their sister company, Kelty also have really innovative ideas brought together on their Zyp and Zyro ranges.  

However, first a little about Kelty, the brand itself. Kelty was started in 1950’s by Dick Kelty an aircraft engineer in the second world war for Lockheed Martin who took his skills in aircraft grade aluminium to produce a lightweight external frame backpack and is described by the company he founded as the godfather of backpacking.  It is that heritage that Kelty have harked back to in designing the Zyp and Zyro’s.

Kelty started by Dick Kelty in the 1950's
Any one who started backpacking in the 1970's will recognise this style of backpack
The Kelty Zyp and Zyro's feature a lightweight perimeter frame similar to those first external frame backpacks but with modern designs and styling

We were attracted to the Kelty Zyp and Zyro's backpacks, because their 'right out of the box comfort' and the fact that you can adjust the length of the pack while on your back to get a perfect fit, something we had not seen before. Together with the NadaTech suspension system (see above illustration) which minimises the points of contact to maximise breathability and moisture management, in other words, far less chance of a sweaty back!...  Now plenty of brands have a taut mesh back panel to create a gap for air to channel but the Zyp and Zyro’s add structure with a lightweight perimeter frame and where rails are located at intervals across this perimeter. With the hip belt on the bottom rail and the padded back panel on another, air will directly pass thorough the gap created and the middle of your back will remain cool without touching any fabric or padding.

This short video shows the how Kelty Designers look back in to their past to come up with a design that gives many advantages to the modern backpack wearer.

This perimeter frame harks back to an era when I first started backpacking in the 70’s with external frames and their excellent carrying ability. This is mixed with a modern look and feel of the internal frame style backpacks of today to create these packs.

I’ve carried many styles of backpacks over the years, and some I absolutely loved and some I have hated, one of things I dislike is a sweaty back that you can get with some internal frame backpacks and comfort issues as you start to reach the 'carry limit' with frameless backpacks that can start to sag or poke into you if you don’t follow a careful packing procedure.

If you are looking for ease of set-up, (so no worrying about different back lengths), a comfortable carry and a cooler feel on warm days, the Zyp and Zyro’s might be just what you are looking for. We carry both ranges in our web-store in various sizes with men and women’s versions.  The Zyp 28 litre is ideal for day hikes and 48 litre for 2-3 days duration and with the Zyro 54 litre for women and the Zyro 58 litre for men are ideal for longer trips.

Both ranges have a number of different capacities and are available for men and women. This is the Women's Zyp 48 litre backpack

The packs feature plenty of places to stow external gear with stretch pockets on the side and front of the pack, lid pockets and hip belt pockets. Dual compression straps, tuck away trekking pole loops.

The larger Zyro’s have zippered sleeping bag access as well, and a removable top lid also features.

Full details with specifications and product videos can be found here on our web-store.  Any questions just email us at or send us a message via our chat service found at the bottom right hand corner of each of our web pages.