When I was looking for a backpack to take with me on this trip I had a few priorities in mind: it needed to be comfortable to wear while walking through a new city to a hostel, while being durable enough for trekking through rugged terrain. It also had to survive a whole year of airport and train transfers. After a lot of research, the Kelty Flyway 43 was the winner as my backpack companion for a trip around the world.

The Kelty Flyway 43 had many features that appealed to me for long-term traveling. First of all, it fits as a carry-on for most of the flights I’ve been on. This included EasyJet, Ryanair, China Eastern, Brussels Airlines, and Delta. This was a top priority for me to have a big enough backpack to fit all my gear for a year, but was small enough to be a carry-on if needed. Below is a photo of my Flyway containing everything I packed for a year and fitting into Ryanair’s carry-on size checker.

Carry-on Backpack: Kelty Flyway 43

It also features many different zip pockets and compartments, which help keeps my gear organized. The main highlight is the separate shoe and dirty clothes compartment at the bottom of the pack. I’ve been able to fit my large Nike sneakers and dirty clothes together in this space. I’ve also used the space to stuff a sleeping bag during my treks. The Flyway also comes with a waterproof rain cover that is useful since I’ve been traveling in all sorts of weather this past year.

Kelty Flyway 43

One thing I wasn’t sure about was if I’d be able to use the Flyway during my trekking in the Himalyan mountains while in Nepal. I took the risk, and thankfully the Flyway did great and carried all my gear comfortably for 154 miles and 27 days of trekking in the Annapurna Himalyan Range. The elastic water bottle pockets on each side also fit my one-liter Nalgene water bottles with ease. I wished the backpack had side pockets on the hip belt to have made it easier to access my point-and-shoot camera and snacks in a more convenient place than my pants pockets.

The other thing that worried me was that the backpack was unisex and only came in one size. I found it online, but couldn’t find in any of my local stores to try it on. I went ahead and purchased it on kelty.com and luckily it fit well. I’m 5’4″ and the backpack fit just right on me. I also had Mark, who is 6’6″, try it on and he said it fit comfortable on him as well. Being so tall though, his clothes and shoes are a lot larger than mine so he wasn’t able to fit all of his gear into the Flyway and had to go with a bigger backpack.

Update

If you can’t find the Kelty Flyway, check out the Kelty Redwing 44 which seems to be the most recent reincarnation of their popular travel backpack. The only difference I can see is that the separate compartment on the bottom of the pack is no longer there.

GEAR REVIEW: KELTY FLYWAY 43 BACKPACK
I'm really happy with the Kelty Flyway 43 as it's been a great versatile backpack for general traveling and long trekking trips.
Luggage (Backpack)
PROS
  • Carry-on size for flights
  • Lots of side pockets
  • Comes with waterproof cover
CONS
  • Only one size
  • No pockets on hip belt
  • Hard to find in stores
4.6Overall Score

4 Responses

  1. Luke Taylor

    Any interest in selling your Kelty Flyway 43? So hard to find! Great article!.

  2. Luke Taylor

    Any interest in selling your Kelty Flyway 43? So hard to find! Great article!