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Reviews > Base Camp Gear > Campsite Gear > Storage Options > Kelty Binto Bar > Test Report by Pamela Wyant


Initial Report - September 21, 2008
Field Report - November 24, 2008
Long Term Report - January 27, 2009

Tester Information:
Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  51
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  170 lb (77 kg)

E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking four years ago, beginning with day-hiking and single overnights.  Currently I’m mostly a ‘weekend warrior’, hiking and backpacking mainly in the hills and valleys of West Virginia, but have started a project to section hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), accruing a little over 200 mi (300 km) in the last two years.  My usual shelter is a hammock, but occasionally I use a tent. In general my backpacking style is lightweight and minimalist and I try to cut as much pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety.

Initial Report - September 21, 2008

Product Information:

Manufacturer:  Kelty
Year of manufacture:  2008
Model:  Binto Bar
Main case color:  Green/Gray
Binto colors: Red, Gray, Orange


MSRP:  US$ 120
Zipped up Binto Bar

Binto Bar -

Listed weight including 3 Bintos:  6 lb 14 oz (3.12 kg)
Measured weight including 3 Bintos:  6 lb 5 oz (2.86 kg)

(Note:  the size and shape of the Binto Bar makes weighing it difficult, and the measured weight may not be fully accurate).

Listed size:  6450 cu in (105.7 L)
Listed dimensions:  27 in (66 cm) long; 21.5 in (54 cm) wide; 15.5 in (39 cm) tall
Measured dimensions:  24.5 in (62 cm) long; 16 in (40.5 cm) tall; 16 in (40.5 cm) tall

Each Binto -

Listed weight - 12 oz (0.3 kg)
Measured weight - red Binto 9.74 oz (276 g); gray Binto 9.81 oz (278 g); orange Binto 9.88 oz (280 g)

Listed size: 1400 cu in (23 L)
Listed dimensions:  16 in (41 cm) x 14.5 in (37 cm) x 8.5 in (21 cm)
Measured dimensions:  14 in (35.5 cm) x 14.5 in (37 cm) 7.5 in (19 cm)

(Note:  The Binto Bar and the individual Bintos have somewhat rounded corners.  My measurements were taken from the widest point of each side, and exclude handles, daisy chains, and strap attachment points.)

Product Description:

The Binto Bar is part of Kelty's Basecamp Organizer collection, intended for storage on the go.  Kelty suggests using it at campgrounds, all-day festivals, and sports events.  The Binto Bar set consists of three soft-sided individual zippered storage totes (Bintos) that fit into a larger zippered hauling container (the Binto Bar).

Each Binto features a webbing handle at each end that can be used to carry the Binto or pull it out of the larger container.  A strip of webbing runs around the top of each Binto to help provide shape and to protect the edges of the 150 D polyester mini-ripstop fabric that the Binto is made of.  A stiffened strip of webbing running up each corner of the Binto provides additional shaping and reinforcement.  The top of the Binto features a 2-way U-shaped zipper with cord pulls that allows full access to the interior, a soft fabric handle running the width of the top, and a 2.5 x 4 in (6.5 x 10 cm) clear vinyl window.  A pocket under the vinyl window allows a card or piece of paper to be inserted.  This should come in handy for labeling what's in each Binto.

Each Binto is a different color, but all feature a dark gray bottom and dark gray webbing.  One end of the red and orange Bintos has the Kelty logo stamped in silver under the haul handle and the word "Binto" stamped in silver near the bottom.  The gray Binto features the same markings, but stamped in a charcoal gray.

The empty Bintos are floppy in nature and do not stand on their own.

Open Binto BarWhat really makes this organizational system unique is the Binto Bar.  This large hauling container features a unique food preparation surface on the top.  The fabric lid has Delrin-hooping (tubular stiff plastic) running along the edges.  This lid is held down by a short strip of Velcro when the Binto Bar is being transported or the food preparation area is not being used.  To use the food preparation surface the fabric lid is raised, and two flexible plastic wings are folded out and attached to small Velcro tabs on each side of the webbing surrounding the top edge of the Binto Bar.  This configuration provides a windscreen for the food preparation area, which is FDA approved according to the directions provided with the Binto Bar.

The stiff plastic food preparation surface also provides support to help make the Binto Bar freestanding.  Two rectangular shaped tubular aluminum support arms provide structure under the work surface, with one Binto fitting on either side of the support arms and one sliding into the open space in the center of the arms.  These arms are each held in place by two small hook and loop tabs and are folded up under the food preparation surface and fastened there with a single Velcro tab when transporting the Binto Bar.  The folding design of the support arms seems like it would serve two purposes; first it allows the Binto Bar to collapse into a smaller package for storing, and secondly it would likely prevent accidental bending of the supports while carrying, loading, or transporting the Binto Bar.

Kelty recommends having at least two Bintos inside the Binto Bar for optimum support when using the work surface, and since the aluminum supports are fairly thin, it seems this would be a good idea to prevent collapsing the Binto Bar while preparing food.  Additionally, the directions state to always place the Binto Bar on a firm, level surface and not to place heavy items on it.

The lid of the Binto Bar features three fabric pockets on the inside, each approximately 7.5 wide x 9 in high (19 x 23 cm) that close across the top with a single zipper running the width of the lid.  Two larger mesh pockets, measuring approximately 11.5 in wide x 10 high (29 x 25.5 cm), are located on the inside front of the Binto Bar.  This side is the access point of the container, and has a large 2-way U-shaped zipper with cord pulls that allows the front to be zipped down.  The front panel can be dropped over the edge of a table, for easy (top) access to the zippered pockets.  In the absence of a table, bench, or similar surface to place the Binto Bar on, it would appear the mesh pockets would be awkward to access.  Adding an additional zippered access point along the opposite side of these pockets might make them more usable if one wants to just grab something from a pocket quickly without fully opening the Binto Bar, or in those situations where a table or bench isn't available.

The Binto Bar is made of olive green and dark gray 210 D polyester oxford and 150 D polyester mini-ripstop fabric.  From the feel of the fabric, I believe the dark gray areas are the 210 D oxford and the olive green areas are 150 D mini-ripstop, since the gray areas feel slightly thicker than the green ones.  The dark gray bottom is 1680 D polyester ballistic, which is a noticeably heavier fabric than the top and sides.  This material extends about 2.5 in (6.5 cm) up the sides, providing heavier reinforcement for areas that would seem prone to the most wear.  Three webbing straps are sewn onto the bottom for further reinforcement, and each of these features three short lengths of a heavier vinyl-like material, which are spaced out and appear to be designed to help bear the weight of the unit and catch most of the abrasion that might be caused from sliding the unit in and out of a vehicle or around on a table.

A silver Kelty logo is screen printed on the front panel.  The two ends of the Binto Bar each feature a reinforced webbing handle, a six loop daisy chain, and a plastic D-ring.  An included webbing carry strap clips to the plastic D-rings to enable the Binto Bar to be carried over the shoulder.  The clips are plastic with a metal spring and swivel at the attachment point.

Trying it out:

Assembly of the Binto Bar was easy with the included instructions.  Much like an empty pack, the empty Binto containers and Bar are not very structured, but filling the Bintos near capacity creates structure and makes the Binto Bar more stable.

To try out the Binto Bar and photograph it, I added some camp kitchen equipment to the red Binto, which included a Pocket Rocket stove and 2 small fuel canisters, a GSI Double Boiler cooking pot set, a medium sized skillet with folding handle, some utensils, a can opener, paper cups and plastic cutlery, dish towels and cloths, a table cloth and clips, and an assortment of various zipper seal plastic bags and trash bags.  It easily held all of these.  In the gray Binto I placed a stacked pair of rectangular hospital wash basins that I sometimes use as 'kitchen' sinks or utility basins while camping, and a large roll of paper towels.  The shape of these items made this Binto a bit misshapen, but it held them okay.  In the orange Binto I placed a large lantern, a couple of small LED lanterns, a roll of toilet paper, and a rolled up fleece blanket.  This was a sufficient load to give the Binto shape, but it could still hold a few more small items if needed, and I'm sure I will have a few more items to pack when camping.

I found it was easier to insert the Bintos in the Binto Bar if I laid it on the rear side and inserted the Bintos by holding the webbing handle at one end while letting them drop down into the larger container.  Since I had the support arms folded up for transporting, this worked much better than trying to hold up the top of the Binto Bar while I slid a Binto underneath.  I took the Binto to a local park to photograph it on a picnic table, and found that once I had the support arms in place it was relatively easy to slide the full Bintos in from the front.

Preliminary Impressions:

So far, for the most part I like the Binto Bar.  It seems to be well constructed from quality materials, and it looks like what I expected from viewing the Kelty website.

Since I have begun backpacking, I don't carry as large or as many items as I used to while car camping, and I think it will be of sufficient size to hold the type of gear I am currently using for overnight or weekend car camping trips, including my smaller pots and skillets.  If I were using larger kettles and big skillets, they would probably have to be carried separately, and large dishpans wouldn't fit inside, but it seems to have the capacity to carry a lot of gear.  If it were capable of carrying larger pots, pans, and dishpans, it would probably be a larger storage organizer than what I would want to carry, so I think it provides a nice balance of organization and convenient size for transporting.

One concern that I do have about using the Binto Bar for picnicking is that packing food in the Bintos may result in support problems as the food is consumed and the Bintos empty out.  Similarly, when car camping if I remove several items from the Bintos to use around camp (such as the large lantern, wash pans, and paper towels), I wonder if supporting the work surface will be a problem.  Time (and testing) will tell.

The Binto Bar is easy to carry by either the end handles or the shoulder strap.  It is easier to carry by the shoulder strap when walking very far, and the end handles make it convenient to grab and pull the Binto Bar in front of me to pass through a doorway.  My Jeep had a few small totes, kids backpacks, and other small items in the back from the weekend, but I was able to just toss the Binto Bar on top of the pile, and it rode just fine to the local park for its debut photo op.

More To Come:

This concludes my Initial Report.

Field Report - November 24, 2008

Field Conditions:

Full of training materials at Girl Scout CampIn early October I used the Binto Bar when I trained a Camping Out session at our local Girl Scout camp.  Temperatures were in the lower 40 F (4 C) range, and the weather was dry.  I used the Binto Bar to hold training supplies, reference books and materials, and some personal gear such as a couple of lanterns, flashlight, and some food.  I was able to fit most of what I needed into the three Bintos, and was able to pack two rolls of foil across the front of the Bintos.  I used the work surface as a place to temporarily hold papers, simply tucking them under the lid, which worked well to keep gusts of wind from blowing them away.

In early November, I used the Binto Bar without the Bintos to carry and store an assortment of 'loaner' gear such as a couple of sleeping bags, a couple of sleeping pads, and a backpacking tent for a group trip for beginners.  I found the size of the Binto Bar was perfect for this and it held more than I expected it would, due to the soft sides which let me overstuff it a bit.  I also used one of the Bintos to carry some extra food separately.  The Binto Bar was only used for transportation and carried between the car and a friend's home where we were meeting, so there were no 'field' conditions.

Full of clothing for my caving tripIn mid-November I used the Binto Bar on a basecamping trip with 2 days of hiking in the North Fork Mountain Trail are in eastern West Virginia.  The Binto Bar easily held all the necessary camping gear, including small pots, a skillet, utensils, small propane canisters, wash basins, paper products, lanterns, firestarting materials, and more.  Food, clothing, and personal toiletries were carried in separate containers.

In late November I used the Binto Bar to pack clothing for a weekend trip featuring caving and a stay at a friend's cabin.  Temperatures were cold - 30 F (-1 C) range during the day, and down to 10 F ( -12 C) at night, so I packed plenty of warm layers.  I found the Bintos worked very well to organize my clothing by category.  One tote held shirts, convertible pants, and long johns, as well as undies and socks, one tote held bulkier fleece tops and pants, and the third held the clothing I wore caving.  I slid a pair of moccasins between the Bintos, and stored towels (well folded) inside the mesh pockets on the inside of the Binto.  I found it very convenient to have my clothing organized into the separate Bintos instead of in one large duffle, since it was easier to find the items I needed.

Use and Conclusions:

I've found the Bintos a little difficult to pack at times, because until a few larger items are put inside to give them shape and stability, they are very floppy, and I have to hold them in place and carefully place a few items to get them to stand up.  Once a stable base has been formed they become easy to finish filling.  The same is true of the Binto Bar.  Since the metal supports are stored in the top for transport, the Bar is floppy when I am packing it for transport.  I've found the easiet way to pack it is to place it on its back side and lay the Bintos in sideways.  The Binto Bar is somewhat supported when the filled Bintos are placed in it, but it still is not as stable as a tote, and if the weight isn't well distributed, it tends to lean  somewhat if not fully supported along the bottom.  So, if I place it on a table smaller than the Binto Bar, I have to make sure it is well balanced so it doesn't teeter and end up falling off.  This is especially true if I place other items on top such as a day pack or duffle, which can shift the balance of the load.  I've also found this instability limits the usability of the food prep surface.  If I want to remove the Bintos I have to be careful not to knock over the items I have on top of the Binto Bar, so I've ended up not using it for much food preparation beyond holding a package of bagels and some cream cheese, or graham crackers and marshmallows for s'mores.

The Binto Bar really shines at transporting items though.  I like the way I can carry it by the shoulder strap as this frees up my hands for opening my Jeep hatch or doors, or even carrying other items, which is nearly impossible to do with a large tote.  For the most part I've found the shoulder strap comfortable enough to carry the Binto Bar, although when it was weighted down with research books and heavy papers it was a little difficult to balance and carry the Binto Bar and the strap was not as comfortable as when it is loaded with camping gear or clothing.  The webbing handles on the ends are great when I want to lift the Binto Bar into the back or seat of my Jeep, or move it around as I am packing. 

I have mixed feelings about the soft sides.  As noted above, it's a disadvantage when I want stability, but the 'squish factor' is an advantage in fitting the Binto Bar in with my other gear, since I can push on it a bit to get the back hatch closed or bulkier gear can press into the sides of it without having to rearrange a hard sided container to make it fit.  The same is true about the individual Bintos.  It's nice that I can overstuff them due to the soft sides, but as noted above a bit of a disadvantage when trying to get the Bintos to stand up to pack items.

The zippers have worked smoothly on both the individual Bintos and on the pockets and front closure of the Binto Bar.  I have not had any trouble with them catching or sticking.  The aluminum support legs seem to be holding up okay, although they don't provide as much structure and support as I would like.  The short strip of Velcro that holds the fabric lid in place has worked well to hold the lid down as long as nothing is stored there thicker than a few pieces of paper.  Of course, it's actually intended as a food prep surface and not for storage, but I feel it might be an improvement to have a little thickness in that area so I could better store a few items there.


So far I've found the Binto Bar very flexible, allowing me to store and transport a variety of items.  It's been fun to see just what type of use I can put it to on my various trips.

I've found it easy to carry and move around thanks to the combination of the webbing handles and the shoulder strap that allows me fuller use of my hands while still transporting a lot of gear at once.

About the only disadvantage so far is that the Binto Bar has not been as stable as I would like for a food preparation surface, but this is offset by the fact that the 'squishable' sides make it easy to pack, even when I've overstuffed it.

More to come:

This concludes my Field Report.

Long Term Report - January 27, 2009

Riding on top of my Jeep

The Binto Bar on top of my Jeep

Field Conditions:

In mid-December I used the Binto Bar to pack clothing and some car camping gear for a weekend trip to the Wolf Gap/Big Schloss area along the border of Virginia and West Virginia.  My plan was to spend Friday night in a motel and leave Saturday morning for an overnight backpacking trip, but not having made motel reservations ahead of time I was not sure I could find a decent motel at a decent price, so I threw the car camping gear in 'just in case'.

I did end up getting a decent motel room which was much appreciated in the 20 F (-7 C) weather, so I just grabbed a couple of the Bintos out of the Binto Bar and my small overnight clothing bag, and had everything I needed for a cozy night in my room, including snacks and the ingredients for a hot breakfast the next morning.

The funny part of this story concerns the backpacking trip.  I was the first to arrive at the designated meeting place and when the trip leader showed up next, we shuttled my Jeep to the trailhead where we planned to end the hike.  On Sunday morning six of us came out of the cold woods to my Jeep, which only seats five and was partially filled in the back with a couple of file totes I keep in there all the time with emergency supplies, extra jackets and blankets, and a few odds and ends, plus the Binto Bar and an overnight bag.  Not wanting to leave anyone waiting in the cold, I got inventive, and removed the Binto Bar and strapped it to the luggage rack.  I was able to secure the Binto Bar for the short trip easily by just unsnapping one end of the shoulder strap and wrapping it around the cross bar near the center of the rack, and then just snapping it in place.  I would not want to do this on longer trips, but it worked fine for a short distance at load speed.

The trip leader, pictured below, graciously consented to ride scrunched in the back and we got everyone back to their vehicles in one trip.

A very full Jeep

A very full vehicle for the return trip.  The Binto Bar can barely be seen through the hatchback glass.

The holidays, a bout with the flu, and some nasty weather conditions in January conspired against me and I did not get another chance to use the whole Binto Bar, although I have used an individual Binto to carry snacks with me on a couple of long work days and to carry hiking clothing and trail shoes when I interrupted a work trip for a moderate day hike in mid-January.


I've really enjoyed the large capacity of the Binto Bar, and have been amazed at just how much it will hold.  I also like how I can just leave it filled with all the gear between trips and pack a small bag of clothing and one of food and be ready to camp in nearly a moment's notice. 

As I've used the Bintos and changed items around to suit my needs for a particular trip, I've appreciated the ease of using the zippered tops.  I can just start the zipper in the front and then pull up on the lid to finish unzipping the Binto on both sides at once.  It's also been convenient to make sure the zipper pulls are at the front of the Bintos so if I want to peek into them when they are in the bar it's easy to do so.  One area I could see for improvement would be to add a small window for content ID labels on one end of the Bintos near the handles, similar to the one on the top, which would allow for easier content identification while the Bintos are packed.

One I found to the Binto Bar is that when I wanted to change items around for various uses I had to remove the camping gear that I liked to keep stored in the Bintos in order to load clothing or snacks.  I found an easy fix to this problem - I just found a Kelty Picnic Binto set on sale and now have another nice organizer, a regular Binto, and a cooler Binto!


The Kelty Binto Bar has been a great organizational piece for camping and travel, and the individual Bintos have been useful for shorter days trips.  Although I did not get to use it as much as I would have liked for picnicking and camping due to colder weather having set in, it rapidly has become one of my favorite gear totes. 

The food prep surface was the only disappointment in that I did not find it very stable, however I may still yet find it suitable for making a sandwich or laying out a quick snack.  I plan to use the Binto Bar extensively as the weather warms up and I travel more, for camping, picnicking, and general purpose storage.

This concludes the test series.

Thanks to Kelty and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test the Binto Bar.

Read more reviews of Kelty gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

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