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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Kelty Siro 50 and Sira 45 Backpacks > Test Report by Brian Hartman

KELTY SIRO 50L BACKPACK
TEST SERIES BY BRIAN HARTMAN
LONG-TERM REPORT
July 30, 2017

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
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TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brian Hartman
EMAIL: bhart1426ATyahooDOT com
AGE: 49
LOCATION: Central Indiana
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 150 lb (68.00 kg)

I have been backpacking for over 20 years throughout Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and most recently in Western USA. In addition to backpacking I enjoy family camping with my wife and kids and being outdoors in general. I would describe myself as a mid weight backpacker. I use fairly light weight equipment and gear but still like to bring more than the bare essentials with me while on the trail.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Kelty IMAGE 1
Year of Manufacture: 2017
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.kelty.com/
MSRP: US $199.95
Volume: 3100 cu in (50 L)
Dimensions: 27 x 13 x 10 in / 69 x 33 x 25 cm
Frame Type:  Internal
Listed Weight: 3 lbs 1.5 oz (1.4 kg)
Measured Weight: 3 lbs 3 oz (1.4 kg)
Optimal Carry Weight: 25-30 lbs / 11-14 kg
Body Fabric: Nylon 66 330D Mini Rip PU 
Frame Material: Steel + HDPE
Sizes: Small/Medium; Medium/Large
Colors: Woodbine, Black

Torso Fit Range (S/M):  16.5 - 18.5 in / 42 - 47 cm
Torso Fit Range (M/L):  18.5 - 20.5 in / 47 - 52 cm

Features:
Shark's mouth top loading access
Center front zip panel access
Large stretch mesh front shove-it pockets with dual entry
Stretch water bottle pockets
Front, lower and side compression
Dual trekking pole/ice axe attachments
Secure-zip hipbelt pockets
External hydration sleeve (Reservoir not included)
FeatherFIT™ suspension
Suspended back panel with integrated hipbelt
Hex Mesh backpanel, shoulder straps and hipbelt
Load lifter straps
Sternum strap

The Kelty Siro 50 is described as a lightweight, streamlined backpack for everything from thru hikes to overnighters. It features Kelty's FeatherFIT suspension system which consists of a suspended AirMesh back panel with a perimeter frame. The perimeter frame keeps the pack stable while the mesh back panel allows air to circulate over the back to prevent sweating. The pack also has an integrated hip belt for weight transfer that includes Lumbar support. Rounding out the list of features is Kelty's shark mouth top loading design with a front zipper that provides access to the entire main compartment, large stretch mesh front pockets, water bottle pockets, external hydration sleeve, and secure zippered hip belt pockets.

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INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Kelty Siro 50 backpack (hereafter called Siro or backpack) appears to be well made with no loose seams, frayed fabric, or suspect areas. My pack has a black and green color scheme with burnt orange straps that gives it a nice look. The manufacturer's name is on the top of the pack as well as the on the right shoulder strap. Although the Siro 50 is described as a lightweight backpack, at just over 3 lbs (1.4 kg) it is, in my mind, a solid mid-weight pack. I say this because there are a dozen or more 50L and even 60L packs below 3 lbs (1.4 kg) and at least 5 mid-size packs that I'm aware of that are below 2 lbs (0.9 kg).

The Siro is constructed of 330D Nylon with a steel and high density polyethylene (HDPE) frame. The nylon feels durable but I am concerned about the mesh that covers the front side of the pack because I routinely encounter briars and branches when hiking off-trail. The steel and HDPE frame looks to be sturdy and should help stabilize the pack and transfer load weight to my hips. Of course the pack has sternum straps as well as load lifter straps for adjusting the shoulder harness. There are also two pairs of straps on the front of the pack for tightening light or unstable pack loads. Finally, the shoulder straps, hip belt and back panel appear to be well padded for comfort on the trail.

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The Siro 50 has a main compartment, top pocket and 2 waist belt pockets. Many packs do not have waist belt pockets so I'm happy to see them on the Siro. The main compartment is approximately 3000 cu in (49.2 L) while the top pocket is 6 x 8 in (15.2 x 20.3 cm) and the waist belt pockets are 5 x 7 in (12.7 x 17.8 cm) each. These four compartments / pockets are all zippered and the zippers work smoothly and have large pull cords which should come in handy when trying to get into the pack at night or with gloves on. The main compartment has a unique design which Kelty refers to as a shark's mouth opening. The best way I can describe this design is that there is an 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) opening on the front of the pack; not the top of the pack mind you but the upper front of the pack. When I first saw the shark's mouth opening I didn't like it at all. The opening looks like it's too small to fit large items but it also looks like small items that sit on top of the main compartment will fall right out of the pack. Granted there is a draw string on the opening, but even when it is completely cinched there is still a 1 in (25.4 cm) hole that looks right inside the pack. And yes, there is a front zipper for entire main compartment that certainly will allow larger items inside but what if it unzips while I'm hiking and everything in my pack falls out. These were the initial thoughts that went through my mind when I first looked at the shark's mouth opening and main compartment zipper. Since then I've thought some more about the design and am now actually looking forward to giving it a try in the field. Having full access to the main compartment could be a really good thing. I will just have to get used to packing like I would a suitcase versus stuffing everything in from the top which I have been doing for almost 40 years.

In addition to the four zippered compartments this pack has 4 front mesh pockets; two of which are for storing clothing etc while the other two are attached to the integrated waist belt and are for water bottles. Other features of the backpack include an external hydration sleeve, and two sets of loops and straps on the front of the pack for securing trekking poles, an ice axe, or possibly tent poles.

The pack I'm testing is size medium/large which is made for torsos ranging from 18.5 - 20.5 in (47 - 52 cm). The frame size of this pack is not adjustable but I don't expect that to be a problem.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The Siro 50 came with one multi page hang tag. It briefly described some of the backpack's features and specifications and provided the link to Kelty's website for warranty information.

Instructions for care and cleaning of the pack were found on the manufacturer's website and included the following:
- Brush off loose dirt with a dry brush.
- As needed, wipe out the inside with a damp sponge and mild soap.
- Rinse only, if possible. Use cold water and a sponge or rinse in a tub without soap.
- Machine wash in front-loading unit (DO NOT use machine with agitator, as agitator could cause damage not covered under warranty) with cold water and mild soap (Ivory Flakes, Woolite, Sport Wash, etc.) Do not use detergents.
- Do not soak in soapy water, as it may cause delamination.
- Rinse thoroughly to eliminate soap residue.
- Place pack on frame to air dry.
- Always store in a cool, dry area.

TRYING IT OUT

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After loading a few items in the Siro I tensioned the side compression straps and put on the pack. Next I adjusted the load lifter, sternum straps and waist belt to fit my torso. The straps were easy to adjust and I was able to find a position on my hips that still seemed to carry most of the pack weight. The padding on the back panel felt comfortable and the other straps and waist belt felt like they were adjusted properly so I walked around for a few minutes with the pack on and it seemed to fit well.

I think the challenge for me moving forward will be if I can fit all of my backpacking gear in this pack and what it feels like when loaded down. I am not too concerned about getting my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, clothing, food, water, stove, cook pot, and toiletries in the pack but I'm not sure where my tent and other items will go as there aren't any straps outside that I can use to tie things down.

SUMMARY

Despite some initial concern, I'm anxious to try this backpack out in the field. It appears to be well-designed and rugged and hopefully will have enough room for all of my stuff, specifically tent and sleeping bag. I look forward to getting it on the trail and doing some in-depth testing.



FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

IMAGE 1 During the past two months I took the Siro 50 on three backpacking trips for a total of six nights and 25 mi (40.2 km) during this test period. Temperatures ranged from the upper 60's F (20 C) to the low 80's F (27.2 C) during my trips with partly sunny to clear skies. Elevations in the areas I hiked ranged from 530 to 790 ft (161 to 241 m).

My first trip of this test period was to Southern Indiana (IN) where skies were clear and temperatures were in the mid 70's F (23 C). I hiked approximately 6.5 mi (10.4 km) off-trail on this trip through mature forests and rolling fields.

Location: Southern Indiana (IN)
Type of trip: Off-trail hiking
Distance: 6.5 mi (10.4 km)
Length of trip: Two nights
Backpack weight: 35 lb (15.8 kg)
Conditions: Clear skies and breezy
Precipitation: None
Temperature range: Mid 70's F (23 C)

On my second trip I hiked across a ridgeline to a large forest where I followed a trail for a few miles before finding a creek and following it back to camp. Not sure which side of the creek to stay on I crossed it several times on my return trip. My pack was slightly heavier at 38 lb (17 kg) on this trip.

Location: Southeast Indiana (IN)
Type of trip: On and off-trail hiking
Distance: 7.5 mi (12 km)
Length of trip: Two nights
Backpack weight: 38 lb (17 kg)
Conditions: Warm and partly cloudy
Precipitation: None
Temperature range: 68 to 81 F (20 to 27.2 C)

I hiked approximately 12 mi (19.3 km) on this trip. The weather during this trip was nice with partly sunny skies and temperatures in the low to upper 70's F (21 to 25.5 C).

Location: Hoosier National Forest, Indiana (IN)
Type of trip: On-trail hiking
Distance: 12 mi (19.3 km)
Length of trip: Two nights
Backpack weight: 36 lb (16 kg)
Conditions: Partly sunny and warm
Precipitation: Brief mist on the second morning
Temperature range: 72 to 78 F (21 to 25.5 C)

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Kelty Siro 50 performed well during testing thanks to its good fit and rugged design. It's not the lightest pack and several times I wished it had more room but it was always well balanced, did not shift around on my back, and it handled the weight of my gear with no problems.

My pack weight during the past two months averaged 36.3 lb (16 kg) and included the following items:

Hammock with rainfly
Camp blanket
Butane stove and fuel canister
Cooking pan
Clothing
Pocket knife and headlamp
Food & water

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Fit & Comfort: The Siro 50 fit me well and was comfortable to wear during Field Testing. The shoulder straps, sternum strap, and waist belt were easily adjustable for proper fit and they were comfortable for several hours at a time. I feel like the pads are starting to conform to the shape of my torso, which means the pack should get more comfortable as I continue to wear it. The load lifters also worked well and I could immediately tell a difference after adjusting them tighter. The internal pack frame did a good job of transferring the weight of the pack to my hips, so that my shoulders weren't carrying as much weight. Finally, I felt like the pack stayed tight to my back while scrambling and didn't sway back and forth or throw me off balance.

Storage space: The Siro 50 had just enough room to carry my main gear and essentials for a multi-day trip, but nothing more. I wanted to take my tent with me on my first outing but couldn't figure out how to fit everything inside the pack. So, I brought my hammock instead as it took up less space and allowed me to leave my sleeping pad at home. Over time I've gotten used to the main compartment zipper and I appreciate that it allows me to see the bottom of the pack directly instead of reaching in from above and feeling for items, but I still struggle with the benefits of the shark mouth opening and wish I had the storage space that it seems to have eliminated by its design.

I found that the space available inside the top lid was adequate for storing maps and snacks and the water bottle pockets were angled forward just enough that I could stretch and reach my Nalgene bottle without taking off the pack. Although I'm not a fan of the mesh pockets because they are open on two sides I did use them to store my rain jacket. Although the compression straps were a nice addition to the pack I didn't use them but rather left them open so that I had full access to the space inside the pack. After testing is over I may attempt to add straps to the bottom of the pack so that I can carry my tent and/or sleeping pad on the outside of the pack.
IMAGE 4
Durability: During Field Testing I had no problems with the Siro in terms of durability. It's constructed well and after two months on the trail it shows minimal signs of wear or abuse. The shoulder straps and hip belt remain in good shape and the zippers and buckles are still working fine which is a testament to the quality of this pack. I did however manage to snag the mesh pockets in several spots and will monitor those areas to make sure they don't open further.

Ventilation: So far I haven't had any problems with sweating while wearing the Siro. Granted it's not summer yet but the pack is smartly designed to allow airflow behind the mesh backpanel and so I think it will fare well when temperatures get hot.

Weather Resistance: There was nothing in the hang tags to indicate the pack is weather resistant. Having said that, I have not been out in the rain with the Siro so I can't say for sure how it will fair; my suspicion, however, is I will need to buy a rain cover or risk dealing with wet clothing and gear. It would be nice if all backpack manufacturers included rain covers with their packs. As it stands now, some do and some don't. Of course, I'm biased because it rains alot in the Midwest so I understand that those living out West or in desert climates may have no need for a cover.

SUMMARY

The Siro 50 performed well during the past two months of testing. It was comfortable to wear and there was just enough room in the main storage compartment to squeeze in my essential gear, although I had to leave several non essential things behind. The pack itself is rugged but several times the mesh that envelops the lower half of the pack got caught up in tree branches and brush. Luckily nothing got torn but it was concerning. As for the shark mouth opening and zippered front entry to the main compartment, it is a neat idea but I think it needs more refining. First and foremost it is not possible to seal the pack shut when stuffed full; and second, by virtue of its design the pack cannot be overstuffed, which is something I wished I was able to do on several outings since there are no external tie downs on the pack.

This concludes my Field Report for the Siro 50. Thanks to Kelty for providing this backpack for testing and to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During Long Term Testing I took the Siro 50 on three backpacking trips for a total of five nights and 21 mi (34 km) of use. Temperatures during my outings ranged from the mid 60's F (19 C) to the upper 80's F (31 C) and included everything from sunny skies to thunderstorms. Elevations in the areas I hiked varied from 520 to 805 ft (158 to 245 m) above sea level.

My first trip of the test period was a two-night backpacking trip to Southern Indiana (IN). Knowing I'd have to be judicious when packing the Siro I decided to bring my Terra Nova tent on this outing. It has a very small footprint and only one pole so I figured it would have the best chance of any of my tents of fitting in the backpack. Rather than bring both a sleeping pad and sleeping bag on this trip, I opted to only bring my synthetic blanket, thinking I could double it up at night and it would provide some cushion as well as warmth. The blanket worked out well for the most part as nighttime temperatures were in the low 70s F (22 C). I laid on top of it most of the night in shorts and a t-shirt, although in the early morning I got a little cold and pulled it over top me. I was well rested in the morning but also a little sore from spending the night with only the blanket between me and the hard ground. The backpack was too big to bring into my one man tent but I was able to squeeze it in the vestibule area so it wouldn't get wet from the morning dew.

My second trip with the Siro 50 was an overnighter to the Hardin Ridge area of the Hoosier National Forest. This time I slept in my hammock and met my family the next morning to go boating. The backpack worked well for this overnight outing as I had less clothing and less food and water with me so I was easily able to fit everything in the backpack. My list of stuff included the hammock, a small inflatable sleeping pad, my synthetic blanket, emergency supplies and finally my water bottle and food. Temperatures ranged from 89 F (31 C) during the heat of the day to 67 F (19 C) at night. Weather the following day was perfect so I broke camp early in order to get on the water as quickly as possible.

IMAGE 1 IMAGE 2

My last trip of this test period started out as a nice weekend but quickly turned sour as a major thunderstorm moved through the state and dumped buckets of water on my campsite. I spent most of this outing huddled under my rain tarp trying to stay warm and dry despite the cold, wet, windy conditions. I estimate it rained more than 5 in (12 cm) on this weekend.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Siro 50 performed well during this test period. I had no problems with fit similar to what I reported in my Field Report and it held its own in thick brush and bad weather. Regarding fit, the pack was easy for me to adjust and once dialed in it was well balanced and comfortable to wear. It was easy for me to scramble as the pack hugged my back and did not shift around or throw me off balance. Granted, this is a small pack and nothing was strapped to the outside of it, so that made balancing easier, but Kelty deserves lots of credit for designing a pack that fits securely and doesn't shift when climbing or descending steep hills.

Besides fitting well and being comfortable to wear, the pack was durable enough to survive the dense Midwest forests in summer which are filled with briars and branches and all kinds of things that like to grab onto clothing and packs and tear them to shreds. The mesh pockets experienced some small damage, mainly snags and one small tear but nothing that affected the functionality of the pockets or their ability to hold items.

The mesh backpanel on the pack allowed for good airflow so that I didn't sweat much and when I did it evaporated quickly. Given that temperatures reached the upper 80's F (31 C), that's pretty impressive. Kelty used the same mesh on the shoulder straps and it functioned similarly to the backpanel in that it never caused me to get overly sweaty or restricted airflow.

On the last trip of the test period I got stuck in an extended thunderstorm that dumped several inches of rain on top of me. Thankfully, I was able to pitch my rainfly and get under it before getting too drenched. The Siro 50 did a good job shedding water. I did notice however that some of that water ran down the pack and into the shark's mouth opening. Fortunately, all my items were inside a trash compactor bag so nothing got wet.

During the past two months I carried on average 33 lbs (15 kg) of food, water and gear including the following items:

- Terra Nova tent (first trip)
- hammock and rainfly on second two trips
- Inflatable sleeping pad
- Synthetic sleeping blanket
- Small stove with fuel canister
- Cooking pot
- Nalgene water bottles
- Food
- Emergency items
- Clothing / rain jacket

With the items above the pack it was pretty much maxed out, meaning there was no room to put anything else inside of it. I would have liked to have tied one of more items to the back of the pack but it doesn't have external straps, loops, or points for securing bulky gear so that was not an option. All in all the Siro performed well as a mid size pack. Because it is limited in size, and there is no way to overstuff the main compartment or hang anything off the back of the pack, it's best suited for weekend trips or when multiple people are camping together and some of the gear can be shared between the group.

SUMMARY

The Siro 50 performed well during Long Term Testing. It is rugged, comfortable, and has adequate storage for weekend backpacking trips. Although I'm not a huge fan of the shark's mouth opening, I've gotten used to it and appreciate having access to the bottom of the pack via the main compartment zipper.

This concludes my report and this test series on the Siro 50 backpack. Thanks to Kelty for providing this pack for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

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