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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Kelty Siro 50 and Sira 45 Backpacks > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
Kelty Siro 50
Test Report by Coy Starnes
Initial Report: March 27, 2017
Field Report: June 6, 2016
Long Term Report: August 3, 2017
Front view of Siro 50 loaded with gear
I live in Northeast Alabama. I enjoy hiking, hunting, fishing, kayaking. I enjoy hiking with family and friends but also hike solo occasionally. Most of my hiking has been in the Southeastern US. I hike throughout the year but actually enjoy late fall or early spring the most with some winter hiking mixed in. I don't like hot and humid weather of summer unless I can escape to the mountains were it is cooler. My style is slow and steady and my gear is light. I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability to a degree. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9kg) not counting food and water.
Initial Report : March 27, 2017
The Kelty Siro 50 is an internal frame backpack geared towards men. The Sira 45 is the slightly smaller women's counterpart. As suggested in the name, this is a 50 L (3051 cu in) pack. It is offered in two sizes, S/M (small/medium) and M/L (medium large). The packs are identical except for the torso length they are best suited for. Speaking of torso length, this pack is non-adjustable in that regard. The M/L I am testing is best suited for a torso length between 18.5 and 20.5 in (47 - 52 cm). I'm not real tall but have a 20 in (51 cm) torso.
The suspension of the Siro 50 is different than all the packs I own but I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it is similar to my Kelty Fury 35 in many ways. One thing for sure, it is 15 L (915 cu in) larger but comes in at almost exactly 1 lb (0.45 kg) lighter. Kelty calls the suspension the FeatherFIT™ suspension. The back panel is held completely away from the main bag of the pack by what they call the Hex Mesh back panel. It looks to be made of 2 layers of fabric, the inner part being a solid mesh and the part touching my back a thin but puffy material which happens to be the part with small oblong holes evenly spaced throughout the panel. This same material continues through the hipbelt and makes for a very solid connection between the back panel and the hipbelt. It also makes the hipbelt stay in a curved shape which I have to pull apart when putting the pack on. The frame is a steel wire hoop that goes all the way around the back panel. It is visible in a few places on the side and at the bottom of the pack. The wire is thin and fairly stiff but not rigid. Inside the wire hoop but covered by pack material is a HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) frame sheet. The shoulder straps are contoured for a nice fit and moderately padded. They are covered with the same Hex Mesh material as the back panel. There is a sternum strap that slides up and down so the fit can be dialed in. Length is adjusted by web straps and the load lifter straps connect to the frame high enough to actually do some good. Here is a view of the back panel and shoulder straps.
Back panel, hipbelt/hipbelt pockets and shoulder straps
The main compartment of the Siro 50 measures (my measurements) approximately 28 in (71 cm) tall, 12 in (30 cm) wide and 9 in (23 cm) deep (front to back). The website is a little more generous with their measurements. They list it as 27 x 13 x 10 in / 69 x 33 x 25 cm. It is accessed with what Kelty calls "Shark's mouth top loading access". However, I would say it is not quite top loading. The lid is not removable and is actually the top section of the Sharks mouth. The bag can also be accessed with a 14 in (36 cm) YKK zipper. It is pretty beefy and reminds me of a work coat jacket zipper except it only goes about 2/3rds of the way down the pack. There is a drawstring running around the opening and a snap at the top of the zipper to further secure the pack. One thing I've already noticed is that when full of gear the opening does not close completely and faces the front of the pack instead of facing up. I estimate it to be about fist sized when cinched as tight as possible. Small items could possible fall out but the top lid covers it when it is cinched down, unless crammed full, then just the top lid strap covers the opening. The single strap for the top lid does not use buckles but rather a clip. Instead of describing it here is a photo. The top lid only has one pocket which measures about 10 in (25 cm) wide but tapers down as it goes towards the front to the pack. It is 8 in (20 cm) front to back and about 4 in (10 cm) deep. The lid zipper is 8 in (20 cm) and has two pulls so it will open in either direction but the opening is quite snug. There is a mitten hook inside the lid compartment for attaching things like keys.
Vertical opening left when sharks mouth is closed (red materiel showing behind the bineer)
The Siro 50 features four stretch-mesh pockets. The two directly on the front of the pack are separated by the center zipper. This means that each pocket is not as big as a single stuff-it-pocket would be but offers more in terms of organization. They are plenty big for maps, gloves, a light rain jacket or other similar sized items. They also have two openings for each pocket, one on top and one angled to the side. The other stretch-mesh pockets are located where water bottle pockets are normally located but the openings are angled so that a water bottle can be removed without needing to take the pack off. The hip belt has two identical pockets that measure about 8 in (20 cm) long and 5 in (13 cm) deep. However, the pockets are quite narrow and due to the way the belt wraps around my waist, I've already determined my iPhone 6+ will not fit in it. Which means I'll use them like I have with other pack, for my pocket knife, snacks and other odds and ends. The Siro 50 has one last pocket or hydration sleeve located between the main pack compartment and the back panel. It is about 10 in (25 cm) wide and 16 in (41 cm) deep. The hydration sleeve has a cover over the opening made of the same pack material as the rest of the pack. It goes over the main frame and is clipped with a small buckle but the hose can be routed out either side by passing it under the short stretch-mesh sections of the cover. There are two mitten hooks inside the sleeve to keep the bladder from sliding down as it empties. For the record, the hydration sleeve is about an inch (3 cm) too short for my tall 3 L (100 oz) bladder, but seriously, I don't see using a bladder often with the easy water bottle access afforded by this pack. And I have a 2L (68 oz) bladder that fits just fine.
The Siro 50 has two main compression straps that angle from near the top edge of the pack down to where the top of the two center stuff-it-pocket dual openings are located. The other compression straps are located just under the end of the center zipper and are separated at the middle of the pack. These straps end at the inner lower corner of the water bottle pockets. The pack also features two trekking pole/ice axe attachments. Other than that the pack is very minimal with no options to attach additional gear outside the pack, or as Kelty puts it, lightweight and streamlined.
Side view, note air gap under backpannel
One last feature I want to mention is the hipbelt tightening system. I have several packs and all but one tighten by pulling the webbing out from the center where the buckle snaps together. This belt is tightened by pulling the ends of the belt where it attaches to the padded part of the hipbelt. This system seems to be gaining traction as I've seen it on several packs recently. Some manufactures call it power pulls and other side pull but Kelty is silent on the matter. And for the record, my other pack with the same style hipbelt is my Kelty Fury 35. All I have to say is I much prefer the power pull hipbelt over the old style because it is a lot easier to tighten
Care Instruction and Warranty
I found a couple of tags inside the pack, one mentioned that the pack was made in the Philippines. The other listed care instruction. It said "Remove surface spills and interior cleanup with a sponge dampened with lukewarm water. Do no use detergents or cleaning agents to clean either the exterior or interior of the pack. Hang to dry". The warranty is pretty basic, stating "Kelty branded products (tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, and kid carriers) are warranted to the original owner against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product" Notice it did not say the lifetime of the owner. I have no idea how to determine the lifetime of a product so I'm not sure what it means. Hopefully I won't need to find out.
Impression so far
Overall the pack seems very robust. I won't abuse it intentionally but I don't think I'll have to baby it either. I do wonder how tough the stretch-mesh pockets are and will try and protect them from snags. There was no mention of how rain resistant the pack material is so I'm guessing I will be needing a pack cover. The 50 L (3051 cu in) size of this pack could be a little small for my gear since I am often testing synthetic jackets or sleeping bags. However, I have managed with smaller packs before so I think I'll be OK with this packs capacity. One thing of note is that there is really no way to carry a sleeping pad on the outside of this pack. I normally carry one under the top lid or strapped down near the bottom of my pack so I will use an underquilt with my hammock for now. I just recently purchased one.
Trying it on
I loaded the pack with my hammock, sleeping bag, underquilt, cook kit and assorted clothing. I also crammed a rain jacket, pack rain cover, fixed blade knife, light and an empty water container in the center stretch mesh pockets. I put a tall Smart Water bottle (full of water) in each water bottle pocket. The total pack weight was 23 lb (10 kg). I then put the pack in my truck so I could check it out the next day at work. After adjusting the straps I walked around for about 30 minutes and walked up and down the stairs several times. I really liked how the pack felt on my back. I also tried out the water bottle access. It was real easy to grab a bottle but a little more difficult to place it back in the pocket. Out of curiosity I tried a much shorter water bottle and it was not as easy to get out. The hipbelt pockets were also a little difficult to open and close but opening was slightly easier.
When I was loading the pack I paid attention to how easy it went. I opened the sharks mouth zipper all the way and placed my hammock in the bottom of the pack, I then added the underquilt, small cook set, and a down jacket. Before I could proceed any further I needed to zip the pack. Once zipped the lid was in the way as I continued loading the pack. I topped the load off with my down sleeping bag so there was no worry about it sliding out the opening left after cinching it down. In other words, I'm not crazy about the sharks mouth opening but it is not a deal breaker.
Pros so far
Pack is relatively lightweight for a pack of this size
Water bottle pockets allow easy access to tall water bottles.
Back panel is really comfortable.
The center stretch-mech pockets hold a lot and allow easy access to gear without getting into the main pack compartment.
The hipbelt cinching system is awesome.
Hipbelt pockets are great for snack and keeping other small items handy.
Carries 23 lb (10 kg) like it was nothing.
Cons so far
Top lid can't float to hold gear overflow.
Top lid opening is tight.
Top lid is in the way when finishing loading the pack after zipping the center zipper.
Hipbelt pocket won't hold my iPhone 6+
No place to strap additional gear, especially a sleeping pad outside the pack.
Small fist sized vertical opening left in sharks mouth if pack is stuffed full.
Field Report: June 6, 2017
Test Locations and Conditions
I have used the Kelty Siro 50 on three overnight hikes. I don't remember the exact temperatures for each hike but all were similar with highs in the mid 80s F (30 C) and lows around 60 F (16 C). It was clear with no rain on the first two overnights but rained on my last one. I hiked on local trails that are steep in places with plenty of rocks, roots and stream crossings to negotiate. I used hiking poles to help me stay upright on some of the steepest and slickest places along the trail. All three hikes were similar in length at around 4 miles (6 km) round trip except the last one when I managed 6 miles (10 km) total. My loads for each trip were also similar at around 20 lb (9 kg) counting the pack itself.
Field Test Results
Even though my mileage is not impressive I did learn several things while using the pack. First and foremost, this is one comfortable pack. I was concerned that not being able to dial in an exact torso length might be a problem but I either got lucky and the fit is perfect for me or the design of the pack does not depend so much on this component of pack adjustment. It could also be a combination of both. With around 20 lb (9 kg) of gear I was able to hike three hours with only a few short breaks and I never felt the pack starting to irritate me in any way other than just a general feeling of tiredness I would feel if hiking this long without a pack. I did get a little more sweaty but felt the back panel design is about as good as it gets when dealing with hot and humid conditions. For example, on my last hike it was 83 F (28 C) and cloudy when I left. The humidity was 87% and it had rained about an hour earlier so the trail was wet and the underbrush was damp. I took it slow and easy and stopped to rest fairly often after the first hour. My shirt slowly soaked all over but here is how it looked after the first hour of hiking.
hiking in humid conditions
Another great feature for me was the access to my water bottles. The forward cant allowed me to easily reach for one while on the go and putting it away was almost as easy. I was a little concerned that I might lose a bottle when bending over but this turned out to be a non issue. The other really bright spot for this pack would be the mesh pockets on the rear of the pack. They just swallowed gear. On one hike in particular, I thought I was all packed up to leave before noticing I had failed to remove the tree straps used for the suspension of my hammock. I already had quite a bit of junk in the mesh pockets but was easily able to cram the straps and thus avoided having to open my already zipped and cinched down main pack compartment. I normally kept my rain cover for my pack, fixed blade knife, rain jacket and other odds and ends here during the day. I even packed a full bag of pork skins in it once.
oops, almost forget the hammock suspension
Packing the pack was never a problem at home but I did find it a little trouble the following morning on the last two trips. This was due to the gear I was using because I did not have the same problem the first night when I used it with a different hammock. To be more specific, I used a Hennessy (a gathered end hammock) on the first trip and an REI bridge hammock on the next two trips. The difference in how these hammocks can be packed is considerable. For the Hennessy, there is no spreader bar to worry with and it is inside a snake skin so I simply crammed it in any available space in the pack. Since I usually put up my hammock last it was easy to cram it in the sharks mouth opening after I had already placed my top and under quilts inside the pack and zipped it up. The REI hammock has spreader bars permanently attached to the hammock and has to be packed in a stuff sack very similar to a tent stuff sack. In other words, a bundle about 20 in x 6 in (51 cm x 15 cm). It needed to be put in first or I had to work to get it in beside the gear that was already inside the pack. By the second time using this hammock I had figured the best way was to put in my bottom quilt first because of all the ropes it has at the ends. I would then find a place to hang my top quilt while I took the hammock down and placed it in its stuff sack. Once it was placed in the pack I could go ahead and cram the top quilt in through the sharks mouth opening. I needed to have the pack zipped up and fastened with the snap or it would try to unzip while stuffing the top quilt in. I believe a normal top lid that could be pulled back out of the way would allow me to pack up the REI hammock as easily as my gathered end hammock.
Speaking of the top lid, I found it a little on the small side but by limiting the gear I kept inside it I didn't have any major issues using it. I kept my toilet paper and a very small headlamp in it most of the time. I also wish the zippered opening was a little wider as I found my hand barely fit inside when the headlamp would invariably work its way to opposite side of the opening.
The waist belt pockets are easy to use and a handy place to store items I might need during the day. I found them easy to open but closing them proved to be a little more difficult, probably more because I'm not very flexible than anything. The one downfall in my opinion was they are not big enough to hold my iPhone 6+, but honestly, this is a big cell phone. The waist belt itself proved to be very comfortable with the moderate loads I carried. I thought the springy way they stay semi curved would make getting the pack on difficult but after the first few times putting the pack on I hardly noticed needing to pull it apart to slide it forward before snapping it in front and cinching the belt. I also like the side pull adjustment much better than the center pull on most of my previous packs.
Storing the pack overnight was pretty simple. I usually just hung it in the tree at the foot end of my hammock so I could keep an eye on it....assuming I wasn't asleep. If I suspect rain I normally just lay it on the ground under my tarp but I tempted fate on the night it did rain by hanging it on the tree. I heard the rain and quickly got out of my hammock and moved the pack to a safer location. Judging by the only slightly damp look and feel of the pack I must have awoken shortly after the rain started.
typical pack placement for an overnighter
unless it's raining or predicted to rain
Long Term Report: August 3, 2017
Test Locations and Conditions
A busy schedule prevented me from taking any multi-day trips with this pack but I went on two more overnight hikes near home. Fortunately, I have a pretty good place to hike right out my front door. It has also been brutally hot and humid for most of the past two months so that also limited my time afield. I used the pack on July 8th for a very short 2 mile (3 km) overnighter. The high earlier in the day was 96 F (36 C) with a heat index of 110 F (43 C) so I waited until 7 PM when it was slightly cooler but still rather warm at 87 F (31 C) and 95% humidity. It dropped down to 74 F (23 C) overnight. My last trip on August 3rd was a lot more bearable but still pretty warm. I left home at 2.30 PM. The temperature was 88 F (31 C) but humidity was only 72%. I hiked about 5 miles (8 km) and when I stopped at my campsite at 5.40 PM it had cooled down to a pleasant 83 F (28 C). It slowly cooled on down to 69 F (21 C) by 5.20 AM when I woke up the next morning I only had a mile (1.6 km) to hike on home and made it home at 7 AM. The only rain I experienced was a light 15 minute sprinkle while hiking to my camp on the last trip.
Long Term Observations
While there are a few things I'm not crazy about, I am impressed with this pack. It handled my heaviest load of 26 lb (12 kg) with no problem. And by that, I mean after hiking 5 miles (8 km) in about 3 hours and without taking it off it still felt good on my back. It handled the heat about as well as could be expected but no pack is going to feel cool in the warmest temperatures I experienced. I think the way the mesh back panel is held away from the pack body really does allow air to flow and helps tremendously in keeping me from overheating.
The canted water bottle holders on this pack are the best for easy water access of any pack I've ever used. I never had a bottle slip out while hiking in some pretty steep terrain and ducking under fallen logs on the trail. I used 1 L (33.8 oz) smartwater water bottles on all my overnight trips and a Sawyer Mini for the few refills I needed to make.
The hip belt is also excellent but I really wish the hip belt pockets were just a tad bigger. I've already fussed but I could not keep my iPhone in it so it had to go in my shorts pocket. I have continued to put small items in them like my pocket knife and even a small bottle of Boost. I love the side pull tightening method on this hip belt so much more than the regular center pull system.
Organization has continued to be pretty straightforward but with the addition of some dry sacks I did find packing a little more tedious. I had always just loaded the long skinny stuff sack that holds my REI Quarter Dome Air hammock on one side and crammed my under quilt and top quilt in on the other side with some spilling over and above the hammock stuff sack. I still had room in the very top to cram in food and other essentials. As can be seen in the photo below, there was no way to get the top quilt in its 10 L orange (610 cu in) dry sack down in the lower part of the pack beside the hammock and under quilt in a 15 L yellow (915 cu in) dry sack. I ended up putting it on top. This meant I had to cram my food in whatever leftover spaces I could find. I was still able to fit all the gear I normally kept inside the pack, it was just not as easy as before.
ready to unload the Kelty Siro 50L for the night
The top lid (or lack thereof) is still my biggest beef with this pack. With the Sharks Mouth opening I have to zip the pack up before getting it full so this means I have to cram a lot of gear in the small opening left. If the pack was not laying flat it felt like gear would come back out before I finished loading everything. On the plus side, the 10 L (915 cu in) dry sack slid in easily enough at the house as I packed but I didn't have room to cram in a spare tarp I wanted to try out. I ended up strapping it to the back of the pack but I wouldn't call it an ideal way to carry it.
on one trip not everything fit inside so I improvised
If the Sharks Mouth is my least favorite feature on the pack I guess I should name my favorite. It's hard to choose but the mesh pockets get the nod, slightly beating out the water bottle pockets which are made of the same mesh material. I call them my extra pack because just about anything that I couldn't get to fit inside the main compartment ended up here. I kept my pack cover, rain jacket, Sawyer Mini water filter, sheath knife, jerky, and even a small pistol in the two identical pockets. I even put my almost forgotten hammock suspension in them on one trip. I'm concerned that over time they may stretch but I guess that means they can just hold more junk. I did try to limit putting heavy items in them.
I always try to comment on the durability of any item I'm testing and I believe this pack is pretty good in that regard. However, my observations are not based on high mileage or even a lot of days in the field. I did not baby the pack in any way and it was crammed so full the zipper was hard to close on every trip I took. The mesh pockets are still in good shape and I also crammed them full on each trip. Based on the wear and tear I have observed so far (basically none) I expect the pack would last several seasons for me and would not hesitate to take it on an extended trip if the opportunity arose.
The Kelty Siro 50 L is a solid performer. While it is not the lightest pack I own, it is my lightest pack with this much volume. I used synthetic gear but was pushing the limits of the capacity so I feel this pack would be ideal for someone with more compressible gear (like down). I would love to see a similar pack with a little more volume for my gear or at least a better way to add gear outside the pack if needed. I actually think this could be easily done by loosing the zipper, making the main compartment a little taller, perhaps a smidgen bigger in circumference and adding a nice sized floating top lid. However, I would not mess with the suspension, it is perfect in my opinion. The way it limits back sweat could prove even more important in cold weather because not only is exposing a wet back uncomfortable in cold temperatures, it could be dangerous in sub freezing weather.
This concludes my review of the Kelty Siro 50L backpack. I'd like to extend my thanks to Kelty and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.
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