Kelty Fury 35 pack

Test series by Coy Starnes
Pack provided by Kelty for testing.
The Fury 35 is part of the Agile series of packs and is available as a men’s or women’s and comes in 2 sizes, S/M and M/L. It is an internal frame pack and is offered in 2 colors, orange or blue.  According to Kelty, the Fury 35 is a good choice for an overnight trip or a quick session on the AT.  I’m not sure what a quick session is, however, I think that with the proper gear it would be suitable for at least a weekend trip (2 or 3 nights) and perhaps even longer hikes. I guess it boils down to whether a 35 L (2135 cu in) will hold what the hiker needs.  I know a few of the ultralight crowd have hiked the entire Appalachian Trail with similar (all be it lighter) sized packs. Most of my hiking falls into the overnight and or weekend variety so I feel this pack should be well suited for my needs. However, what really drew my attention to this pack is the suspension system.  It is not a lot different than many other packs in this class except for the fact that it it is designed to allow the wearers back to be exposed to a lot of air.  In fact, look closely at the photo below and you can see I have put my hand in between the mesh back panel and my back.  I could move it up and down several inches. There is also nearly the same amount of room between the mesh back panel and the pack itself but I am not flexible enough to get both hands back there and show that.  I’ll have more to say about the suspension later but for now, here is what Kelty says “Agile series packs feature the Agile suspension system; a lightweight, butterfly-shaped aluminum stay that transfers weight directly to the hips while allowing the pack to move with the wearer.  A spring-loaded backpanel with molded lumbar and scapula pads adds support and multidirectional airflow for added comfort.  Other packs at a similar price and capacity typically use heavier steel frames or no frame at all.
see, plenty of space between mesh panel and my back

see, plenty of space between mesh panel and my back


Other features

The Fury 35 is configured in what I consider to be a practical manner, starting with a top loading main compartment. It has 2 compression straps on each side along with 2 water bottle holders.  Keep in mind, the front of the pack is facing to the rear when hiking.  Anyways, there are 2 pockets on the front of the pack, basically stacked one on top of the other, and both are fairly deep and wide but not very thick.  This means something like a spiral note book would fit easily inside but a brick probably would not.  They call the outermost one a map pocket and the one with top access a front  pocket.  The front pocket will hold a 13 inch Mac Book laptop.  It has a two way zipper and there is another zipper located inside the pocket which opens into the main bag compartment. There are also two small pockets located down inside this pocket similar to a shirt pocket. The slightly smaller map pocket has a vertical zipper and I think it would hold the Mac Book if the opening were big enough.  BTW, I wont be carrying a computer camping, but it was a handy way to demonstrate the size of both pockets. Below are pictures of each pocket.
front pocket with Mac Book inside

front pocket with 13 inch Mac Book inside

map pocket with my hand inside

map pocket with my hand inside

The hip belt is well padded and has a pocket on each arm.  They are not all that big but large enough for a small camera and or other small items I might not want to have to dig out of the pack during a break etc.  The webbing is 1.5 inches wide and the buckling mechanism is approximately the same width (1.5 in).  It is not overly stiff but when cinched tight it seems to do its job.  The shoulder straps are also nicely padded and shaped to curve outward as they pass down the chest.  There is a sternum strap that can be adjusted for desired tightness as well as up or down several inches.

The main compartment is just that, a big sack with a drawstring closure at the top.  There is a hydration pocket inside big enough for at least a 3 L bladder.  There is a sleeping bag compartment directly under the main compartment but the material separating the 2 compartments can be moved aside via a zipper. This would not be a big deal except that I have already discovered that with the flap in place, I could not fit any of my synthetic bags inside the sleeping bag compartment.  As a matter of fact, I have a couple of winter down bags that won’t fit.  I found my Mountainsmith Wisp (no longer made) was a tight fit but I had no problem stuffing my Brooks Range Elephant Foot bag (a half-bag designed be worn with a jacket for the top insulation) inside.  However, by un-zipping the flap I can just cram any bag I want to use in from the top of the main compartment.    Another thing to note is that the main compartment looks fairly big, but due to the way the back panel curves, there is less room inside than would appear.  Of course this is a good thing because it keeps the pack away from my back.   On top of the pack is a lid which is big enough for a rain jacket and perhaps a few other small items.

The last feature I will discuss is the integrated rain cover.  It fits in a small pocket located directly under the  sleeping bag compartment.  It is connected to the pocket it comes out of by a small strap of webbing but is easy to deploy.  I have already pulled it out to see how it fits over the pack, and, as shown in the photo below, it covered the pack and 2 water bottles completely.  The right hip belt pocket is also visible in this photo.

rain cover deployed

rain cover deployed

Trying it out
I have already taken the pack on a short shake-down hike of 2 miles just to get it adjusted and snap a few photos. The instructions say to load the pack with 25 lbs of gear to properly adjust it but I ended up with a total pack weigh of only 22 lbs, so about 17 lbs of gear (the pack weighs 4 lb).  I adjusted the shoulder straps to my liking and set off. The pack does ride very comfortably with this light of a load.  As soon as the weather cools down a little more I plan to take it on some overnight hikes to give it a real test.  Please stay tuned for my next update in approximately 1 months time.

Update: November 27, 2012

Kelty Fury 35L taking a much needed break

Yes, this update is a little late.  If you have read any of my recent reports you probably picked up on the fact that I twisted my knee loading a kayak on my truck and then had to have it scoped a few weeks later. I’m still not back at 100% but I have started back hiking.  My first several hikes were short and with a very light day pack containing only a little water and a few essentials.  I stayed on trails that were fairly flat and took my time to avoid twisting my knee.  Then, on November 17 I  loaded the Kelty Fury 35 up for a short overnight hike.  I only hiked about 3 miles total and I still stayed on the same easy trails I had been walking the past few weeks.  However, with a 25 lb load, I could definitely feel the difference in my knee.  My injured leg would shake on steep downhill sections but the pack performed flawlessly.

hammock in sleeping bag compartment of Kelty Fury 35L

hammock in sleeping bag compartment of Kelty Fury 35L

I was using my Hennessy Deep Jungle hammock which uses a reflective pad as the bottom insulation, and since it was going to be rather chilly overnight, I packed it and my 40 F synthetic sleeping bag.  The Exped DreamWalker Syn 133 L to be exact. This may only be a 40 F rated bag, but believe me, it is bigger than most synthetic bags, and with a 35 L pack, this meant that these three items (hammock, pad and sleeping bag)  pretty much filled my pack.  I had already established that the DreamWalker nor the pad would not fit inside the sleeping bag compartment but I managed to stuff the hammock in fairly easily (see pic above).  I then rolled up my pad and placed it inside the main compartment and stuffed the sleeping bag in beside it. I had just enough room left over for my down booties but I managed to get everything else I needed for the night in the top lid, side and hip belt pockets.  I put my light, toilet paper and a few snacks in the top lid and my camera and cell phone went in the hip belt pockets (one per side).  I carried my water in one of the main pack side pockets and put a small tripod in the other one.  I carried another water bottle in the rear most pocket and a magazine in the pocket just under that one.  This would be the big but rather flat pocket seen here.  You can also see the water bottle outline in the outer most pocket.

Kelty Fury 35L front pocket holding magazine

As I said earlier, the pack performed really well on this hike.  Of course it was not a long hike, but I can usually tell if I’m going to like a pack after a few trail miles. The temperature was 52 F when I left the house.  I wore sweat pants and had on a light weight thermal shirt under a light fleece jacket.  I planned on sleeping in these so I hiked at an easy pace to avoid sweating. Well that and the fact that I was taking it easy on my knee.  I covered the mile and a half in about an hour and then set up my camp for the night just as the sun was setting.  Getting things out of the pack proved to be easy and since I had not packed a lot of extra gear, the pack was pretty much empty.  I put my light, magazine and snacks inside the hammock and a water bottle on the ground within easy reach.  I propped the pack against the tree at the head end of my hammock for the night.

Kelty Fury 35L resting for the night

Kelty Fury 35L resting for the night

I was in my hammock shortly after sundown which translates to around 6 PM.  I read my Field and Stream an hour or so, then tried to drift off to sleep.  I then remembered there were supposed to be meteor showers so I got up and pulled my tarp back to give me a better view of the sky.  I watched the sky awhile and only saw one meteor. I finally went to sleep around 11 PM but woke up several times for a quick nature break and again at 4 AM.  This time I was fully awake.  The temperature was now around 35 F and even with my clothes and down booties I was getting a little chilly so I decided to pack up and head home. The moon was not up but it was still very bright outside just from the stars.  It did take me a few more minutes to pack but I was working without a headlamp (my light for this trip was a small Energizer Carabiner  LED area light).  My hike home was pretty uneventful.  I did use the area light because this trail, even though fairly flat, passes right by some bluffs, and I sure did not want to risk falling off.

A few days later (November 26) I took the Kelty Fury 35 on a 4 mile day hike.  I loaded it with the same gear I had carried on the overnight hike so my pack weight was 25 lbs.  It was a pleasant 64 F when I left the house shortly after eating lunch.  I decided to see how my knee would react to a more strenuous hike so I hiked down to the creek and then continued on the same trail on to the top on the other side of the holler.  The trail on my side of the creek is only a little over a half mile but very steep.  The trail on the other side of the creek is much longer but of course not near as steep.  I often wish the trail on my side was like the one on the other side.  Anyways, I did this hike in just under 4 hours so I averaged hiking just over 1 mile an hour.  I had a new camera I had bough on Black Friday so I did stop several times trying it out.   Here is the pack down by the creek.

Hiking with Kelty Fury 35L down by the creek

Hiking with Kelty Fury 35L down by the creek

On this hike I tried to pay attention to the pack and how it felt.  Since it was warmer, I had on shorts and a tee shirt.  I did manage to break a sweat on the last climb up the steep trail on my side, but even then, my back stayed relatively dry, with just  small damp patches right under the shoulder straps and around the waist belt.  During most of the hike I was not sweating at all, and with all other packs I have ever tried, my back would sweat just a little under these conditions. So obviously, the back mash panel which holds the pack off my back was doing something.  I was a little concerned that by moving the weight just a little off my back, the pack would make me feel like I was being pulled backward, but I never felt off balance during the entire hike.  This included some rather steep sections.  My injured knee did shake a little going down some of the steepest sections (just like the last time) but this had nothing to do with the pack other than that I was carrying extra weight.  The shoulder straps and hip belt on this pack are very comfortable. And while it is not a flexible pack, I did not feel like it was limiting my movement.  Perhaps a more athletic person would notice.

One thing I did notice was that I could not reach my water bottles.  Fortunately,  the cool conditions meant I was not all that thirsty and I was able to drink all I needed by getting a drink at rest stops.  This meant taking the pack off at each stop but the pack is easy to take off and put back one.  Of course I could use a hydration bladder, but using one would take away from the already limited space inside this pack.  My phone was very easy to reach and I answered 2 calls while on the hike.  Both times I had to unzip the hip belt pocket and grab the phone in its case, remove it from the case, and do all this before the phone went to voice mail after 5 rings.  The camera I had used on the overnight hike fit easily in a hip belt pocket but this one was just too big. It is a Nikon L310 and sports a 21X zoom lens so it is much bigger front to back than a typical point and shoot camera.  I just carried it by the neck strap.  Anyways, after the hike I was very tired because I am still not completely recovered from the knee surgery.  Perhaps you can see my tiredness in this photo I snapped shortly after topping the last big climb…or maybe I just look this scary normally..

Author plum tuckerd out

Author plum tuckerd out

I now feel confidant enough with my knee that I will be going on longer overnights in the near future.  My only concern now is that that the Fury 35 may be a little small volume wise for my winter gear if I decide to add my cooking kit. They do make a Fury 45 and it would make packing my bulky winter gear a little easier.  Stay tuned for my final update to see how the Fury 35 continues to perform.

Final Update: March 22 2013

I was hoping to have some longer hikes using the Kelty Fury 35 but my knee has been slow to heal.  As a matter of fact, I may have damaged it a little by doing some work that involved a lot of ladder climbing a few weeks ago.  It is now sore again and I’m walking with a slight limp that had disappeared before the work off of the ladder.  The weather for most of December, January and February also made it tough to get motivated to do much hiking.  The upshot of all this is that I have only managed 4 overnight trips  and the one long day hike I mentioned in my last update. However, the limited volume of this pack and the bulky nature of my winter gear would have prevented me doing any multi-day  trips so that would not have happened regardless of my knee problem.

As for how the pack has performed, I’ll break down my trips into the type of terrain I encountered and how I packed the load I was carrying. After that I’ll comment on my observations of the packs performance.

I did a short 2 mile (3 km) overnight hike on January 2, 2013.  It was a chilly 45 F (7 C) when I left the house and cooled down to 33 F (1 C) by the next morning.  Since my knee was feeling a lot better I decided to give my knee and the pack a good test by hiking down to the holler.  This trail is very steep in places and the trial was a little damp.   However, all the leaves were off the trees by now and that made seeing the trail a little difficult in places.  I did pretty good by using my hiking poles and taking my time.  I basically wore the pack over a light weight thermal top and medium weight wool sweater. My biggest problem was getting my hammock, hammock pad, sleeping bag, and fleece jacket inside the pack. As on the previous trip, I put my hammock in the sleeping bag compartment and my bag, pad and jacket in the main compartment.  I was able to fit the compact cooking kit which consisted of a Ti Kettle with canister inside along with a Pocket Rocket stove and a few snacks and my toiletries in the top lid. My water fit in the side pockets and my phone and camera went in the hip belt pockets.  I also carried an outdoor magazine in the front pocket.

My next use was on March 12, 2013.  The high on this hike was 51 F (11 C) and the low was 35 F (2 C). I had actually planed an overnight hike the previous weekend when it was much warmer but working on a ladder 2 days in a row helping my dad put a tin roof on his shed left me very sore and unable to get around very well. Anyways, since my knees were still hurting the following weekend I decided not to hike down to the creek but instead stayed on the trail that goes around the top of the bluff.  It has lots of ups and downs but nothing near as steep as the trail leading down to the creek.  I hiked 2 miles (3.2 km) to an overlook, then a mile (1.6 km)  back to a good campsite and then a mile (1.6 km) home the next morning.  The one major difference from my previous hikes was that I did not pack a magazine this time.  I had picked up my first smart phone for my birthday in February.

My last use was on March 18, 2013.  I was not sure I would make the trip but the severe thunderstorms cleared out a couple of hours before sundown.   The Temperature was 55 F (13 C) at the start of this trip and dropped to 37 F (3 C) overnight.  The  hike followed the same route as the March 12 overnighter, but to help my knees which were still tender, I did some major load (weight) cutting.  I got my total pack weight down to 17 lb. (8 kg).  I started by

My hammock pad loaded into front pocket

My hammock pad loaded into front pocket

leaving my stove and Ti Kettle at home, no hot chocolate on this trip.  I also changed my sleeping bag from The Exped DreamWalker Syn 133 L to a much lighter down half bag and used a new down jacket I recently purchased in place of the fleece jacket I had been using. I did not even pack a camera since the camera on my iPhone has proven to be pretty good. The trail was wetter on this trip than any of my previous trips. I placed the down jacket in the sleeping bag compartment, then stuffed my hammock down in the bottom of the main compartment. I then put my sleeping bag in the upper section of the pack and it did not even fill it.  I put my pad in the front pocket.  I was actually surprised it fit but as you can see in this photo, it did.

However, it also took up some of the room in the main compartment and made it so tight in the middle (where the frame curves in the most) that my hand scrubbed as I loaded and then fished out my hammock. However, it still left more room in the main compartment than if I

Kelty Fury 35 hanging from my hammock

Kelty Fury 35 hanging from my hammock

had packed the pad inside it.  On previous trips I had just let the pack rest on the ground under my hammock but since it was so wet I hung it from my hammock this time.  Since the pack has a frame it is a little bulky to hang inside the hammock so I just hung it over the hammock but under the fly by fastening the sternum strap out near the foot end of my hammock. Since the pack was completely empty except for my toilet paper in the top lid it hung without seeming to affect the shape of the hammock.   Here is how it looked.

Observations
This is a great little pack but probably better suited to hotter conditions than I have experienced.  I have already noted that the volume of this pack is pretty small, but it is something to keep in mind if considering this pack. The design of the frame that keeps the back panel away from the main compartment allows this pack to keep my back less sweaty than any pack I have ever used. However, the curve of the frame that provides the wonderful back ventilation also makes loading the main compartment a little more difficult.  I especially noticed this when digging my hammock out of the bottom of the pack while the front pocket was full.

I do like the suspension of this pack and it handled my 25 lb loads with ease.  When I was using the pack with the 17 lb load I even left the hip belt unfastened for a little bit and found the pack still felt great.  I was concerned that the big center opening between the pack frame and my back might make it feel like the weight was shifted to far to the rear but I have not really noticed it feeling awkward or any different than any other pack as far as my balance goes.  . My biggest complaint with this pack is the location of the lower compression straps.  They are located inside the side pockets where I like to keep my water bottles.  I either had to cinch each one tight before loading a bottle or loosen it a lot and have my bottle pass under the strap and loading a bottle was never as smooth as it should have been.  Also, no matter which way I went with the bottle,  the slider was still under the material of the pocket and hard to adjust. In my opinion these lower compression straps could be eliminated completely since the volume of this pack is so small that I never need to compress my load.  As a matter of fact, the same could be said for the upper compression straps but they might come in handy holding a tall item loaded in a side pocket in place.  I would also suggest that the bow of the frame be a little less curved but I have no way of knowing if that might dramatically decrease ventilation. My gut tells me it would still be sufficient. Another small bonus would be a set of straps under the pack for carrying a pad.  This would free up a lot of space inside the main compartment and make the pack more suitable for longer trips.

This concludes my reporting on the Kelty Fury 35.  I would like to thank Kelty and 4AllOutdoors for this testing opportunity.

About the Author

I am from northeast Alabama where I spend a lot of my time divided among several hobbies that include  backpacking and dayhiking, canoeing and kayaking, and just getting out enjoying nature.

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