This post may contain affiliate links.

Kelty Ruckus Roll Top 28 Backpack Review

The Kelty Ruckus is a full featured technical daypack with a roll top closure. I love the carbon color of the pack. It's cool looking and easy to use
The Kelty Ruckus is a fully featured technical daypack with a roll top closure.

The Kelty Ruckus 28 Roll Top is a fully featured technical daypack loaded with features that can be used for many different types of day hikes, peakbagging, and hut-to-hut trips. Weighing just 1 pound 6 ounces, I’ve been impressed with how comfortable it is on long, hard, and fast hikes.


Roll top closure

Don’t let the simplicity of a roll top backpack fool you. Roll top packs are faster to pack and unpack than packs with top lid pockets. When you don’t need all of the space in your pack, simply roll down the excess fabric just like a dry bag stuff sack.

Externally accessible hydration reservoir pocket

The Ruckus has an externally accessible hydration pocket located behind the shoulder straps that makes it easy to refill your water reservoir without having to unpack and repack your pack. There are hooks behind the shoulder straps to hang your reservoir and if ever leaks, the water will drain out a drainage hole at the bottom of the hydration pocket.

Side mesh pockets

The Ruckus has stretchy side mesh pockets that can be used to carry water bottles if you prefer them over a hydration reservoir. These are reachable so you can pull them out while wearing the pack. The fit can be a bit tight however if you overload the main pocket, so you might be better off using a hydration reservoir with this pack, hanging your bottles off the shoulder straps, or packing them in the main compartment.

Rear shove-it pocket

No one wants to stop while you put away your jacket or pull one out of your pack. Just shove-it into the Ruckus’ rear shove-it pocket until you need it. With an adjustable top strap, you can also use this pocket to hold a climbing or bicycle helmet. The shove-it pocket also has a zippered accessory pocket on the back where you can stow your wallet and keys.

Trekking poles/ice axe holders

If you only like to use your trekking poles when hiking downhill or need to carry ice axes, the Ruckus has a pair of ice axe loops and elastic shaft holders to carry them securely.

Hip-belt pockets

The Ruckus has a hip belt with padded side wings that are wider than you’d normally find on packs of this volume, making it easier to carry heavier gear because it will rest on your hips and not your shoulders. The hip belt also has two full size zippered pockets with durable weather resistant pockets. The pockets are large enough to store a smart phone, point and shoot camera, or snack bars. The hip belt just fits me with a 36″ inch waist plus a heavy sweater, but if your waist is bigger than 38″, you should probably look for a daypack with a longer hip belt.

Air mesh covered back panel

The back panel has four separate pads covered with an air mesh lining to wick away perspiration with a big air channel for extra ventilation. Back sweat doesn’t bother me, but the padding is still surprisingly comfortable. The hip belt and shoulder pads are also lined with the same air mesh, which has some give to it, so it conforms to your curves. The frame behind the pads is a thin plastic sheet that has some give in it which limits the amount of gear you can carry with the Ruckus, but no less than you’d expect with a beefier technical day pack.


The Kelty Ruckus 28 is a versatile technical daypack and a real design departure from Kelty’s traditional backpacks. Weighing just 1 pounds 6 ounces, it doesn’t have the traditional top lid pocket found on Kelty’s other packs and uses a roll top closure like many ultralight backpacking gear makers. Roll top packs are great because they’re easy to pack and unpack, and because they provide additional top compression: simply roll up the excess fabric to take up unused space and stabilize your load.

The other features on this pack pick up on the streamlined and minimalist design pattern with all of the technical features you’d expect on a multi-sport pack including side mesh pockets, a rear shove-it pocket, and a substantial hip belt. The Ruckus is a great pack for day hikes, scrambling, and kicking around in the backcountry. Priced at $89, it’s also a very good value for a technical day pack with this capacity.


  • Volume: 1710 in3 / 28 L
  • Weight:  1 lb 6 oz
  • Torso Fit Range:  One Size. Kelty does not specify a torso length range for the Ruckus but it just fits me and I have a torso length of 18.5″. If your torso length is longer than mine, this pack will probably be too short for you.
  • Dimensions: 20 x 10 x 9 in / 51 x 25 x 23 cm

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.


  1. Sounds like a great little pack, Philip. Thank you for reviewing. I like Kelty products — well-made and durable, although usually heavier than most industry leaders. The Kelty Redwing is a classic.

  2. Looks like a more durable (and slightly heavier) option to something like a GG pilgrim or a zpacks. I am glad the mainstream players in the pack market are finally seeing the light with regard to form/function. You don’t need a million straps and hooks and pockets to make a pack usable. After owning a few GG packs (especially my “go to bag” – old school gorilla) I will never buy a pack that doesn’t have a gigantic mesh stash pocket and side pockets.

    • It’s a great pack. I’m actually on the fence about whether to raffle it off or keep it for myself :-) I think the move to roll top closure is really the key to this pack since it influences the rest of the design so much. It’s hard to believe that Kelty would make a roll top pack. But they are really innovative these days.

  3. Wow, I’m surprised at both the weight and the design… looks great, too! Glad some big names are starting to focus on this style. I guess they can’t ignore the success of some of the other popular UL packs these days?

  4. I like what I’ve seen from Kelty, I have a Kelty Cosmic Down 35 bag, it’s nice, a synthetic Kelty Cosmic 32 degree bag (my first sleeping bag). Kelty trekking poles, the Noah 9 tarp, Noah 12 tarp and most recently I bought a Kelty Redwing 50 pack for more bushcraft-ee trips that may not be suited for my UL packs.
    Anyway, I like Kelty, decent quality and affordable if you’re just getting into backpacking.

    • I completely agree. I have a Noah’s 16 tarp and its beyond bombproof. Like you said Kelty has always represented a great price point for beginner backpackers that want durable gear, but I’m really encouraged by this new direction.

  5. Nice review,,but fell short of what I needed to know… What I need is a Review for Multi day Backpacks that will “Fit” an 11 year old boy say 4’11” 100 pounds…that will grow with him for a couple of years so I am not wasting $150. every six months.. That would be of great help….

  6. Interesting that your review of the Kelty Ruckus came within a couple of days of PMags’ review of the Gossamer Gear Rukus! Of course they are quite different packs!

  7. It’s nice to Kelty stepping up and doing something comparable to the UL packs! I absolutely love roll top packs and I don’t even understand needing packs with lids now that I’ve switched. Great looking pack.

  8. I’ve been in the market for a larger daypack and bought the Ruckus after this review and some other reading. Only have a few day trips on it, but it fills my niche for a daypack for short-long days in the front range. I particularly like that the simple sack design makes it so I can waterproof the contents with a trashbag for afternoon storms… something that more complex daypacks make nearly impossible. As you stated, the ‘frame’ is definitely short on my 21″ torso, but given the weights I plan to carry that isn’t an issue — the hipbelt still serves to glue it to my back when I want. I love how it compresses so naturally. I kinda wish the ‘frame’ was foam instead of crinkly plastic, but that is no biggie. It’s on Campsaver for $57.57 right now (view it in cart) with free shipping and for that price it is absolutely awesome. Thanks for the review.

  9. Thank you for reviewing this product! I am looking for a largish day pack to fill in between my 15L and 32L and was initially considering of getting a 25L. But this Kelty has all the feature I’m looking for and since I can roll down the top based on its content, I’m swaying towards getting this 28l. My question is how far can you roll it down without impeding its functionality? Let’s say when I fill only up to two thirds (where the top buckle is attached, does the placement of the side buckles make the appearance or the functionality awkward?

  10. Did you keep it or raffle it? If raffled what do you use that is an equivalent size/use? Thanks!

  11. id be happy to be on the raffle list if you chose to AND find it. The hyperlite is nice but the massdrop price is tempting too. I picked up a used mountainsmith mayhem old style for my winter hikes with snowshoes crampons.

    I don’t do many overnights (none) at least yet. I’m intimidated to go out on my own since it’s probably been 25+ years and even then I was with a group. I live in NYC and tough to find outdoorsy types that like hiking hard and fast and putting in 10+miles a day. One day I’ll get up the nerve. Till then day hikes for me. Also not many Tenkara fisherman in my area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Captcha loading...