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Osprey Kyte 46 Women’s Backpack Review

The Osprey Kyte 46 is a women’s specific backpack that’s big enough for weekend backpacking trips, but nimble enough for long day hikes and peakbagging adventures. Being a women’s specific backpack, it has a shoulder straps that won’t pinch or chafe your chest or underarms and a hip belt that flared to wrap around women’s curvier torso and hips. The men’s version of this backpack is called the Kestrel 48, which shares all of the same features.

Specs at a Glance

  • Gender: Female
  • Type: Internal frame, wire perimeter loop
  • Weight: 3 lbs 5 oz.
  • Torso range: 13″-20″, two sizes available
  • Waist/hip range: 26″-51″, two sizes available
  • Pockets: 7+ main compartment
  • Material: 210 denier ripstop nylon
  • Bear canister compatible: Yes, vertical
  • Rain cover: included
  • Max Recommended load: 35 pounds

Backpack Storage and Organization

The Kyte 46 has a top lid, main compartment, sleeping bag pocket, front mesh pocket, and side water bottle pockets. The top lid is sewn to the front of the pack and has two pockets, one external and one internal facing the top of the main compartment. The main compartment closes with a drawstring, but does not have a hydration pocket, because you’d store a reservoir behind the shoulder straps on the exterior of the pack on the Kyte 46, something that I find far more convenient than storing a reservoir inside a pack. More on that in a bit.

The Kyte 46 has a typical Osprey Shape with a top lid, front mesh pocket, and side bottle pockets
The Kyte 46 has a typical Osprey Shape with a top lid, front mesh pocket, and side bottle pockets

There are two full length zippers on the sides of the pack. The right side zipper open into the main compartment so you can reach in and pull stiff out without having to open it from the top. That’s a big time saver. The left hand zipper open to a full length closed compartment, that’s ideal for stowing wet gear or a first aid / food/ toilet kit… most anything you either don’t want in your pack, or items you want handy.  I use it for my raincoat and personal locator beacon.

There’s also a separate sleeping bag compartment at the base of the pack at the bottom of the main compartment. It’s really a fold away shelf, that you release if you’d rather pack the man compartment as one continuous space.

The Kyte 46 has a separate zipper to let you access a sleeping bag or whatever is at the bottom of your pack
The Kyte 46 has a separate zipper to let you access a sleeping bag or whatever is at the bottom of your pack.

There’s also an open mesh pocket on the front of the pack, but it’s not that large. I can get my Crocs into it but it’s too small to carry my rain gear at the same time. That’s not a showstopper, but I’d prefer a larger pocket.

The side water bottles are made out of mesh, which could be a durability issue if you hike off-trail
The side water bottles are made of mesh, which could be a durability issue if you hike off-trail

The side water bottle pockets are also mesh and are sized to hold 1 liter Nalgene bottles. I can’t reach them when I’m wearing the pack, but prefer using a hydration system so it’s not a big issue. While the pockets don’t touch the ground when you put down the pack, they could become a durability issue if you hike off-trail where vegetation can rip them.

The hydration pocket is located right behind the adjustable length (torso) shoulder straps
The hydration pocket is located right behind the adjustable length (torso) shoulder straps

Backpack Frame and Suspension System

The Kyte 46 has a lightweight wire frame that runs around the perimeter of the pack, but gives it a fair amount of flex, so it stays close to your torso when scrambling. The back area behind your shoulder blades isn’t ventilated like a trampoline pack, but it is covered with die-cut foam and mesh to help channel sweat away from your shirt and help it dry faster. It still works well for me.

The Kyte is an adjustable frame backpack, which means you can change the torso length so it fits you exactly. Changing the torso length is as simple as raising or lowering the shoulder pads, so that there’s more distance or less, between them and the hip belt. The adjustment system couldn’t be simpler. The shoulder pads are connected to the backpack by velcro and raise and lower them, you simply release and reposition them where you want them. Why aren’t all backpacks made like this? You have to wonder.

The back of the frame is covered with mesh and die-cut foam to help wick and channel away perspiration.
The back of the frame is covered with mesh and die-cut foam to help wick and channel away perspiration.

As I mentioned before there’s a big gap behind the shoulder strap yoke where you’d insert a hydration bladder if you use a hydration system. I love this pocket because it makes it SO much easier to get out, refill, and repack. It also makes it each to check how much water you have left. I hate having to unpack a hydration bladder when I’m backpacking because its takes longer and I have to usually repack my entire pack from scratch once I’ve taken the bladder out.

The Kyte’s shoulder pads are s-shaped so they’ll curve around your breasts. While they’re padded, there’s softer padding along the inside edge, they they’re more comfortable. The sternum strap runs on a “rail”, making it very easy to reposition up or down. the hip belt is sewn the back of the pack, which is good, because provides better load transfer to the hips than a hip belt that’s just attached using velcro. The hip belt wings are flared to provide a better wrap around my hip bones and the hip belt has two solid-faced, zippered pockets, one on each side. They’re on the small size though. While I can get a compass or bar into them, they’re too small to hold my phone.

Zippered side opening gives you access inside the pack
Zippered side opening gives you access inside the pack

External Attachments and Compression System

The Kyte 46 has two tiers of compression straps on the sides of the pack. Both straps open and close with buckles, making it easy to lash snowshoes to the sides of the pack. The front of the pack also comes with sleeping pad straps, so you can secure a pad or tent to the bottom of the pack of you need extra storage.  The straps are also removable if you prefer to remove them.

There are also gear loops all over the pack that you can attach more gear to, including loops on the top pocket (4), and 8 loops on the sides of the front mesh pocket, that can act like daisy chains if you prefer to lash gear there.

The Kyte also has Osprey’s Stow-on-the-Go trekking pole retainer. I like this system because it frees your hands for scrambling and you don’t have to stop to strap your poles to the outside of your pack.

There are gear loops on the sides of the front pocket that can be used like daisy chains to attach gear to the front of the pack
There are gear loops on the sides of the front pocket that can be used like daisy chains to attach gear to the front of the pack

Recommendation

The women’s Osprey Kyte 46 Backpack is loaded with features that make it really easy to use for backpacking, more technical hikes, and even winter hiking.  I’d liken it to a lightweight Swiss Army Knife because there are so many ways to use the backpack, but there’s nothing extraneous on it. While it has lots of pockets and attachment points, I can’t think of anything that I’d want to get rid of. I also think it’s an exceptional backpack for women, because it’s lightweight and has an adjustable torso length, so you can really dial in a near-custom fit. It’s also available in multiple sizes, with a torso range from 13″- 20″, making it ideal for shorter women who have a difficult time finding packs sized for their torso range.

Beth Zimmer is an expert backpacker who’s backpacked all over New England and Eastern Canada, with a long list of hiking accomplishments to her name. She’s section hiked the New Hampshire Appalachian Trail, climbed the New England Hundred Highest and the New Hampshire 200 highest (mostly bushwhacks), redlined the White Mountain Guide (1440 miles), and climbed the White Mountain 4000 footers several times over. Beth also teaches GPS and off-trail navigation classes as a volunteer for the Appalachian Mountain Club and is co-chair of the New Hampshire Excursions Committee, which oversees all volunteer hiking and leadership training activities. When she’s not hiking and backpacking, Beth resides in New Hampshire where she can usually be found sipping coffee and planning her next adventure.

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Last updated: 2018-08-30 02:31:05

Disclosure: REI provided the author with a sample backpack for this review.

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