Zipperless outdoor gear is (almost) a trend at the show this year. Sierra Designs unveiled a new sleeping bag without interlocking teeth. (It uses an integrated comforter to seal up; we liked it so much we gave it an award, too.)
And Kelty has pulled off a potentially even niftier trick with the PK 50, a completely zipperless 50-liter backpack. The pack still has nine compartments, but you access them via a combination of drybag-like roll top closures and Velcro.
Eschewing zippers saves a bit of weight—the pack weighs in at just over 3 pounds; not superlight, but too bad either. It also saves on possible frustration: if you don’t have zippers, you can’t break them.
Its zipperless design is just one reason we’re intrigued by the PK50, however. The other, potentially even cooler thing about the pack is its modular design. A stretch mesh pocket on the back of the pack is designed specifically to carry a tent (one of Kelty's new Traillogic tents with ultracompact poles fits neatly inside; most other manufacturers' backpacking tents will fit sans poles), which is usually the first thing you need when you arrive in camp. Just inside that, you’ll find a detachable compartment intended for carrying your clothing—the idea being, you can throw it in your tent and easily keep everything organized and in one place.
And that’s what we really like about the PK50: it appeals to our OCD nature, which backpacking only intensifies. I think you know what we’re talking about; if you’re like us, you probably geek out about where you pack everything and have your little systems of stuff sacks and tricks, etc. The PK50 thinks like you do.
Available next Spring in S/M, M/L, and women’s specific sizing.