Hands-on Gear Review

Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $300.00 List | $299.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Comfy to wear and ride in, lots of storage, canopy and hydration pocket
Cons:  Higher price, hard to adjust seat, may be too long for shorter torsos
Bottom line:  Comfortable pack with lots of storage, a canopy, and easy to use features
Editors' Rating:   
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Usage Ranges:  Age: Not Specified Weight: 16 lbs - 40 lbs Height: Not Specified
Max Pack Load:  48.5 lbs
Weight:  7.4 lbs
Manufacturer:   Kelty

The Skinny

The Kelty Journey PerfectFit Elite is a high-end pack loaded with features for comfort and convenience. The ELite has shoulder straps and a waistband that has ample padding for comfort and weight distribution. The pack is highly adjustable for wearer size and for weight bearing with lift loaders and a torso strap. We love the storage options both on the back and the waistband including multiple bottle holders and a wet bag for dirty or wet supplies. While this pack is the most expensive in the group, the pop open canopy, hydration pocket, adjustable stirrups, and loads of storage may make it the pack of choice for parents with the right budget. If your budget is tight, the Kelty Journey PerfectFit could be one to consider.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz

Last Updated:
Wednesday
June 20, 2018

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The Journey PerfectFit Elite is a high-end pack with versatile storage features and a comfort driven design.
The Journey PerfectFit Elite is a high-end pack with versatile storage features and a comfort driven design.

Dick Kelty started making backpacks in his garage in 1952. He welded the frames himself and his wife sewed the packs to the frames. By 1963, the Kelty packs were on their way up the West Ridge on Mount Everest on the first American ascent. Kelty introduced Gore-Tex clothing and new models of daypacks in 1965, and they expanded to child carrier packs in 1992. In the late nineties, Kelty expanded their child carrier collection and started offering additional kids gear. Kelty continues to design products built to last, so you enjoy every moment, making each journey fun and carefree.

Performance Comparison


This comparison chart shows the overall score for the Elite (blue) compared to the rest of the competition.


The details below include information on the Elite's performance in each key metric.

The Elite is one of the more comfortable options to carry  though parents with shorter torsos may want to try the pack for fit before their return window closes.
The Elite is one of the more comfortable options to carry, though parents with shorter torsos may want to try the pack for fit before their return window closes.

Parent Comfort


The Elite earned a third-place score for parent comfort with an 8 of 10.


Though it has thick padding and a stiff waistband, it struggled to keep up with the overall comfort and adjustability of the higher scoring Osprey Poco AG Plus.

The Elite has load lifting straps that help disperse the weight of the passenger off of the shoulder and onto the waist.
The Elite has load lifting straps that help disperse the weight of the passenger off of the shoulder and onto the waist.

The shoulder straps provide a stable feeling with ample padding and structure for weight distribution. The straps are easy to adjust for length and can be done on the go. Like the cheaper Kelty Journey PerfectFit, this Kelty also sports the load lifters (above left) that make carrying more comfortable. The load lifters have a fixed attachment point while the shoulder strap height itself moves up and down which is not the best for proper function at either end of the torso range. This feature is one you may want to test before deciding to keep your purchase.

The chest clip helps bring the shoulder straps together for a better fit and draws the cockpit closer to the back of the wearer making it more comfortable for carrying. The clip is easy to operate one-handed and the strap moves smoothly.

The buckle on the Elite is large and easy to use with one hand.
The Elite has a torso adjustment strap that can be moved on-the-go for most testers. The strap has a wide range  but some testers with shorter testers found it difficult to find a great fit.

The Elite's thick and stiff waistband contribute significantly to weight distribution and overall comfort. Smaller testers felt like the waistband was somewhat droopy in the back. The Elite has torso adjustment for a customizable fit for wearers of different heights. While this works well and has a good range, it may not be the best for more petite users or parents who are significantly shorter than average.

The back of the Elite has mesh fabric and molded padding to increase breathability and airflow for comfort.
The back of the Elite has mesh fabric and molded padding to increase breathability and airflow for comfort.

The back of the pack is contoured and padded in strategic places for overall comfort and airflow, with a design better suited for preventing a sweaty back than those without this type of structure.

Little ones have a comfortable ride with a wide padded seat  canopy  stirrups and angled drool pad.
Little ones have a comfortable ride with a wide padded seat, canopy, stirrups and angled drool pad.

Child Comfort


The Elite is super comfy for passengers with a 9 of 10 for child comfort.


This pack has enough features for child comfort that most passenger should be able to rest easy on adventures.

The drool/nap pad is wide and well-padded for comfort. It folds over the sides and is somewhat angled for comfy napping.
The drool pad on the Elite snaps in place and is easy to remove so it can be washed after little ones drool or drop food on the pad.

This pack has a removable face rest/drool pad (above left) that attaches with snaps (above right) and has a slight slant for better napping. It seems to be a good angle for napping.

The child harness attachment points on the Elite store undercover for a more comfortable fit.
The child harness attachment points on the Elite store undercover for a more comfortable fit.

The harness has padded straps that have a cover to avoid direct contact with the hard plastic connectors.

The cockpit on the Elite is comfortable with a wide padded seat bottom and harness you can adjust with your little one in the pack.
The cockpit on the Elite is comfortable with a wide padded seat bottom and harness you can adjust with your little one in the pack.

The seat pad on the Kelty is well padded with a soft cover and padding that extends down the leg portion for added support. The bottom stays flat and doesn't fold under baby's weight The seat is easy to raise but harder to lower with a baby in the seat.

The Elite has adjustable stirrup straps for children who don't feel comfortable with their legs dangling.
The Elite has adjustable stirrup straps for children who don't feel comfortable with their legs dangling.

This Kelty has adjustable stirrups that can increase comfort for older children so their legs don't have to dangle. While not all passengers will want to use them, we think it is nice to have them.

The Elite is one of the easiest packs to use with child adjustability you can do with a baby in the seat and wearer adjustment you can do on-the-go.
The Elite is one of the easiest packs to use with child adjustability you can do with a baby in the seat and wearer adjustment you can do on-the-go.

Ease of Use


The Elite is one of the easier packs to use with a 7 of 10 for ease of use.


While 7 may not seem that high, it is the highest score in the group.

The waistband adjustment straps on the Elite tighten by pulling forward as opposed to the back  so it requires less force.
The waistband adjustment straps on the Elite tighten by pulling forward as opposed to the back, so it requires less force.

This pack has a torso adjustment strap that is easy to use on the go for most testers. The waistband straps pull forward to tighten, which requires less force than those that pull back. The shoulder straps move smoothly when adjusted but some testers had difficulty finding an adjustment point that felt comfortable.

The seat height adjustment is behind the seatback in a pocket of its own. it is easier to raise the seat bottom than it is to lower it and we suggest lowering it without your child in the seat.
The Elite child harness is tightened or loosened using a single adjustment plate.

The baby's seat height is adjustable with a slide mechanism located on the back of the pack behind the cockpit back (above left). The seat can be adjusted with a baby in the cockpit, but lower it is more challenging than raising so you may want to do that with the backpack empty. The child harness is also easy to adjust with a single slider (above right) that operates both sides simultaneously.

The canopy on the Elite pops out of the canopy pocket and secures to the front of the pack with small clips.
The canopy on the Elite pops out of the canopy pocket and secures to the front of the pack with small clips.

The canopy for the Kelty pops out of the top canopy pocket (above left) and connects to the front of the pack with small clips. It is easy to open, close and use, though it could be taller for larger passengers.

The Elite has two carry handles for easy transport.
The Elite has two carry handles for easy transport.

The Kelty is relatively lightweight with dual handles on the front and back of the pack. An empty pack can be carried using either handle or both.

The kickstand on the Elite is easy to operate and creates a sturdy base for checking on your baby or gathering supplies from the storage pockets.
The kickstand on the Elite is easy to operate and creates a sturdy base for checking on your baby or gathering supplies from the storage pockets.

Many of the adjustments are easier to do while not wearing the pack and most of the storage compartments are unreachable; something true for most of the competition as well. Taking the pack off and using the sturdy kickstand can make the features and functions more accessible and less frustrating.

The Elite has two storage pockets on the back of the pack.
The Elite has two storage pockets on the back of the pack.

Storage


The Elite earned a 10 of 10 for storage with some of the best pocket and organization features in this competition.


Storage size and availability can be the difference between a long adventure and a quick trip.

One of the pockets on the back of the Elite is perfect for storing parent items like keys  wallet  or smartphone. These internal pockets help improve organization.
One of the pockets on the back of the Elite is perfect for storing parent items like keys, wallet, or smartphone. These internal pockets help improve organization.

This Kelty has two main compartments. One pocket has internal pockets sewn into the back and includes a key clip, while the other is a single large pocket good for jackets, diapers, wipes and larger items.

The bottom pocket of the Elite is a  waterproof lined pocket for wet storage or dirty items like muddy shoes or dirty diapers.
The deep mesh pockets on the side of the Elite are great for water bottles  but you'll need a buddy to help you reach them.

There is a wet/dirt storage pocket on the bottom of the pack with a waterproof liner (above left). The liner can be pulled out of the pocket and wiped clean. This pocket is good for wet clothes, dirty diapers, or muddy shoes. It also has side water bottle storage pockets (above right) that while deep and useful, are not accessible by the wearer.

The waistband pocket on the Elite is large enough for the average smartphone.
One of the Elite's waistband pockets can be extended for a water bottle by unzipping the bottom and pulling out the mesh liner.

The waistband on the Elite has dual zippered pockets one on each side of the band. One pocket is are large enough for a few bars and keys, while the other will fit an average size smartphone (above left). The pocket on the right side of the belt has a zip open bottom with a stretchy mesh extension (above right) so you can carry a water bottle in this pocket. This is the only water bottle holder in the competition that can be accessed by the wearer of the pack.

The Elite has a well-marked pocket for a hydration bladder.
The Elite has a well-marked pocket for a hydration bladder.

This pack is hydration ready with a zippered pocket for a lumbar style bladder. There is no hook for the bladder but this is fairly standard for this style of hydration bag. It has a port towards the parent's right side and loops to secure the hose.

Manufacturer Video




Other Versions

  • Kelty Journey PerfectFit — This PerfectFit is the bare bones Kelty pack that has a comfortable fit and cozy cockpit, but does not offer the bells and whistles found on the Elite. The non-Elite option does not have a canopy, hydration pocket, or storage organization features. However, with a list price significantly lower than the Elite, it may be one to consider if your budget is tight.
  • Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Signature is the high-end Kelty child carrier.
    Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Signature — The Signature is a middle of the road option with more features than the standard PerfectFit but fewer than the Elite. For parents looking for a bit more than a basic pack, but who aren't prepared for the higher price of the Elite, the Signature could fill a gap and give them a comfortable pack with canopy and additional features.

Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz

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BabyGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: June 20, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

BabyGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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