In-depth baby product reviews led by a Pediatrician

Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite Review

Comfortable pack with lots of storage, a canopy, and easy to use features
kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review
The Journey PerfectFit Elite is a high-end pack with versatile storage features and a comfort driven design.
Credit: Abriah Wofford
Editors' Choice Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:   $340 List | $339.95 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
Manufacturer:   Kelty
By Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz  ⋅  Jun 20, 2018
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
84
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 11
  • Parent Comfort - 30% 8.0
  • Storage - 20% 10.0
  • Child Comfort - 25% 9.0
  • Ease of Use - 25% 7.0

The Skinny

The Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite is a high-end pack loaded with features for comfort and convenience, allowing it to outshine most of the baby backpack competition. The Elite has shoulder straps and a waistband with ample padding for comfort and weight distribution. The pack is highly adjustable for wearer size and weight bearing with lift loaders and a torso strap. We love the storage options on the back and the waistband, including multiple bottle holders and a wet bag for dirty or wet supplies. This pack is up for the adventure when on the go with your child. While this high-quality pack is pricey, the pop-open canopy, hydration pocket, adjustable stirrups, and loads of storage may make it the backpack of choice for parents with the right budget.

Editor's Note: We updated this gear review on September 8th, 2022, to ensure the product's information and details are current.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Value Award  Top Pick Award Best Value Award 
Price $340 List
$339.95 at Amazon
$280 List
$250.00 at Amazon
$385 List
$378.00 at Amazon
$285 List
$284.95 at Amazon
$200 List
$179.90 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
84
79
78
70
60
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Comfy to wear and ride in, lots of storage, canopy and hydration pocketEasy on the wallet, fit for narrower builds, comfy for passengers and parentsVari-flex waistband, day pack, comfy for babyLightweight, folds fairly small for travel, less expensive, easy to useBudget-friendly, good storage
Cons Higher price, hard to adjust seat, may be too long for shorter torsosVery limited storage, canopy costs extra, no dedicated spot for a hydration bladderExpensive, harder to useHard to reach shoulder straps, torso length seems shortLower quality, not very comfortable for parent or child
Bottom Line Comfortable pack with lots of storage, a canopy, and easy to use featuresThis high-quality, less expensive pack is comfortable for babies and parents with narrower builds but the storage is limitedExpensive, high-end pack that is cozy for kids, but harder to useA generally average pack with a better price than much of the competitionInexpensive option with good storage, but it isn't that comfortable to wear or ride in
Rating Categories Kelty Journey Perfe... Deuter Kid Comfort... Deuter Kid Comfort Pro Osprey Poco LT LuvdBaby Premium
Parent Comfort (30%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Storage (20%)
10.0
6.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Child Comfort (25%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
Ease of Use (25%)
7.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Kelty Journey Perfe... Deuter Kid Comfort... Deuter Kid Comfort Pro Osprey Poco LT LuvdBaby Premium
Usage Ranges Min-Max: 16 lbs - 40 lbs Min-Max: When child can sit upright independently - 48 lbs Min-Max: When child can sit upright independently - 40 lbs Min-Max: 16 lbs - 40 lbs Min-Max: 16 lbs - 40 lbs
Max Pack Load 48.5 lbs 48 lbs 48 lbs 48.5 lbs N/A
Weight 7.4 lbs 6 lbs 8.5 lbs 5.3 lbs 6.4 lbs
BGL Folded/Flat Dimensions 16" W x 10" H x 31" L 16.5" W x 10" H x 31" L 16.4" W x 9.5" H x 34.8" L 13.5" W x 7" H x 30" L 14.7" W x 9.5" H x 28.5" L
Frame Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Stainless steel Aluminum
Fabric Body: Poly 420D Small Back Stafford
Interior: 75D Poly x 140D Nylon Blend
210 denier polyamide fabric. Tear and abrasion resistant, watertight to 1500 mm 210 denier polyamide fabric with strong ripstop threads and PU coating. 210D Nylon Waterproof 600D & 300D Ripstop Polyester
Stirrups Yes, adjustable Yes Yes No Yes
Canopy Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Hydration Bladder Compatible Yes No No Yes Yes
Included Accessories Journey Sunshade Daypack, Mirror Sunshade Changing Pad, Rain Cover
Care Instructions Spot Clean Hand Wash Hand Wash Hand Wash and Hang Dry Spot Clean

Our Analysis and Test Results

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 kid's gear. Kelty continues to design products built to last, so you enjoy every moment, making each journey fun and carefree.

Performance Comparison



kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the elite is one of the more comfortable options to carry, though...
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.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Parent Comfort


The Elite may not be as comfortable as other top-scoring packs, but it is more comfortable than most of the competition and one to consider if comfort is your main goal.


Though it has thick padding and a stiff waistband, it struggled to keep up with some of the competition's overall comfort and adjustability.

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the elite has load lifting straps that help disperse the weight of...
The Elite has load lifting straps that help disperse the weight of the passenger off of the shoulder and onto the waist.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The shoulder straps provide a stable feeling, ample padding, and structure for weight distribution. The straps are easy to adjust for length and can be done on the go. This Kelty also sports the load lifters 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. You may want to test this feature 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 to carry. 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 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...
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 contributes 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.

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the back of the elite has mesh fabric and molded padding to increase...
The back of the Elite has mesh fabric and molded padding to increase breathability and airflow for comfort.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - little ones have a comfortable ride with a wide padded seat, canopy...
Little ones have a comfortable ride with a wide padded seat, canopy, stirrups and angled drool pad.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Child Comfort


The Elite is super comfy for passengers, with one of the group's top scores for child comfort.


This pack has enough features for child comfort that most passengers should be able to rest easily while heading out for an outing.

The drool/nap pad is wide and well-padded for comfort. It folds over...
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...
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.

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the child harness attachment points on the elite store undercover...
The child harness attachment points on the Elite store undercover for a more comfortable fit.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the cockpit on the elite is comfortable with a wide padded seat...
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.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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 the baby's weight. The seat is easy to raise but harder to lower with a baby in the seat.

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the elite has adjustable stirrup straps for children who don't feel...
The Elite has adjustable stirrup straps for children who don't feel comfortable with their legs dangling.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the elite is one of the easiest packs to use with child...
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.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Use


The Elite is one of the easier packs to use, giving it one of the highest scores in the group.


However, none of the competition is super easy to use, which is why the higher scores feel low.

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the waistband adjustment straps on the elite tighten by pulling...
The waistband adjustment straps on the Elite tighten by pulling forward as opposed to the back, so it requires less force.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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 smoothly moved 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...
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...
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 lowering it is more challenging than raising it, 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.

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the canopy on the elite pops out of the canopy pocket and secures to...
The canopy on the Elite pops out of the canopy pocket and secures to the front of the pack with small clips.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

The canopy for the Kelty pops out of the top canopy pocket 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.

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the elite has two carry handles for easy transport.
The Elite has two carry handles for easy transport.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the kickstand on the elite is easy to operate and creates a sturdy...
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.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the kelty elite has two storage pockets on the back of the pack.
The Kelty Elite has two storage pockets on the back of the pack.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Storage


The Elite offers one of the most impressive storage in the review, with some of the best pocket and organization features we've seen.


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

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - one of the pockets on the back of the elite is perfect for storing...
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.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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...
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...
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...
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...
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 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. Among the competition, this pack is the only one that offers a water bottle holder that the wearer of the pack can access.

kelty journey perfectfit elite baby backpack review - the elite has a well-marked pocket for a hydration bladder.
The Elite has a well-marked pocket for a hydration bladder.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

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.

Should You Buy the Kelty Journey PerfectFIT Elite?


Kelty's overall performance in the competition of baby backpacks is hard to beat. From hiking mountains to busy city streets, this contender has the bells and whistles to handle most adventures that come its way. With a comfortable child cockpit, built-in canopy, hydration pocket, and extra storage for carrying necessities, this pack can make longer outings a reality and a happier experience for both parent and child. If you're an avid hiker or plan on frequently using a baby backpack in place of wheels, we think this option is worth considering.

What Other Baby Backpacks Should You Consider?


The Deuter Kid Comfort Active SL is a high-ranking baby backpack that's less expensive. Considering its women-specific fit, those with a narrower frame might find this option more comfortable than the Kelty. It doesn't offer ample storage, though, a potential deal-breaker for parents who rely on the storage pockets to carry baby's items, especially for longer adventures. But, the Active SL's price makes it a compelling contender, especially if you seek a more specific fit.

Manufacturer Video



Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz
You Might Also Like

Honest, objective reviews. Led by a Pediatrician.

BabyGearLab was founded by a Pediatrician Mom with a mission to provide a reliable, independent, source of information to new parents. Our experts have tested thousands of baby and kids products to share key performance, health, and safety findings. We spend tens of thousands of dollars crash testing car seats to inform our ratings. And, we combine our review work with gobs of expert parenting advice. To assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing by people who care.

Learn More