Kelty, based out of Boulder, Colorado, has been manufacturing outdoor products since 1952. Their claim to fame is that they were the first company to introduce baby backpacks in 1992, and they have worked hard to maintain their reputation in the field. Today, they are one of the most easily recognizable brands out there.
The Kelty Junction 2.0 is a well-constructed, aluminum-framed backpack, with impressive storage considering its smaller frame. It is a fully functioning backpack that can handle babies up to 30 pounds. It's foot stabilizer makes for safe loading and unloading, although our reviewers did find it a bit awkward. As with it's big brother, the Kelty Journey 2.0, the bright yellow adjustment straps help you to be sure that baby is safe and secure once inside the cockpit.
The torso adjustment on both the Kelty backpacks we tested. Lift the flap at the back of the waist belt, and you will find a metal lever that pulls to adjust the belt up or down.
The Kelty Junction scored a 5 of 10 in Parent Comfort, something that was very important to our review team. Although it offered sufficient padding throughout the back, shoulders, and waist, we, along with other reviewers on Amazon, found the pack to be only moderately comfortable. Once adjusted for a 5'3" height, we found the lack of suspension to cause some discomfort at the base of the spine (a spot where the frame would dig in). Additionally, once the Junction 2.0 was secured tightly, it was as if the straps were positioned too close together, causing some pinching in the back of the neck area, which one reviewer noted as being "seriously annoying". Luckily, the torso adjustment located on the waist band, although bulky, was easy to manipulate.
The redirected strap on the waist belt, a feature we appreciated on the larger Kelty Journey 2.0, is also present on the Junction. For additional comfort, the sternum strap was easily adjustable, and could slide up and down with ease.
For the smallest backpack in the bunch, the Junction packs quite a punch in the storage department. Reviewers on Amazon even raved about how it could double as a child carrier and a diaper bag. And even though there was no hydration reservoir, we didn't feel that one was necessary, as this backpack wouldn't be one you would take on an extended hike. Kelty was thoughtful enough, however, to add a water bottle holder on the waist belt, which we thought was perfect. Being from the same family as the Kelty Journey 2.0, we weren't surprised to learn that the Junction also had absolutely nowhere to store the sunshade (which wasn't included with the backpack, anyway). That being said, our final score for Storage was 7 of 10.
Considering padding, support, and footrests for baby, this pack earned a 5 of 10 in child comfort. Although the cockpit's padding was sufficient, there were no footrests for baby, and no side supports for baby's head. This lack of head and neck support proved to be a challenge once baby fell asleep.
Baby fell asleep in the Kelty Junction, and ouch! We had to get her out of there quickly!
Ease of Use
Weighing in at 4lbs 13oz, this backpack was the lightest of all its competitors. It earned a 7 of 10 for Ease of Use. Although the weight of the backpack itself was never an issue, we still had a harder time loading and unloading baby due to the small frame, awkward foot stabilizer, and lack of kickstand. We do understand, however, that these features are what make the pack lightweight to begin with, so it's really a give-and-take situation. Some users may prefer a smaller, more compact backpack in lieu of ease-of-use, while others prefer to sacrifice size for easy loading and unloading.
Once the Kelty sun hood is removed, there is nowhere to store it. This is the sun hood in the storage space of the Kelty Junction, and as you can see the ends of the hood are sticking out, causing a potentially dangerous situation.
All baby backpacks manufactured by Kelty are JPMA Certified and CPSP Approved. In our comparisons, the Junction scored an 6 of 10 for Safety. Due to the smaller size of the backpack, baby was able to stand with her legs on the floor during loading, pushing herself up and making it difficult to get a secure fit around her shoulders. However, these adjustments were easily fixed by a second person once the pack was being worn and baby could not push away from the floor.
In our testing, the sunshade was particularly awkward to deal with, and impossible to store when not in use. Additionally, when attached to the backpack, it blocks quite a bit of baby's view, which some babies may not appreciate.
We did however, really appreciate the five-point harness and we believe succeded in keeping baby safe and secure while using the pack. Additionally, the cockpit provided an ergonomically-correct seat that kept baby in a comfortable position.
With it's small size and lack of 'cozy space' in baby's cockpit, this backpack is good for exactly what Kelty claims it is good for, "running around town hands-free, or hitting the trail for an afternoon hike." It's a quality backpack that can hold not only baby while doing errands, but all of baby's necessities.
At $190, this Kelty was priced middle-of-the-road when compared to other their other versions, and was the second most affordable one on our list. However, it didn't offer the same heftiness or accessories and features that other backpacks offered, which is something to keep in mind.
The Kelty Junction was the smallest backpack we tested.
The Junction 2.0 is a functional, compact pack that will also carry all your necessities for going out for a short walk or errand. Although not the easiest to load baby in and out of, we felt that baby was secure and comfortable once inside the backpack, provided they didn't fall asleep. The straps and adjustments on this pack are easy to use, and it didn't take us long to figure out how to use them. For only $40 more, we urge you to check out our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Phil and Teds Escape
, before making your final purchase decision.