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Kelty Coyote 65 Review

Our favorite budget pack that features unique pockets and a high carry capacity, all at a great price
Kelty Coyote 65
Photo: Kelty
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $160 List | $159.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Handles heavy loads well, adjustable, two large side zipper pockets, affordable
Cons:  Lid pocket is hard to access, side pockets can interfere with tall bottles, heavier than most
Manufacturer:   Kelty
By Bennett Fisher ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 2, 2021
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 7
  • Suspension and Comfort - 45% 9
  • Weight - 20% 5
  • Features and Ease of Use - 20% 8
  • Adjustability - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Kelty Coyote 65 is for the traditional backpacker who appreciates lots of extra pockets for storage and organization. Its beefy frame can carry heavier loads comfortably while still allowing adequate back ventilation. It features unique top side pockets that are partially detached for securing long and tall items like fishing rods or tent poles. The many pockets of this pack allow for each item to be just a zip away in an organized fashion. While on the heavier end, we found the features and comfort of this pack to be superior to most.

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Kelty Coyote 65
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Kelty Coyote 65
Awards Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award   
Price $159.95 at Amazon$199 List
Check Price at REI
Check Price at REI
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$148.83 at AmazonCheck Price at REI
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Pros Handles heavy loads well, adjustable, two large side zipper pockets, affordableLight-weight, comfortable, easily personalized, inexpensiveDurable, simple, zipper access to main compartment, inexpensive, water resistant, lightweightGreat value, adjustable hip cushioning and torso height, useful featuresInexpensive, bottom access, included pack cover
Cons Lid pocket is hard to access, side pockets can interfere with tall bottles, heavier than mostlacks durabillity, not made for heavy loadsNo lid, only available in one non-adjustable sizeSuspension can bulge out against the back, front stretch pocket doesn't expand that muchDifficult top lid access, minimal features, heavier than expected
Bottom Line Our favorite budget pack that features unique pockets and a high carry capacity, all at a great priceIt may not be a heavy load hauler, but for moderate loads, this pack is comfortable and has an amazing set of features, all at a great priceA great option for the hiker that wants a simple, lightweight pack capable of carrying moderate loadsA pack with a lot of the same features as more popular packs, but at half the priceAn entry-level pack at an entry-level price, but without any standout features
Rating Categories Kelty Coyote 65 REI Co-op Flash 55 Mountainsmith Scream 55 Gregory Stout 60L Osprey Rook 65
Suspension And Comfort (45%)
9
7
7
6
6
Weight (20%)
5
10
9
6
6
Features And Ease Of Use (20%)
8
9
8
8
6
Adjustability (15%)
8
5
3
9
8
Specs Kelty Coyote 65 REI Co-op Flash 55 Mountainsmith... Gregory Stout 60L Osprey Rook 65
Measured Weight (pounds) 4.3 lbs 2.6 lbs 3.0 lbs 3.8 lbs 3.6 lbs
Volume (liters) 65 L 55 L 55 L 60 L 65 L
Access Top Top Top and zipper Top Top
Hydration Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Materials Poly 420D Small Back Stafford Main body: 100D ripstop nylon
Bottom: 420D nylon
210D Robic HT nylon with Alkex, 210D nylon embossed liner 90% nylon, 10% polyester, 210D nylon, 420D high density nylon 600D Polyester
Sleeping bag Compartment Yes No No Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Kelty is known for its iconic external frame packs, but they also have an extensive line of internal frame packs that still carry a load well, like the Coyote 65. The Coyote 65 is slightly heavier than others in the review, but this extra bulk gives it the ability to carry heavy loads comfortably.

Performance Comparison


Ergonomic and supportive, the Kelty Coyote seems happiest loaded...
Ergonomic and supportive, the Kelty Coyote seems happiest loaded down for a long trip.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Suspension and Comfort


The Coyote 65 has an impressive carrying capacity that lives up to the legendary tails of its external frame-ancestors. We found that the frame stayed supportive with a carrying weight of 45 pounds, and the weight remained off of our shoulders. This pack can handle loads of around 50 pounds before experiencing any noticeable performance changes.


This long-lasting comfort under heavy loads owes some thanks to the dense foam used in the hip belt and shoulder straps. Because the foam is thicker and less spongy, it remained supportive and didn't cut into our shoulders or hips even when pulled tight to carry a large load. The shoulder straps are squared on the edges instead of tapered, which prevents a thin surface area that often pinches or cuts into the skin around the straps.

The Coyote's shoulder straps are made of a supportive and firm foam.
The Coyote's shoulder straps are made of a supportive and firm foam.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

The waist belt is not sewn in, which allows it to pivot while hiking so that the pack's weight stays behind you at all times instead of wobbling side to side. The waist belt also features a load adjuster, similar to the load lifter above the shoulders, to dial in how freely the pack can pivot. We found it helpful to loosen the waist load adjuster when the pack is light, and we are moving faster and tight with a heavy pack when balance and support are necessary.

The Coyote's "AMP-FLow" foam provides ventilation and support for an...
The Coyote's "AMP-FLow" foam provides ventilation and support for an enjoyable ride.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

The back panel uses "AMP-Flow" ventilation that allows air to pass through and kept our back cool and comfortable throughout testing. However, the shoulder straps and hip belt do not feature any kind of mesh cover to improve airflow and could experience slow drying times.

Weight


The weight of 4.3 pounds may sound like a daunting start to your base weight, but if your goal is to carry heavy loads on long stretches of trail, then the extra pound will be worth its weight in comfort and support.


There is often a correlation between pack weight and carrying capacity, and we found this pack to be above average. If you plan on carrying heavy loads, it's better to have a 45 pound load that feels good on your back than a 44 pound one with the same gear that is uncomfortable due to a pack that is one pound lighter.

The thick handle strap makes putting on a heavy back a little easier.
The thick handle strap makes putting on a heavy back a little easier.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Features and Ease of Use


This pack features ample storage options that allow every piece of gear to have a place. It has unique "pass-through" wing side pockets, a lid zipper, sleeping pad strap, front external zipper pocket, two stretch water bottle pockets, and a bottom sleeping bag zipper access point to give you a taste.


The most interesting feature of this pack is the two wing side pockets that add enough room to fit a Nalgene water bottle on each side. This much extra space is useful to store electronics, preload with a jacket when rain is in the forecast, or to keep toiletries at hand when nature calls. It's like having two extra lids for odds in ends and are useful enough that we didn't miss having a stretch shove-it pocket.

The side wing pockets are large, making them a good alternative to...
The side wing pockets are large, making them a good alternative to the slim lid pocket.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

The only downside is that they do hang low enough that a tall water bottle hits it or has to be put in at a diagonal. Even if we did miss a stretch pocket, the front zipper pocket is large enough to shove a puffy coat in when the morning chill wears off. The wing pockets aren't entirely sewn in, allowing for tent poles or a fly rod to pass behind the pocket and rest in the stretch water bottle side pockets. We found this feature more secure than simply securing a tall item with the pack's compression straps.

The pass through side pockets work well for storing tall items like...
The pass through side pockets work well for storing tall items like our Tenkara rod.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

There is one moderate-sized zippered hip belt pocket that is good for storing a few bars and chapstick. The other side is a stretch mesh for quick access items that we found a good place for a phone. The convenient mesh made it easy to whip the phone out for photos or quickly check that we were on the right trail.

The stretch hip belt pocket fit an iPhone 12 Pro perfectly.
The stretch hip belt pocket fit an iPhone 12 Pro perfectly.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

The lid uses a slim zipper opening on the side so that a hiking partner has more access to things you may need while the pack is on. However, we found this feature to be slightly inconvenient when using it ourselves. Since the zipper is only on one end, it made it very hard to see in and grab a specific item which had us only putting one or two items in at a time, so we had a 50/50 chance of finding the right one on the first try.

There is a bottom zipper access point under the pack. If you need your sleeping bag, it does not feature a divider, so the bag is still accessible from the top opening of the pack. This means that it is best to top load all of your gear and only use the bottom zipper if you need an item trapped at the very bottom or is useful to unzip when empty to shake out any dirt or leaves that are hitching a ride.

The lid opening is so slim we wouldn't want to put more than two...
The lid opening is so slim we wouldn't want to put more than two items up there.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

We also really appreciate the reinforced wide hanging/lift strap that is wide enough for two hands and makes it easier to lift the pack when it is completely weighted down. It's one of those features that works so well you don't notice until lifting another heavy pack with a thin strap.

Adjustability & Fit


The Coyote 65 uses a basic velcro panel to adjust for height and has a total range of four inches. We found it to hold tight yet was still convenient to readjust. The velcro panel is nice and thick, so if it is fully extended, there is still some nice padding against your shoulders.


The pack features a load adjuster on the shoulders to keep the pack weight close over the hips, and it has a hip belt load adjuster that can dial in how much the belt pivots while walking. The hip belt also has forward-pull straps to easily tighten to your waist and standard shoulder strap tightening.

Simply separate the velcro panel and you are ready to adjust.
Simply separate the velcro panel and you are ready to adjust.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Value


At half the price of some popular packs on the market, this pack can still carry the weight and has some useful unique features. If you were just getting into backpacking and worried about over-packing or would like a pack with more pockets for organization, then look no further than the Coyote 65. Its ability to carry a comfortable load is among the best, plus its storage of tall slim items is unmatched due to the wing side pockets.

Comfort, price, and features make the Kelty Coyote 65 a top...
Comfort, price, and features make the Kelty Coyote 65 a top contender for your next trip.
Photo: Bennett Fisher

Conclusion


The Coyote 65 is a workhorse that is as comfortable on a week-long backcountry fishing trip as it is a quick weekend one. Its extra pockets and sturdy frame means there's always room for an addition to the gear list, and at a good price, this pack will get you into backpacking and beyond. We really enjoyed how comfortable this pack was under heavy loads. This pack would be happiest in the hands of someone who likes to be organized and enjoys the comfort of a luxury item or three.

Bennett Fisher