Review: Kelty Ascender 22

I go through more pieces of luggage than I do shoes. Especially now, seeing as I really only have two pairs of shoes (but that’s another story). Anyway, as I was saying, I go through luggage like it is my job. And sometimes it kind of is. After all, how else can I tell you what luggage I love that rocks my world and what luggage isn’t worth the major moolah I put down on it?

Even though it has been awhile since I have traveled long-term, it doesn’t mean I don’t still travel. In fact, I pack up a bag pretty often for travel — whether it is nearby like the tropical paradise of Koh Samui, or as far as possible from Thailand (like Delaware).

Regardless of how far from “home” I am headed, or how long I am away, one thing remains true:  I need a good piece of luggage. No, I need an awesome piece of luggage.

I’ve hauled backpacks like the REI one which eventually crashed and burned after a rigorous seven months of on-the-road love, and I’ve pulled along the “world’s lightest luggage,” the fabulouIT Luggage World’s Lightest It-0-1 (probably one of the best and truly lightest pieces of luggage I’ve taken around the world).

Kelty Ascender 22
Win your own Kelty Ascender

And then, I got to try out the Kelty Ascender 22 Expandable Carry-On Luggage.

In terms of a piece of carry-on luggage that can hold my stuff (especially when I want to pack most of my closet), it is my dream bag. Last year, it traveled basically around the world with me, with stops in Delaware, Vegas and then, ultimately, Thailand. It’s been to Kuala Lumpur. And, next month, it is replacing my trusty brown REI backpack (the day pack is forever unattached now to the pack, and that is just no bueno) as my backpack with wheels.

Because that is how my Kelty Ascender rolls.

Why I’m a Kelty girl

Let me count the ways.

First, it is equipped with comfortable straps which let me take it off the chasis to simply fit on my back (which is the plan for Europe because of all of the stairs and general wheel-unfriendly roads and sidewalks). While it does not have a hip belt to keep my back from breaking, so long as I don’t pack it full of crap, the straps and using it as a backpack aren’t a problem.

Two, it expands. Like I said, now I can shop until I (almost) drop and be able to cram it all into my Kelty. Because it is modular, I can expand areas of the luggage, plus the external chassis, too. It can go from a 40-liter carry-on to a 70-liter checked bag. That gives plenty of room for the user to add more during their travels.

Three, it is durable. The polyester can get put through the ringer and it isn’t likely to tear. Thank goodness. I tend to put things through the ringer. My cats have even had a go at shredding the exterior and they have failed. Miserably.

Four, it is smooth. Those wheels … so long as I’m not pulling it along the streets of Chiang Mai, I swear, it is like butter.

And, last, it isn’t ugly. I know, I know. Looks shouldn’t be important. But, this statement is coming from a girl who carried around a two-toned poop brown backpack for seven months in Europe. It’s time to have something that looks a little nicer for the travels.

The bottom line: Although this piece of luggage is a higher price tag than most expandable carry-ons, it is a sturdy and durable product and offers flexibility in terms of size and load.

Editor’s Note: The links in this post go to my Amazon Affiliate, which means when you order something from Amazon by entering the site via my link, I make a small amount of money. This small amount of money helps contribute to the up-keep of my site. Thank you for your support. 

And one more Editor’s Note: Kelty provided me with the Ascender for review purposes. However, all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy

Published by dtravelsround

Awakening the soul while traveling ... a story of being on the cusp of adulthood.

43 thoughts on “Review: Kelty Ascender 22

  1. I’m kinda loving this bag because it has wheels and I can also take the wheels off whenever I’d like, and if you think its sturdy enough then I want I want! Would be so great for some Island hopping around Hawaii! And even for Africa next year 🙂


  2. Carry-on for the way over, check-in for the way back, this is just perfect for shopping trips (just have to be careful with airline luggage policies…)


  3. I would love to win this bag because I have no good bag of this size. I’m using the one I bought at Ikea tomorrow and wish I had something nicer and more practical!


  4. hey diana. thank you for offering this amazing give away! i would LOVE to win this suitcase after reading all the incredible things you said about it (and you know your luggage!) 🙂 also, i live in europe and travel as much as possible using only a carry-on, so i could definitely use this a lot!! take care! x amy


  5. I NEED this bag in my life 🙂 We have tried tested SO many suitcases and travel bags over the years and All but one has broken or ripped or popped a zip after a few trips. Even my trusty go anywhere bag of wonder is beginning to give out but after 13 years on the road ( and sea and air) i cant complain too much! I’m looking around for a new companion right now for our summer trip to Europe and that one looks just perfect! 🙂


  6. I would love this luggage as I am planning several trips …alone! Thats right.. finally traveling without the hubby! I plan on volunteering at ENP next year and this year I am heading off to Earthfire Institute in Idaho to commune with the animals there. Since there will not be a man around to help me with luggage.. this sounds perfect for me!!!! Heres to Happy Travels!!!!


  7. Well I am obviously the right person for this god-like luggage! Did you read my post about my luggage issues? I should start an LA for it cause I’m sure I am not alone. That looks like one fine piece of mobile closet and I actually started drooling when I saw it! And how fortuitous that I have managed to shred my latest duffle (actually American Airlines did) so I have been hunting, again, for just the right piece. Check out my post about being a lugga-holic.


  8. I am a Kelty fan as I carry one of their backpacks. Not sure if I am into training wheels on my pack though. Maybe I will win and give it a whirl on my next foray into the great big world.


  9. Oooooh! That is a fine piece of travel gear! I’d love to have it for my next trip back to Thailand. I’ve never had the opportunity to try out a Kelty bag and I’ve only ever heard good things about them! 🙂


  10. At the same time I’m shopping for a new bag, this comes up. It must be an omen 🙂 So happy someone finally created this. I wore out the bottom of am Eagle Creek bag dragging it around Europe on a flimsy roller.Thanks for sharing the information. I’m going on the USNS Comfort as a volunteer with Project Hope in August. This would be perfect.


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