Review: Kelty Ascender 22

Written by on April 10, 2014 in Reviews - 43 Comments

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

About the Author

Diana Edelman is an avid traveler who recently spent four years living as an expat. Most notably, Diana spent nearly three years in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she worked with Save Elephant Foundation to raise awareness about the realities of elephant tourism. Currently based in Las Vegas, Diana works in many industries as a publicist, social media expert, content creator and journalist. The founder of Vegans, Baby, you can normally find her hanging out at vegan restaurants around town, exploring the beauty of the desert southwest or camped out at a coffee shop banging on a keyboard. The co-founder of the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective, Diana has spoken at conferences about travel blogging and responsible tourism.

43 Comments on " Review: Kelty Ascender 22 "

  1. Shelby April 10, 2014 at 9:04 pm · Reply

    You sold me on this piece, Diana. Maybe it would be a good edition to my Osprey pack, which is great too!

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:36 am · Reply

      It is the perfect addition!

  2. Mica April 10, 2014 at 10:54 pm · Reply

    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 🙂

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:36 am · Reply

      It is why I love it!!

  3. Guido April 11, 2014 at 12:35 am · Reply

    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…)

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:35 am · Reply


  4. Jenna April 11, 2014 at 1:04 am · Reply

    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!

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:35 am · Reply

      Kelty makes great luggage!

  5. amy April 11, 2014 at 4:31 am · Reply

    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

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:35 am · Reply

      Thanks, Amy!! Good luck!

  6. Hialry Marshall April 11, 2014 at 5:29 am · Reply

    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! 🙂

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:35 am · Reply

      Haha. It’s time for a new one, eh?

  7. Giselle and Cody April 11, 2014 at 8:01 am · Reply

    Hey D, thanks so much for offering this awesome piece of Luggage.
    We are just like you when it comes to going through Luggage.
    Looks like this would solve all of our problems 🙂

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:34 am · Reply

      It is a great piece of luggage!!

  8. Natasha April 11, 2014 at 9:59 am · Reply

    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!!!!

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:34 am · Reply

      Wonderful!! 🙂

  9. Donnae April 11, 2014 at 11:03 am · Reply

    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.

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:33 am · Reply

      Haha! You do deserve it!

  10. Phil April 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm · Reply

    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.

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:33 am · Reply

      The wheels are fantastic.

  11. Phil April 11, 2014 at 1:01 pm · Reply

    I wouldn’t mind giving that bag a whirl

  12. Teri April 14, 2014 at 12:22 pm · Reply

    If I win, I will use it to visit you!!!!! 🙂

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:32 am · Reply

      It is now in writing …

  13. Katie April 14, 2014 at 3:43 pm · Reply

    Even though I just bought a new bag, this one looks pretty cool! Big money, no whammies!

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:32 am · Reply

      I love this bag!

  14. Katie B April 15, 2014 at 7:45 am · Reply

    This bag looks waaaaay better then the one I bought at the Night Bazaar!

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:32 am · Reply

      Hahaah! It is!

  15. Ayngelina April 16, 2014 at 8:42 am · Reply

    The more I travel the more I realize just how important luggage is and not to buy the cheapest. I’d never heard of this brand but looking into it now!

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:31 am · Reply

      Kelty rocks.

  16. Alex April 16, 2014 at 3:51 pm · Reply

    I have always been a backpack girl but really find myself craving something with wheels lately. This looks like an awesome choice!

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:31 am · Reply

      I love it and cannot wait to bring it with me to Europe.

  17. Maddy April 16, 2014 at 3:55 pm · Reply

    This looks fab – crossing my fingers! 🙂

    • Diana April 17, 2014 at 3:31 am · Reply

      It is! Good luck!

      • Maddy April 24, 2014 at 9:33 pm · Reply

        Whaddya know, it worked! 🙂

        • Diana May 6, 2014 at 3:22 am · Reply

          Congrats!! Let me know how you like it!!

  18. Mindy & Ligeia April 18, 2014 at 5:24 am · Reply

    Despite the fact that we already travel extremely lightly, I think that this would make hauling our stuff so much easier! And stylish. That’s important for us 😉

    • Diana April 22, 2014 at 5:40 am · Reply

      You are such a girl. 😉

  19. Alex April 19, 2014 at 12:39 am · Reply

    We like free stuff, and this free thing looks super cool.

    • Diana April 22, 2014 at 5:40 am · Reply

      This free thing is super fly.

  20. Chandra April 19, 2014 at 6:38 pm · Reply

    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! 🙂

    • Diana April 22, 2014 at 5:39 am · Reply

      Kelty rocks!!

  21. Gina Strickland June 24, 2015 at 7:50 am · Reply

    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.

    • Diana June 25, 2015 at 9:34 am · Reply

      That’s wonderful! I’m so glad it could help. The luggage is wonderful! Enjoy your time with Project Hope!

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