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Kelty - where it all began.


Kelty Heritage

Kelty Heritage

Since 1952, Kelty has built affordable, reliable outdoor gear that enables everyone, from the first-time camper to the experienced mountaineer, to embrace any experience with confidence. Follow us on Facebook for the latest updates and happenings! 
Kelty: The Active Family Experts.

2013: DriDown™ & AirPitch™

DriDown™ , the game-changing hydrophobic down insulation, is used for the first time by Kelty in the Ignite DriDown series sleeping bags.

Kelty introduces the first inflatable tent with the launch of AirPitch™ , making setup and takedown of tents lightning fast.

2012: Trekking Poles

Offering shock absorption for comfort and telescoping length adjustment for a perfect fit, Kelty enters the trekking pole market with Upland 1.0 and Ridgeline 2.0 trekking poles.

2011: Lighting

The unique and highly functional LumaTwist and LumaPivot lanterns highlight this complete line of camp, outdoor, and multifunctional lighting.

2005: Camouflage

Kelty adds camouflage fabric to internal, external, and daypacks.

2002: 50th Anniversary Pack

Kelty commemorates its 50th anniversary with a special-edition frame pack. The KIDS line introduces a completely redesigned line of kid carriers and accessories.

2001: Hydration Packs and Jogging Strollers

Kelty’s first hydration packs are produced. These new pack come with bladders included. The KIDS line is expanded with three new models of jogging strollers.

2000: Clothing

Kelty introduces a new complete line of clothing including mountain wear, rain wear, wind wear, down-filled and fleece.

1999: Kid Carrier expansion

The Kid Carrier line is expanded to six models plus a complete assortment of accessories including a kid’s play tent, a sleeping bag, and travel gear.

1998: Pangaea Travel

The Pangaea line of travel packs, luggage and accessories is launched. Kelty moves its headquarters to Boulder, Colorado.

1996: Grateful Dead

Through a licensing agreement, Kelty produces a line of Grateful Dead products, including a day pack, a fanny pack, and a leather briefcase. A diaper day pack and accessory items are added to the KIDS line.

1994: Kid Carriers

The child carrier line expands to three carriers. The Panda, Koala and Kangaroo all featured Safety, Comfort and Ease of Use.

1992 Kelty KIDS Introduces Child Carriers

In 1992, Kelty enters the kid carrying business with the "Kelty Child Carrier". This iconic pack was built around a tubular aluminum frame. This kid carrier was based on the classic Kelty pack design proven in 40 years of wilderness use. See the full line of Kelty KIDS carriers.

1990: Family camping

Kelty enters the family camping business with rectangular sleeping bags and family-sized tents.

1988: Radial Pack

Kelty introduces the radically designed Radial external frame pack and the Windfoil series of tents. The 1988 catalog was produced in support of the World Wildlife Fund.

1987: First women's catalog

Kelty produces its first women’s-specific catalog, highlighting internal and external packs, along with sleeping bags designed for women.

1982: Dick Kelty's Signature 30th Anniversary Pack

An anniversary pack is introduced, featuring Dick’s embroidered signature on the label, complete with rain cover and fanny pack. The first Kelty travel-pack series, synthetic sleeping bags, and tents are all introduced.

1981: Kelty Luggage

Eleven pieces of luggage are introduced. Now six styles of internal frame packs and eight styles of external frame packs are in the Kelty line. The color blue is added to the pack line.

1979: American Recreation Products

American Recreation Products purchases Kelty. Additional pieces of men’s and women’s Gore-Tex clothing are added to the line.

1978: Waterproof/breathable clothing

Kelty produces their first Gore-Tex clothing. Introduction of six new models of daypacks and the first adjustable-frame kids’ packs, the 4/C and 4/D.

1977: 25th Anniversary

Kelty celebrates its 25th anniversary and introduces the Sonora frame pack, a full-feature pack featuring a front- and top-opening main compartment.

1975: First Kelty clothing

Kelty introduces down-insulated jackets and special-make-up, Kelty-labeled down sleeping bags.  Kelty packs are used on the American ascent of K2.

1974: Internal frame pack

Kelty introduces its first internal frame packs, the Ruck Sack; the Haul Pack; and the "Tour Pack," which sells for 49 dollars. Down booties and dog packs are also added. Standard D-4 and A-4 external frame packs get padded waist belts.

1973: "Full-feature" packs

Kelty introduces the Tioga and Serac packs, the first new designs since the early 1950’s.

The new packs feature a fully padded, one-piece waistbelt, larger-capacity bag, covered zippers, waterproof fabric, and a new cam-lock buckle. The Serac features a covered sleeping bag compartment. Additional daypacks are also added to the line.

1972: CML, Inc.

Boston-based CML, Inc. purchases Kelty, and Dick remains chairman through CML’s six years of ownership.

1971: Daypacks

Kelty produces two models of daypacks.

1970: First quick-release buckle

Dick Kelty designs and produces the first stainless steel, quick-release waist belt buckle used on a back pack.

1969: Non-green packs

The new BB5 pack is introduced in red with a large main compartment and five outside pockets. Kelty also brings to market the air mattress, camp pillow, nylon-covered sleeping pad, and rain poncho.

1968: New factory

Kelty's production facility is moved to a new factory in Sun Valley, California.

1966: Antarctica Expedition

Kelty packs are used on the National Geographic Antarctica expedition.

1965: Rain covers

Backpack rain covers are introduced.

1963: Mt. Everest expedition

Kelty packs are used exclusively on the first American ascent of the West Ridge of Mt. Everest.

1962: Retail and mail order

Kelty’s retail and mail-order divisions are moved to a larger building on Victory Blvd.

1956: Kelty, full-time

Dick Kelty quits his carpentry business to focus on Kelty Packs full-time. He buys an old barber shop and opens his first retail store and "factory" in Glendale, California.

1954: Sales more than double

Sales increase to 220 packs this year.

1953: Sales triple

Kelty sells 90 back packs.

1952: Kelty Pack is born

After several years of making packs in his home garage for friends, Dick sells 29 packs in his first year of business for 24 dollars each. Dick hand-forms and welds each of the frames, and his wife, Nena, sews each of the pack bags. Kelty packs first include aircraft-aluminum contoured frames, padded shoulder straps, waist belts, clevis-pin attachment of pack bags, nylon pack cloth, zippered pockets, hold-open frames, and nylon back bands. The first shoulder straps were produced using wool carpeting for padding. The original clevis pins were made from aircraft rivets.