Gear Review: Kulkea Käydä Carry-on Backpack

By Wendy Clinch •  Updated: 10/13/20 •  6 min read

I don’t know about you, but the coronavirus has me going a bit stir crazy. Staying home all the time can be a drag, yet venturing out can be a real risk. For me, flying anywhere is a definite no. The idea of traveling through a crowded airport, going through security, waiting with all those people at the gate, and then sitting shoulder to shoulder with who knows who on a plane — I just don’t feel comfortable with that yet. So last week, after staying home continually since March, my husband and I finally decided to leave our safe home in Vermont and drive to Acadia National Park, Maine, to do some hiking.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Packing for a car trip is easy, because, well, you have the car, and you can throw in whatever you like. Unsure if you need it or not? Take it. There’s loads of space. You really don’t have to worry too much about packing light. But often, that’s not the case. You need a bag that can hold a lot of stuff, yet doesn’t take up a lot of room. And that’s when  you need a bag like Kulkea’s new Käydä backpack.

I really like backpacks, so I was delighted when Kulkea sent me the Käydä to review, especially since I’ve been a fan of the company ever since I discovered them at the Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo a few years ago. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that I’ve reviewed their Kantaja ski bagSP Pro boot bag,  Micro PackPowder Trekker boot bagTandem Duffle and Talvi X boot bag. And if you read those, you’ll see that I’ve never met a Kulkea bag I didn’t like. Time after time, I’ve been impressed with how the company manages to combine utility and quality into each of its products. Everything is extremely well designed. It’s as if someone actually thought about the features we could use and went ahead and incorporated them into the piece. Crazy, huh?

I asked David Abramowtiz, one of the company’s founders, why Kulkea developed this pack. “Aside from skiing, travel is a real passion of mine,” he said. “I love to travel just about anywhere. Trains, planes, automobiles and boats; they’re all good to me. Whether it’s a warm weather getaway or a venture around the world, I love it all. Best is when I can combine skiing and travel into one, which I’ve been doing a lot of over the past several seasons. And, from all this travel came the idea for the Käydä, which in Finnish means to visit. The objective was to develop a smartly designed, carry-on sized premium travel backpack that could do it all. It had to be the perfect carry-on companion with the flexibility for a weekend away at the beach, an international sightseeing jaunt, or a flight to ski somewhere exotic.”

So I had high hopes for the Kayda pack, too. And once again, I was not disappointed.

Here’s what I liked

• This is one nice looking bag. It’s sleek and stylish and far nicer than any backpack I’ve ever seen. The exterior is made of 900D polyester, This makes it extremely light weight, durable, and water proof, three things that you want in a back pack.

• LOADS of room. Seriously, you can fit a lot of stuff in this bag. It can easily accommodate enough stuff for 3-5 days. I know, because that’s what I packed for. Even better, the main compartment has a zipper that allows it to expand to give you even more room, which is pretty sweet.

The expandable interior has lots of room.


The detachable travel kit.

• Lots of compartments. This isn’t like a backpack where you put things in and end up with a jumbled mess. There are lots of designated places to put just about everything. There’s a padded compartment for your laptop, three zippered interior toiletry compartments, an exterior pocket perfect for sunglasses, another for travel documents, an exterior side item pocket, and a magnetic water bottle holder. One thing I especially like is the detachable travel kit. This is separate external pack that’d be great for a plane trip. You simply detach it before stowing the pack in the overhead bin and take your seat with everything you need for your flight: headphones, tablets, books, backup batteries, mints, medications, and so on. There’s no need to fish through your bag to find things or go back and forth to the overhead bin. What’s even cooler is that the travel kit comes with an extra strap that turns it into a cross-body bag you can carry separately from the pack.


• Yes, you can use it as a boot bag. Or not. The main compartment has a zip-out divider that essentially turns it into two separate compartments. You could put your boots on one side and clothes or whatever in the other. I used it to separate my dirty clothes from my clean clothes, so there’s that, too. There are vents on the sides of the pack for drainage (in the case of boots), or just a bit of aeration. And since it doesn’t feature the triangular compartments you’ll find in other boot bags, I think it’s a bit easier to fit in an airplane overhead.


A retractable sling for your jacket or helmet.

• A sling for your helmet or jacket.  This retracts from a zip-out compartment on the  bottom of the pack. Use it to carry your jacket or ski helmet.


• Lots of carrying options. One of the things I love about backpacks is how they leave your arms free for other things. The downside is that shoulder straps aren’t always comfortable. That’s not the case here. The straps are nicely padded and easy to adjust. There are chest and waist straps, too, which keeps the pack stable and prevents the straps from sliding down your arms. If you want to carry the backpack like a regular suitcase, you can do that, too, thanks to handles on the sides. There’s also a luggage pass-through strap, so you can hook it onto the handle of a rolling suitcase, if you so desire.

Was there anything you didn’t like?

Let me think……no.

So what’d you think, Ski Diva?

Once again, Kulkea hits it out of the park. If you’re looking for a versatile backpack — one that you can take on a ski trip or a trip just about anywhere, this is it. With the Käydä, quality, features, and style come together in a winning combination. Two ski poles up!

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