JANSPORT KLAMATH 55 BACKPACK
TEST SERIES BY BRIAN HARTMAN
INITIAL REPORT - December 01, 2009
FIELD REPORT - March 14, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - May 10, 2010
5' 9" (1.75 m)
145 lb (65.80 kg)
I have been hiking and camping for over 20 years and enjoy backpacking solo and with my kids in Scouting. I especially enjoy fall and winter backpacking and camping. My backpack and gear are older and weigh 40+ lbs (18 kg). This has limited the distances I have been able to cover while hiking. My goal over the next several years is to replace my existing clothing and gear with more suitable and lighter weight alternatives.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.jansport.com
MSRP: US $139.95
Listed Weight: 2 lbs 3 oz (0.9 kg)
Measured Weight: 2 lbs 3 oz (0.9 kg)
Capacity: 3302.6 cu in (54.12 L)
Dimensions: 28 in high x 13 in wide x 11 in deep (71 cm x 33 cm x 28 cm)
Fabric: 210 Boxcar Dobby / 420 Denier Velocity Nylon
Color Tested: Navy
Recommended Torso Length: 16 in (40 cm)
Backpack Features (from Jansport's website):
* Unbound-edge AirCore™ shoulder straps
* Large top-loading main compartment
* Ventech™ back panel
* Dual water bottle pockets
* Side compression straps
* Foamex framesheet with dual aluminum stays
* Front storage pocket
* Daisy chain quick clip points
* Four point compression straps
* Ice axe loop
* Haul loop
Right out of the box I was impressed with the Klamath 55. The first thing I noticed was the navy blue and grey color scheme. As I spent more time inspecting the backpack, I was impressed by the high quality workmanship that went into sewing the fabric. Jansport has paid great attention to detail; I found no loose threads, fraying material, or uneven seams. In addition, the buckles and zippers work well and both zippers have pull-cords to make grasping the zippers easier. Although the Klamath 55 is lightweight, it looks and feels very strong. It is constructed of 210 Boxcar Dobby and 420 Denier Velocity Nylon fabric. I could easily imagine stuffing this pack with enough gear for several days on the trail.
The Klamath 55 features a large top-loading main compartment with a lid that is attached to the pack by four buckled webbing straps. The lid contains a large pocket measuring 9 in x 8 in x 3 in (22 x 20 x 7.6 cm). Inside this pocket is a small plastic clip, suitable for attaching keys or other gear. The backpack also has two side mesh water bottle pockets and a large front stash pocket. The water bottle pockets are large enough to hold my 32oz (0.94 L) nalgene bottle. The front stash pocket measures 20 in x 8 in x 2 in (50 x 20 x 5 cm) and is accessible by a vertical zipper which is offset to one side of the pocket. Running vertically down the center of the front stash pocket are five daisy chain quick clip points. There are two compression straps on each side of the Klamath 55. These are intended to help compress the pack when it is not stuffed full. The pack also has two straps that connect to the lid that can be used to lock-down a full pack. There is a hydration pocket inside the main compartment and an exit hole just above the pocket where the tube from a hydration bladder can be run. The exit hole is marked by a water icon and the word "hydrate", and there are webbing straps on the left and right shoulder straps to easily secure the sip tube.
For suspension, the Klamath 55 utilizes two lightweight aluminum stays with what is described by Jansport as the Ventech back panel. From the hang tag on the backpack, "the Ventech back panel is comprised of a foamex framesheet that is constructed using a waffle foam pattern covered with mesh". The back panel seems to provide a good deal of strength, stability and support for the backpack. The shoulder straps are made from dual-density foam.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The Klamath 55 came with a hang tag consisting of three cards. The first card listed the specs and a few features of the Klamath 55. The second card briefly described the suspension system with Foamex framesheet and dual aluminum stays. The third card explained Jansport's lifetime warranty. There is a small tag inside the main compartment with care instructions that simply state "clean with damp cloth as necessary, hand wash only, do not use detergent or bleach, line dry".
TRYING IT OUT
Although I am used to a large external frame pack, I was able to stuff most of my camping gear for a weekend trip into the Klamath. This included my sleeping bag, first aid kit, rain jacket, rain pants, MSR stove and cookpot, a spare set of socks and underwear, toiletries. In addition, I put a Nalgene water bottle in each side pocket. I had to strap my full length Therma-rest pad and tent to the outside of the pack.
I put on the pack and proceeded to adjust the waist belt and shoulder straps. Both were extremely easy to adjust. The waist belt was comfortable and supportive, and helped to minimize the weight on my shoulders. Next, I slid the sternum strap to the proper location and adjusted it to fit the width of my torso. Once again, this was very easy to do. When fully loaded and properly adjusted, the Klamath 55 does indeed feel like a comfortable fit. The water bottle pockets are easy to reach without taking off the backpack.
The light weight design definitely helps with my goal of trimming some weight off my load and it still feels comfortable enough to carry a substantial amount of supplies.
A few things I have noticed that might need improvement are the short bedroll straps, since I'm maxing them out when I attach the stuff sack with my sleeping bag and pad. I would also like a few extra pockets for storing items since the main compartment is only accessible from the top. The Klamath 55 is a top-loading pack. There is no other access to the main compartment (i.e., no sleeping bag access on the bottom).
The Jansport Klamath 55 appears to be a well-designed backpack for multi-day trips. It is comfortable with plenty of room for essentials. I am looking forward to putting it through its paces.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During Field Testing I have used the Jansport Klamath 55 backpack for a total of seven days in the following locations:
Franklin County, Indiana (IN): This was a two day backpacking trip that covered 6 mi (9.6 km). I carried approximately 24 lbs (10 kg) across hilly, forested terrain. The weather during this trip was partly sunny with temperatures in the mid 20's F (-3 C).
Brown County State Park, IN: Daytime temperatures during this three day backpacking trip ranged from 28 F (-2 C) to 34 F (1 C), with nighttime temperatures around 22 F (-5 C). The weather was cloudy with light winds and heavy snowfall. The terrain was hilly and slippery and consequently I only hiked 6 mi (9.6 km) over the course of this trip. I began this outing with approximately 30 lbs (13 kg) of food, water and gear. This included a pair of insulated hiking boots I tied to my pack in case my hiking shoes couldn't handle the deep snow.
Cool Creek Park, Westfield, IN: I spent several days hiking in this park averaging 2 mi (3.2 km) on each trip. I brought the Klamath 55 to carry food, water and extra clothing.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
My experience with the Klamath 55 has been mostly positive. I am pleased with the fit and performance of this backpack thus far but wish there was more room for my gear inside the pack and additional gear straps on the exterior.
Fit & Comfort: Overall this pack fits well and is very comfortable to wear. The Aircore shoulder straps are well padded and wide enough to provide good cushioning under heavy loads. In addition, the strap edges are smooth with no rough edges that would cause rubbing. The shoulder straps are fairly easy to adjust as needed for a good fit. The load lifter and sternum straps are positioned well and enabled me to fine tune the pack fit.
The aluminum stay suspension system is lightweight and functional. The suspension does a great job transferring the bulk of the load to my hips, thereby minimizing strain on my lower back. The suspension system and the backpack in general have moved well with my body. It has been fairly easy for me to scamper over boulders and downed trees. In addition, Jansport's Ventech foam back panel remains comfortable against my back even after many hours of hiking. The hip belt transfers weight more comfortably than previous packs I've used. The padded portion of the hip belt is wide and long. This helped to distribute the pack weight across a broad area and made it comfortable for me to carry a heavy load while at Brown County State Park. The hip belt fits nicely, and has been very comfortable with no pinching. The hip belt buckle is strong and easy to clip but it can be difficult to undo. The shoulder stabilizer straps, sternum strap, shoulder harness adjustment straps, and hip belt have all been quick and easy to adjust.
The Klamath 55 is narrow enough that it has not impaired my arm movements while hiking with trekking poles. Another big plus is that, because of its narrow profile, I have yet to snag it on any tree limbs or brush.
Storage Space: At times I struggled to get all my gear into this pack. After loading my two-person tent and synthetic 15 degree F (-9 C) sleeping bag in the main compartment, there was not much room left for my clothing and food. I was barely able to fit everything for my three day trip. Once everything was loaded, I closed the lid, put my water bottles in the mesh pockets and then proceeded to tie my sleeping pad to the outside of the pack. I ran a rope through the ice axe loop and quick clip points to secure my sleeping pad but once I was on the trail, my sleeping pad kept working its way loose. After stopping multiple times to secure it, I found myself wishing that there were gear straps on either side of the ice axe loop to securely hold larger items in place. This would also provide more space inside the pack for other items. I guess I will have to rethink my choice of shelter and sleeping bag in favor of items that are less bulky.
The zippered lid pocket has proven to be very useful. I generally use it to keep items handy such as my first aid kit, GPS, headlamp and fire starter. The front stash pocket is just large enough to fit a lightweight rain jacket, providing quick access to it in case of a sudden downpour. The lack of additional pockets has made it difficult at times to keep my gear well organized. It would be nice to have more pockets to access gear without having to dig it out from the main compartment, including possibly a shoulder strap pocket or hip belt pocket for smaller items. To date, I have not had to use the side compression straps, as my pack has always been full.
Ventilation: While the pack rode securely on my back, the design of the Ventech foam back panel allowed for good back to pack separation and thus adequate ventilation in this area. Consequently I have not had any issues regarding sweat in this area. Since winter is not an ideal time to evaluate the breathability of the back panel, I will report more on this once the weather warms up.
Weather Resistance: The Klamath 55 has moderate water resistant properties. The 420 denier nylon fabric will eventually soak through if carried in the rain for an extended period of time or if it is put down in water, thus soaking the pack contents.
Durability: The pack has held up well during Field Testing. The padding of the shoulder straps and hip belt are in good shape, retaining their cushioning properties. The pack material is fully intact, showing little wear and no snagging. All the seams are still nice and tight with no loose threads anywhere. Finally, the zippers and buckles work as good as the day the pack arrived on my doorstep.
I have enjoyed wearing this pack over the past few months. Overall the Klamath 55 fits me well and is relatively comfortable even with heavy loads. It is rugged, has decent storage capacity, and has room for two water bottles in the mesh pockets. I would not hesitate to take it on a multi-day trip. Its close fit gives me much better balance than my external frame backpack when scrambling up steep hills or over fallen trees.
I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Jansport for giving me the opportunity to test this pack.
This concludes my Field Report. My Long Term Report will be posted in approximately 2 months. Please check back then for my final review.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have used the Jansport Klamath 55 on two weekend trips, totaling 5 days, since my Field Report. In addition, I have carried it on several day hikes with my kids at a local park. My weekend trips were to Franklin County, Indiana. On my first trip I hiked a 4.1 mile (6.6 km) loop across rolling hillsides at elevations ranging from 680 ft (207 m) to 850 ft (259 m). During this trip, the weather was sunny and daytime temperatures stayed around 65 F (21 C). The wind was gusty during the day but calmed down at night during with the temperatures dropping to the upper 40's F (9 C).
My second trip was a family outing during which I hiked 5.5 miles (9 km) along deer trails through thick forests. The weather during this trip was mostly sunny with daytime highs of 72 F (22 C). The night time temperatures were a comfortable 60 F (15 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
In general, I have been pleased with the performance of the Jansport Klamath 55. I have found it to be well made and well balanced. There is enough room inside this pack for me to carry a weekend's worth of warm weather gear. When the weather gets cooler and a sleeping pad is necessary, it can be strapped to the outside of the pack with a few caveats; see below for details. Finally, the pack is lightweight but rugged, and the suspension system provides plenty of comfort while carrying loads within the pack's rating.
On my weekend trips I carried roughly 35 lbs (16 kg) of food, water and gear including the following items:
- Sierra Designs ZETA 2 tent
- Small pillow
- 3/4" (2 cm) self inflating sleeping pad (strapped to outside)
- Sleeping bag
- Small stove
- Liquid fuel bottle
- Cooking pot
- 2-3 Nalgene water bottles
- Miscellaneous (First Aid kit, Firestarting kit, Utensils and Food Prep Items, Survival items)
- Extra clothing
- Rain jacket
Although I have found this backpack comfortable with 35 lbs (16 kg) of gear, it would be a challenge for me to carry much more weight as I have run out of room to put things. Due to difficulty in fitting all of my cool weather gear into the Klamath, I have attempted to carry my sleeping pad on the outside of the pack. This has created a couple of problems which first surfaced during Field Testing. In short, it is very difficult to secure anything large to the outside of the pack. On both of my outings, I had trouble keeping my sleeping pad secured to the back of the Klamath 55. It continuously slid to the left or right and eventually worked its way out of the rope I had used to secure it. This meant I had to stop, drop my pack and fuss around retying it to the pack. After doing this several times, I began reaching behind my body to try to hold the sleeping pad with one hand. Of course this was much easier to do while hiking on level ground. While scrambling over rocks and fallen trees it was nearly impossible to keep one hand behind my back. Left on its own, the sleeping pad moved around considerably, creating some off-balance moments for me.
With the current design of the Klamath 55 the only points that can be used to secure a rope to the pack are the ice haul loop and the daisy chain loop, both of which are located along the centerline of the pack. It would be easy enough to sew a pair of straps to the bottom of the pack and place them approximately 12" (30 cm) apart. Another suggestion to Jansport would be to add a 2nd set of daisy chain loops, and then reposition both daisy chains so that they are spaced as far from centerline of the pack as possible.
The Jansport Klamath 55 is a rugged backpack. It is lightweight and is good for weekend backpacking trips as well as long day hikes with family. It is durable, has proven to be fairly water resistant, and is comfortable when loaded.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
This concludes my report on the Jansport Klamath 55 Pack. Thanks to Jansport for providing this pack for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in the test.
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