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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > JanSport Klamath > Test Report by Mark McLauchlin

Jansport Klamath 55 Pack
Initial Report 22nd December 2009
Field Report 11th March 2010

Long-Term Report 11th May 2010
By Mark McLauchlin

Pack


Reviewer Information

Name: Mark McLauchlin
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Height: 1.76 m (5 9)
Weight: 80 kg (176 lb)
Email: mark at swanvalleyit.com.au
City: Perth, Western Australia

Backpacking Background

I have been hiking since 2006 with most of my hiking consisting of day walks averaging 16 - 22 km (10 - 14 mi) and short overnight trips where possible. Most of my hiking is along the Bibbulmun Track and Coastal Plains Trail. I consider myself to be a light hiker with an average pack weight of 6 kg (13 lb), which I am working to reduce. I generally sleep in my tarp tent or huts that are often scattered along the various hiking trails.

Product Information

Manufacturer: Jansport
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.jansport.com
Listed Weight: 0.99 kg (2 lbs 2 oz)
Measured Weight: 1 kg (2 lbs 3 oz)
Size Tested: Medium
Volume: 55 L
Colour Tested: Red Curtain
Colour Variants: Navy
Materials: 210 Boxcar Dobby / 420 denier Velocity Nylon
Frame Type: Foamex framesheet with dual aluminium stays
MSRP: not listed


Product Description
The Jansport Klamath 55 is a top loading aluminium framed pack that boasts great features which do not dramatically add to its weight and still provides for a 'clean cut' looking pack. Described by the manufacturer as "Rugged durability and easy-to-adjust flexibility for multi-purpose backpacking treks."
 
Initial Impressions
The pack arrived in great condition as one would expect. The construction of the pack appears to be top quality. I have found no loose threads or inconsistencies in the build of the pack. The pack looks really stylish and I am very keen to put it to work. Below is a pictorial summary of some of the main features of the pack.

main compartment Large top loading main compartment
The Klamath is a single top loading compartment with single opening to provide entry into the main body of the pack. As can be seen from the image to the left there is nothing inside the main compartment with the exception of the water bladder sleeve, which makes for easy packing and access to items. The compartment is closed by a single drawcord with a line lock attached. The main compartment also features an extension collar that measures 27 cm (10.6 in) high and would appear to add a substantial amount of storage capacity. Again this extension collar is closed with a single drawcord and line lock.

A single zippered top pocket rests atop the main compartment of the Klamath. This pocket is large enough to fit small frequently accessed items such as medical, snacks and other small items. The pocket is secured to the main body by way of two compression straps on the back of the pack and two smaller straps on the front. It seems functional and effective.
ventech Ventech back panel
The Ventech back panel is one of the items the manufacturer, Jansport, chooses to place a great emphasis on as a determining factor when selecting packs. As can be seen the colour is a bright yellow and the texture is very much like an egg carton, with peaks and troughs. As quoted from Jansports website: "Our lightweight, highly breathable cushioned back panel not only protects the body from objects within the pack, it's engineered with circulation grooves to increase ventilation and create airflow, cooling the user's back."
I tend to sweat quite a lot while hiking, more so with the current high temperatures, so will be interested to see how much difference this makes.
side pockets Dual Zipped side gear pockets
Jansport's website highlights dual zippered side gear pockets, however the pack I have only has a single zipper on the side pocket, very curious. However so does the images located on the manufactures website. The image to the left shows the zipper on the pocket. The zip image aside the pocket does seem to be a good size and probably something that I would store maps and a trail journal in. It is a rather flat pocket however it does run the length of the pack.
water bottle pockets Dual Water bottle pockets
Each side of the Klamath contains a water bottle pocket as displayed in the image. They are constructed from a light weight mesh with an elastic hem at the top to assist with keeping the bottle in the pocket. My tests so far have only been with a 1 L water bottle however I do have other capacities and shapes which I will also try out and report on.
side compression Side compression straps
There are four side compression straps on the Klamath, two on each side, located at the top and bottom of the pack. Trying them out they appear to hold fast and do not slip under load. They are easy to tighten by simply pulling on the excess webbing or strap. To release the clip is pulled towards the back of the pack. Again these are functional and easy to use. I would make one comment and that is with the pack completely full there is still quite a large amount of strap remaining when uncompressed, this causes no issues it is merely a comment.

Zippered sleeping bag compartment with drop-down divider
The Jansport website also indicates the pack comes with a zipped sleeping bag compartment with a drop-down divider, alas this is no where to be found. The pack I have has a single main compartment with no extra compartments as suggested. I will make contact with the manufacturer and report on my finding to determine if there has perhaps been a misprint on their website.

 

Initial Trial
My initial trial of the Klamath was in the backyard the day it arrived. I packed it with all the gear I would normally take out for a hiking trip, which including water was approximately 6 kg or 13 lbs and the fit was perfect, exactly what I had hoped for after using an online sizing chart from one of Jansport's resellers. My measured torso length is 46 cm (18 in) and the guide recommended a size medium.
The pack fits well around the shoulder straps and hip belt and the feels very comfortable, much different to the frameless packs I am used to. I carried the weight around the backyard for about 20 minutes and still felt the pack fit was right and it remained comfortable. All the harness adjustments including hip belt and shoulder straps are very easy to adjust when the pack is on.

Reading the Instructions
The instructions were attached to the pack and address three primary areas: The pack itself, the suspension system and it's warranty.  The first two areas have already been addressed in the report however the warranty needs further explanation. Jansport offers a guarantee for life against normal wear and tear. Their exact words are "Quality. Durability. Reliability. That's what JanSport stands for. So if your pack ever breaks down, simply return it to our warranty center. We'll fix it or if we can't we'll replace it. We stand by our packs for a lifetime and since we've been making packs since 1967, that's a guarantee you can stand by."
The only other instructions with the pack are affixed to a label inside the main compartment and indicate that the pack should be cleaned with a damp cloth as necessary. Hand wash only. Do not use detergent or bleach. Line dry. Remove wet items immediately and washing leather not recommended.

Summary
The Jansport Klamath 55 is a great looking, functional pack without all the extra bells and whistles some packs have. Its basic, yet classy style mean it is not overly heavy for it's size.

Things I liked
Clean, uncluttered look of the pack.
Great sized main compartment.
Ventech back panel.
Big water bottle pockets.

Things I disliked
Nothing at this stage besides some inconsistencies on the manufacturers website.

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 Report
11th March 2010


Mt vincent

Field Conditions
During the Field Reporting period the Jansport Klamath 55 has accompanied me on four day walks, three overnight hikes and six aircraft flights. Temperatures this time of the year are the hottest, however this year it has been warmer than most. Several records have been broken from the most consecutive days without rain and higher than normal temperatures which have added some challenges while out hiking.

The day walks were all along the Bibbulmun Track and averaged a 15 km (9.3 miles) round trip. Temperatures again were quite high with an average of 22 C (72 F). The terrain was relatively flat and my pack weight average was 4.5 kg (9.9 lbs).

The Heritage Trail in the John Forrest National Park was the first overnight hike the Klamath accompanied me on. Trip length was 17 Km (10.5 miles), and their was no significant elevation gain or loss. The temperature was, at the time of recording, 22 C (72 F).

Myself and a fellow BGT tester went out on a multi-day hike in the Monadnocks National park where we stayed at a campsite overnight and returned the following afternoon. The total trip length was 14 km's (8.7 miles) and took us over some spectacular mountain tops including Mt Vincent and Mt Cuthbert. I recorded a whopping 37 C (99 F) during the return length back to the trailhead.

The last trip for the report phase was out to the Helena National park for an overnight hike, 22 km (13.6 miles) round trip. I recorded the maximum temperature to be 32 C (90 F) at 3 pm. My pack weight was light at around 5.8 kg (13 lbs) on this hike as there was no need to pack any warm layering.

Pack Contents

Gear List    
  Weight (g) Weight (oz)
GoLite Ultra20 Quilt 540 19.06
Therm-a-rest NeoAir 410 14.47
MLD Superlite Bivy 196 6.92
  1,146 40.45
     
Gramweenie Pro 15 0.53
Imusa Mug 69 2.44
Fuel 40 1.41
Orikaso Bowl 32 1.13
Light my fire Knife/Spoon Set 10 0.35
Cup Plastic 58 2.05
  224 7.91
     
Beanie 56 1.98
Socks DeFeet (second day) 48 1.69
Shirt (second day) 251 8.86
  355 12.53
     
1.5 Lt water bladder 1,614 56.97
Water Container (full 1 lt) 1,025 36.18
Mini First Aid Kit 148 5.22
Sea to Summit Silnilon Pack Cover 90 3.18
Essential Gear e2Q headlamp 28 0.9884
Toilet Paper 50 1.77
Toothbrush 4 0.1412
Toothpaste 8 0.28
Batteries x 2 CR2032 6 0.2118
3G mobile phone 92 3.25
  3,065 108.19
     
Breakfast x 1 - cerial 100 3.53
Lunch x 1 200 7.06
Dinner x 1 - home made dehydrated 126 4.45
Coffee or tea bags 8 0.28
  434 15.32
  5,224 184.41


Field Performance
The top loading compartment of the Klamath performed well, I really like the fact there is nothing to get in the way of storing and removing gear. It is a very simple, clean design that allows for fast easy access. The draw cord closure is effective and simple to use, performs its function well and as yet I have had no problems with cord fray, which often occurs. The 55 L volume is more than enough to fit my gear in for both single and multi-day hikes, as I consider myself to be a lightweight hiker so do not carry a lot of superfluous gear. The gear was packed with the heaviest items towards the mid/lower section of the compartment and the lighter items at the top or in the top removable enclosure. Due to the size of the pack I was conscious of ensuring that the pack was tested with varying amounts so its load support and stability could be compared. The pack weight ranged from 6 kg (13.2 lbs) to 10 kg (22 lbs) and in both situations I felt the load carried well, the hip-belt supported the majority of the weight and my shoulders retained none of the weight.

The Ventech back panel is an interesting topic of discussion, as the manufacturer puts a lot of emphasis on advertising this feature. When I initially tried the pack on I was excited by the fact the panel felt comfortable and would provide for some structure to the pack (not that it is always needed). I was also very interested to see how it would perform out in the field during our hot summer months. On one field trip I recorded the temperature as reaching 32 C (90 F) during the hottest part of the day, with a very mild warm breeze. My impressions of the Ventech back panel were that it did not meet my expectations of providing ventilation and cooling to my back. As quoted from the manufacturers website " it's engineered with circulation grooves to increase ventilation and create airflow, cooling the user's back. " My shirt was dripping in sweat when stopping for a rest break and for most of the time spent walking. The photo above is taken from one of the high points on Mt Vincent, along the Bibbulmun Track, and as an experiment I stood side on to the breeze with my arms raised horizontal to the ground in an attempt to allow airflow, and still I was not able to feel benefit. My experience would suggest that perhaps the Ventech panel rests too close to the body or that the circulation grooves are not deep enough to provide a gap for ventilation to occur. Now, ventilation aside, the Ventech panel did provide me with some great comfort and support, that part I did enjoy.

The removable top compartment on the Klamath is a single zippered compartment, approximately 8 to 10 L in size (I do not have a true accurate way to measure this), that as the name suggests is totally removable. Inside the compartment is a small clip for attaching items such as keys or other small loose items. The compartment is held on with four clips with compression straps to pull it down tight onto the main body of the pack. I found this to be very functional and performed as expected, perhaps it was a little on the large side for my normal use however it is still a nice feature. I was not able to use the compartment removed while out hiking however I did take the pack away with me on work (discussed later in the report). I was able to use it for my daily bag to and from the accommodation site to the work office.

I used the zippered side pockets, or zippered side pocket (singular) as in the case of the pack which was delivered, to store maps and a trail journal in. There isn't a huge amount to say about it apart from the fact it met my expectations, shows no signs of wear and tear and has not caused me any concerns while in use.

water bottle holder The water bottle holders on the Klamath seemed to be a little on the small side, and would suit a wider range of uses and bottle sizes had they been made larger. As can be seen from the image below, with a 700 ml bottle, the pocket could be deeper to fit the bottle a little better. The side compression strap also fits around the neck of the bottle for extra support to ensure it doesn't fall out, which was one of my fears out on the trail and I was continually checking to ensure it was still there. I did however find that the pockets were in a great position which meant that I was easily able to reach the contents while the pack remained on my back which is a great bonus.

 

H2O port The bladder sleeve and H2O port of the Klamath served their purpose well and provided for the ability to carry up to an additional 3 L  of water. The sleeve is positioned up against the front of the pack close to the wearers back which assists with the stability of the pack and its load and also ensures the bladder is protected from punctures etc. The only issue I had with this feature was that I found it a tough going to feed the bladder hose through from the inside of the pack. The hole was very tight and also part of the pack support frame partially blocked the area. Once that was overcome it performed well.

On one of past test series on a pack I received an email from a reader interested to know if I had been on any aircraft travel with the pack and if I had how did it perform. Up until that stage I had never really thought about taking a pack designed for hiking on an aircraft. Although not directly related to hiking I wanted to touch lightly on how the Klamath did take to air travel and during this phase of the report the opportunity arose. The pack came with me on six flights over a 3 day period while travelling to some remote areas of Western Australia for work purposes. The pack weight was a little over 12 kg (26.4 lbs) and contained general clothing my heavy work boots. Whilst in the cargo hold of the aircraft and during baggage handling the pack was contained within a duffle style bag specifically designed for this purpose. The duffle bag simply acted as a cover for the pack to ensure that the straps did not become tangled in any of the conveyor moving parts and provided minimal protection. The duffle bag did not have any form of padding inside. The pack did not suffer from any damage during any of the flights or while it was being handled on and off the aircraft. I was impressed with using a pack for air travel and I felt I had more freedom than the traditional pull type of bag I generally use. I am now converted and will continue to use a pack for travel.

Customer service is quite an important aspect of any company as far as I am concerned. In the case of Jansport I would have to give them a less than satisfactory rating in this area. During my Initial Report I suggested there were two inconsistencies relating to information on the manufacture's website and what the pack actually has. Namely the listing of a zippered sleeping bag compartment and dual zippered side compartments, neither of which the supplied pack has. I have since emailed customer service twice about this and to date have not received a reply. Quite disappointing.

Summary
The Klamath 55 by Jansport has been a great pack to use and has met all of my expectations in terms of functionality, durability and weight. The pack shows no signs of wear and tear and looks like it will see many years of use and stand up well against some the harsh conditions here in Australia.

Things I liked
Comfort
Durability
Load capacity

Things I disliked
Ventech back panel (poor ventilation, good comfort)
Customer service
 


Pack on the trail

Thank you to Jansport and BackpackGearTest.org for the privilege of testing the Klamath 55.
This concludes my Field Report for the Jansport Klamath 55 Pack.

 


Long-Term Report
11th May 2010

The pack has been out with me on a further two day hikes, covering an average of 15 km (9.32 miles) on each trip. The terrain was relatively flat and temperatures were very mild, with no precipitation on either trip. The contents of my pack on a day hike reduce significantly compared to an overnight hike. The average pack weight was around 1.5 kg (3.31 lbs). The pack has also been on another flight with me, and as per previous reports it does travel well.

The Jansport Klamath 55 has been a great pack for me to test, particularly over the past few months where I have been recovering from some recent surgery to my neck. How has this been great to test you may ask? Well quite simply the Klamath has provided for some great relief due to its excellent hip-belt system, and what I consider to be a very well designed combination of compression straps which pull the pack contents together, keeping the weight distribution close to my back which in turn reduces some of the 'sway'.

There is not a great deal of information I can add to my previous reports on the Jansport as I still feel it provides great comfort, the durability is excellent as there are no signs of wear and tear, and it carries a load very well, all of which were identified as "Things I liked" in the Field Report. The things I disliked about the pack still remain also. I do feel that the Ventech Back Panel has not lived up to my expectations during this test. The temperatures are becoming lower now and I haven't noticed this being as much of an issue. I still have not heard back from the customer service team and suspect that I never will. I guess had there been a fault with the pack I would be more concerned about this, but none-the-less it is good to receive a response when a question is asked.

Summary

This is a great pack and something I will continue to use when I need some extra room. My comments, thoughts and suggestions throughout this report all still hold. Would I recommend this pack to someone else? Most definitely.

This concludes my Long-Term Report and the test series for the Jansport Klamath 55 Pack.

Thank you to Jansport and BackpackGearTest.org for the privilege of testing this great pack.

 

 

Read more reviews of JanSport gear
Read more gear reviews by Mark McLauchlin

Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > JanSport Klamath > Test Report by Mark McLauchlin



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