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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > JanSport Whittaker Pack > Test Report by David Bradish

JANSPORT WHITTAKER LT PACK
TEST SERIES BY DAVID BRADISH
LONG-TERM REPORT
March 05, 2008

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: David Bradish
EMAIL: davebradish@gmail.com
AGE: 45
LOCATION: Southern California USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 2" (1.88 m)
WEIGHT: 165 lb (74.80 kg)

I started hiking in my teens in Arizona and New Mexico, primarily focusing on winter hiking. Since 1991 I have hiked a lot with my brother-in-law Ray mostly in California's Sierra Nevada range, and the southern mountains. In winter I bring as much gear as necessary to be safe and comfortable. For 3-season hiking I try to follow the principles of ultra light.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: JanSport
Web site: www.jansport.com
Product: Whittaker LT
Size: Large
Year manufactured: 2007
MSRP: N/A
Weight listed: 5 lb 2 oz/2.3 kg
Weight measured: 5 lb 3.2 oz/2.4 kg
Volume: 4600 cu in/75.4 L
Torso length: 19-21"/48-53 cm
My torso length for packs: 19.5"/50 cm
Color: Skydiver Blue
IMAGE 1

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Whittaker LT is an internal frame backpack. With the type of hiking that I do this will fit into the size that I use for winter backpacking. It holds a lot of gear. It came to me looking exactly like what I had seen on the JanSport website. It had a hang tag printed in English and French telling about the company the warranty and the features of the pack.

The main body is made of white diamond and cross patterned VX07 sailcloth. The diamond pattern is made of ultra-strong Dyneema threads. The cross pattern is nylon thread rip-stop. The pockets, back, reinforced wings and lid panels are made of blue 840 Denier Junior Ballistic nylon. It is a top loading pack with no sleeping bag compartment or divider.

The front pocket looks like 6" x 6"/15 x 15 cm but is 12" x 13"/30 x 33 cm actually inside. It has a zipper running down the right side of the pocket. The front of the pocket has the Whittaker name and mountains logo embroidered on it. The thing that looks like another lower pocket below is just a vertical side zipper access to the main pack.

At the top of the pack body an 8"/20 cm sleeve extends to increase the capacity of the pack. A cord lock and drawstring is at top and bottom of the sleeve. A Woo Jin Flex buckle on a nylon strap goes over the pack opening to secure it.

On the sides are some very big pockets that JanSport calls 3D water bottle pockets with pass-thru gear sleeves. They have a panel or gusset to give room when the pack is full. They are topped with black elastic.

Inside of the pack is an 8" x 13"/20 x 33 cm hydration pocket. It is pleated and topped with elastic.

The Whittaker has 6 compression straps 2 on each side and 2 across the front of the pack. These can be used for carrying gear also.

On top of the pack is a floating lid that is one big pocket. It has a zipper running horizontally. It has a key hook inside it. The lid/pocket is removable by undoing 4 flex clips. It does not double as a fanny pack but can just be left to cut down on weight. This is something that I do quite often. All of the zippers have rubberized cloth pulls on them.

The Whittaker has two tool loops and the hook and loop tool keepers above them are big. It also has tie on points; four on the front and two on the lid that are made of rubberized fabric and are sewn on flat.
IMAGE 2
The shoulder straps are curved and are what JanSport calls unbound edge and laminated shoulder straps with dual density foam. The foam feels pretty stiff. The shoulder straps tighten with the usual nylon adjustment straps and these ones have thumb loops sewn on to the ends. I have never used thumb loops but will try them out with the Whittaker. At the top of the shoulder pads is a grab/hang loop.

A sternum strap runs up and down on a nylon webbing rail for adjustment. It has a fabric loop to run a hydration tube through near right shoulder strap.

The same dual density foam as in the shoulder straps is used in the hip belt that closes with a Woo Jin Flex Double Stealth buckle. The belt has a zippered pocket on the left side, on the other is a gear loop for carabiners and the like.

The weight is handled by the use of a high-density polyethylene framesheet with dual 6061 tubular aluminum stays. A very stiff dense foam backpanel covers the framesheet and has a center indent to channel warm air away from the back. Above the backpanel is a small head indent to allow helmet use.

The shoulder straps adjust for torso length and width by moving the nylon tabs that hold them to a different key-hole in the HDPE framesheet behind the foam backpanel.
IMAGE 3


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I used the Whittaker on an overnight hike along the PCT in the desert by Palm Springs California. The temperatures were from 44 F/7 C to 79 F/26 C. I had almost two gallons/7 liters of water with me which put the weight at 38 lb/17.2 kg.

I used it on an overnight hike by San Jacinto Mountain. The weight was about the same due to having to carry water again. The temperatures were from 32 F/0 C to 65 F/18 C. This is a picture by the North Fork San Jacinto River which was dry because of our bad drought.
IMAGE 1
The third time was an overnight trip to Little Round Valley in San Jacinto State park in the snow after three storms in 10 days. The temperatures were from 40 F/4 C to 20 F/-7 C. Elevations ranged from 5000'/1500 m to almost 11000'/3350 m. The snow was almost 3'/1 m deep in spots.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

So far the Whittaker has been more pack than I need as winter took a little longer to get here than I expected. But it is a very nice pack.

For the first two hikes I had a lot of water as I was carrying two days worth. I used two Nalgene bottles and two Platypus bottles. The side pockets work very well for the Nalgene bottles. They are perfect for them. They even fit with a bottle insulator on them. I wish all my packs had side pockets like these.

I put the platys inside the pack. One of them went in the hydration sleeve and one I tried to keep as high and close to my back as I could. But I did not have much actual stuff in the pack. My normal load in the fall when it is warm is less than 20 lb/9 kg so even with the weight of the water the pack did not have a lot in it. I did not even use my sleeping bags stuff sack but just put the bag in the cotton storage sack in the lower half of the pack. After my tent pad and other stuff was in it looked full but was very light. The water kept sliding down to the bottom.

I ran a water tube though the port on the right side of the pack and saw one thing I think that it needs. It could use a loop on the shoulder straps to run the tube through to keep it from swinging around. The Whittaker is the only pack I have that does not have this. I had to use an alligator clip to attach it to my right shoulder strap.

But it carried very well. It felt like I had nothing on my back. I really like the hip belt. It seemed stiff at first but it puts the weight across my hips pretty nice. And it is not real poofy like the one on my other winter pack.. The shoulder straps were nice too.

The air channel on the backpanel did not do much on the trip I took in summer conditions. My back got very hot. So did the rest of me though.

On the snow trip we took I got to fill the Whittaker up but still did not have a lot of weight in it. I carried all of my brother in laws big light stuff like sleeping bag and down coat, tent bodies, and spare clothes along with mine in the Whittaker. He carried all the small heavy stuff like stove and fuel, poles, filter and first aid in his Talon. Then after we set up base camp he carried my water and lunch and rain gear as we went to the peak without me having to carry a big pack. We swapped off carrying the summit pack when we would change places breaking trail. There was a lot of untracked snow up high. It worked great. I now know that the Whittaker works as a Sherpa pack at least for me.

The straps that go across the front of the pack worked well to carry my snow shoes until I needed to put them on. This is another detail that I think all winter packs should have. I really like them. Good job Jansport.

All of the rest of my hikes with the Whittaker should be in the snow from here on out.

This concludes my field report.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

3 day trip to San Jacinto State park started with 52.5 lb/23.8 kg including 3 L/3.2 quarts of water, snowshoes and climbing gear. It was a bushwhacking trip over fresh untracked snow as it stormed before and during the hike. It was carried about 11 miles/18 km.

2 day trip to the same area with one of my daughters with a starting weight of 49 lb/22 kg. We only went 4.6 miles/7.4 km over 3 ft/3 m of packed snow.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Whittaker has continued to do a great job hauling my gear around the mountains of southern California. I had it stuffed to the brim and then some with gear for a winter climbing trip to Mt San Jacinto. On this trip I carried my snowshoes at the side. I really liked that I could put the tails of my snow shoes into the side pockets and then keep them in place with the side compression straps. I tried using the gear loops but did not like how low it put the shoes.

My ice ax was held securely by the tool keeper, and it was very easy to open with gloves on. I think this is the best tool keeper I have used with gloves on so far.

The next trip saw me carrying less weight but more volume as I swapped climbing gear like crampons, ice ax and helmet for a lot of my daughters stuff to cut the weight in her pack. This made for a lot of stuff strapped on the outside. I put both our pads on the outside of the pack to the sides of the front pocket but used a long accessory strap to hold them on instead of the Whittaker's compression straps.

The big front pocket works great for keeping hats, gloves and my shell in. I find myself having to add or subtract layers a lot and it is nice to have everything easy to get to.

The top lid pocket could be bigger though. While it is nice to keep the narrow profile I found myself wishing that I could fit more of the things that I expect to keep in my top pocket in this one. The pocket holds about half what the one on my other winter pack does. This is when the pack's main body is completely full and the extension sleeve is being used as it takes away volume from the lid pocket from below.

I would like to see two more lash points put on the top of the lid too so that there is one at each corner. I like to keep my crampons up there with my helmet. The points could be larger too. I had to find some skinny straps to run through them. My fatter ones would work only if I unthreaded them from the buckles first.

My daughter loved the hip belt pockets. Once she found that I keep my bars and such she was constantly wanting to get some Shot Bloks or Sharkies out.

I used the hydration pocket on both trips with a Platypus bladder with an insulated hose and valve cover. It worked very well.

My only complaint I found over the winter trips is the comfort level of the belt and shoulder pads with a lot of weight. It could be that the cold temperatures had something to do with it also, but they were a bit sparse feeling. I used some squares of blue foam under the shoulder pads to help cushion them more. I would like to see some more foam added to both.

The Whittaker has stayed very clean. In fact it is probably cleaner right now after being snowed on a few times then it was after the desert trip. I wipe it down after I get back to the office each trip.

It did not get rained on, but did get snowed on. Plus on one trip it got covered with snow inside my tent two nights. That tent has issues. It was cold enough to brush the snow off and the pack never wetted out.

The durability has been good. I have had no buckles break or seams pull loose. It has not picked up a mark from brushing against tree branches or rocks.

SUMMARY

In conclusion I have liked using the Whittaker pack over the past four months. It has been more than I needed as a three season pack, but comfortable in that job, and a little less than I am use to for a full on winter pack. It is great for a short winter trip without extra gear, and I could do 10 days straight with it in the summer. I have a 3 day trip to Mt Shasta coming up that I will be sharing a tent, and so carrying less, that the Whittaker may be perfect for. I will bring my extra foam though.

Thank you to Jansport and backpackgeartest.org for letting me test this pack.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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