Our Favorite JanSport Backpacks Reviewed

  • June 19, 2020
  • / By Keith Terrell
Man with Jansport Bag

Regardless of whether you are a student who has to lug textbooks, sheets and laptops, or an avid traveler out to visit different locations around the world, a backpack is one of those necessities that can sometimes get overlooked when fancier back-to-school equipment or travel bags are being considered.

Man with Jansport Bag

​Getting your hands on the right backpack can change the way you study, work or travel and there are very few companies that make a better backpack than JanSport.

As one of the most popular companies in the world when it comes to school bags, travel packs and backpacks, JanSport has built its reputation on the basis of hard-earned trust that people across the world have in the products manufactured by the company.

The next section delves deeper into the company and what it has to offer!

​Image

​Name

​More Info

Envoy

Best for Laptops

Envoy

Big Student

Best for School

Big Student

Hatchet

Best for Commute

Hatchet

Odyssey

Best for Men

Odyssey

Agave

Best for Women

Agave 

Driver 8 Core Series

Best for Travel

Driver 8 Core Series

While quantity is a great thing, it can often end up confusing the target audience even more. With JanSport, you can be assured of a large range of backpacks and bags for you to choose from, but this process can become a little tiresome if you don’t know what you are looking for.

After considering all the factors mentioned in the section above, you would have already ascertained what your primary requirements are from the backpack that you are looking to purchase. Keeping those in mind, here are some broad popular categories and the best JanSport backpacks that fit in each of these.

​Envoy Laptop Backpack

As the internet bridges all communication gaps across the world, most people are entirely dependent on their laptops for any kind of work that they may have to complete. Despite lighter versions of the older laptops being manufactured now, carrying this device around all the time can be a little inconvenient if you don’t have access to the right tools. In this case, your go-to backpack should be JanSport’s Envoy Laptop backpack, which has been designed to suit the requirements of people who travel with a ton of wires and technology on a regular basis.

Envoy

Source: jansport.com

Features

The main features of the Envoy backpack are discussed in some detail below:

  • Built Using 600 Denier Polyester - The Envoy backpack is constructed using 600 Denier Polyester, which makes it very durable. It is also water-resistant, which is an important factor when tech is involved.
  • Top-Loading Laptop Compartment - The Envoy backpack comes with a 15-inch laptop compartment that opens up from the top. If you have a tablet that you want to carry safely, the tricot-lined sleeve designed especially for that will be convenient. Finally, there is also a picket for your smartphone.
  • Compartments for All Your Tech - This backpack doesn’t just come with a compartment for your laptop, but also any other form of technology that you could be carrying with yourself, including a large DSLR camera, your GoPro, all cables and chargers, and more.
  • Carry-On Friendly - The dimensions of this backpack — 19 inches x 13 inches x 8 inches — are just perfect if you are looking to take it along as cabin luggage for your next flight.

Pros

  • The sheer number of compartments and the attention to the organization given this backpack is astounding, making it very convenient to use.
  • As it’s dimensions are in line with the carry on size limitations for air travel, this makes for a handy companion on your trips around the world.
  • The material used in its construction is highly durable, making sure that your laptop and other devices are shielded from elements like water.
  • The capacity of the Envoy backpacks is very impressive, especially when you compare it with many of the other laptop bags available in the market.

Cons

  • While you may be inclined towards slipping in your laptop without a case, the laptop sleeve does not have any padding to give it that extra protection.
  • The size may be suitable for cabin luggage, the backpack does not have any TSA-friendly features.
  • There is no compression straps or sternum strap to give your body extra support.

Our Verdict

If you are looking for a durable backpack to carry all your tech - laptop, tablet, cameras, cables, and chargers - this is a fantastic option to consider. Not only is it a great way to stay organized, everything you want will stay in its designated space and be more accessible when you need it. The material is great and if there is any damage during the years that you own the backpack, the lifetime warranty offered by JanSport makes for a great deal.


​Big Student

School isn’t easy. As a student, there are tons of books that you need to carry with you on any given day, your laptop, a water bottle, possibly a packed lunch and also a change for gym. The perfect JanSport backpack for students is very aptly named the Big Student backpack. With tons of space and attractive styles available for you to choose from, there will surely be a color and style that suits everyone’s fancy. The price of the backpack is also very affordable, making it a steal for students across the board.

Big Student

Source: jansport.com

Features

The Big Student backpack has a bunch of features that separate it from a lot of the other JanSport backpacks. Some of them are listed below:

  • Sturdy Construction - The backpack is built using 600 Denier Polyester, which doesn’t just make it highly durable but is also water-resistant so that your books and laptop don’t get wet when you are running around.
  • Large Space - The backpack has a capacity of 34 liters, which means there will be enough space for all your books and equipment to fit in without a struggle.
  • Tons of Compartments and Pockets - There are two main compartments in the backpack, which are the larger ones. In addition to this, there are three front pockets (all exterior) and one water bottle pocket on the side.
  • Affordable Pricing - Priced less than $50, this is one of the more affordable backpack options, especially when you bring the lifetime warranty offered by the company in the picture.

Pros

  • This JanSport backpack works very well for all students, regardless of whether you are in high school or college.
  • There are two main pockets, one of which can double up to act as a laptop compartment for you if the need arises.
  • This backpack is priced very well, making it an easy choice for students on a tight budget.
  • There are plenty of pockets in the backpack, other than the two main ones. With three front exterior pockets, an easy access front stash pocket and a pocket on the side for your water bottle, you’ll never feel the dearth of space.

Cons

  • This is not the most stylish backpack that you can get your hands on, which may keep some people from choosing the Big Student backpack.
  • There may be instances where the zippers on the backpack may get stuck in the inner lining of the bag. While it isn’t a big deal, it can be quite annoying.

Our Verdict

If you are looking for a basic backpack that gives you tons of space - 34 liters - the Big Student backpack works exceedingly well. For people who have to traverse the lengths of campuses with tons of books, a laptop and almost everything else under the sun, the sturdy construction of this backpack makes it one of the popular bags on campuses for decades. There are tons of pockets, including one for your water bottle so that you can stay hydrated while you are at it.


​Hatchet Backpack

Many people think that backpacks are only meant for students and cannot be carried beyond that to a work environment but they couldn’t be more wrong about that. With stylish and sophisticated backpacks like the Hatchet variant being produced by companies like JanSport, it is easy to take the backpack to a work meeting, an adventurous day out with friends or a short holiday out of the city.

Hatchet

Source: jansport.com

Features

Here are some of the major distinguishing features of the Hatchet backpack that may help you in deciding whether it works for you:

  • Robust Material - JanSport prides itself on using high-quality materials for constructing backpacks and the Hatchet backpack is not an exception to that rule. There will be no fading, spots or water damage to worry about.
  • Versatility in Design - This is one of the key elements that make the Hatchet backpack really stand out. The backpack can be used to carry books for school, your laptop for an important client meeting across town or just the next adventure that you may have been waiting to undertake.
  • Organization is Key - The company lays a ton of emphasis on providing multiple pockets and storage organizers, including a laptop compartment, a tablet sleeve, space for your cables and water bottle, and more.
  • Available in Stylish, Muted Colors - While there are many JanSport backpacks that can be purchased in bright colors that pop, the company has restricted itself to more neutral, muted colors for the Hatchet backpack to give it a stylish edge over many of the other backpack variants.

Pros

  • There is a separate 15-inch laptop sleeve that comes with the Hatchet backpack, which makes it very convenient for people who use it for work or school.
  • If you have a tablet, there is a separate sleeve added to safely store it in the backpack.
  • There are multiple pockets spread across the interior and exterior of the backpack so that you can place all your things in easily accessible positions.
  • To give your body as much support as possible, JanSport has added a sternum strap as well as compression straps on the backpack.

Cons

  • If you put water bottles in the side pockets of the backpack and place all your technology in the compartments assigned for them, the entire pack can seem very constricted.
  • The zipping up process can be a little inconvenient because of the unique shape of the backpack.

Our Verdict

Built using the signature 600 denier polyester used for most other JanSport backpacks on this list, the Hatchet backpack is a great option for people who have a ton of commuting to do and many different things to carry with them. The 15-inch padded laptop compartment and the tablet pocket will ensure that your tech is safe, while the internal organizer helps in sorting out the rest of your life.

As you will be using this backpack for all your adventures out in the city, the pockets designated for water bottles are a great add-on.


​Odyssey

JanSport was born with the aim of providing backpack solutions to hikers and adventure enthusiasts that like to spend a good chunk of their time in the outdoors. In line with the company’s, the Odyssey backpack really outshines all others when it comes to the best backpacks for men who are fairly active in their everyday lives. This is a sporty backpack that will not exactly be light on your pocket but when looked at with the lens of the lifetime warranty that the company offers, one can feel compelled to get on board with it.

Odyssey

Source: jansport.com

Features

If you are considering the Odyssey backpack, here is a list of some of its main features, which may help you to decide:

  • Large Size - When you go out for hikes and treks, you need to carry a bunch of extra things, which translates to bigger backpacks. The impressive dimensions of the Odyssey backpack - 20 inches x 14 inches x 12 inches -ensure that you have all the space you need.
  • Multiple Compartments and Pockets - Other than the two main compartments that the backpack offers, there is a utility pocket with an organizer, a quick access pocket and a tablet sleeve for your electronics.
  • Special Features - This backpack comes with a padded hydration sleeve that also doubles up as a place to put your laptop if you are just traveling within the city. There are multiple gear attachment points on the exterior of the backpack.

Pros

  • This backpack has been designed to give you the maximum amount of support - through a sternum strap and a hip belt - that you could need from a backpack that you use for activities.
  • The entire back panel of the backpack, as well as the shoulder straps, are padded to maximize your comfort on hikes and adventures.
  • The backpack has enough space to handle all your essentials on the inside and multiple points to attach your gear on the outside.

Cons

  • The price could be less than ideal, especially when you compare it with some of the other, more affordable backpacks produced by JanSport.
  • The backpack can sometimes feel too tall, which is why it may not be ideal for you if you are under a certain height.
  • Unlike many of the active backpacks available in the market, this product is not weather-resistant.

Our Verdict

If you are looking for a versatile backpack that can fit a 15-inch laptop when the occasion demands it but also a 3-liter hydration sleeve when you head out for an adventure, the Odyssey backpack by JanSport is something that you must consider with an open mind. For hikes and longer treks, the sternum straps and the hip belt give you good support, while the 420 polyester dobby material works with the sturdy zippers and straps to give you a backpack that every active man can really use in his life.


​Women's Agave

Available in two variants - one for men and another for women, the Agave backpack is built keeping your active lifestyle in mind. While they are more or less the same, there are some key differences like shoulder straps and size. The Odyssey backpack has a tendency of being too tall for many women, which makes the Women’s Agave backpack a much better design that fits women better. If you are looking for a sturdy backpack that will hold all your supplies and equipment when you step out for a hike or trek, this is a backpack that you need to look at!

Agave

Source: jansport.com

Features

The main features of the Women’s Agave backpack have been discussed briefly in the section below:

  • AirCore Shoulder Straps - This is the main point of difference between the men and women variant of the Agave. As women usually have slighter shoulders than men, JanSport has added AirCore shoulder straps for added comfort.
  • Tons of Compartments - The main compartment of the backpack is expandable so that you can stuff in a ton of equipment. There is a separate compartment for the hydration pack, which can also be used for a laptop. There is a sleeve for your laptop and a quick access loft pocket.
  • Maximum Comfort - This backpack is meant to be used by active women so the company has added features like padding along the back and the shoulders, a hip belt and sternum straps for support.

Pros

  • Comfort is one of the biggest considerations with this backpack, as the company has put in a padded back panel as well as padded straps to keep your body from undue stress.
  • The sternum straps and the hip belt offer a great deal of support and stability for those hikes and treks that you may be interested in taking.
  • As is the case with the Odyssey backpack, the Women’s Agave also comes with multiple gear attachment points on the outside.
  • The price of this backpack is significantly lower than the Odyssey backpack.

Cons

  • The large size of the backpack also has a disadvantage - it can get a little bulky to be used around the city.
  • While backpacks meant for the outdoors are expected to be weather resistant and waterproof, this particular backpack is not completely waterproof.

Our Verdict

This laptop shares most of the features of the Odyssey backpack discussed in an earlier section but the main difference is that this variant is designed to suit the female body in a better manner. Built using polyester, nylon, and mesh, the Women’s Agave backpack has a ton of pockets, including a padded compartment for your hydration sleeve. If you aren’t going for a trek, the same compartment can be used for fitting in a 15-inch laptop.


​Driver 8 Core Series

Finally, it is time to delve deeper into one of the most popular backpacks designed and manufactured by JanSport - the Driver 8 Core Series backpack. If you travel a lot and want a backpack that will not just accompany you on your trips but also add value to them, this is hands down the best JanSport backpack for travel. The one thing that keeps people from buying this product is the price, which is relatively higher than most JanSport backpacks that you can buy online or in stores. This, however, is quickly offset by the years of use you will be able to get out of the backpack once it is in your hands!

Driver 8 Core Series

Source: jansport.com

Features

The main features of the Driver 8 Core Series backpack are discussed in some detail below:

  • Convertible Backpack - The most interesting feature of this backpack is that it can be converted from an ordinary backpack to one with wheels. When you choose to do that, you can tuck the straps into a hidden compartment without worrying about them getting dragged along the floor.
  • 80mm Inline Skate Wheels - The bag is equipped with sleek inline skate wheels that enable you to move it around on different surfaces with relative ease.
  • Enough Space and Compartments - The Driver 8 backpack has tons of space to fit all the different things that you may want to carry with you. For example, there are separate places provided for your laptop and water bottle. The company has added a padded back and avoided making the bag too large, as that would make it difficult to lug around.

Pros

  • This is a convertible backpack that can be converted from a regular backpack to a wheeled backpack, depending on what your needs are at the moment.
  • The grab handle on the backpack is padded to give you the maximum comfort when you are traveling with the wheeled version of the backpack.
  • In order to avoid the stability issues that often arise with wheeled backpacks, JanSport has added support stabilizers to the bag to prevent it from falling over while standing.
  • The shoulder straps - which are also padded - can be hidden within one of the pockets to remove them from view.

Cons

  • The main reason why people have second thoughts about purchasing the Driver 8 Core Series backpack is the relatively higher price.
  • The inline skate wheels of the backpack can sometimes add an undue amount of the stress on limbs because of the placement.

Our Verdict

The Driver 8 Core Series backpack may be a little expensive, but you must remember that the backpack is going to last you many years. This means that you don’t have to worry about purchasing another travel backpack even after subjecting the JanSport variant to tons of wear and tear. The wheels used on the pack are of very high quality and the retractable handle that opens up in two stages makes it exceptionally easy to handle the backpack when wheeled. 

With the many different color variants available to choose from, this is a fantastic backpack that could suit travelers of all ages and builds.


About JanSport

JanSport was founded in 1967 by Skip Yowell, Murray Pletz, and Janis Lewis. After Pletz won an award for designing an adjustable aluminum backpack frame, his then-girlfriend (and later, wife) Jan was tasked with creating a backpack pattern for the frame. After everything worked out well enough for the trio - as is evident - the company was named JanSport, after Lewis. 

Person Studying

While the first products launched by the company were hiking packs inspired by the founders’ love for the mountains and hiking, there was a shift in priorities after 1972, when it was found that a bunch of students are the University of Washington were using these hiking packs to lug around their books so that they were kept a safe distance from the rain. At this moment, JanSport decided to venture into the realm of daypacks, which were produced by bolstering the backpacks first with vinyl and then leather. 

From here, it didn’t take long before students on campuses across the country were stuffing their books, gym equipment, water bottles, packed lunches and more in these sturdy, well-built packs that were seen to combine quality with style. 

Many years later, the backpacks designed and manufactured by JanSport are still considered one of the most durable packs available in the market, offering students, office goers and travelers with impressive functionality and versatility that makes JanSport their go-to company for bags. The company truly believes in its products, which is easily showcased by the lifetime warranty that comes with the backpacks and other products put out by them.  

Things to Consider While Picking a Jansport Backpack

Picking the right backpack for your needs can get a little tricky if you want a product that gives you a stylish edge without compromising on the functional aspects of things. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind while choosing a backpack

Walking in the City
  • Fabric - Backpacks are supposed to withstand a great deal of daily wear and tear. Whether it is the rain or other harsh weather conditions on the outside, or a water leak or similar problems on the inside, the backpack should be made of a material that is sturdy and will not get damaged easily.
  • Size - The size and capacity of the backpack is a major consideration as having a pack that is too small or too large for your needs can completely defeat the purpose of choosing that particular model. JanSport offers different backpacks for campus use, different ones for when you are traveling and so on, ensuring that the size is appropriate for the use.
  • Compartments - A good backpack comes with plenty of compartments so that you can keep different things in different sections to avoid any confusion later. Within the compartments, there should be organizer sections for things like pens and pencils, or even a laptop sleeve. The focus on such organization is one of the reasons why people love JanSport.
  • Padded Straps - If you are carrying around heavy textbooks or a bulky laptop all day, your shoulders are going to start feeling the pressure after a while. To help avoid such a situation, it is important that the straps that go around your shoulders are padded to give you maximum comfort.
  • Sturdy Wheels - Many travel backpacks also come with wheels so that they can be dragged around with ease. As these bags can often get quite heavy with all the clothes, toiletries and other items you stuff into them, good-quality wheels attached to their base make things so much easier in the long run.
  • Warranty - One of the most important factors to consider when you are looking at backpacks is the warranty offered by the company manufacturing the pack. JanSport lays great emphasis on this factor and offers a lifetime warranty on its backpacks to ensure that your purchase gives you maximum bang for your buck.

Final Thoughts

All the JanSport backpacks mentioned on this list have been chosen because of their individual features and how well they fit the particular category that they have chosen for. For example, if you carry a laptop to work and want a stylish and sturdy backpack to carry it, the Envoy Laptop Backpack works exceptionally well. The Big Student backpack has been the cult classic for school and college-going students who need enough space and sections to truly organize their lives. 

Taking A Picture

If you commute a lot - whether it is to work or university - the Hatchet Backpack is a good option, while the Driver 8 Core Series is the undisputed leader for travel backpacks. There are multiple unisex options when it comes to backpacks but active men and women can also seek out the Odyssey and Women’s Agave backpacks for their respective needs.

Pick the JanSport backpack that is most in line with your requirements and be ready to have a companion for life!

Resources:
JanSport