JanSport Big Bear 78



This is a solidly built pack that has held up for…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: Bought in store from LL Bean


This is a solidly built pack that has held up for many trips and many years.


  • Solid
  • Hole for water bladder tube
  • Plenty of space


  • Hefty
  • No seperate space for sleeping bag
  • Water bladder pouch not waterproof

This pack has held up real nice for many years. I have taken it many miles, and there are a few things I learned while using this pack.

Fill your water bladder with room temperature water and put it in a plastic bag before putting it in the bladder sleeve. This will prevent your bladder from condensing, which prevents the inside of your pack from getting wet.

This pack works for me, some people who have put it on empty say it's hefty, but I have seen some of the lighter packs snap in two. One of the lighter packs was new, and it snapped on day 9 of a 12-day trek.

My usual kit makes this bag about 40+- pounds, and it feels comfortable. I am 120 lbs, male, and 5' 11". I have used this pack since I was about 11, which is around six years ago. It's not like I can't feel the load, but it doesn't over encumber me. I have used this pack with about 50+- lbs of gear, but that starts to straddle the border of an uncomfortable load.

I can carry my mummy bag, tent, food, water, one emergency spare set of clothes, and other gear in this bag with no extra space, which can keep me going for 3-4 days. The mesh pocket holds my navigation kit and other misc high-use items. The pocket on top fits a lot, and it ends of as a sort of dump pouch where I keep my eating kit and other junk, but it ends up holding my rain jacket and pack cover after the rain stops.

I have treated this bag with a water resistant spray, but that is no replacement for a proper pack cover. The side pockets hold two 1L Nalgenes. One I use for smellables like energy mix, tang, etc, which I throw in my bear bag. The other I use for pure water.

On a side note, I collect water by sticking a Nalgene in a stream with the opening facing downstream. Once it is full I pop in a Puri tablet, shake, wait 30 minutes, turn it upside down and unscrew the Nalgene just enough so that all the bad water is flushed out.

The side pockets also carry hiking poles, which have saved me from falling down rock shale and the like. They also become a crutch and can be in the way, as one time I was supporting my weight on one and it just gave out causing me to tumble. Also on the side pouches, you can thread a rifle through the slide straps on the bag, and the stock will fit in the side pouch. Just an observation. Also, a disclaimer, do NOT hike with a rifle on your pack on a well used trail.

As I said in the cons, there is no separate compartment for a sleeping bag. You will have to pull out your other stuff in the main pouch if you have your sleeping bag on the bottom which is no problem for me. I believe no pouch equals more flexibility. Also, on the hip belt, it is nice and padded, and the webbing on the belt holds my Mora knife perfectly and keeps it accessible, if not a bit conspicuous.

That's all I got to say about this pack, I hope there was some useful info in this review.


Welcome to Trailspace, Sam. Do have any pictures of your pack that you could share with us?

1 year ago

Welcome to Trailspace, Sam!

1 year ago

JanSport Big Bear 78

previously retailed for:
$49.97 - $134.95

The JanSport Big Bear 78 is not available from the stores we monitor. It was last seen July 23, 2013 at Campmor.

If you're looking for a new expedition pack (4,500+ cu in), check out the best reviewed current models.

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