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JanSport Traditionalist

rated 4.0 of 5 stars

The Traditionalist has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best overnight packs for 2022.

photo: JanSport Traditionalist overnight pack (35-49l)


Price Reviewers Paid: $65.00-$100.00


3 reviews
5-star:   0
4-star:   3
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0


  • Great design for an older pack
  • “Vintage Cool” looking


  • Kinda heavy by today’s standards
  • Shoulder straps and hip belt are obviously not the most modern designs.
The groovy red, white, and blue straps are my additions.
Smaller of the two front pockets features loops for keeping smaller items organized, as well as a mesh zippered pocket.



I picked up this pack off eBay, knowing nothing about it other than that I liked the looks of it (fortunately the pack is in like-new condition). I had never seen one like it before, nor had I any idea what model it was so I sent it to JanSport’s warranty department for ID. Turns out it is the regular size (42L). JanSport also made it in a large size (50L). The dimensions of the pack are 22.5" x 18.5" x 10" and it weighs 2 lbs 15 oz.

Once I knew the model of this pack I was able to dig up more info online. I'm not sure what year the pack was first manufactured, but the Traditionalist was revised in 1998 to feature a forward-facing zipper on the small pocket on the top of the pack. Based on this I place my pack as a 1998 or newer. I have no idea when the model was discontinued.

There are sleeves between the two large side pockets and main bag that are perfect for carrying trekking poles. Leather lash points are located perfectly for securing the poles at the top using your own straps. The pack also features a large leather patch on the front, harkening back to the legendary 1970s D-series of external frame packs which featured a large leather crampon pad. Love the ample use of leather on the Traditionalist as not only is it retro, but leather stands the test of time compared to plastic.

The panel-loading main compartment of the pack is spacious and there are, in addition to the two side pockets (which perfectly accommodate a quart-sized Nalgene bottle), two generously-sized outer pockets on the front of the pack for smaller accessories that you want to keep organized outside of the main bag. The pocket on the top of the bag is padded, and perfect for sunglasses and a small point and shoot camera, phone, wallet, etc. There is even a stealthy map pocket that I didn’t discover until I’d had the pack for a week.

On the bottom of the pack are four plastic lash loops for securing a tent or the like. You could strap a sleeping bag here, but in doing so the bag hangs too low and interferes with the back of my upper legs, so whatever is lashed here should be a lower profile piece of gear unless you happen to have a very long-torso.

There are two removable, internal aluminum frame stays to give the pack some rigidity for carrying a heavier load, but to turn this into a truly viable overnight pack would require using minimal gear. I use it as a large day pack, carrying emergency overnight shelter tarp, mylar bivi bag, first aid kit, water filtration kit, rain jacket and extra layer. This leaves me plenty of room for shedding layers as needed. The shoulder straps are adequate and include a sternum strap. The hip belt is padded and suffices for day carry, but obviously isn’t up to the latest modern standards.

That said, this pack is perfect for what I wanted and is old enough to have that vintage appeal without being so old that it lacks function. 


I’m a day hiker, doing so regularly as seasons allow.

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $100


Nice review, Kirk!

1 year ago

Probably the most comfortable day and a half pack Jansport made...

The pack is perfect as it keeps you from overpacking with all the varity of pockets. the lashing straps do allow for additional storage, but I've found the pack perfect for flying or light backpacking.

The shoulder harness is nice, although not as thick as I'd like it to be... and the waistbelt is something that could have been redesigned (they finally did it right w/ the Alpine Trek!).

The pack's material is durable and semi-water proof.

If you find one of these on E-Bay, snatch it up! It's a wonderful pack!

Design: Multiple use back
Size: up to 3000
Number of Pockets: 6
Max. Load Carried: 65
Height of Owner: 6'1
Price Paid: $100

Okay, this is partly to reiterate the comments another mentioned about someone giving a false impression about Jansport packs. The Minimalist was positively reviewed on this column but someone attacked it in the two columns below just because it was "Jansport".

I for one have several Jansports. I did rip a minor seam on the Traditionalist multi pocketed rucksack and it does have the worst Hip belt of all the newer packs I have BUT it's still a great pack. The Most Organized Pack I've owned.

The Tahoma which may have been mislabled a Tahoma Two (the new ones are different with a mesh pocket in front_) is the most comfortable pack I've ever owned... and that includes that overweight monster, the Dana Terraplain.

The only caveat some should have is due to that rip on one of 'em. I did it by overloading it and then picking the pack up by grabbing it, and besides the seam didn't really effect the performance. However the AT thru hikers make a big deal about durability and swear by their Big Packs. So that length of your trip may effect what pack you buy.

So far I've looked at dozens of packs and the Jansports are the best for the money ... although with minor flaws here and there... the traditionalist doesn't have a good hip belt....but just adequate.

the Minimalist is reviewed positively elsewhere by Prem P. and his word I'd trust.

I am saving up for another Osprey (I have a daypack that's great). The Impala is my next purchase but I doubt I'll ever be as comfortable as with the smaller Tahoma. But I need just a bit more room and want a little better hip belt... but probably it'll cost me a hundred dollars extra and an extra pound.

I am a pack junkie.

But if you're not a 'collector' Jansport is the best value for the money.

Design: Rucksack
Size: 3000
Number of Pockets: many
Max. Load Carried: 35+
Height of Owner: 5'10+"
Price Paid: 100, 65 dollars...depending on discounts

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