JanSport Talus pack

JanSport has been trying to reclaim its position as a leader in backpack design, and the new Talus daypack includes new versa-wing pockets that transform from one mesh compartment into two.
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JanSport, of late, has been trying to recapture some of its glory days when it was a pioneer in backpack design. Part of that initiative is the Cloud Ripper line of four daypacks for on-the-move pursuits, which includes the Talus pack.

Looking like a mini-me version of a full-size backpack, the Talus has a volume of 1,600 cubic inches and includes plenty of bells and whistles, including trekking pole loops, multiple pockets and bungee compression. It’s constructed to withstand the rigors of outdoor travel and has a body of durable nylon fabric, but it weighs just 2 pounds, 10 ounces.

We took the pack on various day hikes, which ranged in mileage from 10 to 16 miles, allowing us to vary what we took on each hike to accommodate the needs for each distance. Once on the trail, we did have to tinker with the various strap adjustments to dial in the fit. The hipbelt rested well on the hips once perfected, and we didn’t have any problems with the straps digging into our shoulders. Both the shoulder straps and hipbelt are made of a lightweight EVA foam, which provided adequate padding. Plus, there are holes in the padding for aeration and to help shave some ounces off the pack’s overall weight. When we were gaining elevation and working up a sweat, they helped expel body heat and disperse moisture.

The pack is designed so a hydration bladder can be slid between the back panel and the pack’s body for extra padding while hiking -- which we found useful and cushiony. The compartment easily accommodated a 70-ounce bladder that we used and was definitely long enough to hold even larger sizes.

In addition to the main compartment of the pack, the Talus has multiple pockets of varying sizes in targeted areas: two zippered pockets in the top lid, as well as smaller mesh ones on the shoulder straps and the hipbelt. Then there is the “versa-wing” pocket system that is situated on either side of the lower portion of the pack’s outer body and continues to wrap around about halfway onto the hipbelt. Each large versa-wing mesh pocket converts into a two-section pocket via a clip and elastic cord system.

The main issue we had with the pack revolved around the versa-wing system. To convert one of the mesh pockets into two separate ones you must first pull an elastic cord out of a tube of fabric that runs along the edge of the mesh. Then you connect the cord to a clip that is attached to the pack. Unfortunately, to access the elastic cord you must extract it from a tiny slit in the fabric tube, and the small opening made this difficult. The clip on the side of the pack is also miniscule and difficult to handle, so we’d recommend that the designs be tweaked so that cord and clip are easier to grasp. Also, retailers selling the pack should make sure they point out the clipping mechanism to customers, because the system in not really intuitive.

Also, when the elastic cord was not clipped to the pack, the versa-wing pockets looked like a big floppy mesh compartment that didn’t keep items secure when hiking. Once we clipped the cord to create two pockets, we were able to stash larger things like a base layer and they remained secure, but we wouldn’t suggest putting smaller valuables, like a camera, in them.

Overall, the pack was comfortable and useful, but clearly, the versa-wing pockets need to be improved. Still, it’s good to see the folks at JanSport experimenting and trying to re-establish the company as an innovator in pack design.

SNEWS® Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $110

For information: www.jansport.com

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