Gear Review: Jansport Tahoma 75 Backpack

My son, Nate, hiking to our high camp below California's Mount Whitney.
My son, Nate, hiking to our high camp below California’s Mount Whitney.

Jansport Tahoma 75
$310, 70L/4,270 c.i., 4 lbs. 11 oz.
One size, adjustable

After carrying this pack on a four-day climb of the Mountaineers Route on California’s Mount Whitney in April, my 15-year-old son made the most persuasive demonstration of his opinion of it several weeks later: The next time he was carrying a backpack, this kid with an unusually large quiver of packs for his age (and many backcountry trips under his belt) chose the Tahoma 75 again. The reasons, I think, are simple: As a pack for both multi-day mountaineering and backpacking, it’s comfortable, tough, and nicely featured.

Jansport Tahoma 75
Jansport Tahoma 75

The Tahoma 75 is built not just for climbing, but also for comfort while backpacking a substantial distance to and from the mountain. With a plastic framesheet and two aluminum stays, plus thick, dual-density padding in the hipbelt and shoulder straps, it can handle at least 40 pounds (my son carried about 25 pounds, which was a quarter of his body weight, quite comfortably). But thanks to the two horizontal compression straps on each side and across the front, and the pack weighing well under five pounds, it’s a reasonable size for doubling as a summit pack from high camp. Plus, the removable hipbelt and dual-pocket lid let you drop some weight and bulk—although doing so obviously robs the pack of some of the structure and support that make it comfortable. The shoulder straps are adjustable for torso length and shoulder width, which delivered a good fit for both my son’s 15-inch-torso and my 18-inch torso.

Jansport Tahoma 75 harness.
Jansport Tahoma 75 harness.

The roomy, dual lid pockets provide ample storage for smaller items. Climbing-specific features include a dedicated, hypalon-lined front crampon pocket, and carrying systems for two ice axes, trekking poles, snowshoes, and pickets and wands in the side straps and pockets (which aren’t designed for water bottles, but you’d want to keep those inside the pack, anyway, to avoid dropping them). The hipbelt sports a rubberized gear loop on each side, and the nearly waterproof pack fabric could take a bullet. Especially for climbers, the emergency whistle in the sternum strap buckle is a smart feature.

While not among my top choices of packs designed strictly for backpacking—it’s neither at the low end for weight, nor designed with the abundant organization you’d get in many mid-size to large packs for backpacking—the Tahoma 75 is a good multi-purpose pack for multi-day mountaineering or backpackers who want a durable sack and may do some occasional technical climbing.

Jansport Tahoma 75
Jansport Tahoma 75 front.

See my “Review: Gear For Climbing Mount Whitney,” and all of my reviews of backpacks and backpacking gear, including my review of models very similar in capacity and weight, the Osprey men’s Atmos AG 65 and women’s Aura AG 65.

See also these stories:

The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun
Buying Gear? Read This First
5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear
Ask Me: How Do We Begin Lightening Up Our Backpacking Gear?

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See a menu of all of my gear reviews.

—Michael Lanza

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