Gear Guide 2012: JanSport Cienega Backpack

This anatomically friendly pack is great for women, offering suspension and comfort when carrying heavy loads.

[ladies ’ choice]

“The pack was a perfect fit for my body, with the hipbelt sitting correctly on my hips and the chest strap not too loose or too tight,” says our Yosemite tester. The fixed shoulder straps are cut in an exaggerated S-curve that’s anatomically friendly: They ride snug at the shoulders but contour backward at a sharp angle to minimize pressure on breasts. The sternum strap has five inches of vertical adjustment, a feature our full-figured testers appreciated. Perforated foam shoulder straps, hipbelt, and backpanel keep the framesheet and suspension system light, but it’s also comfortable for 25- to 30-pound loads.

After carrying that much in hardware, water, and food up El Cap and Half Dome and hiking more than 60 miles in the Yosemite high country, one tester, whose 16-inch torso perfectly conformed to the framesheet’s length, concluded that she’d never hefted a better-fitting suspension system. The pack easily handled gear for an overnight, with the main compartment swallowing the heavy stuff; the lid roomy enough for a rainshell, maps, and headlamp; and the stretchy shove-it pocket for overflow or quick-access snacks. Two mesh side pockets firmly held liter bottles within reach. The hydration sleeve sits between the pack bag and framesheet, making it easy to access (via a side zipper) without emptying the pack.

Caveat: When overloaded with more than 30 pounds, the packbag tended to pull away from the framesheet, making the load less stable and causing the zipper of the hydration sleeve to come undone. (See more women’s gear on page 130.) $125; 2 lbs.; 32 liters;

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