Friday, April 04, 2008

Field Testing My Big Decision - The Agave 32

No, I didn't buy a new laptop or gadget. I got something even better...

Shira hates to go backpack shopping with me. You'd think I was picking a child to adopt. I spent way more time deciding what pack to buy, than say, if I should marry her. Or buy a house. Or a car. Those are easy decisions.

A backpack, on the other hand, is a tricky decision. You've got to decide: big or small, expensive or cheap, what straps and pockets are must haves and which are annoying. Do I want something that more or less just fits my laptop - or something I can use for traveling and fits my laptop plus two days worth of clothes. Heck, do I even want a back pack - maybe I want a messenger bag (I don't) or one of those funky 1 strap backpacks (yikes, no).

Shira had the solution - we had various discounts at REI, and they were expiring, so we headed to them. And that's where this story really begins - I walked out with a a Jansport Agave 32.

I chose it because it seemed relatively large, but not massive (it's 2000 cu in). I also liked the convenient front zippered pocket, which I guessed would be handy to just chuck stuff in while preparing to go through a security line at the airport, or some other crunched time. It has relatively few straps and specialty pockets, which for me was a good thing. Perhaps most importantly, it has a very durable feel to it.

Tonight was my first field test. I had my laptop, a notebook, and various odds and ends in it - and there was plenty of room to spare. The compression straps worked well to shrink the pack down for this relatively small load, which is what I was hoping for.

The side mesh pockets worked very well for holding my umbrella, which was a plus. The straps and back are quite padded so it was comfortable, too. Though, my load was light, so who knows just how comfy it is.

Bottom line - I have to say, I'm pleased. The bag was a solid performer on its first journey. If you want a good, general purpose bag, I can happily recommend the Jansport Agave 32.


  1. Ben,

    It must be genetic, because i take years to buy a good backpack. One question. Hows the waist belt? I feel like thats the one thing i always overlook. Also, please send reviews of the backpack after a little use.

  2. Excellent, so I'm not crazy! Thanks Dave, you make me feel much better.

    The waist belt seems so-so. Shira's pack, a Jansport Odyssey is huge and has an impressive waist belt.

    The first time I carried her bag, she laughed at me for using the waist belt. The she actually tried it and was amazed how incredible it was to have the weight shifted to your hips. It actually works.

    This pack is smaller, so the waist belt is smaller (though not just a skinny little strap). I'm not quite sure if I'll even load it up to warrant using the waist belt. But I'll let you know either way.

    My gosh, how did I just write that much about waist belts on a backpack? Like I said, these are big decisions.

  3. Man do I understand the selection process and the time it takes. You should as Lauren how long it takes me to decide on anything.... (besides her and gifts for her).

    As for the bag I still prefer it my old base line JanSport, one big pocket and one small front pocket, if the item doesn't fit, the item stays home. Then again the only reason I still like that bag is since I too have just not found the right bag for me... For my laptop, I'm currently using a typical shoulder strap laptop bag, and it is far from perfect but it was a gift so I didn't choose it.... Also I notice a number of bags are also coming with chest straps these days....

    Speaking of bags... I need to go online and take advantage of the JanSport lifetime warranty (if it still exists)...

  4. Excellent, so I really am not the only one who thinks this stuff through so thoroughly...

    Nick - did you find any info out about the Lifetime Warranty?

  5. I was looking for where the hydration sleeve was on my bag, as it came with a hang-tag that said 3.0l hydration sleeve/laptop sleeve.

    Now that I've explained how I came to this thread, I can give you all a bit of information to that last bit at the end. I work at Jansport's production plant in Greenville, WI. While no actual bags are made there we keep an outlet on site for misprinted/embroidered clothing (of which there's a whole lot).

    According to the employees at our outlet store, ANY retail that you buy Jansport bags from. From experience I can tell you mostly the big box stores and major outdoor supply stores (such as REI) are the ones to go to for a return package (smaller stores tend to dispose of them or request not to receive them).

    Anyway once you get the return package (a big white plastic shipping bag that's been pre-addressed), all you have to do is fill out the paperwork and send that with the damaged or worn bag back to jansport... voila a few weeks later you should be getting your new or improved bag in the mail.

  6. Ary -

    Thanks so much for the info.

    So far, I'm quite happy with the bag and its gotten plenty of use.


  7. Anonymous11:14 AM

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  8. I had one before when I was in graduate school, I still want one but couldn't find, if you have the resource, let me know

  9. @unknown - I don't know where you can find this pack. But I do know I sent this pack back to Jansport to be repaired recently, and they did so free of charge and with no questions asked. The seam on the front panel had a rip.

    I think Jansport's guarantee / pack quality is way underrated. So keep searching for the pack - it's worth it.