Hike New Hampshire
Trips in NH
The coolest daypack ever...
Review by: Rob Havasy
Quick Facts
(And Overall Rating)
Size (capacity) 2100 in 3
Style Rucksack
Key Features
  • Inner "goodies" pocket with "keyper"
    to prevent losing keys.
  • Padded shovel compressor, with top compression
    strap to secure bulky gear like avalanche shovels,
    climbing ropes or wet jackets.
  • Back pad is made from wicking
    material to keep back dry.
  • Bungee system
  • Dual-density foam shoulder pads
    with brushed fabric facing inside.
  • Hydration ready bladder sleeve and drink tube
    "h20" exit hole.
  • Dual daisy chains for lashing gear.

The Jansport Cirque Daypack

During the last year or so, Chris and I have grown tired of humping huge packs to the top of peaks in the White Mountains just so we can have all of the stuff we need to set up a comfortable camp. So, when we went on our Tripyramid trip in 1998, we decided we would try something new. Basically, instead of doing a simple overnight hike and hiking in, bagging the peak, and setting up camp on the first day, we would extend the trip to 3 days and bag the peak on the middle day. This way, we could hike in on the first day and set up a really nice camp, bag the peak on the second day carrying only daypacks, and then sleep late on the third day and enjoy a nice slow walk out. By setting up a basecamp on the lower elevations, we didn't have to carry a 50+ lb. pack up 3000 feet of mountain either.

The only problem I had was that I didn't have a decent daypack to carry up the mountain. If you look closely at some of the Tripyramid pictures, you may notice that I'm carrying a fannypack that is actually the lid to my big North Face Renegade pack, and I have a Platypus 2L water bladder strapped to my back. This setup, although workable, had some significant problems:

  • The fanny pack strap was thin and didn't stay in place very well.
  • The fanny pack was small for the amount of clothing I wanted to bring. (It was in the low 40s in the morning with a stiff wind in the valley. The peak went in and out of the sun all day, and the trail was in and out of the wind. I changed through about 3 different layers constantly throughout the day.)
  • The Platypus straps were not terribly secure so the water bladder moved around during the climb.

So, after that trip I decided I wanted some sort of daypack with the following criteria --

  1. Enough volume to carry the stuff needed for a real dayhike. This includes things like food, water, raingear, stove and fuel (if I feel like hot food), fleece jacket(s), maps, compass, first-aid kit, hat, gloves, and anything else I might need.
  2. Reasonably sturdy suspension so it doesn't bounce all over the place during a climb. This meant at a minimum a decent hipbelt and shoulder straps. Most daypack shoulder straps are flimsy at best and are simply overpadded, floppy, nylon straps.
  3. Small enough to be packable as an inner bag inside my big pack. This meant that it needed rigid suspension, but no framesheet or stays like a real internal frame pack so I could fold it and stuff it into my big pack.

I went to a couple of stores and looked at small packs from The North Face, Jansport, Camp Trails, Eureka!, and a few others. I had just about settled on a pack by The North Face when I spotted the new Jansport Cirque on a rack. I was instantly hooked -- this pack had everything I was looking for, and even a few things I didn't know I wanted. At 2100 in 3 it's big enough to hold a full day's gear and then some. It has great shoulder straps that are stiff, sturdy, and also thickly padded. The hipbelt is substantial, and during my first field test, it seemed to shift most of the load off of my shoulders just as it should. The pack is made from sturdy ripstop cloth (using Jansport's hexagonal, not square ripstop pattern). The backpad is also thick, yet rigid at the same time. But, without a rigid sheet or stays, I should be able to fit it into my big pack. On the outside it has a shovel compressor (in case I ever decide to go winter camping), but more importantly, this makes carrying jackets and other layers very easy and makes them very accessible. There are two outer mesh pockets for stuff (maybe water bottles), and a mesh sleeve inside that is big enough to hold a 2L water bladder. And, the pack is built for use with a hydration bladder, because there is a small slot cut in the top of the bag that allows the hose to pass out, and rings on the shoulder straps to keep the hose routed correctly all the way to your mouth. This system works great.

I've carried the pack on a bunch of dayhikes in both winter and summer, as well as used it for some general, daily use for trips to the gym and for carrying extra shoes to work on bad weather days. The suspension is comfortable and the fabric is durable, which is exactly what I was looking for in a pack. There have only been two real issues I have identified. The first is the opening -- since it only zips about ½ way around the pack, getting larger items in and out of the pack can be a pain. Second, without a really rigid framesheet, you need to carefully pack the bag or it will deform and fit poorly. You can't overstuff this pack and expect it to fit well. But, overall, I'd say this is a great value for a pack. I recommend it.

Copyright © 1999-2008
Chris Oberg & Robert Havasy