As summer gives way to autumn the yearly tradition of buying a lot of back to school gear commences. It seems that every year my kids are lugging more and more materials to and from school. Their backpacks are stuffed to the point of bursting with books, a laptop, papers, etc. It’s a wonder my kids aren’t complaining of back problems.
When we decided to do this year’s back to school shopping, I wanted to get my daughters decent backpacks/book bags. Now no self respecting tween is going to let their dad pick out their school gear, so I made it a point to help “guide” them into picking what I thought was best for them. I set out wanting to find a couple of nice Jansport backpacks for girls. That is why I settled on the JanSport Wasabi Backpack.
I always make it a point to inspect the gear I buy (even though these were for my daughters). I figure if the backpack is good enough, I could always use another pack for hiking or storage.
Initial inspection and features
One of the key features I needed was a backpack that could haul a laptop around. Since my kid’s school “recommends” they have laptops, I was going to do my best to protect my investment. The Wasabi has a dedicated laptop compartment that is perfect for 15” laptops. The compartment seems to be padded pretty well, so hopefully the computers survive the school year.
Other features include:
• Quick access loft pocket and a front zippered stash pocket – I tell my kids to keep the important items her, like their phone. I tell them it is for emergencies. They think its there to text their friends.
• Ergonomic straps and padded back panel – If my daughters have to carry these bags around, at least they cam be somewhat comfortable.
• Internal organizer – One of my daughters loves to be organized. When I told her the Wasabi had an internal organizer, she freaked. I think she thought there was a little file cabinet in the backpack. She was still happy with the pack.
The Wasabi comes in several different patterns and this is how I sold the Jansport bookbags to my kids. To get them involved in the buying process and make them feel like they were doing the actual choosing of the pack, I showed them the selection of designs available and then let them choose their favorite. All I’ll say about this is that the visual tastes of a young girl are quite different from a thirty-something man.
The physical construction of the bag looks pretty solid. I have used Jansport packs in the past and have always found them to be well constructed. As long as you do not abuse it too badly, the pack will last a long time.
My normal field testing involves strapping on the backpack and then heading out into the woods to hike, bike or camp. In this case, the Wasabi field testing involved me helping my daughters load up their packs with their school supplies, adjust the straps so that they were comfortable to wear and then sending them out into the world. I would then ask them question when they got home from school.
After a few months of use, here is what I can report.
1. The laptop compartment is doing its job. Both of my daughter’s laptops are still functional and there have been no incidents with the laptops when stored in the Jansport laptop backpack. Of course, that doesn’t mean the laptops haven’t seen their fair share of spills and thrills, it’s just that nothing has happened while stored in the Wasabi.
2. Durability – Luckily, my daughters take care of their stuff. My two year old son has already shown a destructive streak that scares me for the future, but for now I can count on my daughters to take care of the items I buy them. So far the Wasabi has held up nicely. No tears or overt damage is apparent after the few months of use, both for school and other activities. The packs have never gotten overly wet, but for those times when they were caught in the rain, the contents of the backpack stayed nice and dry.
3. Storage capability – I’ve noticed that as school progresses the amount of papers my daughters bring home increases exponentially. I figured that the laptops would help reduce the amount of paper generated. I figured wrong apparently. I fear that by the holidays my house will be nothing but homework papers. However, I can report that the Wasabi is doing a great job holding all the papers the education system foists on my kids. (click here for more backpacks like this)
I asked my daughters what they thought about the Wasabi and they responded that it’s a cool backpack. I suspect that their response comes from the fact that they picked out their favorite designs for the backpacks. My review of the Wasabi is that it is a pretty good backpack for anyone looking for a nice, inexpensive bag.
Knowing the wear and tear that kids can subject any item to, I have to admit the Wasabi has held up great. I had to train my girls to stop walking into the house and dropping their backpacks on the floor with the laptops in the pack. If you ever want to see a grown man wince, just drop a bag full of laptops on the floor.
I picked up a Wasabi (non-colorful version) to use in my truck. I’ve been using it to transport gear to and from work and the backpack has held up just as well as the one’s my daughters have. I went out and bought another Wasabi to use for keeping emergency first aid supplies at the job site.
In closing, if you trust the views of tween girls, then the Wasabi is cool!