Customer Reviews: JanSport Merit Backpack
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Price:$39.00 - $55.00
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on July 21, 2011
I was looking for a medium sized pack to carry stuff to and from my office. I first spotted this pack at the bookstore of my son's university. I ordered it from amazon to get a better price. All of the zippers open smoothly with no binding. I live in a relatively dry climate so I've folded the rain flaps over and out of the way. The pack has two main compartments and three smaller ones. It has a mesh pocket for a waterbottle on the side. An additional side pocket or two would have been nice but not a deal breaker. Shoulder straps fit ok. For the most part I use the grab handle on top or sling it over one shoulder as I walk from the parking lot to the building. Carries my lunch, laptop, notebook, small flashlight, G17 and a folder discreetly and comfortably. I would probably give it a 4.5 total.
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on August 12, 2012
Here are the PROs and also what I was able to fit into this backpack:
-Largest Compartment: has a padded laptop section with a wide velcro strap. In this laptop section, I place my wet/dry bag containing 2 cloth diapers, changing pad, and baby wipes container. Inside this compartment but not in the laptop section, I put a clutch purse, nursing cover.
-2nd Largest Compartment: baby blanket, change of baby clothes, rattles/toys, snacks.
-Top Small Compartment: keys, cell phone, camera
-Bottom Small Compartment: pens, napkins, plastic ziploc bags
-Side Mesh Pocket: burp cloth, bib, cloth reusable bag.

This backpack only has 1 external water bottle mesh pocket. It would be nicer if there were 2 external velcro or mesh pockets.

Since most of the functional and stylish diaper backpacks are around $100, my husband and I are so happy that this backpack fits our needs.

As a regular backpack for a student:
-thick, padded laptop section. but, the bottom of the backpack is not padded, so would suggest placing a blanket(?)/some-kind-of-cushion for your laptop.
-large compartment: if you have a thick, old-school-like laptop, then you probably only have space left for a filled regular-sized 3-ring binder.
-2nd largest compartment: lots of space for about 2-3 regular textbooks
-top small compartment: keys, camera, mp3 player. although small, there's alot of space for personal items
-bottom small compartment: has a pocket, but this compartment is shallow. you can't fit more than maybe a PDA/day planner, some napkins and some pens.

5/23/2013 update:
Now with 2 kids, it gets a little tricky with one backpack and 2 little ones. Child #1 is 2yrs old and child #2 is 4months old. Also, we currently use cloth diapers at home and disposable diapers when not at home. Our cloth diapers significantly added bulk (but not weight) to the backpack.

-largest compartment: all for child #1. the laptop section contains disposable diapers, wet/dry bag, wipes case. the non-laptop section contains spare clothes, sippy cups, 2 large thermos (hot water, cold milk, don't ask), small reusable bag of toddler utensils, Fisher-Price high-chair seat cover.
-2nd largest compartment: all for child #2. spare clothes, bibs, SkipHop changing pad, disposable diapers, toys. (we place the formula container and bottles in a long strap collapsible insulated lunch bag)
-top small compartment: camera, raisins, toddler socks. there is space for a couple more items.
bottom small compartment: reusable bags, pens. there is space for a couple more items.
-mesh pocket: baby bottle, bib.

Although I can fit more things until the zippers are stretched, I just choose not to. I know I can probably fit all the baby bottles and formula container somewhere in the backpack, but then accessing the other items would require unloading some of the backpack to access the areas at the bottom.

By the way, I bought this backpack at about $27 during a slow time (not during back-to-school times), so this backpack has become a huge lifesaver at a super low price.

3/4/2014 update:
Still using the same backpack! I'm a Jansport fan FOREVER! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever anticipate that I would be using a Jansport backpack as a diaper backpack. Anyways....
-Large section contains: 2 high chair seat covers, 2 IKEA toddler bibs, reusable sandwich bag of scissors (cut food) and toddler/baby utensils, "emergency" snacks, Thermos of hot water. Laptop section carries disposable diapers and wipes container.
-2nd largest section contains: Thomas train travel set, mini Look and Find board book, crayons and coloring book
-Top small section contains: socks, misc.
-Bottom small section contains: shampoo (for messy restaurant disasters), several reusable shopping bags
-Side mesh pocket: bib/burp cloth (for runny noses), napkins.
*I carry separate insulator bags for the formula and milk for 2 kids. Yes, it is alot of gear but I have not yet figured out a simpler solution. Clearly my own incompetence. Remember to use your car as a second diaper backpack with emergency toys (BALLS), spare clothes, diapers, socks, thick hooded jackets. Believe me, I REALLY wanted to be that spoiled stay-at-home mom with the Louis Vuitton or Gucci diaper bag, but their bags just AIN'T good enough. Its JANSPORT ALL THE WAY. I save that money for Costco errands ;)

6/16/2015: I'm still using this same exact backpack still in the same exact way as described above. :)
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on December 26, 2011
I want to touch on a few key points:

This backpack is great if you are looking to cram it full of stuff. I routinely carry my xbox 360, gym clothes, and a few snacks for work and there is still plenty of room for more. Seriously, you can fill this bag up and it'll look like you are preparing for a camping trip!

There are 2 large main pockets one of which has a divider pouch that you can easily fit a book or possibly a laptop snugly into. Then of course there are the two smaller pockets in the front. The top one (w/ logo on it) unfortunately is just a basic pocket which can be a bit too large for some items, allowing them to bounce a bit much. The lower pocket is a lot more useful as there is little compartments there. Also there is the convenient bottle holder on the side.

I've had this for roughly 2 months and use it almost daily. So far no issues with it at all. Over my last backpack I can tell this one will last quite a bit longer. The material is much more supportive all around. My past backpacks seem to be kind of deceptive to the bottom wearing out, it looks this one is a bit more durable here due to the fabric used.

I just have one small issue, I hate how the zippers are a bit hidden thanks to the lip like guard around them. A lot of times it is annoying to grab/dig for the zipper. Minor complaint on a otherwise great product.
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on September 3, 2010
I did a lot of research trying to find the right backpack for my son who is entering junior high this year. It had to be right in so many ways- but most importantly, this year he's required to haul around a 2" Mead binder with notebooks in addition to his lunch, drinks, sweatshirt, books, etc. He "...can't deal with anything too huge..." I found this backpack to have the perfect measurements because every single inch of it can be tightened to be smaller- in fact all the ways to adjust to fit are really easy for him to do by himself. I got it in black (safe!, and stuffed all his stuff in there without any problem and it doesn't look "too huge" at all! i found the same backpack at other locations, but Amazon sends the products I buy that I was sure to have it long before school started, and we got it within two days of ordering it! I would definitely recommend the bag and Amazon as a seller.
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on September 22, 2010
I purchased this bag for my teenager entering high school. I wanted something that was comfortable enough for him to carry on his 2mile walk home from school and durable enough to withstand the standard abuse that 13 year olds boys mete out to lowly bags. The superior bag is padded in the right areas and the straps are nicely contoured, features that definitely enhance the carrying experience. I have not noticed any signs of wear and tear to date. I highly recommend this back pack without reservation or second thoughts
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on April 28, 2013
Know what you are buying before getting this bag. Poor college student? This will work. Need a basic bag? This will work. Don't have a lot of money? This bag is decently priced, but I've seen lower prices on some no name stuff.

I purchased this thinking back to the old days of college where JanSport was the prominent bag to own. I needed a low cost, light weight bag. This fits the profile and serves well in that regard. However, don't expect to get high-end features at this price level. I wore the bag for a city excursion for about 8 hours and here are my findings.

1 - The back has no padding and due to the warmer temps I wished I had some kind of breathable mesh to keep me cooler. Also, no padding meant lumpy materials in the pack can press into your spine. Again, not the fault of the bag.

2 - The sewing quality is somewhat poor. I didn't check it over when I first got it, but during my walk I opened and closed the bag several times only to find the zippers catching on too many loose threads. Over time the bag would unravel, in my opinion. Good thing I caught it early and was able to use a bic lighter to melt some of the threads. I hope that's the end of that problem, at least for now.

3 - The lack of sternum straps across the chest makes the bag very uncomfortable for the shoulders. I only had 5 pounds in the bag. Poor design.

So given the above, I now know this is not suitable as a hiking bag. I guess it is time to spend about $100 for a more suitable day hike model from Kelty, North Face, REI, or EMS, etc.

Update: 6/17/13

I recently used the bag as an overnighter. I packed three days worth of clothes and a 15-inch laptop in this thing. It came in at 25 pounds or so. I was ok walking from the train station to the hotel and back for the return trip. Maybe 15-30 minutes walking. The bag held up. Not the most comfortable bag on your back for 20-25 pounds, for sure, but doable.
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on March 4, 2012
It's a durable backpack (my previous one was the same brand) and it is can easily fit large casebooks & a laptop plus accessories. The frustrating thing is that the back's edging designing around the zippers means the zippers frequently get caught on the fabric. You have to zip carefully and it definately can not be done quickly.
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on October 21, 2011
Great bag. JanSport bags seem, for practical purposes, nearly impossible to wear out, as I have abused one daily for over 10 years.
One reviewer complained of zipper snags. Jan Sport has the best zippers I have used in bags, but, the zippers can snag on rare occasions. If it does snag, it will very likely be on the curves, on the rain flap material. In order to greatly reduce snags do the following:
1. Flip the zipper rain flap material back, exposing the zipper around the two top bends in the zipper - you only need to do this once, as it will stay flipped back on the top, curved portion, and most of the lower portion.
2. Align both zipper pulls on the upper left corner, just above the top left bend. (with bag front facing you).
3. When opening, slide one zipper pull to the right around the right curve.
This procedure will greatly reduce snags, and make for a quicker entry and exit, as it will probably rarely be necessary to completely unzip the bag.
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on February 16, 2013
I had been looking for weeks for a bag I could take in place of my 6 pound carry-on when I travel. I wanted something really light weight, easy to carry, that would hold up over time and most importantly, was reasonably priced. I could find many bags that met a few of these demands, but the ones I liked were so expensive.

I finally settled on the Jansport Merit. It met all my requirements: less than 2 pounds, looked great, had great reviews and a great price, too. So I ordered and anxiously awaited my new bag, hoping I hadn't made a mistake. I was not disappointed!

The Merit is perfect. I did a test pack for an upcoming 6-day trip, using packing cubes (to help everything stay in place) and loved it. The organization is wonderful, there was plenty of room for everything. This bag measures just under regular carry-on size, even the large packing cube went in with no problem, but best of all, with it fully packed, I had no trouble wearing it on my 5'1"; frame. The straps are very comfortable and easily adjusted. The pack sat well even without a waist strap. I will be using this bag for 1-2 week trips. I think climbing stairs, taking trains and just getting around crowded areas will be easier. This bag also will fit in overhead compartments with no problems and if not too full, will easily fit under seat, too.

The divided pockets (there are 2 big areas) are perfect for keeping clothes and the extras orderly. They also have dual big zippers that can be locked. The little pockets on the front do not have dual zippers, but I just put my 1-quart liquids bag in one and really didn't need the organizer packet (I carry a purse, too). Really love this bag and Amazon's price. I am looking forward to many trips with it!
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on January 27, 2014
I bought this backpack after searching for a backpack that will qualify as a Spirit Airlines personal item (16x14x12), to eliminate the $35 - $100 baggage charge each way.

Although I prefer double zippers on the outside pockets, so they can close at the top, they work well enough.

I can get plenty packed, including a laptop into the bag for multi-day trips.
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