The JanSport logo
Product typeBackpacks
OwnerVF Corporation
Introduced1967; 57 years ago (1967)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Previous ownersBlue Bell Overall Company

JanSport is an American brand of backpacks and collegiate apparel, now owned by VF Corporation, one of the world's largest apparel companies.[1] JanSport is the world's largest backpack maker, and together, JanSport and The North Face, also owned by VF Corporation, sell nearly half of all small backpacks sold in the United States.[2]


Murray Pletz, an industrial design student, designed a backpack that used aluminum in its flexible frame.[3] In January of 1966, Murray Pletz bought his girlfriend, Jan Lewis, a $180 sewing machine to sew the backpack.[3] Murray entered the finished backpack project in a design contest sponsored by the Aluminum Company of America and won the prize.[3]

Using the contest award money,[3] JanSport was founded in 1967 in Seattle, Washington, United States by Murray Pletz, his wife Janis "Jan" Lewis (for whom the company is named), and his father Norman Pletz.[4][5][6] JanSport innovated with a panel-loading daypack, unlike traditional top-loading packs.[7]

In 1975, JanSport introduced the first convertible travel pack, as well as its signature daypack.[7]

In 1972, the founders began inviting their friends to join their climb on Mount Rainier to what is now known as the longest consecutive group climb.[8] To this day, Jansport still holds the record of the most consecutive annual group climbs.[9] In 2018, was their 46th annual Jansport Mount Rainier climb consisting of a team of 16 employees, retailers, international distributors, non-profit partners and media.[9]

In 1986, VF purchased JanSport's then parent, Blue Bell.[10]

JanSport's corporate headquarters is in Denver Colorado, at VF Outdoor headquarters, where it shares offices with divisional siblings The North Face, Smartwool, Altra Running, Icebreaker, and Eastpak. A distribution facility in Everett, Washington, which had opened in 1971, closed in March 2012. JanSport's collegiate apparel warehouse in Appleton, Wisconsin closed in 2017.[2][11]

An early 1990s JanSport D-3

JanSport started by developing the external frame backpack which used a metal frame with a cloth packsack attached to it. The products made include technical day packs and internal frame backpacks. Up until the early 1990s all JanSport packs were made in the United States.[12]


  1. ^ "Lizzie Jagger teams up with Wrangler for Denim Spa moisturizing jeans". Daily News. New York City. January 17, 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
  2. ^ a b Horovitz, Bruce (2007-08-20). "New 'badge' of cool: High-tech, high-fashion backpacks". USA Today. p. 1A. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
  3. ^ a b c d Johnson, Bruce B. "JanSport began in Seattle, Washington and still thrives as a modern company". Pioneers of the Outdoor Gear Revolution, 1935-Present. OregonPhotos. Archived from the original on 21 October 2018. Retrieved 26 August 2023.
  4. ^ Netherby, Steve (December 1973), "Who Is Jan Sport?", Field and Stream, 78 (8): 116–118
  5. ^ Rachel Abrams (October 17, 2015). "Skip Yowell, JanSport Co-Founder Who Blazed Trail for Backpacks, Dies at 69". New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  6. ^ "JanSport: Unique and Fun, a Company with Personality". Retrieved October 18, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "JanSport, Inc". fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 2011-06-15.
  8. ^ "About Us - Company History | JanSport". www.jansport.com. Retrieved 2020-03-04.
  9. ^ a b "45th Annual JanSport Mount Rainier Climb". www.jansport.com. Retrieved 2020-03-04.
  10. ^ Schmitt, Eric (1986-07-28). "Vf and Blue Bell Agree to $378 Million Merger". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  11. ^ FOX 11 News (April 4, 2017). "JanSport facility in Appleton closing". WLUK. Retrieved May 27, 2019.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "JanSport Backpacks into Cost-cutting era". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved January 29, 2018.

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