Compass: Charting the Evolution of Outdoor Gear

Jansport History

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1967

After winning a design contest with an aluminium flexible-frame pack, Skip Yowell, Murray Pletz and Jan Lewis start Jansport

Murray was Skip’s cousin. Jan was Murray’s girlfriend and knew how to sew

Originally based out of space above Murray Pletz’s father’s transmission shop

Name coined because Murray Pletz reputedly told Jan Lewis, “If you marry me, I'll name my company after you.” She did, he did.

1970

obtained patent for a panel loading frame pack

1971

release their first dome tent on the market, but did not patent the design

first sales of the dome tents are to REI Co-op

production moves to Everett, Washington

1972

designed “The Captain America” pack for Peter Fonda in the classic movie ‘Easy Rider’

Introduced the D2 technical frame pack

Jansport is sold to ski company K2

1974

sales reach $1 million USD

1975

introduction of what some claim was the first convertable travel pack

introduction of the Jansport daypack, soon worn by thousands of US high school and college students

1978

Jim Whittaker climbs K2 with a JanSport Alpine Phantom pack, which he helped design

1982

college sweatshirt company Downers acquires company and the JanSport name

Murray Pletz leaves Jansport to pursue other interests

1984

JanSport acquired by Jantzen, swimwear subsidiary of Blue Bell, maker of Wrangler jeans

1985

company sells its one millionth daypack

has annual sales of $25 million USD

introduces a day care centre for employees

1986

VF Corporation acquires Blue Bell, and long with it K2 and Jansport, for $775 million

1987

have just over 5% of the US daypack market

1988

have 10% of the US daypack market

1993

international headquarters relocates to 212,000 square foot facility near Appleton, Wisconsin

1994

have 27% of US daypack market

jansort Equipment division has sales of $100 million USD

Jim Thomsen (ex co-founder of Wilderness Experience), joined VF Corporation as General Manager of JanSport

1995

launch a replacement brand (Wolf Creek) for the mass merchandise market

enter the rugged footwear business (but soon leave it)

1996

Skip Yowell and Jim Thomsen take Jansport to Europe via ISPO sports show, Germany

Introduced waterproof rubber based daypacks

sales grow from around $150 million to near $200 million

1997

patent issued for the rubber bottom daypacks

1998

debuts line of top-loading technical packs

begins selling in China

1999

releases Airlift and Loadlift backpacks

2000

buys largest competitor, Eastpak (which had 6% market share, $90 million in sales, mostly in Europe)

2002

introduce business casual luggage, and Lifestyle line of shoulder bags and crossover packs

2004

sales of $300 million USD, employing about 800 staff

2005

Jan Lewis retires from Jansport

2007

Skip Yowell authors the book, ‘The Hippie Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder & Other Mountains’

2011

Skip Yowell, JanSport Co-founder and Vice President of Global Public Relations, announced his retirement

retail release of replica D2 frame pack