The Rainier has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best external frame backpacks for 2021.
Reviewers Paid: $65.00-$135.00
I, literally, lived out of this pack for four years.
It was spacious, had plenty of room for everything I needed. I'm 6'4" and was grateful for the longer frame. When packed right, it was good for the long haul and routinely took me several miles down the road or trail. Having started off with milsurp packs, the Rainier was a dream to own.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $89
This was my first internal framed backpack, bought 12 years ago. I have tried others and always end up going back to the Rainier.
Note there were 2 sized frames for this backpack made, for those under and over 5'8. I bought the smaller pack. I am 5'8, 170 lbs in good shape, 50-60 lbs starts to get uncomfortable. There is a LOT of adjustment with this pack so if it feels incredibly uncomfortable if it's set wrong.
Depending on your hiking/camping style this may be a pack for you. I find it great for the hot and humid east Texas forests, where the piney woods are not too thick so the bulky pack doesn't get caught much, and the ground is mostly flat sometimes very wet, does well enough in the cold but that's not my concern here.
The rain keeps off it but in a deluge break out a huge poncho to cover you and it. It's okay for longer hikes but I usually 'base camp' near a water source after a few mile trek vs hiking for days.
For a 3 day trip: 1 extra set of clothes/towel/various mosquito nets, against back so tools don't poke me. 2 propane cans fit perfect in side pouches, outer mesh water bottle pouch accessible while hiking, the lower pouch I load up with food (usually twice what I need, could go 'minimalist' style but why), in the large pouch all the tools/necessities/water and shower bags.
Took off the removable outer pouch. In its place is a medium sized first aid roll up bag, and the tiny zipper pouch on the outside I put 'survival' tools like firestarters, leatherman etc. tent sits easily atop the frame, and sleeping bag+pad easily attaches on the bottom. Pots, pan, cup, cutlery, lantern, tomahawk, etc hangs nicely from the external frame.
Right around 45 lbs. I don't notice any squeaking over the clanking cooking gear.
Price Paid: $110
Reviews of this pack vary the widest I have ever seen. This pack is no longer made but was around for years from Jansport. Either the reviewers seem to love it or hate it. If you are new to backpacking and reading this, then you need to try on internal and external frame packs before buying. They are apples and oranges as far as fit so don't even compare the fit of an internal to the fit of an external. Both kinds have their pros and cons and each has its place..
I own 7 packs of both internal and external and this Jansport Rainier was my second pack to own. For an entry level or intermediate backpacker, this is a great pack. I have been in a downpour of rain with 70 plus pounds of gear carrying it with no pack cover and it held up well with very little leaks...something it was not even designed to do without a rain cover.
It fits well once you properly adjust the back brace bar and straps. If you do not fit it to your back by adusting the back horizontal bar to your back, then yes, it will be a painfull wearing pack. It has tons of room and is ventilated well. It will also carry a ton of stuff attached to the frame, the beauty of external frame packs over internal. The Rainier is a front loading pack and it is as easy as they come to pack because of that....but it is also its downfall and this is my only major quirk against this pack! The front zippers that open the massive front panel on the back of the Rainier pack are just about TOO easy to open. I cannot tell you the number of times I have had this pack stood upright against a tree (with the zipper slightly pulled down after accessing stuff) and the zipper on the front compartment slides completely down from the weight in the pack and it literally DUMPS my entire contents of the pack out on the ground! Geeze that is so aggrevating...I lost an expensive small flashlight on one trip because of this....so always zip it completely up when "parked" at camp or on the trail.
Other than that quirk, this is a good pack. Straps allow good fit to your back for an external type pack and again, a horizontal bar can be slide to complete the proper fit. The fact that Jansport carried it for years tells you something. It was a popular pack! The current Carsen model is the newest Jansport pack that takes after the Rainier. If you find a good deal (Going price was around $100 while it was made) on this pack, then I don't think you will be disappointed.
Design: Front Loading External Frame
Number of Pockets: 4-Rear main pocket has smaller organizer pockets within it.
Max. Load Carried: 80 pounds
Height of Owner: 5 foot 6 inches
Price Paid: $99
This has to be one of the best packs out there, i would highly recommend. i was sad when i heard they discounited it. VERY GOOD PACK.
Design: front loading external
Size: 5500 cu in
Number of Pockets: 5
Max. Load Carried: 40 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'0"
Price Paid: 60-80?
Being that I was in scouting as a youth (Eagle), and have continued hiking as an adult, I went backpacking several times a year for 7 years +. I have had several top loader external frames (Camp trails, Americamp, etc) so I knew what I wanted when I spec'd the Jansport Ranier--basically I did not want another difficult to load top loader. I knew that I did not want a top loader as top loaders are difficult at best to load/unload several times while hiking, plus it is no fun trying to get gear out of the bottom of the top pocket. Therefor, I knew I wanted a panel loader.
When I spec'd the Rainier, i compared it to 4 other packs (2 Camp Trails)and 2 others (unknown). I chose the Rainier because it was a panel loader and very easy to load without disturbing your sleeping bag, sleep pad, and other attachments lashed to the frame(tent poles, camp chair, etc.) I love this feature, as well as the several pockets that are different sizes and thus accomodating to different needs. I will agree that the pack frame is definatley adjustable and this is a plus, but it is very squeeky and sounds like an 18 wheeler with bad shocks when walking down a trail. I am 5'11", 150, and was carrying too much weight for my size on the first trip with this pack when it was new(62 lbs.--I should have only been carrying 1/3 of my body weight--50 lbs) but, the shoulder straps were uncomfortable at best. My hips are somewhat bony, and the hip belt did become uncomfortable and bruised me after 1 day on the trail (8 miles only). I am in excellent physical shape, and I know how to load a pack properly (weight distrubution) but the pack still seemed top heavy and akward.
I would rate the pack as "average," becasue the plusses of the panel loader, convenience of adjustments that many external frames do not have, and strong fabric that the pack is made out of, balance the weaknesses of the meager shoulder straps,the strong but noise frame, and somewhat uncomfortable hipbelt.
Design: External Frame
Size: about 5200
Number of Pockets: 7
Max. Load Carried: 62 lbs
Height of Owner: 511
Price Paid: about $90-$110
This pack has worked well for me. It has many pockets and several special features. Like the other reviews I would have to say that it is extremely easy to organize. It could use another good pad for the upper back, and it needs another height adjuster but otherwise a good sturdy pack. I have had mine for 4 years and it is still going strong. I would not say this is a beginner pack but in the middle of beginner and serious.
Max. Load Carried: aprox. 60
Height of Owner: 5'11''
Price Paid: $135
This pack is a punishment to own. Not only is it an entry level pack, but it S!U!C!K!S! It's a pain in the A!S!S! to adjust, it is uncomfortable as H!E!L!L! The frame is adjustable, granted, but it is so f**king hard to adjust that after the third time you scrape your knuckles to the bone on the JanSport Cam Adjusters you're ready to toss the piece of shit in the garbage. There is only back padding in the lower part of the back, so everything in your pack that isn't soft pokes you pokes you and POKES YOU SOME MORE!
Another "selling point" of this P.O.S. is that it squeaks. Now, I know all ext. frame packs are supposed to squeak a little, but this f**king sounds like a f**king city of f**king crickets f**king going f**king insane. Also, because this pack seems to have been made before the invention of sternum straps, the shoulder straps keep wanting to take a vacation off of my shoulder. AAAaaaaaaHHHHHhhhhhh!
Design: Ext. frame
Size: ???about 4-5,000 c.i.
Number of Pockets: 7
Max. Load Carried: 55 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'2"
Price Paid: $50-$75
This is a pretty good pack. I liked it because it was very comfortable, capacitatious and easy to keep organized. I liked the feature of the easily-reached net pocket to hold the waterbottle. I also liked the dis-attachable ditty bag on the front, so you don't have to bear bag your whole pack. It creaks a little, but is very comfortable if worn correctly.
Number of Pockets: 7
Max. Load Carried: 52
Height of Owner: 6'3"
Price Paid: $90-$110
Good pack, very sturdy, but it makes alot of noise when you put alot of weight in it. It is really easy to keep all of my gear organized in this pack.
Number of Pockets: 7
Max. Load Carried: 50 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'6"
Price Paid: $95-115
I would not recommend this pack to anyone shorter than 5'10", because the frame on the pack is very long and bulky. Other than that, the pack is very comfortable and the thick waist belt is great for long trips
Max. Load Carried: 70
Height of Owner: 5'6"
Price Paid: $120
I like it. You can be very organized with all the pockets. Although when lifting the pack while it's loaded you hear the flexible frame working a little too well. Great for beginners, avoid if on technical terrain.
Number of Pockets: 8
Max. Load Carried: 60 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'4''
Price Paid: ?