I just received an email from JanSport Customer Service (after I had sent them the pictures you see below). They still maintain that the subject backpack is a Cascade model. I'm not totally convinced, but have to accept their verdict unless someone here comes up with some clear photos that will prove JanSport wrong. If and when such evidence arrives, I will award that post as the best answer to this question...


I acquired a JanSport external frame backpack in the early 90's from a thrift store - it was used.

I recently hiked a few sections of the Colorado Trail and said backpack attracted lots of interest, since it was so old. I got several questions about it, but was unable to provide much information.

Here are some pics of my backpack.

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I've asked JanSport Customer Service about this. While they were very helpful, and even shipped a part I needed for the backpack, they've been unable to correctly identify the backpack. They guessed that it was a Cascade model, from the early 80's. They scanned a page from a 1983 JanSport catalog and sent it to me:

enter image description here

As you can clearly see, my backpack is not one of the three pictured on said scanned catalog page. Of the three backpacks pictured on said page, mine is closest in appearance to the one on the left, as that one has a straight upper-most crossbar. It is interesting to note that, of the two Cascade models depicted (the two left-most backpacks pictured on said catalog page), the one for the larger torso has a straight, vice curved, upper-most crossbar. One wonders if that would be true for my backpack, as well.

Can anyone provide the model name and year of this backpack?

  • 1
    A vendor on Etsy is selling this pack and dates it to 1979, but doesn't give a model name. My guess is that they mixed and matched packs and frames, so you'd have to identify both. Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 7:58
  • @ErikvanDoren I did some browsing. The D3 and D5 information I've been able to find indicates that they featured "hip hoops," which were frame extensions which allowed the pack to be stood upright, freestanding, on the ground. My pack does not have these...
    – Digger
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 19:24
  • If the hip hoops never been on that frame it could be an Appalachian model they were very similar to the D series and the frame was different just because of the loops. Do realize that they put out a lot of packs that are very similar. However if you search online a lot of old catalogues pages would pop up. like this: kuresman.com/nwhikers/REI_Jansport_Packs.jpg or at outdoorinov8.com/jansportimages.html just to post a couple examples Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 1:39
  • be aware that at this point u get a list of models of old packs and you just google them then come back saying yes or no when a simple pic of the real pack would have solved it. And one point about that straight top crossbar: they can be switched, you should be able to see it on yours too. Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 1:43
  • 1
    In case a reader finds some of these comments to be confusing, let me state that I, when first posting this question, did not include pictures of my own backpack. Instead, I posted pics I found online of a backpack that was just like mine, but in much better condition. On October 20, 2017, I changed my mind and removed said online-found pics, replacing them with pics of my own backpack. Sorry for any confusion!
    – Digger
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 2:52

5 Answers 5


Type Cascade (D) 1 from the second half of the 70ies. I bought mine (complete khaki) in 1980. The cascade (D) 2 had larger side pockets and a large square sized leather "badge" with the JS logo sewed on the lower bag. In 1980 I spent approx. 300, - Deutsche Mark in Germany for the Cascade 1 which was quite a lot at that time.

B.t.w. I found the same one as yours in much better shape today on a local "flea market" or 5 EUR. Any idea how to get spare parts? Especially the shoulder straps easily tore out.

  • FYI, I've been able to get some parts from JanSport Customer Service here in the States. I've found them to be quite helpful. Good luck!
    – Digger
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 15:17

Edit: It is a McKinley. The difference is the padded hip belt vs the frame extending to the side of the hips. The backpack in OPs picture features the padded hip belt.


Previous post: It is the D2 or McKinley. I can not spot a difference in the picture and description below. I think they revamped the pack at some point, newer images of the D2 show a slightly different version of the backpack.

  • I will contact JanSport and ask them for information about the McKinley backpack. My hunch is that you are correct! Will report back...
    – Digger
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 19:35
  • or a supreme or explorer or appalachian... the list grows Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 20:12
  • @ErikvanDoren not an Appalachian - wrong side pockets. And I can't find a model of Explorer oder Supreme that looks even remotely like the backpack in OPs pictures.
    – Peter1807
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 12:39
  • @Digger any updates? I am curious :)
    – Peter1807
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 7:11
  • @Peter1807 Inspired by your question, I just re-queried JanSport Customer Service on this issue - they did not reply to the query I sent three weeks ago. So, still waiting. I've not yet seen anything, however, that convinces me that my backpack is NOT a McKinley model, however...
    – Digger
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 18:25

In the absence of any overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I'm obligated to go with the last bit of information I was ab le to glean from the manufacturer:

Hello Digger,
Thank you for sending the pictures. I've had a couple of people here look at it and they are still saying it is a Cascade. However, the only way we can be 100% sure is if the pack is sent into our warranty center. If you would like to I can provide a prepaid label to have it sent in for identification.
Anna K.

I'm not gonna send it in, so there you are...wish I could credit this "solution" to JanSport...


I know this is a late post but i just ran across it as I want to depart from my pack. This sure likes like my Cascade from late 1970's, so I side with Jansport support. I still have mine. My wife has a smaller version, which I believe was called the Scout. Purchased from REI.


I don't have a photo readily available but it looks like my wifes Cascade in design. They made a smaller frame size for women but unlike my D3 hers is like your pictured without any lashes straps on the bottom of the bag. I was always a challenge to secure you sleeping bag on there because of it. The only thing that makes me think it might be the McKinley is those 4 separate pouches on the side. Maybe because my wifes is smaller it only has 2 on one side and one on the other or just two total. I'll have to go check it up in the attic of my garage.

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