The Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus Backpack has been in production since 2007 and is still considered by many as the best ultralight backpack on the market for loads in the 20-30 lb range.
I’ve owned a Mariposa Plus Backpack since 2008 (I also bought the 2009 version with the updated aluminum stay) and estimate that I’ve backpacked at least 1000 miles between them on The Long Trail, the Appalachian Trail, throughout the White Mountains of New Hampshire and in the Catskills of New York State. It is by far my favorite backpack of the six packs I own, combining both comfort and external gear storage, with it’s abundant external mesh pocket system.
Other Mariposa Plus Reviews
There are already some excellent reviews of the Mariposa Plus that have been published, so I’m not going to repeat everything that’s already been written about it. If you have a subscription to Backpackinglight.com, I recommend that you read Will Rietveld’s excellent review. If you are not a subscriber, you might want to still read through the comment section, which is free for non-subscribers.
What Makes the Mariposa Plus So Great
I think that the Gossamer Gear shoulder harness is the secret sauce that makes the Mariposa Plus such a winner. It’s common across all of Gossamer Gears pack’s including the hyperlite Murmur (8 oz) and the new heavy duty Gorilla (24.2 oz).
First off, it’s amazingly simple – just two very wide, adjustable shoulder pads, affixed to the top of the pack’s back panel, above the sleeping pad pocket. The pads are mesh backed and have elastic loops that run width wise around them, but are otherwise unadorned, except for an adjustable sternum strap connecting the two shoulder pads.
Each shoulder pad is nearly 3 and 1/2 inches wide, providing a unprecedented level of load distribution across your shoulders. This makes an incredible difference on long multi-day treks where you’re carrying a lot of food, water, or fuel.
I own other packs with narrower shoulder pads and after a few long days I develop very sore shoulders where the strap touches my collarbone. But with Mariposa+, long days are not an issue. I’ve never had sore shoulders with it.
A second benefit of the Mariposa harness system is its robustness. I own other packs that have an adjustable shoulder harness that can adapt to different torso lengths. This is a popular feature on a lot of commercial packs these days.
I’ve experienced problems with these systems where the harness tears away from the back of the pack, in the course of normal wear and tear (normal for me, I guess!) This failure occurs because there is a single point of connection, and hence failure, between the harness and the back of the pack. There is no such issue with the Mariposa Plus harness system, where each pad is connected to the top of the pack independently along a 3 and 1/2 inch seam.
One Request for Change
The Mariposa’s external mesh pockets and their unique configuration are a wonderful convenience because they let you access frequently used gear without having to unpack your pack. They really make this pack. Their only weakness is that the mesh tears when it catches on a tree branch or bush abutting the trail – or if I have to do an unexpected bushwhack.
I repair the tears by suturing them close with tent guy line, but this is an unsatisfying mend. If there’s one change, I’d like to see to the Mariposa Plus, it would be to provide an option for side pockets (where all the tears occur) that are not made of mesh, but some other porous, elastic material. (the new Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack uses a more robust mesh fabric that prevents such mesh tears.) That’s really the only mod that I need to the base Mariposa Plus pack, which remains a stalwart companion in the backcountry.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds. The Author is also a Trail Ambassador for Gossamer Gear.
Do you own a Mariposa Plus? Like it?