If you’ve never purchased an ultralight backpack before, it can be challenging to figure out which Gossamer Gear backpack is right for you. Here are some tips to help you with the selection process so you choose the right Gossamer Gear backpack for your needs.
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 L – unisex
The Mariposa Ultralight Backpack is the highest volume backpack that Gossamer Gear makes. A size medium weighs 29.1 ounces.
The Mariposa is the backpack that I recommend to most people who’ve never owned an ultralight backpack before because it has enough volume to carry most backpackers’ existing gear. If you use a tent, it also has a long external pocket, which I call a “tent quiver” on the left side of the pack. This pocket is great if it’s raining because it means you can get your tent out and set it up without opening your backpack and getting its contents wet. This long pocket can also be used to store a wet tent separate from the rest of your gear. No other backpack made has a pocket like this!
The Mariposa has seven pockets, an internal hydration sleeve, load lifters, adjustable hip belt with pockets, an internal frame stay, and can carry a maximum of 35 pounds. It has a cushy unisex suspension system comfortable for both men and women and is available in five different sizes (XS,S,M,L,XL) for torso lengths from 10″ to 25″, making it an excellent option for women with short torsos as well as young adults. The extra small size is new this year, based on overwhelming customer demand.
The Mariposa is a great pack for overnight and multi-day use on hiking trails, in wet or dry climates, and can haul a week’s worth of food without difficulty. This is the pack I take for section hiking on the Appalachian Trail and on longer multi-day overnights. I’ve also carry it in early spring or autumn when I need to carry a warmer sleeping bag and warmer clothing that takes up more space in my pack.
Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 L – unisex
The Gorilla Ultralight Backpack is similar to the Mariposa but is smaller in volume. A size medium weighs 26 ounces.
The Gorilla is a good backpack to get if you’ve already gone through the transition from a heavier gear list to lighter weight gear and your gear takes up much less space than it did before. The Gorilla a great pack for ultralight backpackers with base weights under 15 pounds (not including food, fuel, and water), for shorter overnight backpacking trips, peakbagging, and even day hikes, when you need to carry extra layers.
Like the Mariposa, the Gorilla has a unisex shoulder harness and hip belt that is comfortable for both men and women, and includes an internal frame stay. The outside of the pack is much more streamlined than the Mariposa, as befits a lighter and smaller volume load. The Gorilla doesn’t have a tent quiver pocket like the Mariposa because the assumption is that you’re using an ultralight shelter instead of a larger tent. There also aren’t any load lifters because they’re really not necessary for lighter loads. The Gorilla also has a better side compression system than the Mariposa with webbing straps on both sides because the tent quiver pocket is not in the way.
The Gorilla is available in three sizes (S, M, and L) for torso sizes ranging from 13″ to 22″, but not in the extra small (XS) or extra-large (XL) sizes offered for the Mariposa. The maximum recommended load for the Gorilla is 30 pounds.
Gossamer Gear G4 Ultralight Backpack (54 L)
The G4 Ultralight Backpack is Gossamer Gear’s “old school” frameless backpack. At $125 (including hip belt) it’s half the price of the Mariposa, and one of the least expensive ultralight backpacks available today. The 16 ounce (size medium) G4 is very popular with more budget oriented backpackers who want a high-capacity ultralight backpack but don’t need the bells and whistles on the Mariposa. It’s also very popular with boy scout troops because of its price point.
Capable of hauling up to 30 pounds, the G4 has a huge main compartment and three very large external mesh pockets, two on the sides and one on the back. The side mesh pockets are big enough to slip a tent into like the long tent quiver pocket on the Mariposa, but can also be used to carry very large water bottles up to 2 quarts in size!
Being an old school frameless backpack, the G4 doesn’t have an internal frame stay or a top lid pocket like the Mariposa and Gorilla. To add structure to the pack, Gossamer Gear recommends using the thicker tri-fold Nightight sleeping pad (sold separately) in the G4 external pad pocket instead of the thinner SitLight Sit Pad which comes included with the Mariposa and Gorilla. If you sleep with a closed cell foam pad like the Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest, you can also roll it up and put it into the main compartment like a tube, filling the middle with gear and food. This also helps give the backpack more structure in the absence of an internal frame.
While the G4 can be used by men and women, the shoulder straps on the G4 are wider than those on the Mariposa and Gorilla and not as comfortable for people with narrower shoulders. The G4 hip belt is also has less padding than the Mariposa or Gorilla hip belts.
The G4 Ultralight Backpack is available in three sizes (S, M, and L) for torso lengths of 13″ – 24″ and hip belt sizes of 25″ to 42″. The maximum recommended load for the G4 is 30 pounds.
Gossamer Gear Kumo Superlight Backpack (36L)
The Gossamer Gear Kumo Superlight Backpack is the favorite backpack of Gossamer Gear’s sponsored Trail Ambassadors. It’s perfect for experienced ultralight backpackers with compact loads, who still need a backpack carrying up to 20 pounds and superior durability. The Kumo is also an excellent backpack for more challenging day hikes where you want to carry extra layers and for adventure travel, because it doesn’t have an internal frame or aluminum stay, and is easy to take on airplanes.
The Kumo is similar to Gossamer Gear’s other like the Mariposa and the Gorilla with the same water bottle pockets, large rear mesh pocket, and over the top pocket, which is ideal for storing maps or travel documents. It also comes with a removable hip belt, which can be ordered with or without pockets.
Weighing just under 16 ounces, the Kumo is available in two sizes for torso lengths ranging from 16″-24″ inches and in hip belt lengths up to 50″. The maximum recommended load for the Kumo is 25 pounds.
Gossamer Gear Murmur Hyperlight Backpack (36L)
The Murmur Hyperlight Backpack is Gossamer Gear’s lightest weight backpack, ranging in weight from 8.35 ounces to 12.3 ounces, depending on whether you use it with or without the hip belt and a SitLight Sit Pad. This pack is intended for hardcore ultralight backpackers who carry less than five pounds of gear (minus, food, water, and fuel) for overnight trips, although it can make a very nice day pack as well. However, because it’s so lightweight, it is less durable than Gossamer Gear’s other packs and it should only be used on developed trails to avoid snagging and tearing the fabric.
The Murmur is similar to the Gossamer Gear Mariposa and Gorilla because it has side water bottle pockets, a large mesh back pocket, and uses a SitLight Sit pad as a framesheet to give the pack a little extra structure. The big difference is that the Murmur has a roll top closure instead of a top lid pocket and it doesn’t have an internal frame stay, since one isn’t needed to carry an ultralight load.
The Murmur is available in one size for torso lengths for torso lengths of 16″ – 24″ and a hip belt size up to 42″. The maximum recommended load for the Murmur is 15-20 pounds.
See also: Murmur Hyperlight Backpack Product Specs
Gossamer Gear Type II Utility Pack, The Ruckus, The QuickSak and the Minimalist
Gossamer Gear’s other backpacks, the Type II, The Ruckus, The QuickSak and The Minimalist are primarily daypacks good for day hikes, summit ascents, and urban use. If you’re looking for an overnight backpack, the Mariposa, the Gorilla, the G4, and the Murmur are your best bets.
More Information for First Time Buyers
Many ultralight backpacking companies, including Gossamer Gear, measure the volume of their backpacks differently than mainstream backpack manufacturers, which is important to know if you are trying to compare the weight-to-volume ration of a conventional backpack to an ultralight backpack. When measuring backpack volume, companies like Granite Gear, Gregory, and Osprey only measure the volume of the closed storage and don’t include the volume of external mesh pockets, pockets without lids, or the added volume of an extension collar in their volume specifications.
While Gossamer Gear does break out the volume of open and closed storage in their specifications for each pack, the total volume in their specs is computed by adding up the volumes of all open pockets and closed storage. The different volume calculation is justified because most ultralight backpacks have much more open storage than conventional ones, but it can be confusing.
When using an ultralight backpack, the assumption is that you will be storing most of your day time gear, water, and food in the open, external pockets of your pack so you don’t have to stop and dig around in your pack to find them. This packing technique lets you hike farther and faster each day.
Separate Hip Belt
When ordering a Mariposa, Gorilla, or Murmur from Gossamer Gear, you can choose to get a hip belt (S, M, L) which is a different size than the torso length (XS, S, M, L, XL) without having to pay for a second hip belt, after you purchase your pack. If you’ve every purchased a pack that only comes with one hip belt size (that doesn’t fit you), you’re in for a treat, because you can get a highly personalized fit with a Gossamer Gear backpack. if you’re unsure how to size your pack, call Gossamer gear support. They’re very experienced and helpful and will help you get a good fit.
Maximum Weight Recommendations
Gossamer Gear’s maximum recommended weight recommendations for all of their packs are quite accurate. While you can exceed the maximum recommended load on a Gossamer Gear backpack if you enough space to do so, the comfort of the hip belt and its ability to support the extra weight does degrade, putting more of the load on your shoulders.
Mesh Pocket Durability
The external mesh used on the Gossamer Gear Mariposa, Gorilla, G4, and Murmur Backpacks is quite tough as long as you hike on developed trails and avoid bushwhacking off-trail through dense brush. The side pockets on the Mariposa and the Gorilla backpacks are made out of solid fabric which significantly increases their resistance to tearing and the bottom of the pockets on the Mariposa, Gorilla, G4, and Murmur is reinforced with extra fabric to resist abrasion. As someone who had a history of tearing the mesh on older model Gossamer Gear packs, I can attest that the durability of the mesh pockets is vastly improved over previous versions of Gossamer Gear’s backpacks and quite robust.
Disclaimer: Philip Werner is a former Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador who has been using Gossamer Gear packs since 2008. While he has received free products from Gossamer Gear, he was under no obligation to write this article and the views it contains are entirely his own.
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