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Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Backpack Review

Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Backpack Review - 2024 Model

The Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 is a lightweight ultralight-style backpack that weighs 34.5 oz. It’s ideal for weekend backpacking and long-distance trips, particularly if you prefer a backpack that has lots of pockets and a frame, like a more conventional backpack, but weighs half as much. Sporting a unique combination of pockets, it’s an easy backpack to use because you can pack “like” gear together and find it quickly without having to remove everything in your backpack first.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 34.2 oz (size medium, straight hipbelt)
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Frame: Yes
  • Pockets: 7, plus the main compartment
  • Load lifters: Yes
  • Hydration Ready: Central hose port, no bladder pocket
  • Bear Canister Compatible: BV500 fits vertically, BV475 fits horizontally.
  • Torso length range (multiple sizes available): 16″-22″
  • Hip belt lengths range (multiple sizes available): 26″-61.5″
  • Materials: 100d and 200d Robic nylon
  • For complete specs and sizing, visit the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 product page

What Makes the Mariposa 60 so Unique?

The Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 has been on the market for over 15 years and has undergone many design changes during its lifetime. While those changes have improved its durability, carrying capacity, and quality, the pack’s personality and widespread popularity have stayed the same. What is it that makes the Mariposa 60 so beloved by the people that use it? I’ve long pondered that question since I bought my first Mariposa 60 back in 2008 to hike Vermont’s Long Trail.

The Mariposa has a distinct external pocket configuration with one long pocket and two smaller side pockets.
The Mariposa has a distinct external pocket configuration with one long pocket and two smaller side pockets.

If there’s one thing that’s remained constant during the Mariposa’s evolution, it’s the configuration of its side pockets, with one long tent pocket on the left and two smaller pockets on the right side of the pack. This pocket layout lets you move some of the bulky gear that usually hogs up the main compartment, like a tent and or a Jetboil, to an outside pocket, making it much easier to pack the gear that you don’t need during the day and want to keep dry and safe inside the pack.

This pocket layout lets you easily pack your backpacking gear by function, frequency of use, or time of day without resorting to using extra stuff sacks. For example, you might pack your shelter and all of its accessories in an exterior pocket so you don’t have to dig around for them when you get to camp. I do this myself, packing my tent and stakes in my Mariposa’s long left pocket so I can get to them out quicky. You can do a similar thing with your “kitchen”, “rain gear”, or “water filter/purification”.

The Mariposa’s 13” tall left pocket is great for carrying a one or two person tent.
The Mariposa’s 13” tall left pocket is great for carrying a one or two-person tent.

But the Mariposa isn’t for everyone. For all of their benefits, the pack’s external pockets can be difficult to adjust to if you don’t carry a tent or you’ve been weaned on ultralight-style packs that have symmetrical water bottle pockets. They also make it impossible to add functional compression straps to the pack, which can make it awkward to compress less than full loads. You can still attach gear to the outside of the backpack, but the compression capability is lacking.

What’s new in this latest version of the Mariposa 60? The pack weighs about 4 oz more, up from 30 oz, and is now priced over $300.  There’s an entirely new frame that pivots as you walk. There are two new hip belt options and the shoulder straps are S-shaped to fit men and women. The available torso lengths have changed. There are new trekking pole holders on the front of the pack and the pack is now made with recycled Robic fabric. 

Backpack Organization and Storage

The Mariposa 60 has seven external pockets and a main storage compartment.

  • Front stretch mesh pocket
  • Left-hand tent pocket
  • Upper right accessory pocket
  • Lower right water bottle pocket
  • Over-the-top map pocket
  • Two hip belt pockets

There isn’t an internal hydration pocket, just a loop that you can hang a bladder from.

Front Stretch Mesh Pocket

The front stretch mesh pocket is a good place to store wet items and extra layers you want easy access to during the day so you don’t have to stop and open the main compartment. The mesh weave is open so it drains well and it’s gotten much tougher over the years, so it has good durability. The base of the mesh pocket is reinforced with 200D Robic nylon like the rest of the pack bottom so it won’t rip or abrade when you set it on the ground. There’s also a drain hole at the base so the pocket won’t collect water in the rain.

The front mesh pocket is great for packing gear you want during the day.
The front mesh pocket is great for packing gear you want during the day.

The Tent Pocket

The left side of the Mariposa has a long tent pocket (I like to call it a “quiver”), 13 inches deep and open at the top, which is ideal if you carry a one or two-person tent. In addition to a tent, you can put anything you want into this long pocket, like a hammock/tarp or larger items that you want to segregate from the rest of your gear. For example, if your tent gets wet at night, or soaked with internal condensation, this tent pocket is a good place to store it separate from your other dry gear. It also makes it convenient to pull out to dry in the sun if you stop for a rest break.

The tent pocket also works well with tents that have components that make them hard to pack sideways in the main compartment, like the tents with longer tent poles. However, the contents of the tent pocket cannot be reached when you’re wearing the backpack, so it’s not a particularly good place to put a water bottle unless it’s being held in reserve.

There are two stacked pockets on the right of the pack
There are two stacked pockets on the right of the pack.

Right-hand Accessory and Water Bottle Pockets

The Mariposa has two right-hand pockets, one on top and one on the bottom. They’re both 8″ tall and open on top with an elastic band to keep their contents from popping out. The bottom pocket is designed specifically to hold two, one-liter water bottles, including 32 oz Nalgenes or Smartwater bottles. Water bottles stored there are easy to reach and replace while wearing the backpack. I often carry my cook system in the upper right-hand pocket, especially if it’s wet.

You can fit much more than maps into the over-the-top lid map pocket
You can fit much more than maps into the over-the-top lid map pocket

Map Pocket

There’s a map pocket in the fold-over lid that’s also handy for storing your personal effects. It extends the width of the fold-over lid, so it’s quite large, but whatever you put inside it has to be flexible to wrap over the top of the main compartment.

Hip belt pockets

The hip belt comes with two large zippered pockets that are solid-faced for durability and water resistance. I usually use these to store my compass and a folded-up map, Aquamira water treatment drops, or bug dope, but they’re also large enough to store a smartphone or a point-and-shoot camera.

The hipbelt pockets are huge and can store food or electronics
The hipbelt pockets are huge and can store food or electronics

Main Compartment

The main compartment is cavernous and unstructured. I usually line the Mariposa with a white plastic compactor trash bag to help protect my gear from moisture even though the Mariposa’s Robic nylon fabric is quite water-resistant. A white compactor bag also makes it easier to find gear inside the pack.

There is a hang loop in the main compartment, where you can suspend a water reservoir if you choose to use one. The hydration port is centered between the shoulder straps and covered to prevent rain from leaking in. Using a hydration system is not a bad way to carry water in a Mariposa because it can be tricky to balance the load across the right-hand water bottle pocket and the left-side tent pocket. Alternatively, you can carry your water by attaching Gossamer Gear’s water bottle sleeves to your shoulder straps.

The extension collar must be gathered with a small clip instead of a drawstring, before you fold the map pocket lid over top of it.
The extension collar must be gathered with a small clip instead of a drawstring, before you fold the map pocket lid over top of it.

But the closure at the top of the main compartment is a bit clunky, particularly if you lack manual dexterity (think arthritis). There is a small plastic clip used to cinch close the top of the extension collar before you can fold the over-the-top flap over it. It’s a little awkward, but you shouldn’t have to use it very often during the day if you pack all the food and gear you need in the pockets on the outside of the backpack. Rolltop closures can be similarly annoying, but then again, not if you pack the gear you need during the day in the exterior pockets of the pack.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

While the Mariposa 60 looks the same as the previous model, the frame and suspension system were completely replaced in this latest model to provide more inclusive sizing for men and women. In the past, Gossamer Gear was very “unisex” in its orientation, but as the market for ultralight backpacks has grown, it became clear that women (and people with small statures) wanted breast-friendly S-shaped shoulder straps and pre-curved female-friendly hip belts.

S-shaped shoulder straps are now standard on the Mariposa
S-shaped shoulder straps are now standard on the Mariposa

Since S-shaped shoulder straps are comfortable for both men and women, they’re now standard on the Mariposa 60. There are also two new PVT (stands for Pivot) hipbelt options available for the Mariposa: a Straight hipbelt similar in fit to the unisex hipbelt sold on earlier models and one with curved wings designed for people (mostly women) with curvier hips and smaller waists. See Gossamer Gear for fitting instructions (scroll down the page).

The new PVT hip belts are not compatible with older model Mariposa backpacks, so you’ll need to buy an entirely new backpack if you want to take advantage of the new design. Gossamer Gear changed how the frame connects the hipbelt, making it much simpler to swap than previously. The bottom of the frame is curved and slots into a pouch-like cup at the back of the hipbelt with the added benefit that the sides of the hipbelt can Pivot, that is, move slightly up or down with your hips as you walk. Other backpack makers Gregory, Deuter, and Osprey have hipbelt systems that offer a similar pivot benefit but are much heavier in their implementation.

Curved and Straight PVT Hip Belts
Curved and Straight PVT Hip Belts

A bigger benefit of the new Pivot system is that it’s much easier to swap in a new PVT hipbelt if you want to replace the one that comes bundled with the Mariposa. Gossamer Gear sells three out-of-the-box configurations of the Mariposa with preconfigured hip belts and five different hipbelt sizes, which cost an additional $25 if you want to customize your fit. Gossamer Gear will refund the $25 if you send back the original hipbelt – contact them for details.

The PVT frame is also a 360 loop instead of the 270 degree U-shaped frame used in previous models, making for a much stiffer and more responsive carry. Gossamer Gear also added more stiffeners to the back of the hipbelt, resulting in better load transfer to the hips.

The blue foam sitpad is easy to pull out when you want more cushion or insulation for your bum.
The blue foam sitpad is easy to pull out when you want more cushion or insulation for your bum.

In addition, there is a new foam sit pad included that slots into mesh sleeves behind the shoulder straps. While it has holes in it, they don’t provide any ventilation to dry perspiration in your shirt. Still, the sit pad is very handy to pull out when you want a dry spot to sit down in camp or a porch in front of your tent, and easy to slot back into the mesh sleeves when you’re ready to take off again. While you can replace the foam pad with another of your choosing, you want to avoid using something like a full Zlite foam pad because it will be too thick and position the pack too far away from your torso.

The Mariposa includes load lifters which I consider important on higher volume backpacks, starting at about 50 liters of capacity. Without load lifters, a heavily loaded backpack can have the tendency to pull you backward and off-balance. Load lifters help counter the backward tilt of a heavy pack, bringing it closer to your back, and shifting more of the weight onto your hips.

External Attachment and Compression System

The Mariposa 60 is noticeably light on side compression straps and external attachment points because the side pockets get in the way of having them. However, there are tiny webbing loops purposely distributed around the perimeter of the pack that let you create your own compression or attachment points with some cord and a cord lock. Gossamer Gear sells a convenient accessory cord kit for just this purpose.

While trekking pole loops hold your pole tips, you’ll need to fashion shaft holders with some of that accessory cord.
While trekking pole loops hold your pole tips, you’ll need to fashion shaft holders with some of that accessory cord.

There are 8 x 2 such webbing loops sewn into the seams of each side of the backpack and plastic rings on and above the shoulder straps that are good anchors for the accessory pockets that Gossamer Gear sells. You can so route accessory cord through those webbing loops and plastic loops in many different ways. For example, you can rig up:

  • Rig up a pair of parallel cords on each side to carry snowshoes or a foam pad.
  • Crisscross a cord over the front mesh pocket to dry wet clothing.
  • Secure a solar panel so it drapes down the front of the pack.

The possibilities are really endless and help overcome the fact that the side pockets make it hard to provide two tiers of webbing-based side compression straps.

With a little imagination, you can use also the top fold-over pocket to sandwich awkwardly shaped gear like a foam sleeping pad or cylindrical tent body onto the top of the main compartment, making it easier and more convenient to carry. (In the past, I was able to fit a small bear canister under the over-the-top lid pocket, but not on this latest model. YMMV)

The Mariposa has the requisite ice ax loop as well as trekking pole tip holders found on most packs but does not include shaft holders for either making them a bit hard to use unless you have some of that cordage around.

Philip Werner at a river crossing in Scotland
The author backpacking across Scotland with a Gossamer Gear Mariposa Backpack in 2013.

Comparable Internal Frame Backpacks

Make / ModelWeightGender
Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60L34.2 ozM | F
Granite Gear Crown 3 60L36.7 ozM | F
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400 (55L)34.9 ozM
Superior Wilderness Designs Long Haul 50L28.6 ozM
ULA Circuit 68L41 ozM | F

Recommendation

The Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Backpack is perfect for hikers transitioning from a heavier backpack to a lighter-weight one because it provides plenty of storage and pockets to organize your gear. It has a lightweight frame that provides plenty of load-carrying support for heavier loads. With a maximum recommended load of 30-35 pounds, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a backpack that’s as comfortable, refined, and easy to use as the Mariposa 60.

If you don’t need 60L of capacity, but like what you see in the Mariposa, check out the 50L Gossamer Gear Gorilla. It has fewer external pockets than the Mariposa but is also a great backpack.

Shop at Gossamer Gear

 

Disclosure: Gossamer Gear donated a backpack for review.

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15 comments

  1. I own the immediate prior iteration, about four years old.

    PROS:

    light weight but holds what you need

    aluminum stay stacks and supports the carried weight and it does this well and comfortably

    nylon loops integrated into the seams enable one to use bungie cords and stops to construct myriad gear stowage configurations; I built a “cradle” for my Nemo Switchback sleeping/sitting/kneeling pad in the vertical dimension due to my belief the pad carried horizontally is a snag issue in the Alaskan bush; while traversing a huge pile of fallen old growth trees, after a landslide, I fell five-plus foot and landed on my back; I should have broken it, but because the vertical Switchback absorbed the impact and almost bounced me to my feet again, I didn’t suffer and actually giggled until I realized the gravity of my fall; also supports a cradle I made to hold a 6L water blivet when there’s no water source for tens of miles

    almost everybody, even fatties, can use the supplied medium belt, it’s really flexible, most don’t need to order the larger belt

    the hiking pole plastic distal captures at the bottom are robust and otherwise excellent, they work well, however, I had to make my own handle holder, no problem, but why have the bottom component and not supply the top one? could be cheap elastic

    the zippers are robust and hold up

    CONS:

    on my first day, first outing with the Mariposa, the tensioner inside the chest strap buckle did break; for twelve days in the bush I had to wear my PCT throw carabiners to keep the chest strap secured; I called GG and ordered two replacements and they made me buy them despite the pack was “under warranty” (I had just purchased it); GG support sent me only one of the two plastic buckles ordered; when I called the rep she asked incredulously, “we sent you one of the two ordered because why would you need more than another one?!” I replied, “because when the second one breaks I’ll already have its replacement in the map pocket?” hello Bueller; dense; less than eight outings later, the right shoulder load lift detached from the robix fabric at its first joinder point, cutting a perfect square punched from the fabric and leaving a rain hole; my brilliant, local drycleaner/Chinese Chicongo seamstress fixed the issue and did a superior job for ten dollars (I tipped her another twenty); I take care of my gear albeit I take it to extreme locations routinely; I have never abused the Mariposa except possible during travel in airline cargo holds

    the front straps don’t accommodate large bear containers well unless the interior pack space is underloaded/not full

    the wearer must pack to the design, which currently is atypical; this is easy for me but I can see how breaking from the Osprey design could be inconvenient initially for some; it’s a valid design however
    the Robex skin is puncture and abrasion resistant, however, it admits both horizontal and *vertical* falling water, so you need an internal pack liner (I use fumo bags) and perhaps also a pack cover (Alaska);

    the folding flap “map pocket” is worthless in some highly-packed configurations; I carry all maps, MC-2 global needle compass, mechanical pencil pencil, pen and replacement buckles on my person because I typically am off-trail and navigating as I used to do on IOR yachts before GPS (I don’t own or use GPS); remove the zipper for weight control please GG and just leave a slot opening

    the right-side water bottle pocket is inaccessible unless you remove the pack to access the water bottles; cannot retrieve water on the move

    I’ve tried to carry 40 pounds (food, water) and would not rec above thirty
    Not for harsh winters or urban environments, duh

    CONCLUSION

    my next three-season pack acquisition once I wear out my first and only Mariposa will be a Hyperlite 3400 or plus because that company is designing what I want and executing very well; I know of no Hyperlite buckle or fabric failures; Hyperlite is reknown for its customer service; I can have confidence in Hyperlite that I do not enjoy with GG

    • Your comment is about the previous model. The new version is quite different! I bought one and love it.

      • reason i sold mine, that still hasn’t changed: robic fabric is a damn sponge. yes nylofume (or whatever) liner will keep your stuff dry, but it’s. so. annoying when you’re going through multiple soggy days. i do get it that they use it to keep costs down, in fact i really admire how GG clearly intends to make highest level performance ul gear accessible to most peoples budgets. but man. if they just offered another version in ultra or something. (ok yes at this point i’m just describing a kakwa.)

        • In all fairness, you still would want to line a ultra or dyneema pack with a trash bag or nylofume. In my experience, the thing that makes a pack gross to deal with and heavier with when wet are the soaked hip belt and shoulder strap fabric and that’s the same on all backpacks since no one uses the new wonder fabrics to make them. Robic, which is nylon, isn’t as luxurious or tough as Dyneema or Ultra but people have been wearing packs made with nylon or Cordura (similar) for decades and survived just fine. I’ve seen price win out in the end time and time again, so I do think Gossamer Gear should be commended for building packs that more people can afford. Gear is always a cost/performance tradeoff. You just have to choose which is more important to you.

  2. However it does raise concerns about quality and customer service, whilst at the same time offering an alternative solution, so i for one welcomed his opinion.

  3. I’ve had my GG Mariposa since 2020 and have hundreds of Backcountry miles in GNP and CDT. It is the most comfortable pack I’ve owned (ULA circuit or REI brand) and does what I need it to do. It is a narrow pack so a large bear canister is fun, but made easier because all of my hard gear like tent and stove are carried in external pockets. I’d buy it again.

  4. I’m on Mariposa #3: I bought #1 used and finished wearing it out over two years of AT section hiking. Mariposa #2 worked ok but something always seemed off about it and it turned out the new belt I’d bought for #1 didn’t exactly match the new (at the time) model; GG customer service was quite helpful in swapping out the not-right for right (it was an interesting process of sending detailed photos, leading up to an “aha!” moment by someone at GG). #3 has several years and hundreds of miles of trail use and shows no particular sign of wearing out.

    I also don’t get much use out of the pack lid “map pocket”–that thing needs pleats so it expands, and I learned this by busting the zippers out of #1 and #2.

    The long side pocket is genius and whenever I look at a pack without this feature I can’t for a second imagine hiking without it. I use it for a tarp, handy for those rainy day setups, and whatever else I can cram in there.

    The back pad makes for a hot, sweaty back. I just got a remaindered pad that is in theory ventilated. We’ll see.

  5. Excellent review Phillip.
    GG seems to have improved the load lifters, which on the previous versions did not seem to do much. Did you find them to be much better than before?

  6. I’ve got an older Mariposa from 2017, and overall really like the design. I’m not a fan of the fold over top as it makes the “map pocket” pretty useless if the pack is loaded full. I’ll keep using it until it dies, but not 100% sure I’d replace it with another one.

  7. I think that’s the norm actually. The Mariposa is a great 1st ultralight backpack, but people move on after they wear the first one out. I switched to a Hyperlite Southwest 40L myself, when I needed less capacity and more durability.

  8. I have long looked at the Mariposa but haven’t tried it. I don’t like the water bottle pocket on the side being potentially hard to reach because of the top pocket. I guess it depends how it’s packed maybe? I don’t carry big flat maps, most of the time, so a flat rounded pocket isn’t really useful for anything I carry. Finally it looks really tall and narrow, and I really like a bit more width, so that my pack top doesn’t go behind the back of my head; everything is on my back and hips. Having a pack that my head hits when I turn it is just annoying. Maybe it isn’t really like that but it looks to be from the images I’ve seen.

    Thanks for your review though; nothing like actually packing and carrying it on a hike to know the ins and outs. I’ll stick with my Granite Gear Blaze for now, which is a pound heavier, but carries so wonderfully that I have never complained about the weight once it’s on my back. I’ve modified it a bit to suit my needs, but probably do that with every pack.

  9. When I hiked the PCT the Mariposa was a popular option at the start. But over the weeks and months they mostly seemed to wear out and were replaced by other packs. I know this is a new model but if I were a long distance hiker I would wait until more anecdotes come about regarding durability .

  10. Took my Mariposa on a 300 mile section of the PCT last year and loved it. Rides extremely well and never had any chafing of any kind. Going to take it out to the Sierra for another couple hundred miles this summer. As a section hiking pack, it’s phenomenal. Can’t comment on a full thru.

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