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Gossamer Gear Ranger 35 Backpack Review

Front of Backpack

The Gossamer Gear Ranger 35 is a technical day pack that’s ideal for day hiking, hut-to-hut hikes, multi-sport trips, and travel with numerous external and internal pockets for keeping yourself organized. Weighing 33.9 oz, it’s fairly burly for a Gossamer Gear backpack, weighing more than the company’s ultralight Mariposa 60 liter multi-day backpack, but that’s because it’s outfitted to carry more technical gear like winter traction aids, climbing gear, or ski touring equipment. This rugged panel loader is also the first backpack in the Gossamer Gear product line to showcase a rigid polycarbonate frame, which boosts the Ranger’s carry capacity to 25-30 lbs for those Type II adventures where you need to carry more gear, more food, or more water.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 33.9 oz (26.9 without removable frame)
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Pockets: 10, plus main compartment
  • Torso length: Fits 16″-24″
  • Hip belt: Fits 28″ – 48″ waist
  • Frame: Internal Polycarbonate (removable)
  • Materials: 100d, 200d Robic nylon
  • Max recommended load: 25-30 pounds
  • Click for full specifications at Gossamer Gear

 Pockets

The Ranger 35 has a clamshell opening, another first for Gossamer Gear. While this limits the amount you can overstuff the pack, it provides easier access to items that are deeply buried gear inside which is an asset on day-long adventures or when traveling.

The clamshell top also provides a surface to affix pockets that close with zippers, one on the outside and one on the inside of the pack. The outside pocket has a very handy key fob inside and is large enough to store maps, a GPS or inReach, bug dope, and other bulky items that you frequently want secure access to. There’s also an internal zippered pocket which is good for storing more personal items like your bathroom supplies, wallet, passport, or airplane tickets.

Panel Loading Backpack
The Ranger 35 is a clamshell daypack with a zippered external pocket and an internal one in the top of the pack.

There are additional pockets distributed around the backpack to keep you organized, bringing the total number of pockets to 10, not including the main compartment. This pack has pockets galore!

  • The front stretch mesh pocket is good for storing damp items like a water filter/reservoir, damp clothes, shoes, or a climbing/bike helmet
  • The two side mesh pockets are large enough to store 1L bottles and are easily reachable while wearing the backpack
  • The Ranger has an internal hydration pocket and hang loop, with a central hydration port
  • There are two stretch mesh pockets on the shoulder straps sized for food bars, cell phones, or small cameras
  • Plus two more zippered mesh pockets on the hip belt, best used for snacks and smaller items.

The mesh on the exterior pockets has small holes to prevent snagging, but you can do serious damage to it if you bushwhack with the Ranger, at least in New England, where the bushes whack back. My advice would be to stick to trail hiking with this backpack, with the exception of winter, when you’re less likely to wander into bushy terrain to avoid vegetation traps.

Side mesh botlte pocket
The side mesh pockets are large enough to hold a Nalgene and tall enough to hold a Smartwater bottle. Both are reachable and replaceable when the pack is worn.

Attachment Points Illustrated

The Ranger has a fantastic range of external attachment options, in addition to its plethora of pockets. There are two daisy chains on the front of the pack that are good for hanging traction devices like microspikes with a carabiner for spring and winter hiking. There are also two ice axe loops that can serve double duty as trekking pole holders. The pack includes two shaft holders, something many daypack manufacturers leave off, although they’re not sewn to the pack and easy to lose unless you’re careful to reattach them between uses.

external Attachment backpack example
It’s easy to attach all kinds of different gear to the front of the Ranger 35

The front mesh pocket has a compression strap running over it that can be used to carry or attach a helmet on the outside of your pack or carry snowshoes, although you might want to augment it with a second elastic cord. Gossamer Gear sells an inexpensive shock cord compression set that is perfect for this use.

Polycarbonate Frame and Suspension

You can really load up the Ranger 35 with external gear because it has a real frame inside and it won’t buckle under the added weight.

The Ranger’s polycarbonate frame helps the pack carry heavier loads

It’s housed in a pocket on the inside of the backpack and easily removable, but I can’t see why you’d want to since it’s one of the pack’s biggest assets. It helps the pack carry 25 pounds comfortably, maxing out at about 30 pounds. You could probably go even higher than that, except for the Ranger’s hip belt, which is too light-duty to transfer much of the load to your hips.

While the hip belt wings are sewn directly to the pack, their primary function is to keep the pack close to your back and waist so it doesn’t bounce around. While cut-outs in the hip belt help it better mold around men’s and women’s hips, they reduce its ability to transfer much weight to your hips. This is a common limitation of most daypacks, which are usually designed to carry a maximum of 20-25 pounds.

unisex style hip belt
The Ranger 35 has a sewn-on hip belt. The wing cut-outs help provide a better fit for men and women.

You can go slightly heavier than that with the Ranger 35 because it has wide shoulder straps, like all of Gossamer Gear’s backpacks. They help distribute the load across a wider surface area to eliminate pressure points. The shoulder pads, like the hip belt, are covered with a highly breathable padded foam that’s designed to wick away sweat and prevent chafing. The same padding is also used on the back of the pack, where a large air channel helps keep your back cooler and shirt drier.

You’re probably asking yourself…why would you choose the Gossamer Gorilla Ranger 35 over a Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 which weighs slightly less, but can carry much more weight because it has a sturdier hip belt? The Ranger really is set up much more like a day pack than the Gorilla, with a gazillion pockets, and a clamshell top zipper, which makes it much easier to open up and find things during the day. The Gorilla is much more difficult to use this way, with an awkward fold-over lid, which makes it cumbersome to open and close frequently. Try using a Ranger and a Gorilla to carry your laptop and personal stuff to work and you’ll see what I mean. The Gorilla isn’t set up for frequent access.

Comparable Technical Daypacks

Make / ModelWeightVolume (L)Price
Granite Gear Crown 2 3833.5 oz38$185
Granite Gear Virga 2616 oz26$120
Osprey Talon 3332.3 oz38$140
Mystery Ranch Scree 3249.6 oz32$189
ULA Photon 3527 oz35$145
Gossamer Gear Ranger 3533.9 oz35$155
Gossmer Gear Lone Star 3029.5 ox30$145
Zpacks Nero 3510.8 oz38$199
HMG Daybreak 2320.35 oz23$230
MLD Burn 3816 oz38$220

Recommendation

The Gossamer Gear Ranger 35 is a great technical backpack suitable for multi-sport adventures and backpacking. While you could conceivably fit an overnight ultralight backpacking load into the Ranger, it’s really optimized more for gear-intensive day hiking, winter hiking, and rock climbing routes where you need a pack capable of carrying 25-30 pound loads. Loaded with organizational pockets and attachment points, the Ranger has what you need to get out there and play, all year long. As a long time customer of Gossamer Gear, it’s exciting to see the company expanding its product line to reach more and more hikers of all stripes. The company has fielded a number of other new backpacks this year including the Lone Star 30 and the Drifter 22, which help open up their range to a wider audience.

Disclosure: Gossamer Gear provided SectionHiker with a pack for this review.

Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.

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3 comments

  1. I’ve been looking for a new briefcase, this might just be it!

  2. Looks well designed. I like the flexible “engineering grade polymer” frame and the hip belt cutouts for the pelvic iliac crest fit.

    For the mesh back I have (on my Osprey EXOS 58) put a plastic cutting sheet behind the mesh and lightly coated it with SHOO GOO and let dry before removing the plastic sheet. That treatment does wonders for durability.

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