Many hikers I talk to tell me they’re unsatisfied with the standard backpacks they find at big box stores, but are not sure how to move away from their 5-pound empty pack to a lightweight option. Gossamer Gear offers a variety of packs that both weekend warrior and ultralight thru hikers will love. Like many smaller companies, you can’t find their gear in stores (unless you live in Portland, Oregon!) so trying on the packs before buying is not an option. Taking a close look at each one will help you to select a Gossamer Gear pack for your needs.
The Mariposa Ultralight Backpack is the perfect option for those still transitioning to lighter and smaller gear with its 57 liter capacity and 7 built in pockets. Those hiking in areas that require a bear canister will find the Mariposa roomy enough for one and the rest of your gear without worry. This large volume pack is also an option for winter hikers and backpackers who have more gear to carry for those sub zero nights. The features on the Mariposa will surprise you, especially when it only weighs 29.1 oz (size medium) with the metal stay, sitpad, and hipbelt. The pockets offer a lot of options for carrying your gear. The right side has a water bottle pocket that is easily accessible with another pocket above. The hipbelt (sold separately for a more custom fit) has two rather large zippered pockets that are perfect for storing snacks and even a small point and shoot camera or phone. The left side of the pack has a large tent pocket which allows you to keep a wet tent separate from your dry gear in the main pocket. There is a large mesh pocket on the front that is great for storing wet gear or tossing items in that you may want to access further down the trail without opening up the pack.
The Mariposa Ultralight Pack can handle up to 35 pounds (it has load lifters!) and is made with a tough custom 100 and 200 denier Robic nylon. There is a removable metal stay as the sturdy internal frame which will not buckle or fold with a full pack. The SitLight pad is included with the pack which adds more structure and can be removed to use on breaks. You can also store your trekking poles easily on the outside of your pack. There is hardware built onto the front of the pack for this. Other features include an internal hydration sleeve and drinking tube keeper loops on both shoulder straps for your convenience.
The redesigned suspension system makes this pack truly unisex. Many packs are not designed with a woman’s body shape in mind, but Gossamer Gear has filled this need. The Mariposa comes in five sizes- XS, S, M, L, XL to accommodate torso lengths of 10″ to 25″.
The Gorilla Ultralight Backpack shares common features with the Mariposa, but has some major differences which will be important to consider when choosing a Gossamer Gear Backpack. The Gorilla Ultralight Backpack is ideal for 2-7 day adventures for someone that has already transitioned to a lightweight setup. A size medium weighs just 26 ounces and has a total of 38.57 liters. It can hold a total of 30 lbs.
While a bear canister can make its way into the Gorilla, it leaves little room for other gear. For those not needing a canister, the Gorilla is configured to keep all your large gear items inside the main pocket allowing for a really comfortable carry. The Gorilla has two easy access water bottle pockets and webbing straps to compress your pack when you’re not carrying a full load. The Gorilla is a sleek pack and features great options for the lightweight backpacker including a large mesh pocket, hardware for lashing trekking poles on the outside of the pack, two large pockets on the hipbelt (sold separately for a more custom fit), and an internal hydration sleeve and drinking tube keeper on both shoulder straps.
The Gorilla is available in sizes small, medium, and large to fit torso sizes ranging from 13″ to 22″.
The Kumo Superlight Backpack is great for day hikes to multiday trips, depending on how you pack it. For day hiking, it can be loaded up with additional layers and those few extras you can’t leave behind. For those with a more refined and minimal packing list, it is an excellent pack to backpack with. It is super durable with its Robic fabric and can carry up to 25 pounds and has a capacity of 36 liters. The Kumo is a frameless pack, but still comes with a sitpad to give it structure. The design allows for ideal weight transfer from shoulders to hips for an easy carry.
The Kumo has Gossamer gear’s signature features: over the top zippered pocket, easy to access water bottle pockets, large mesh pocket, and a removable hip belt. You can choose to add a hip belt with zippered integrated pockets.
A size medium weighs in at just under a pound so it truly is superlight! the Kumo comes in two sizes (medium and large) and can fit torso lengths ranging from 16″-24″ inches and in hip belt lengths up to 50″.
The Murmur Hyperlight Backpack was designed by founder Glenn Van Peski who has a base weight (not including food, water, or consumables) or 4.83 lbs. He is always tinkering with his gear to share a few grams so his base weight may be even lower! The Murmur weighs 12.3 ounces with the included hipbelt and SitLight Pad. For those looking for a hyperlight pack, it weighs a mere 8.35 ounces once you remove the SitLight Pad and hipbelt. It has a capacity of 36 liters.
The Murmur has more features than you’d think for being a featherweight pack. It has side water bottle pockets, a large mesh pocket for wet clothing, and trekking pole holders. The main compartment can close two ways: roll-top for a more streamlined shape or you can clip the buckle together in a ‘dry bag’ style to use the extension collar.
This pack is intended for true ultralight backpackers who carry a 5 pound baseweight or less. For hardcore ULs, this pack may be suitable for multi-night hikes. To keep this pack as light as possible, Gossamer Gear used 20 Denier (.97 oz/sq yard) cordura nylon for the main body and 100 denier Robic nylon for the bottom and select areas for some added durability. This pack is not as durable as other Gossamer Gear packs and should be used only on developed trails to avoid ripping the fabric on brushy trail.
The Murmur comes in one size (16″ – 24″ torso) and generally fits people 5’4″-6’4″. The waist belt can fit a 28″ – 42″ waist.
The G4 Ultralight Backpack is one of the original ultralight packs; originally designed in 1998. It is a rucksack style pack which is perfect for winter hiking and backpack as it has plenty of storage space. A medium G4 weighs 16.5 oz, has 52.76 liters of capacity and can hold up to 30 lbs.
The G4 has a giant main compartment and 3 large external mesh pockets for all your gear storage needs. You can store your tent separately from the rest of your gear for quick access once you reach camp. You can also carry 2 2-liter water bottles on each side of the pack. How’s that for hydration? My favorite feature, which in my opinion, makes the G4 an ideal winter pack, is the shape. The bottom widens out to minimize loss of loft in your sleeping bag as it has some extra space. You can get warm quicker on an cold weather overnighter!
This is Gossamer Gear’s only backpack that hasn’t been revamped to be unisex. It has wider straps than the Mariposa or Gorilla packs so it’s not as comfortable for people with more narrow shoulders. It is a very budget friendly backpack at $150 for the pack and hipbelt.
What makes the G4 unique (other than its shape) is the fact that its a frameless pack! If you’re looking for a little more structure, you may want to replace the included SitLight pad with a thicker Nightlight Sleep Pad which is also a great addition to your winter camping setup.
The G4 Ultralight Backpack comes in sizes S, M, and L to fit torso lengths of 13″ – 24″ and hip belt sizes of 25″ to 42″.
When purchasing a Gossamer Gear pack it is important to measure your torso size first for an accurate fit. Two people that are both 5’6″ may have different torso lengths which could be the difference between to pack sizes.
Disclosure: Allison is a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador and received the above packs for review. This post is her own opinion.
Last modified: September 1, 2017