Gear Review: Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack

A versatile pack that can be pared down or bulked up depending on your load and the terrain.

[most versatile]

Are you a part-time ultralighter? This chameleon pack lets you strip away features (and weight) for the ultimate UL experience, then add them back for trips when heavier loads or rougher terrain make you wish for more stability and comfort. In its pared down form, the Gorilla weighs only 15 ounces.

“It was perfect for overnight trips with only 15 pounds or so,” says a tester who maximized weight efficiency by carrying his folded sleeping pad in the Gorilla’s backpanel sleeve. For humping heftier loads, add the stability of aluminum stays (6 oz. per pair) and the cushioning of a 10-by-19-inch egg crate foam pad (1.8 oz.), as well as closed-cell foam pads that slide into slots on the shoulder straps (1 oz. per pair) and hipbelt (1 oz. per pair). One ranger reported the souped-up version of the Gorilla was comfortable carrying 25 pounds on a patrol of Hermit Creek. But with heavier loads, the lack of load lifters on the shoulder straps resulted in discomfort. The packbag fabric—a 210-denier urethane-coated ripstop nylon—withstood abrasion against rocks, but the mesh pocket fabric suffered a few snags. Testers liked the easy-to-reach bottle pockets.

Annoying: The Velcro closures on the hipbelt and shoulder strap sleeves are difficult to open.

> Weight 1 lb. 8 oz. (As tested with stays, lumbar pad, and shoulder/hip pads)

> Capacity 46 liters

> Price $180 (As tested with stays, lumbar pad, and shoulder/hip pads)

> Sizes 3 unisex (12-24 in.)


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