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Gossamer Gear Mariposa Review

This pack wowed us with its perfect set of features, comfortable design, and carrying capacity
Gossamer Gear Mariposa
Photo: Gossamer Gear
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $270 List
Pros:  Durable, comfortable, well-designed pockets, carries light and heavy loads well
Cons:  Large capacity makes it less versatile
Manufacturer:   Gossamer Gear
By Jane Jackson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 30, 2020
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90
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 15
  • Weight-to-Volume Ratio - 35% 8
  • Comfort to Carry - 25% 10
  • Features - 20% 10
  • Adaptability - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

With a larger carrying capacity and a lower overall weight than many other packs in this review, plus unparalleled comfort, it was a no brainer to give the Mariposa our Editors' Choice Award. It's hard to compete with a pack that is this lightweight and comfortable and still can carry large loads. The Mariposa carries like a dream, whether it's loaded up with a few days food and supplies or half-empty on the final day of a trip, and the pockets are big enough to carry a wide range of gear, from bottles to stoves to clothing. The feature set on this pack is hard to compete with. This pack is great for any backpacker - from a seasoned thru-hiker to a newbie just starting out on their lightweight journey.

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Pros Durable, comfortable, well-designed pockets, carries light and heavy loads wellSimple design, inexpensive, durableNearly waterproof, lightweight frame, good external storage optionsVery light, large volume, versatile compression systemGreat for medium loads, inexpensive, thoughtful set of features, external storage and lashing options
Cons Large capacity makes it less versatileFoam pad falls out easily, shoulder straps lack supportComplex frame, no hip belt pockets, designed for specific use, expensiveNo frame, poor comfort for medium loadsHeavy, less durable than others
Bottom Line This pack wowed us with its perfect set of features, comfortable design, and carrying capacityA lightweight, simplified version of our favorite pack from this same company, making a durable, well-designed optionThis is one of the lightest packs in the fleet, though it also has the capabilities of a full frame pack - the ultralight backpacker's dreamFor the ultimate lightweight pack, this pack steals the show with its entirely frameless design and streamlined set of featuresThis incredible pack has tons of features, carries medium-sized loads well, and is comfortable to boot
Rating Categories Gossamer Gear Mariposa Ultralight Adventur... ZPacks Arc Blast 55 Granite Gear Virga 2 Osprey Exos 48
Weight To Volume Ratio (35%)
8.0
8.0
10.0
10.0
4.0
Comfort To Carry (25%)
10.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
9.0
Features (20%)
10.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
8.0
Adaptability (10%)
8.0
8.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
9.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Gossamer Gear Mariposa Ultralight Adventur... ZPacks Arc Blast 55 Granite Gear Virga 2 Osprey Exos 48
Measured Weight 30.5 oz 24 oz 21.3 oz 18.5 oz 37.6 oz
Stripped Weight 30.5 oz 23 oz 21.3 oz 18.5 oz 33.9 oz
Claimed Volume 60 L 54 L 55L 50-58 L 48 L
Measured Main Pack Volume 48 L 45 L 42 L 41 L 40 L
Measured Volume Total (minus hip belt and shoulder strap pockets) 64 L 53 L 55 L 49 L 59 L
Measured Volume Stripped (minus hip belt, shoulder pockets, and removable lids) 59 L 53 L 55 L 49 L 53 L
Average Weight-to-Volume Ratio (grams/Liter) 14 g/L 12.8 g/L 11 g/L 10 g/L 18.9 g/L
Carrying Comfort 15 pounds Great Great Great Good Good
Carrying Comfort 30 pounds Great Poor Good Poor Great
Frame Type Foam pad/ removable stay Removable foam pad Flexed Arc frame None (foam pad) Tensioned Frame - AirSpeed SL Suspension
Fabric 70 & 100 denier Robic nylon 210 Robic nylon, 400d Robic Bottom Panel 2.92 oz/sqyd Dyneema Composite Fabric Cordura 100D high tenacity nylon, 100D high tenacity ripstop nylon
Main Pack Pockets 4 3 3 3 3
Hip Belt Pockets 2 2 0 None None
Single Hip Belt Pocket Capacity 4 2 cliff bars N/a N/a N/a
Shoulder Strap Pockets No No No No No
Whistle on Sternum Strap No No No None Yes
Internal Hydration Sleeve Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Bag Sizes/Torso Lengths Available S, M, L S, M, L, XL Short, medium, tall Long, short, regular S, M, L
Mix and Match Hip Belt Sizes S, M, L S, M, L, XL XS, S, M, L, XL No No
Can Easily Strip Off Frame and Hip Belt Good No Good No No
BearVault BV500 Compatibility Good Ok Just Ok Ok Just OK
Lid (aka Brain) No No No No Yes, Removable

Our Analysis and Test Results

For a lightweight workhorse that is durable and adjustable, nothing compares to the Gossamer Mariposa. The pack is large enough to carry heavy and bulky loads, but easy to adjust to accommodate smaller loads as well. Its removable hip belt and frame make it light and compact, and the movable foam backing is an excellent addition for trail-side stops and added carrying comfort. The shoulder straps are thick and cushions and distribute weight incredibly well. Of the packs we tested, this one is by far the most comfortable right out of the box. Its design is easy to figure out, with no extra accessories or features, and it's ready for the trail right away, it requires little to no break-in period.

The features and unique top closure of this pack were exactly what we wanted in an ultralight backpacking pack. The large external, mesh pocket holds plenty of clothing, while the side pockets vary in size and can carry anything from a JetBoil stove to a Nalgene water bottle or a few snacks.

Performance Comparison


The Mariposa out for a few days hiking through the backcountry of...
The Mariposa out for a few days hiking through the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park. The pack has ample room in the side pockets for stoves, bottles, and food, while the mesh pocket is large enough for a few extra layers.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Weight-to-Volume Ratio


Gossamer claims the Mariposa to have a carrying capacity of 60 liters. In our volume tests, we found this to be pretty about spot on, depending on how much you overfill the top of the pack with its fold-over closing mechanism.


In our measurements, the pack had a capacity of about 65 liters, with the external pockets holding more than the company reported online. With a stripped-down weight of 30.5 ounces or 1 pound 12 ounces, the Mariposa weighs more than the Gorilla (which weighs in at 27.5 with all accessories removed).

With its over-the-top closure mechanism, the Mariposa is versatile...
With its over-the-top closure mechanism, the Mariposa is versatile when it comes to the size load the pack can comfortably carry.
Photo: Jane Jackson

These three ounces are not much when you take into account the additional 10 liters of carrying capacity that the Mariposa offers. Compared side-by-side to the Gossamer Gorilla, the Mariposa scored lower overall in the weight to volume metric, but if you're looking for a pack that will perform in a more extensive range of situations, the Mariposa is worth the extra weight.

Load Carrying Comfort



With a capacity of over 60-liters, we were blown away by how...
With a capacity of over 60-liters, we were blown away by how comfortable this pack is with a heavy load.
Photo: Jane Jackson

This pack takes the cake regarding load-carrying comfort. Tested on some different trails from Wyoming to the Sierra Nevada, the Gossamer Mariposa felt great from our first steps with it on the trail.


The wide shoulder straps and waist belt disperse the load comfortably without creating pressure points. The new belt design is stiffer than the older versions of this pack, providing more support in the waist. The new aluminum stay connects the back of the model to the waist belt which also offers more support when carrying heavy loads. We found this pack to work great when carrying light loads (around 15-20 pounds) as well as more substantial loads (above 35 pounds).

Taking in the alpine scenery with the Gossamer Mariposa. Nothing...
Taking in the alpine scenery with the Gossamer Mariposa. Nothing beat the comfort of this pack for long days on the trail.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Features


The Mariposa has just enough features so that each item in your kit has its own place, but not too many bells and whistles that the pack feels like a one-man marching band when loaded up for a few days out.


The side pockets are placed in just the right position so that you can grab your water bottle (and replace it!) while keeping the pack on. The mesh pocket on the backside is large enough to hold snacks, clothing, and other gear, while the side pockets are large enough to hold a JetBoil or water bottle.

The small pocket on the Over-the-Top closure system is just the...
The small pocket on the Over-the-Top closure system is just the right size for a few bars and a headlamp.
Photo: Jane Jackson

The most notable new feature on the Mariposa is the over the top closure mechanism, which eliminates a lid from the pack's design. We liked this system, as it keeps everything secure while providing flexibility for carrying larger and smaller loads. The new hip belt also comes with little pockets, which we found useful for carrying snacks or holding micro-trash.

The dual side pockets on the Mariposa are unique to this pack - we...
The dual side pockets on the Mariposa are unique to this pack - we haven't seen this feature on any other models and we love it.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Adaptability


The Mariposa is one of the most versatile packs we tested. It is easy to remove the frame and waist belt when slimming down and carrying lighter loads.


The side compression straps and the over the top closure also allow for significant adjustability concerning volume. The Mariposa works exceptionally well when paired with a bear can - something to consider if you plan to travel in national parks, where these are required.

A Velcro tab holds the Mariposa's aluminum frame in place. We like...
A Velcro tab holds the Mariposa's aluminum frame in place. We like how Gossamer Gear makes it quick and easy to remove the frame in most of their packs.
Photo: Jane Jackson

Durability


In the Mariposa, Gossamer Gear uses 100D Robic High tensile strength nylon for the bulk of the pack and a combination of 100D nylon and 70D ripstop nylon for specific portions of the pack.


These materials proved to be as durable as they sound during our testing period. The pack received hardly a sign of wear or abrasion, even after many trips above tree-line and through many alpine talus fields. The foam backing and simple aluminum frame durable while still providing support.

A detailed photo of the stretch mesh pocket on the Mariposa. This...
A detailed photo of the stretch mesh pocket on the Mariposa. This material is both durable and super stretchy - a great combo!
Photo: Jane Jackson

Value


Like any quality piece of equipment, Mariposa is a bit of an investment, but it's guaranteed to pay off. The pack is both durable and versatile, so even if you're not going on long-distance trips all the time, the Mariposa will still be useful as a day-hiking or traveling pack.

The ultralight Gossamer Gear Mariposa takes to the Sierras.
The ultralight Gossamer Gear Mariposa takes to the Sierras.
Photo: Sarah Van Cleve

Conclusion


We were blown away by the Gossamer Gear Gorilla in the previous round of ultralight pack testing, and this year we were excited to see how the Mariposa compared. As it turns out, the Mariposa impressed with its comfortable waist and shoulder straps, larger carrying capacity, and thoughtfully designed external pockets. This pack does it all and is durable to boot. The folks at Gossamer Gear have truly outdone themselves with the Mariposa.

Jane Jackson