User Review: Gossamer Gear Gorilla Ultralight
Design: internal frame, top loading
Size: 2800 cu. inches
Number of Pockets: three
Max. Load Carried: 25 pounds
Height of Owner: 5'10"
Price Paid: $120
For ten years, I hiked everywhere with a Kelty Cloud backpack that finally just wore out. I felt like I had lost a best friend, because the pack had sort of molded to my torso and I wondered how I could ever replace such a personal fit?
I live in Seattle and made the rounds of all the backpacking stores and tried over a dozen packs and mail ordered six more, including several Keltys. I finally settled on Granite Gear Nimbus and left on a six day trip through the North Cascades. I have always had low back issues and unfortunately the frame sheet design puts a lot of pressure right in the wrong place for me and it was a very long six days and I dreaded putting that pack on. To Granite Gear's credit, they were kind enough to give me a full refund.
So back to a now refined search, I stumbled onto Gossamer Gear's website. What intrigued me the most was their aluminum stay which was somewhat similar to Kelty's that had worked so well for me. Most manufacturers are unfortunately going to a mesh fabric stretched over a frame, which looks an awful lot like the old external frame design I used to carry in Boy Scouts and I was glad to give that up a long time ago.
I called Grant and asked him if the internal frame could be bent away from my lower back and he said sure. So I ordered the pack and since I used to be a professional mountain guide, Grant was kind enough to give me a pro discount.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was how light it was. Its like holding a jacket in your hand. I showed it to everybody I could think of and ever person who held it in their hands, marveled at how "light as a cloud" it felt.
It was a snap to bend the bottom of the stays out from my back. I just slid the frame out and bent it over a round log. I'm sure I could do this on the trail too, although it's feeling pretty good and I am probably done adjusting.
I love the super wide shoulder straps. So far. having been on four long day hikes, with heavy Fall wet weather gear, a thermos of soup and three water bottles, I often just loosely clip the waist-belt because the pack rides so comfortably and is so light, I don't need the hip weight transfer. I like the choice of the closed cell foam pad against your back, either waffle or flat side out.
The large mesh pocket in the back is the ideal size for a jacket or tent. I also keep an emergency space blanket in there, its good to sit on if its wet. The side mesh pockets are a great combination of the right size and stretchiness.
A brilliant design is the Y strap which pulls over the top of the pack, with one simple click the pack is fastened. I had never traveled without a top zippered pocket and after one trip, I realized how much easier rolling the top of the pack and fastening with the Y strap is. The three outside pockets provide all the access storage you need.
I'm 5'10 and bought the large pack, which technically is a little big for me but it fits and rides great. I added a large hip-belt pocket and one shoulder strap for my sunglasses.
My only wish list for this pack is that it come in a choice of colors.
I will be doing several multi day hikes next summer with my middle school and high school children. The very first thing I am going to do is buy both of them their own Gorilla pack, so if you see a group of three with identical packs trekking in the Cascades, that will be us!
The finished quality, attention to detail, amazing design and ultra light weight, for a pack that can carry up to 35 pounds, make it a must have for anybody that travels into the mountains.
It appears I have found a new "best friend."