Gossamer Gear Gorilla
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."
Design: Top loading internal frame pack
Size: 2800 cubic inches
Number of Pockets: 1
Max. Load Carried: 30 pounds
Height of Owner: 6 feet three inches
Price Paid: $150
I just completed 372 miles on the Oregon PCT using my Gossamer Gear Gorilla Ultralight Backpack, which I bought last month. This is, hands down, the best ultra-light pack I have ever used.
My last pack was one of the last Golite Breeze packs, which I loved. When I lost that pack in a burglary, and needed a new pack with less than a week's notice, I went for the Gorilla because it seemed like the most simple, light, durable pack on the market at the time. I was not disappointed.
Although this pack would not pass muster with the ultra-light purist, weighing in at more than a pound with an aluminum internal stay, it more than makes up for this in comfort on the trail. On its maiden voyage, I hiked an average of 33 miles per day on the Oregon PCT, between Siskiyou Summit and Mount Hood, carrying an average load of 25 pounds (base weight 10 pounds). I did not use a hip belt. On no more than three occasions did I suffer from shoulder fatigue or rashes, which I frequently experienced with the Golite Breeze (also without a hip belt) over the course of 1200 PCT miles south of Oregon.
The real innovation of the Gorilla (and other internal frame Gossamer Gear packs) is the shoulder straps, which are thin, long, and wide, and somehow very ergonomic. Combined with a well-ventilated back panel (two foam pads with mesh covering), this yields a very superior carry. It's like you are not even carrying a pack.
If you are looking for a worthy replacement for your blown-out, used-up, or rodent-chewed Golite Breeze (no longer made unless you buy the Ray Way kit) then the Gorilla is a superior choice, as it combines very light weight, large capacity, simplicity of design, and potential for belt-less use, a combination not found in any other pack that is currently available, as far as I know.
The only design flaw I am aware of is the long strap that is used to lash items to the top of the pack. This strap blocks that large external pocket, so I might move the strap above the pocket.
Overall, the Gossamer Gear Gorilla rocks my world, and I look forward to many more miles using this tough, elegantly simple, and comfortable pack. Get one and have a look for yourself before Gossamer Gear stops making it, or ruins it through "improvements, " as I have seen happen to so many other awesome products by other companies. Happy packing.
Design: top loading w/roll top-internal frame
Size: 2800 total ci.
Number of Pockets: 3 outside
Max. Load Carried: 25 lbs..
Height of Owner: 5ft. 9in.
Price Paid: $165
This is without a doubt the most comfortable pack I have ever put on my back. I can't think of one negative thing to say.
Where to Buy
The Gossamer Gear Gorilla is not available from the stores we monitor.
You may be able to find it new or used at one of these sites:
US | Canada | UK | Aus
Or you may want to check for a dealer list or direct sales on the Gossamer Gear web site.
Retailers: Do you sell this product? List your site here.