I usually buy equipment that focuses on fast luggage, and I thought high-performance bags were only useful for slow walks or long walks in the garden. The Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 backpack changed my mind. Despite its large capacity of 60 litres, its sturdy suspension, its durable materials and the numerous bags well thought out for the organisation, Mariposa weighs only 2 pounds and easily becomes an ultra-lightweight. In fact, it soon became my duty to pack for walks, no matter how far and how many days. Below I have broken down Mariposa in comfort, weight, organization, strength, fit and size and much more. To see how it’s all done, read our article about the best backpacks.
Despite its ultra-light design, weighing just over 2 pounds, the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 is surprisingly comfortable even when loaded. Most credits go to the suspension system, where an internal aluminium bracket is placed in the hip belt. This lightness makes the bag stiff and allows the weight to be distributed from the shoulder to the hips. The stopper can be removed to reduce weight by 3.5 ounces, but I prefer to keep it. Without that, I think the bag loses its structure and lets the waist belt go down to the waist.
In addition, with a recommended maximum load of 35 pounds, Mariposa has a fairly high load capacity in the ultralight category. During my trip to the Canadian Rockies I used a lot of cameras to collect everything I needed to pack quickly, although I was a bit over the loading limit. Even after a few days of eight or ten hours on the track, Mariposa remained balanced and comfortable. When the forklift truck and lap belts are properly adjusted, it never feels as if they are hanging on your back or pulling on your shoulders.
Mariposa has a number of components that can be removed to save weight and create a more rational packaging. As I said before, I prefer to leave the hotel for convenience, but I often take the back of SitLight outside. This piece of foam slides into two shells and also serves as support for the backrest and seat cushion, but I think it can unite and cause pressure points. If I never intend to lose weight by leaving a pillow or equipment with particularly sharp edges, I will keep it at home.
Mariposa is an ultra-light package that weighs only 17.2 ounces on takeoff. Because it’s as adaptable in function and size as it is in function, your body type and preferences determine the exact weight of the package you will eventually wear. For example, a small backpack with a small belt weighs 1 pound 12 ounce, while a large backpack with a large belt weighs just over 2 pounds (for a full list of possible weights, see Gossamer Gear here). You also have the ability to ride completely beltless, saving you $45 and about 10 ounces, but you don’t need much comfort to wear it.
One of the first things I noticed about Mariposa was the enormous number of outer pockets. The package contains not only a hollow main compartment, but also a zipped pocket on each thigh and one on the upper valve, two unloading bags on one side and one for unloading on the other side and a highly functional back net unloading bag. Although I’ve never had a backpack with so many outer pockets, I’ve been a converter from the start. Four stowage compartments are extremely practical for storing things independently – even large items such as an awning or a bedroom – and are easily accessible for storing equipment. In addition, each of these bags has a drainage hole and the ventilated design of the rear mesh bag makes it ideal for wet gear.
The main compartment is a deep cylinder with a large hole suitable for bears. I love the opportunity to have an extra zipper along the main bay to access my heavy camera at the bottom of the tutu, but unfortunately Mariposa misses this opportunity in the name of saving weight. For those who do not have expensive equipment that they would rather keep in their main compartment, the lack of a side entrance should not be a problem (external garbage bags are extremely useful for the organisation). To complete the equipment, Mariposa includes the most important standard equipment such as a humidification sleeve, an exhaust and straps that hold the humidification hose in place. And even though I haven’t used them yet, there are hooks for trekking poles and an ice axe on the back of the backpack, as well as hinges to adjust the bungee attachment system.
Quality and sustainability of buildings
A few years ago Gossamer Gear updated its backpack line and one of the most important changes was the change from Dyneema fabric to 100 and 200 denier nylon called Robic. It is claimed that the Robic used in the Mariposa 60 is more durable and more resistant to leakage, and we can now confirm this. Despite the severe mistreatment during the trips to Canadian Rocks and the Coast Mountains, the fabric was not visibly torn, stretched or worn. This is a significant improvement on our recent Dyneema tests – the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider and the Arc Blast Zpacks show small, relatively fast punctures. Even the large outer mesh bag of Mariposa, which we filled with gills, held up beautifully.
However, one of the advantages of Dyneema’s structure is its water-repellent properties. Robic fabric is not waterproof, but it is well able to wick away moisture. During my backpack we had heavy rain showers while I was worried about the contents of the bag. However, I was pleasantly surprised that my equipment remained dry. The Gossamer Gear Mariposa can withstand a short shower, but I recommend a blanket if the forecast calls for heavy rainfall.
Adjustment and calibration
We mentioned this in the weight section above, but one of the best characteristics of the mariposa (and smaller gorillas) is that it allows an extremely flexible cut. You first choose from three body sizes for unisex people, from the smallest to the largest. The hip belt is then purchased separately and is also available in small, medium and large sizes. In addition, the unisex fit applies to the shoulder straps, the shape of which is impressive both for my wife (narrow shoulders) and for me (relatively wide frame). In combination with features such as an aluminium leg that can be bent to fine-tune the fit, an adjustable chest strap and shoulder straps, this set offers a high degree of adaptability to different body types. And to help you, Gossamer Gear offers a full customisation map on its website. For more information, check my large pocket and medium waist belt that sits comfortably on my 33-inch waist and 42-inch chest.
What we want in
- The sturdy nylon fabric acts as a counterpart: It is lighter and stronger than dyneema and allows light moisture to penetrate.
- An external organisation distinguishes itself in the ultra-light class.
- Convenient packaging up to a maximum weight of 35 pounds.
That we don’t do that
- We noticed that the removable SitLight cushion along the back wall was prone to overthrow, so we often left it behind.
- A few extra spring straps would be very useful to tighten the package if it is not fully loaded.
- It would be a good idea to choose a lighter color.
When Mariposa first came out, it was very popular with runners and early ultralight lovers, but in other places it went almost unnoticed. Now, with the new Robic fabric and a competitive price of $270, the package has an impressive resume that should appeal to a larger group of backpackers. Competitors include the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider, which has almost the same weight and comfort, but with fewer organizational features and a much higher price ($345). The Windrider uses Dyneema composite fabric instead of Robic nylon, which is waterproof and light. However, Dyneema tends to be pierced by sharp stones and other objects (see our detailed report on the Hyperlite 3400 Windrider) and is generally less robust than the Mariposa Robic model. In general Gossamer Gear wins in the categories organization and sustainability, but Hyperlite’s waterproof design is attractive for people walking in wet environments.
Zpack’s Arc Blast 55L ($325) is another worthy candidate that uses a blend of Dyneema and polyester fabric, giving it an added advantage in terms of waterproofing. This material is also surprisingly light and keeps the package at 1 pound 5.2 oz – much lighter than the average mariposa. But with three outer pockets (none zippered), Arc Blast is limited in its organizational capabilities, and we found that it can’t carry the whole load. If the weight of the package is your main concern, you can hardly argue with a bow shot. But we give the Gossamer Gear Mariposa a general advantage for its extra power, organisation and comfort.
The Osprey’s Levity 60 is another attractive option, similar to the Mariposa with a light nylon makeup and large outer pockets for unloading. But with 1 pound 15.2 oz Levity is both lighter and better ventilated: The back wall is made of a fine mesh that ensures a constant flow of air between the user’s back and the packaging. We have noticed that ventilation is often neglected in ultra-light packaging, but is important on rigorous rides and in warm climates. Unfortunately this means that Levity has to save weight somewhere, and the extremely thin 30-denier nylon on the sides requires special care, and it rejects much in terms of durability compared to the above packaging. We give the Gossamer Gear an edge because of its excellent portability and stronger fabric, but the Osprey is a package to consider when focusing on weight and ventilation.
After all, REI is not known for its ultra-light transmission – perhaps the opposite – but the last flash of 55 impressed us. It’s a super customizable design that can range from a full traditional packaging weighing just 2 pounds 10 ounces to a super lightweight, slimmed down packaging weighing just 2 pounds 3 ounces. In addition, Flash has a seldom visible background ventilation (in the world of ultra lamps) and a robust 420-inch carpet (see our detailed overview of Flash 55 for more details). Like Mariposa, Flash is superior in terms of comfort and support, even under heavy load, but REI does not offer the same comfort in terms of body length and hip belt size. And with a weight of 2 pounds 3 ounces for the shortest version (i.e. without lid or belt pockets), the Flash 55 remains heavier than a fully functional mariposa. Despite a brief direct comparison, it is very interesting to see how REI enters the world of ultra-light, and we appreciate the robust design, the entry-level price ($199), and the practical set of features of the flash.
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