2012 Gossamer Gear Gorilla


I must admit, I have lost track as to how long I have owned this pack and on how many trips I have used it. I would guess I have owned it for close to one year . . . how many miles are on it? Who knows. The main point of this “review” I guess is simply to provide some nice real world use photos and explain a bit as to why I feel this is such a versatile pack.

First, let’s break the pack down into individual component weights. Please note that I have trimmed a couple straps, shortened the side shock cord compression straps and removed the internal hydration sleeve. I’ve also been meaning to remove the single tool loop (what exactly is the point of that one anyway?) but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Size medium w/medium hipbelt:
Pack Body: 13.8oz
Hip Belt (removable): 5.1oz
Sitlight Pad (removable): 2.2oz
Aluminum Curved Stay (removable): 3.5oz

So why is this pack so versatile? The removable components make it quite customizable based on your specific trip needs. On one trip, I needed to carry 15+ pounds of water in addition to all my other gear, so I used the pack with the belt, pad and stay. Total pack weight was around 29 pounds and the pack carried great. On lighter trips, I will leave the stay and pad at home. Sometimes I will even ditch the hip belt, but not usually, as I enjoy having hip belt pockets. So yeah, this pack gives you the option of having a framed load hauler or a lightweight frameless pack, all in one.

The specific volume of components as listed on the Gossamer Gear website are as follows:

2,400 c.i. (39 liters) in main pack body/extension collar
600 c.i. (6.5 liters) in all pockets combined
3,000 c.i. (46 liters) total

The below photo shows all the gear I packed for a recent three day trip. Please note that even though they are shown in the photo, I did not bring the stuff sacks for my tarp or bivy. Also missing from the photo and gear list are my photo ID and car key.


Early 2012 models had a magnetic closure, sometime in 2012 this was replaced with a drawstring closure (which mine obviously has). The updated 2013 model replaces the drawstring with a clip closure (no photo available).


I am a fan of the burrito roll packing style. This also helped to fill in some of the unused volume (I had room to spare!).


The sternum strap on mine is different than what is pictured on the website. I am not sure when this was changed or which version is current. The website shows a choice of three plastic tabs sewn into the daisy chain on each shoulder strap where the sternum strap would attach to. I don’t think I would care for that design, as it would offer less flexibility in adjustment than the style I have.


One thing I have to stress about this pack is that it truly does fit me like a glove. I have owned a number of packs over the years and this by far has the best overall fit. It molds to my back perfectly and the torso size is spot on. I have tossed around the idea of selling this pack on occasion (to fund other gear purchases) as I have other frameless packs which are lighter and fit well, but the fit of this pack is just so perfect for me, I can’t bring myself to part with it.

I also give a plus for construction and durability. This pack has held up well so far, no seam pulling or holes in the fabric or mesh pocket. I have done some heavy bushwhacking in this pack and am amazed the mesh pocket isn’t full of holes.

Breakdown of materials used, per Gossamer Gear website:

140 denier Dyneema GGridstop coated ripstop nylon
Select use of 1680 denier ballistic nylon for reinforcement.
Select use of 210 denier urethane-coated double-rip ripstop nylon
Select use of 30 denier silicone coated ripstop (silnylon)
XTC fabric for harness lining
Power mesh fabric, pad holder and large pocket


As far as any criticisms, the only thing I can really say is that I wish it weighed a bit less in frameless mode. Pack and hip belt weigh in at 18.9oz for a 46L pack. There are much lighter options out there but they don’t all have the option of adding a frame. So, I live with the extra weight based on the amazing fit and versatility. When I first got the pack, I was a bit concerned over how wide the shoulder straps are, but after using the pack, this is a non issue, and may actually contribute to the comfort of the pack. The unique over the top closure system turned me off a bit at first, but with time, I have grown quite fond of it. Just know, if the pack is at full capacity, the zipper pocket in the “lid” is not very functional (as in, isn’t going to hold a whole lot).

I highly recommend giving this pack a try. For more info, visit Gossamer Gear.

*As requested, additional photos of the back pad and stay.




3 responses to “2012 Gossamer Gear Gorilla

  1. Another big plus for the pack, which I forgot to mention, is that I can easily reach back and remove a water bottle from the side pockets, while wearing the pack. And putting them back is just as easy. Nice feature.

  2. Reblogged this on GreenPackin' and commented:
    Backpacks can be a tough purchase to make. I personally own an older Kelty Santa Fe 4000 pack but do believe it’s time to look for a lighter weight pack. Until I reblogged this post I didn’t know they weight of my current pack, and I still don’t. I did a quick search but never did find an exact weight. All I know is that I can do better on the weight. GoLite is one of the packs I’ve looked at (and is one that I’ve included a link to on our home page). Gossamer Gear is another pack that I’ve looked into. Take a look at this review of the Gossamer Gear Gorilla posted by CENAZWALKER a couple of months ago.

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