Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack Review

Lower volume ultralight backpack with removable stays and other components - so you can set up the pack for individual trips and personal preferences to your heart's content.

Hightly Recommended

Overall Rating: Highly Recommended

It’s rare to review a product with only minor flaws, and for those exceptional products, we reserve our Highly Recommended rating. The Gorilla is a perfect size for ultralight backpacking, for a wide range of trip lengths. Many of its components are removable, so it can readily be set up for individual trips and user preferences. This versatile pack can be stripped down to a 15.6-ounce frameless backpack for light loads, or built up to comfortably carry 25-plus-pound loads when needed. For the ultralight backpacker, this is one pack that will do it all.

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by Will Rietveld |

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack Review - 1
The new Gorilla backpack is Gossamer Gear's latest and greatest - 2800 cubic inches and 24.5 ounces (size Large). It's constructed of durable fabrics and mesh and has a new contoured removable aluminum frame.

Introduction

I still have my original Gossamer Gear G4 frameless backpack. It has a few holes in the bottom from scraping over rocks, but it's still a perfectly good pack. Fast forward to the new Gossamer Gorilla pack, and you will notice some familiar features - front and side mesh pockets, rolltop closure, wide shoulder straps, sleeping pad sleeve, and you can still stuff socks for padding in the shoulder straps and hipbelt if you want. Conceptually, Gossamer Gear packs have not changed, but there are huge improvements in the details that make them a whole lot better. The new Gorilla backpack, with its durable fabrics and removable curved aluminum frame, is state-of-the-art Gossamer Gear. (And you can still purchase a new G4 if you need a replacement.)

Gossamer Gear introduced an ultralight removable frame in their Mariposa backpack back in 2004, consisting of two straight carbon fiber stays (0.9 ounce/pair) inserted into sleeves on the backpanel. The Mariposa could be used either as a frameless backpack or with the stays inserted to increase its load carrying capacity. The concept was a big advancement at the time (an ultralight frameless or internal frame backpack ALL IN ONE!), but the straight stays were less than ideal for pack fit and load-carrying comfort. After experimenting with several prototypes, they developed a curved aluminum stay (3.4 ounces) that fits into the same sleeves on the backpanel. I have tested both versions and can unequivocally say that the curved stay, along with other improvements incorporated into the Gorilla pack, are a big improvement. This pack is near perfection!

Description

The new Gossamer Gear Gorilla is designed to be as versatile as possible. The pack comes in three sizes (S, M, L) and three hipbelt sizes are available. The pack body is the same for all pack sizes; the shoulder straps are simply sewn on at different heights to create different pack torso lengths. Many components (frame, hipbelt, sternum strap, shoulder strap and hipbelt padding, bungie system) of the pack are removable, so the user can choose the components he/she wants to use. Accessory hipbelt pockets are available for hikers who want to add them.

The Gorilla (2800 cubic inches, 23.2 ounces size Medium) is the second lightest internal frame backpack available. The lightest is the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus (3600 cubic inches, 22.3 ounces size Medium), which is constructed of lighter fabrics and has the same stay (yes, the stay is interchangeable, and older Mariposas can be easily retrofitted).

The key factors that differentiate the Gorilla (besides its lower volume) are more durable fabrics (210 denier PU coated ripstop body and durable stretch nylon pockets) and removable curved stay. The revised Miniposa (14.5 ounces size Medium) has the same dimensions and feature set, but it is constructed of silnylon and does not have a stay. The difference in weight between the two packs is 7.8 ounces, which is the weight added to the Gorilla by the removable frame and durable fabrics.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack Review - 2
Views of the Gossamer Gear Gorilla: The front view (top left) shows the pack's large front pocket made of durable stretch nylon. There are six loops in the side seams to attach a bungie system (not shown). The backpanel view (top right) shows the pack's wide shoulder straps and backpanel sleeve to hold a sleeping pad. The hipbelt pocket on the left is my camera case, and the right pocket is a Gossamer Gear add-on hipbelt pocket ($15). A side view (bottom left) shows a lower mesh pocket designed to make water bottles reachable. And the top view (bottom right) shows the pack's drawcord closure and top compression strap.

Suspension System and Features

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack Review - 3
Gossamer Gear's new curved stay (left) is made of aluminum tubing and weighs 3.4 ounces. It easily slips into sleeves sewn on the inside of the pack's backpanel (right). A silnylon hydration sleeve is visible inside the pack.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack Review - 4
Like other Gossamer Gear packs, the Gorilla has a mesh sleeve on the backpanel (left) that allows the user to insert a sleeping pad for padding. The mesh used in the sleeve is much improved over previous versions. Shoulder straps (center) measure nearly four inches wide from edge to edge, have removable closed cell foam padding, and are faced with 3D wicking mesh on the inside. The removable hipbelt (right, 4.1 ounces size Medium) is a similar width and construction.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack Review - 5
The new stretch nylon pockets on the Gorilla are really stretchy and very durable. The bottoms of the three exterior pockets (one front, two side) are 210 denier ripstop nylon for increased durability.

Note that the Gorilla pack does not have a torso length adjustment, so it's important to measure your torso length and choose the correct pack size. Hipbelt sizes are based on hiker girth. The only pack fit adjustment on the Gorilla is the shoulder strap length; the pack does not have load lifter straps or hipbelt stabilizer straps.

Field Testing

I tested the Gorilla on a number of on-trail and off-trail summer backpacking trips in the southern Rockies, carrying weights ranging from 10 to 25 pounds. For one quick overnight trip, I stripped the Gorilla down to a 15.6 ounce minimalist frameless backpack (I did leave the 0.4 ounce shoulder strap pads in) and carried 12.5 pounds. I also tested the pack fully equipped on walks near home with weights ranging from 25 to 35 pounds to determine its comfortable weight carrying capacity.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack Review - 6
Fully loaded Gorilla pack with 21 pounds (left), and the same pack used on a day trip from a base camp (right).

My immediate (and continuing) impressions of the Gorilla are as follows:

  • For me, the pack volume is perfect for ultralight backpacking (same for the Miniposa). It has the right amount of room for my ultralight gear kit, plus room for food, water, and fuel for up to eight days.
  • The construction is excellent. Stitching is close and tight, and there are adequate reinforcements in stress areas.
  • The new curved aluminum stay is golden! I really like the pack's fit.
  • I love the pack's wide shoulder straps for distributing weight, and the 3D mesh backing resists sliding on my shoulders.
  • The new stretch nylon exterior pockets really stretch out and will hold a lot of gear, and they're very durable. Outside pockets on some packs are tight and hard to get items in and out, but not so on the Gorilla.
  • The backpanel sleeping pad sleeve is much improved; it has stretch nylon panels on the side and 3D wicking fabric face, and it doesn't stretch out of shape and bleed dye like the mesh used on the old Miniposa.
  • The side pockets are shorter and angled to make a water bottle reachable with the pack on, but I use a hydration system, so I would prefer taller side pockets that would hold more (can't satisfy everyone!).
  • It's easy to access the hydration sleeve, and it's very easy to pass a drink tube through a port and down a shoulder strap.
  • The Gorilla functions well as a daypack for going on a day hike from a base camp
  • I really like the durable fabrics; this pack is built to last. The added weight is about 4.3 ounces.
  • The hipbelt requires some effort to remove because it has a Velcro patch on both sides. It's much easier to put back on.
  • Likewise, the sternum requires some effort to remove and replace. A screw driver helps.
  • The stay is very easy to remove and replace. The curvature can be changed by bending it over something round, but I found the pre-bent curvature just fine.

The heavier loads I carried with the Gorilla were 21 pounds on a base camping trip with my wife, and 25 pounds on another trip where I carried a friend's ridiculous 7-pound tent to help reduce his 40-pound-plus load (we talked a lot about how to reduce his pack weight!). I found the Gorilla, with all of its components, surprisingly comfortable carrying these weights. The wide shoulder straps really function well to distribute weight, so I did not have any shoulder strap pain at all, and tightening the hipbelt worked as expected to transfer weight to my hips.

From my weighted pack tests I conclude that the maximum weight carrying capacity (for me) for the Gorilla is about 30 pounds, and the comfortable weight carrying capacity is around 25 pounds. The stay in the Gorilla pack simply resides in sleeves on the backpanel. It is not anchored to the hipbelt at all, so there is no structural connection to support the weight. My opinion is that 25 pounds is a comfortable maximum weight for this pack, but it can easily carry up to 30 pounds when needed.

The Gorilla can be stripped down to a frameless backpack weighing 15.6 ounces (with 0.4 ounce shoulder strap padding left in). It requires some effort to remove the hipbelt and sternum strap, but once it's accomplished, pack weight can be reduced by half a pound. The Gorilla is delightful to carry frameless with a light load; the wide shoulder straps distribute weight very well, and the 3D mesh backing minimizes sliding on the shoulders.

Comparisons

The following table compares packs currently available that have removable stays, allowing the pack to be used either frameless or with an internal frame. Note: information is manufacturer data for a size Medium pack.

Pack Total Weight With Stays Volume (cubic inches) Fabric Stay Description Stay Weight (ounces) Adjustable Torso Cost (US$)
Gossamer Gear Gorilla 23.2 2800 210d ripstop Contoured aluminum tubing 3.4 No 165
Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus 22.3 3600 70d ripstop Contoured aluminum tubing 3.4 No 160
Six Moon Designs Starlite 30.0 4200 210d Dyneema 2 flat curved aluminum 5.0 Yes 175
Six Moon Designs Traveler 31.0 3800 210d Dyneema 2 flat curved aluminum 5.0 Yes 190

Note that all comparable backpacks have a much larger volume than the Gorilla, so the Gorilla is in a class by itself. If you are looking for a smaller volume backpack with removable stays, the Gorilla is the only one available. If you need more volume for lightweight backpacking or bulkier loads, you have a choice of three pack models that have removable stays. Of those, the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus is the lightest by 8 ounces, but it does not have an adjustable torso.

Assessment

Some readers may wonder why a 2800 cubic inch backpack needs a frame at all. The general rule of thumb is that a frameless backpack is comfortable to carry with loads less than 20 pounds. Of course that number will vary a bit up or down depending on hiker size and strength. For carrying more than 20 pounds, an internal frame backpack is recommended, and the sturdiness (and weight) of the pack will increase as the load increases. The Gossamer Gear Gorilla pack is extremely versatile because it can be used as a frameless backpack up to about 20 pounds, and the lightweight stay can be added to comfortably carry loads up to 25 pounds, or more. With food, water, and fuel, my pack weight is usually in the 17- to 21-pound range, occasionally higher for longer trips, so I find the frame to be a benefit on most of my trips.

Another potential issue may be the need for heavier, more durable fabrics in an ultralight backpack. There are definitely lighter packs available for ultralight backpacking, but they are strictly frameless backpacks. A removable frame backpack requires stronger fabrics to avoid damage from the stays wearing through or seams blowing out when the pack is under stress from heavier loads.

More durable fabrics also extend the life of the backpack considerably. The initial trend in ultralight frameless backpacks was to make them as light as possible, which meant really light fabrics like spinnaker and cuben fiber. And, yes, it is nice to have a super light pack for the times you want to backpack as light as possible. However, the current trend is to balance lightweight and durability, as evidenced by many of the current backpack models offered by Gossamer Gear, Six Moon Designs, Ultralight Adventure Equipment, and Mountain Laurel Designs. Pack designers and users have realized that incorporating durable fabrics into a pack does not increase weight that much, but it vastly increases durability and longevity. If you subscribe to that rationale, the Gossamer Gear Gorilla pack is an excellent choice.

Since I most frequently carry loads in the 17- to 21-pound range, I was inclined to use the Gorilla with all of its components because they simply work well together to provide a very comfortable pack that carries a moderate load very well. I personally found all of the features on the Gorilla worth their weight, except the bungie system, which I don't find very useful, but it's easily added when it's needed. The 1.6-ounce SitLight pad provided with the pack is also very useful as a backpanel pad, if you don't use a sleeping pad that is compatible with the pad sleeve (like the Big Agnes Clearview pad or Therm-a-Rest NeoAir pad). The bottom line is the Gorilla comes with a full complement of features, and most of them are removable, so you can set up the pack to match the trip and your personal preferences to your heart's content. Or, if you simply use the pack the way it comes out of the box, it's still very light and very comfortable to carry with moderate loads.

Specifications

  Year/Model

2009 Gossamer Gear Gorilla (www.gossamergear.com/)

  Style

Removable internal frame, top loading, roll down top with top compression strap

  Volume

2800 cu in (46 L) total
2,400 cu in (39 L) in main pack body and extension collar
400 cu in (6.5 L) in front and side pockets

  Weight

Size L tested, includes pack, frame, shoulder and hipbelt pads, bungie attachment system.
Measured weight: 24.5 oz (695 g)
Manufacturer specification: 24.2 oz (686 g)

  Sizes Available

Unisex S, M, L; 3 hipbelt sizes

  Torso Fit Range

Small: fits torsos 13-17 in (33-43 cm)
Medium: fits torsos 16-20 in (41-51 cm)
Large: fits torsos 20-24 in (51-61 cm)

  Fabrics

210d PU coated ripstop nylon, 30d silnylon, 4.5 oz/yd2 stretch nylon

  Frame Material

6061 aluminum tubing

  Features

Durable fabrics, removable curved aluminum stay, removable hipbelt available in 3 sizes, removable/adjustable sternum strap with whistle buckle, removable padding in shoulder straps and hipbelt, removable front bungie system, sleeping pad sleeve on backpanel, one front and two side stretch nylon pockets with 210d ripstop nylon on bottom, twp side compression straps, Y-top compression strap, extension collar, drawcord closure, 3D wicking fabric on inside of shoulder straps and hipbelt and on the backpanel, hydration sleeve with two hose ports, ice axe loop, haul loop

  Volume To Weight Ratio

114.3 cu in/oz (based on 2800 cu in and measured weight of 24.5 oz)

  Maximum Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity

25 lb estimated comfortable load for an average person carrying the pack all day

  Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio

16.3 (based on 25 lb and a measured weight of 1.53 lb)

  MSRP

US$165

  Included

Pack with curved aluminum stay and hipbelt, closed cell foam pads for hipbelt and shoulder straps, bungie system, SitLight pad for backpanel

What's Good

  • Lightest lower volume removable frame backpack available.
  • Pack volume is just right for ultralight backpacking.
  • Three pack sizes and three hipbelt sizes to fit most hikers.
  • Removable stays allow use as a frameless or internal frame pack.
  • Many components are removable, allowing the user to set up the pack for individual trips or personal preference.
  • Durable fabrics and mesh.
  • Contoured tubular frame is very lightweight and fits well.
  • Stretch nylon pockets are very durable and stretch easily to hold a lot of gear.
  • Fits well (if you choose the correct size).
  • Comfortably carries moderate loads.

What's Not So Good

  • No backpanel ventilation.
  • Frame not anchored to hipbelt.
  • Shoulder straps may be too wide for some hikers.
  • Grosgrain loop on frontpanel interferes with tightening the top strap.

Recommendations For Improvement

  • None, the Gorilla pack is as ideal as it gets.


Citation

"Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack Review," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/gg_gorilla_backpack_review.html, 2009-10-13 00:10:00-06.

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Forum Index » Editor's Roundtable » Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack Review


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Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: bear can in Gorilla on 10/14/2009 08:23:29 MDT Print View

The bear cans are wider (and taller) than the pack is deep. Never the less I found that the bear vault 350 (same size as the 450) could be comfortably carried inside the pack though I ended up carrying it with the bottom against my back rather than my more typically vertical position.

The bearikade weekender II (and I assume the larger bear vault) can be placed inside the main body but it's an awkward fit. It took a several tries packing until I had things arranges so I didn't feel the canister against my back. Doable but not ideal. I think the recommended method for carrying larger canisters is to strap it to the outside using the V straps. I haven't actually carried a can like this since all my use has been with the bearvault solo except a short test hike with a fullsize can inside. Hmmm.... I wonder if that gossamer ribbon which I found annoying helps when attaching a bearcan to the outside.

--Mark

David Wilkins
(jaywilks18) - F

Locale: Tetons (via Idaho)
Re: The Gorilla is awesome! on 10/14/2009 09:57:36 MDT Print View

I must agree with Will. Although I have only taken it out on a few weekend trips, I have found the Gorilla to be spot on. It is the perfect size for an ultralight kit, and the tougher fabric is a huge plus in my opinion, as that previously turned me away from Gossamer Gear packs. The wider shoulder straps really do a nice job of spreading the load and alleviating shoulder pain. It's also great to see some that the original features that set GG apart, like socks in the shoulder straps, are still available. I think this is also a great example of product development and iteration from the folks at GG - way to go!

I cant wait to get out on some longer excursions and really push this thing to its capacity and weight limits in order to further evaluate the aluminum stay's ability to distribute weight.

As far as I am concerned, this will be my go-to pack for trips ranging from 2-8 days.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
GG Gorilla on 10/14/2009 10:27:02 MDT Print View

I want to like this pack but find myself time and again turning to my trusted MLD Prophet for trips requiring a pack of this volume/size.

I found the Gorrila's materials and workmanship to be of high quality and the design to be well thought out (and likely highly functional for most users, just not me). I do not like the Y strap closure or the pad sleeve.

I want to like this pack, honest. But having said that do not be surpised to see a slightly modified and dyed black Gorrilla, in size medium, for sale on BPL very soon.

Edited by thomdarrah on 10/14/2009 11:00:07 MDT.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: GG Gorilla on 10/14/2009 11:45:39 MDT Print View

> I want to like this pack, honest

Packs are very personal. Over the years there have been a number of packs that other people adored... that I really wanted to like, but in the end, they didn't do it for me. So I keep returned to the GGVT even though I wasn't 100% thrilled with it. As the saying goes, we all need to hike our own hike. For some number of folks, the Gorilla will be the end of the quest, for others a step along the way.

--Mark

Jeremy Gustafson
(gustafsj) - MLife

Locale: Minneapolis
Gorilla vs ULA Ohm on 10/14/2009 12:02:13 MDT Print View

I would also like to know why the Ohm was not included in the comparisons as an equivalent size pack with internal frame and yet lighter yet... Anybody have any thoughts since this wasn't included??

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Gorilla vs ULA Ohm on 10/14/2009 12:16:22 MDT Print View

> why the Ohm was not included in the comparisons

send email to will... he is the only one who knows for certain. But I don't think it was a conspiracy :-) Until David asked about the ohm, I hadn't noticed that it was missing from the table. The reason I didn't notice it missing was that all the other comparative packs were designed to be used both frameless and with the stays. As far as I could tell, the Ohm's design is built around the stays being in all the time so it didn't come into my mind when reading the review.

--Mark

Edited by verber on 10/14/2009 12:18:24 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
Tempting on 10/15/2009 00:30:46 MDT Print View

This pack seems to be quite nice. I like how versatile it is, although I would likely use it WITHOUT the frame most of the time.

I was a bit surprised to read that Will would use this WITH the frame most of the time, since he acknowledges frameless packs are comfortable to 20 lbs and all but one of this trips was 21 lbs or less. Maybe the frame is that good.

The lack of a comparison to the Ohm surprised me too. My guess is that it was just an oversight. At 21oz, the 3500 cu in Ohm is a compelling pack although it seems that it isn't quite as versatile. I like how the Gorilla lets you remove the frame and some straps. Then again, the Ohm's "suspension hoop" does only weigh 1.2oz.

I was surprised there were no 'recommendations for improvement' since 4 cons were listed. All of the 'cons' seem like they could be areas for improvement.

Edited by dandydan on 10/15/2009 10:27:32 MDT.

James Gealy
(surnailz) - F

Locale: White Mountains
No Improvements Possible? on 10/15/2009 06:27:33 MDT Print View

I agree with that, Dan. It does look like at least one thing could be changed (Grosgrain Loop).

On the other hand, the others may not be, now that I think about it. The back panel uses a foam pad as a way to go multi-use. Putting a ventilation system would move the weight even further away from the body.

As for the hip belt and the suspension system, perhaps the lack of a connection between the two is so the hip belt is more easily removable. It may also allow for the hips to move more freely and naturally than otherwise. I don't have this pack, but maybe GG could put small sleeves for the frame into the hipbelt, somehow giving the option between connected and not.

The shoulder straps seem a matter of personal preference with some people loving them and others not so much. Perhaps there could be a recommendation here to have two strap width options?

Finally, speaking of recommendations for improvements, in looking at the Mariposa Plus, now that it is available with the same aluminum stay as the Gorilla as opposed to the old carbon fiber stays, would it now receive a 'Highly Recommended' rating? Also, do they have similar weight carrying capacities? The GG website says no and I was curious as to why.

-jim

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Back ventilation... on 10/15/2009 06:55:38 MDT Print View

I've been biting my tongue every time I see the mention of back ventilation but I can't take it anymore. When you exercise you sweat. Get over it or don't exercise. No pack you wear is going to prevent your back from sweating, I don't care how fancy it is or what it's made out of.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Back ventilation... on 10/15/2009 09:10:15 MDT Print View

But, few people CHOOSE to exercise while cocooned in plastic wrap. Most wear breathable clothing. Similarly, having a backpack back that vents is desirable. (Though we often willingly compromise this one.) That's a large evaporative body area that is lost to you if it isn't vented- at least theoretically leading to easier overheating.

And, a lot of people hiking hard in cool conditions WON'T sweat. I just spent three days in Great Sand Dunes National Park this weekend and generally didn't sweat. It was nice not to be clammy for a change. (But, I was also using an Exos...)

I propose that saying "suck it up" is pointless. Indeed, most of us do choose to suck it up and accept that trade-off, but it isn't a trivial issue.

Edited by acrosome on 10/15/2009 09:14:56 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Re: Back ventilation... on 10/15/2009 09:17:59 MDT Print View

Bah. Do I wear breathable clothing? Sure. Does it keep my back from getting wet? Not at all. Even if I go out and exercise completely nude my back will get wet. Solid fabric pressed against my back doesn't stop the sweat from evaporating off me. I sweat no more appreciably with a pack against my back than I do with nothing there.

I didn't sweat much or at all on WT3 carrying a Pinnacle. It had nothing to do with the pack and was all about proper layering for my exertion level in the cooler temps.

Edited by simplespirit on 10/15/2009 09:20:15 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Packs and Ventilation: Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack Review on 10/15/2009 09:24:28 MDT Print View

There are other issues with packs that pursue back venilation: frames that jut out from the back, pushing the load outside one's center of gravity, reducing load stability and in some cases, load transfer to the hips. Gimmicky.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Back ventilation... on 10/15/2009 09:26:21 MDT Print View

>> Even if I go out and exercise completely nude my back will get wet.

Yes. And it will evaporate as it should. (Unless it drips, in which case it is also wasted.) Evaporative cooling also will not happen under a layer of closed-cell foam- which is all that I've said. Most people will compensate by sweating more elsewhere on their bodies.

I maintain that a ventilated back is desirable. I don't think that saying "desirable" is much of a stretch. I didn't, after all, say "essential." I'm boggled that you can even argue that point.

>> Do I wear breathable clothing? Sure. Does it keep my back from getting wet? Not at all.

My sympathies. I, too, tend to sweat like a pig while exercising. Which then evaporates, and cools me. Which it won't do under a foam back-panel. :o)

>> There are other issues with packs that pursue back venilation:

Well, yes, it is all a trade off. A lot of desirable characteristics are mutually exclusive. For instance, classically, light weight and durability. No argument.

Edited by acrosome on 10/15/2009 09:35:32 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: WNC
Re: Back ventilation... on 10/15/2009 09:57:35 MDT Print View

It's not so much of an issue that people prefer ventilation over non-ventilation. My problem is people thinking they won't perspire under physical exertion because they have a pack with a ventilated back panel.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Back ventilation... on 10/15/2009 09:59:47 MDT Print View

It's true that no pack will prevent your back from sweating, but some packs are better at letting that moisture escape and some are packs are worse by both trapping the moisture and not wicking it away from the contact surface. The Gorilla performance in this area is down near the bottom along with every sil-nylon backed ultralight pack I have tried. Given the Gorilla's design, there is "nothing to improve" because providing better ventilation would require use of a non existent material to replace a foam pad and/or a radically different suspension system making it a completely different pack.

If I found the Exos carried weight as comfortably as the Gorilla, I would be using the Exos right now. For me, the Gorilla is a lot more comfortable, even if it soaks my back.

I haven't used the Exos extensively (just borrowed a pack for a long weekend)... but I have been using an VauDe Siena 40l pack since 2002. The Siena was one of the first packs using the aeroflex frame/mesh panel. The ventilated back really does help. It's far from perfect though... you would be surprised how much mesh (even when there isn't a pack body a couple of inches away) cuts down air movement. That's why you will see me using a courier bag rather than a backpack whenever it's practical.

--Mark

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
Gorilla Observations on 10/15/2009 17:28:41 MDT Print View

Thanks for an excellent review of the Gorilla. Just a few remarks concerning some questions & observations. I have used a small NeoAir pad in the pad sleeve partially inflated & found that it isn't as comfy as a SitLite pad. Same goes for a BA Clearview & MontBell 90 pad. These also significantly increase the "sweat factor" in warmer weather more so than the "corrugated" texture of the SitLite or foldable GG torso length pad which gives a little bit of ventilation.
I also own the Ospry Exos 34 which, to my knowledge, has not been reviewed on BPL, other than my previous brief discussion back in mid September. The 46 & 58 versions have been reviewed. The Gorilla, in my opinion, is more comfortable in cooler weather, but the Exos is "heaven in the heat" because of the ventilated back panel. The Gorilla's shoulder straps & hip belt are more comfortable than the Exos 34 & the Gorilla can carry more gear (meaning volume & not necessarily weight). My rather narrow shoulders require the use of a collared shirt with the Gorilla or the straps will irritate my neck so I agree the straps may be too wide for some users. However, I think the Exos straps are too narrow & rather poorly padded. The Gorilla is also about 7 oz lighter than the Exos.
Because of these features, I use the Gorilla in winter, spring, & fall. The Exos 34 is my summer pack. If Gossamer Gear could do a Gorilla with a ventilated back panel that would be truly "year round heaven"!! :)

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack Review on 10/15/2009 20:06:52 MDT Print View

"Yes. And it will evaporate as it should."

Not where Chris and I hike!

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
Gorilla Backpack Review on 10/15/2009 20:37:46 MDT Print View

Yep, here in the Southeastern USA we call it "air you can wear!" ;)

Hendrik Morkel
(skullmonkey) - MLife

Locale: Finland
ULA Ohm? on 10/16/2009 04:22:10 MDT Print View

"Am I the only one that sees this pack as direct competition to the ULA Ohm? What am I missing?"

+1. Though I guess it wasn't considered because you can not remove the stay.

Re: Adjustable Torso, that's just soooooo unnecessary, I am amazed that something like that gets mentioned on a BPL review. It gets used exactly once, and then that's it (Exception from the rule: you share your backpack with a lot of people, your still growing). So you got 6 ounces sitting there for something you don't need - I guess you're better of to measure your back once correctly and pick the right backpack.

Re: Gorilla, it looks like a nice pack, but for the moment I am happy with my ULA Ohm. Maybe if I can convince the girlfriend to go lightweight, I would get her the Gorilla.

Kent C.
(kent) - M

Locale: High Sierra
straps rub neck on 10/19/2009 21:01:24 MDT Print View

>> James: "My rather narrow shoulders require the use of a collared shirt with the Gorilla or the straps will irritate my neck so I agree the straps may be too wide for some users."

possible solution (I had the same problem), here's what worked for me:

remove the orig. strap padding and replace with foam pipe insulation. Comfy over the shoulders and gets the inside edge off your neck!
foam insulation
Kent

PS small, 1"(as I recall) size

Edited by kent on 10/19/2009 21:05:51 MDT.