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Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW

Removable carbon fiber stays make it the lightest and most versatile internal frame backpack in its size class, but curved stays would markedly improve its fit and comfort.

Recommended

Overall Rating: Recommended

The Miniposa is a smaller version of the Mariposa. Its volume is just right for ultralight backpacking, and it’s very comfy to carry because of its wide padded shoulder straps and hipbelt (with foam pads inserted).

However, the Miniposa inherits some features that are getting a bit outdated. The removable carbon fiber stays (arrow shafts) couldn’t be lighter, but we have come to realize that their straight, unbendable shape is less than ideal. It’s time to develop some really lightweight stays that can be bent to match the curvature of the user’s back, or at least some that are pre-bent. This would markedly improve the pack’s fit, comfort, and load carrying capacity. The same sentiment applies to the pockets in the pack’s shoulder straps and hipbelt - what percentage of hikers actually stuffs the pockets with clothing? The foam padding provided (0.8 ounce total) is so light it simply makes sense to sew it in and eliminate the pockets and their Velcro closures. With the upgrades discussed above, and the recent availability of removable hipbelt pockets, the Miniposa will be a strong contender for our Highly Recommended rating.

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by Will Rietveld |

Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW - 1
The Gossamer Gear Miniposa is a smaller version of the popular Mariposa.

Introduction

The Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack, introduced in 2004, has become very popular with ultralight backpackers because of the versatility offered by its removable carbon fiber stays. However, many hikers gave feedback that the Mariposa had too much volume (4200 cubic inches) for the average ultralight backpacking trip. In response, Gossamer Gear introduced the Miniposa in spring 2007, a smaller version at 3300 cubic inches. Is it right on target for ultralight backpacking?

What’s Good

  • Highly versatile; can be used as either a frameless or internal frame backpack
  • Removable stays and sternum strap
  • Wide padded shoulder straps and hipbelt
  • Sleeping pad doubles as backpanel padding
  • Very high volume to weight ratio
  • Very high carry load to pack weight ratio
  • Large capacity front and side mesh pockets
  • Comfortably carries 20 to 25 pound loads (with stays)

What’s Not So Good

  • Stays are not bendable for a custom fit
  • Excess dye in pad sleeve stains clothing

Specifications

  Year/Model

2007 Gossamer Gear Miniposa

  Style

Internal frame or frameless, top loading, drawcord closure with top compression strap

  Volume

3300 ci (54 L) total; main body 2320 ci, pockets 500 ci, extension collar 480 ci (38 + 8 + 8 L)

  Weight

1 lb 2.6 oz (527 g) measured weight with stays and supplied padding; pack 16.6 oz (471 g), stays 0.9 oz (26 g), shoulder strap padding 0.5 oz (14 g), hipbelt padding 0.3 oz (9 g); manufacturer specification 1 lb 1.4 oz (493 g) with stays and padding

  Sizes Available

S, M, L (size L tested)

  Torso Fit Range

S fits 12-16 in (30-40 cm), M fits 16-20 in (40-51 cm), L fits (20-24 in (51-61 cm)

  Fabrics

Body is 30d 1.3 oz/yd2 (44 g/m2) silnylon, stress and abrasion areas are reinforced with 210d 4 oz/yd2 (118 g/m2) polyurethane coated ripstop nylon

  Features

Wide shoulder straps, removable padding in shoulder straps and hipbelt, removable carbon fiber stays, 8.5 inch extension collar, drawcord closure, Y-strap top compression, backpanel sleeping pad sleeve, one large front and three large side mesh pockets, map pocket inside, front or side bungee attachment/compression system, interior hydration sleeve with two hose ports, one ice axe loop, removable sternum strap with whistle, haul loop

  Volume To Weight Ratio

177.4 ci/oz with stays (based on 3300 ci and measured weight of 18.6 oz), 186.4 without stays (based on 3300 ci and measured weight of 17.7 oz)

  Comfortable Load Carrying Capacity

25 lb estimated comfortable load for an average person carrying the pack (with stays) all day

  Carry Load to Pack Weight Ratio

21.6 with stays (based on 25 lb and a measured weight of 1.16 lb)

  MSRP

$135 US

  Options

Removable hipbelt pockets, three sizes, $11/each.

Performance

The Miniposa is made of silnylon and is basically identical to the Mariposa except it is 900 cubic inches smaller in volume. The volume was taken out of the main body (6 inches thick versus 7.5 inches) and the extension collar (8.5 inches long versus 11 inches). The other dimensions and components are the same. The Mariposa and Miniposa have a fixed hipbelt, which is shorter on their new size Small pack. Only the Mariposa Plus has a removable hipbelt available in different sizes.

Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW - 2
Views of the Gossamer Gear Miniposa. The frontpanel (top left) has a large bellowed mesh pocket plus loops to add a bungee attachment/compression system. The backpanel (top right) has a sleeve to allow the use of a sleeping pad for padding and weight transfer (the pack comes with a sternum strap, to which I added a removable pocket as shown; the camera case on the hipbelt is also my addition). The right side (bottom left) has two mesh pockets, and the left side (bottom right) has one tall mesh pocket.

Frame and Suspension

The frame is the lightest to be found anywhere, two carbon fiber rods weighing 0.9 ounce total. They are very easy to remove and replace, and have rounded aluminum caps to prevent them from puncturing the fabric. Although they are very light, they are also very straight and are not bendable to fit the curvature of the user’s back. More on this in the Field Testing section.

Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW - 3
The Miniposa’s frame (left) consists of two straight carbon fiber rods that slip into durable sleeves inside the pack. The two stays weigh just 0.9 ounce. Shoulder straps (right) are 3.5 inches wide with 3D wicking mesh on the underside.

The suspension system consists of 3.5-inch wide shoulder straps and hipbelt with 3D spacer mesh on the underside, and a backpanel pad sleeve into which a sleeping pad is inserted to serve as a padded backpanel and pack stiffener. The shoulder straps and hipbelt have openings (with Velcro closures) to insert either articles of clothing (e.g. socks) or provided 3-inch wide, ½-inch thick closed-cell pads. The pack does not have load lifter straps or hipbelt stabilizer straps.

Features and Utility

The Miniposa has an essential set of features tailored to meet the needs of the ultralight backpacker. The outside of the pack is covered with four large mesh pockets (500 cubic inches total) capable of holding a lot of gear and keeping it readily accessible on the trail, virtually eliminating the need to enter the main body of the pack during the day. Each pocket has an elastic binding at the top to keep things from falling out, and heavier ripstop nylon at the bottom for durability. The lower right mesh pocket is designed to make a water bottle reachable without taking the pack off.

One pack feature listed on the Gossamer Gear website is a “Small map/permit/sundries pocket (right side)”, which sounds like an internal security pocket to me, but is actually the lower mesh pocket. Gossamer Gear provides a length of elastic cord and cordlocks with the pack (0.4 ounce) to create a bungee attachment/compression system for the front of the pack or the two sides, using loops provided.

Several components (stays, shoulder strap and hipbelt padding, and sternum strap) are removable, so the pack can be stripped down to a frameless backpack weighing about 16 ounces. However, I personally would not want to part with the shoulder strap and hipbelt padding and the sternum strap, so the frameless pack minimum weight sans stays would be 17.7 ounces.

Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW - 4
Notable features on the Miniposa. A Y-strap on top (left) is designed to hold a bear canister (or other gear) on top of the pack. The backpanel has a sleeve to hold a sleeping pad (middle), which creates a padded backpanel and pack stiffener if a closed cell pad is used. It also makes the pad handy to use as a sitting pad. A water bottle in the lower right mesh pocket (right) is reachable without taking the pack off.

Gossamer Gear’s removable hipbelt pockets were not yet available when I field tested the Miniposa, but they were announced as this review was waiting to be published, so I was able to obtain a set and include them in the review. They are made of durable 210 denier nylon ripstop, come in three sizes, and weigh 0.6 to 0.8 ounce per pocket. They fit all Gossamer Gear packs, as well as many packs by other manufacturers. I tried one on a 2006 Osprey Aether 60 and the attachment loops stretched to fit the 4.5 inch wide hipbelt. Gossamer Gear also has a shoulder strap pocket in development. The pockets are not waterproof. I personally like a pocket on the sternum strap to keep my topo map handy, and hope that Gossamer Gear will make one available. To accommodate it, the sternum strap would need to connect at one side rather than in the middle.

Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW - 5
Gossamer Gear’s new removable hipbelt pockets are available in three sizes (left). The backside (right) has two elastic straps that wrap around the hipbelt, plus a small Velcro loop tab that secures it in the Velcro closure for the hipbelt padding on any Gossamer Gear hipbelt.

Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW - 6
Gossamer Gear hipbelt pockets on the Miniposa pack (center photo). The left pocket is size Small and the right one is size Large. The Small pocket (left photo) has plenty of room for a compact digital camera and some foam padding. The size Large pocket will hold a lot of frequently needed items; the contents of the filled pocket in the center photo are laid out in the right photo (wool cap, lightweight gloves, bandana, lip balm, sunscreen, chemical water treatment kit, and energy bars).

The pack body is large enough to hold a bear canister lengthwise, but it takes up a lot of the available volume. The pack’s Y-strap is designed to hold a canister on top of the pack, and the strap is extra long for that purpose. In use without a bear canister, the Y-strap is a bit cumbersome compared to a single top strap, especially with smaller loads, because of its extra length and tendency to get twists in it.

Although an internal hydration sleeve (with two hose ports) is provided, I find it more convenient to carry a Platypus water bladder in the upper right side pocket (as shown in the photo gallery above). The side pocket location makes it much more accessible for refilling, and I offset the weight by packing a little more weight on the left side inside the pack.

Field Testing

I carried the Miniposa on a number of ultralight summer backpacking trips carrying loads ranging from 14 to 22 pounds. On each trip I assessed the Miniposa’s comfort with and without the stays. The stays help to transfer weight to my hips, so I prefer to use them when pack weight was over about 17 pounds (your preference will depend on your body size and strength). Because the stays are straight and unbendable, the top of the pack tends to lean back somewhat. Tightening the shoulder straps pulls the pack in toward the shoulders some, but places more weight on the shoulders and compresses the shoulders, which becomes uncomfortable after awhile.

Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW - 7
A trick I used on a standard Mariposa pack to overcome the straight stay issue is to fold my TorsoLite pad so its square and stuff it into the bottom part of the pad sleeve. My wife sewed a strip of Velcro on the top edge to secure it. This modification pushes the bottom of the pack out and levers the top of the pack in closer to my shoulders, making the pack fit better.

Without the stays, and using an inflatable pad in the pad sleeve, the pack conformed to my back better, and was quite comfortable to carry with a lighter load. Its wide padded shoulder straps and hipbelt allow this pack, with or without the stays, to carry a load very comfortably. It’s definitely more comfortable than most frameless backpacks with similar loads.

Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW - 8
For lighter loads, I prefer to use the Miniposa without stays. It fits better and is more comfortable to carry. The photos show it being used as a day pack (left) with about 8 pounds, and as a backpack (right) with 17 pounds.

I tested the Miniposa with several different sleeping pads, and found it to be amenable with the Bozeman Mountain Works TorsoLite, Gossamer Gear NightLight, Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest ¾, and Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 Short. The NightLight is ideal because it provides a stiffer backpanel (for better weight transfer to the hips) with minimum thickness and weight. A folded ¾-length RidgeRest provides a lot of stiffness, but its 2.5 inch thickness pushed the pack’s center of gravity away from my back, which is undesirable for heavier loads. Inflatable pads provide a comfortably padded backpanel, but do nothing to stiffen the pack for weight transfer.

Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW - 9
The type and thickness of sleeping pad in the pad sleeve makes a difference. An inflatable pad such as the Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 Short (left) provides good padding but does not stiffen the pack for weight transfer. The Gossamer Gear NightLight (right) is ideal for both padding and stiffness. However, a Ridge-Rest ¾ (center) is too thick, and pushes the pack’s center of gravity outward.

The Miniposa is designed with openings in the shoulder straps and hipbelt to insert extra clothing (socks, etc.) for padding. I found the technique cumbersome and time-consuming, and socks and fleece catch on the Velcro closure. Gossamer Gear provides a set of four foam pads to insert in the pockets instead of clothing. The shoulder strap pads weigh just 0.5-ounce and the hipbelt pads weigh 0.3 ounce (that’s a total of 0.8 ounce for all four pads). My opinion is that Gossamer Gear should sew in the pads and be done with it, eliminating the weight of the Velcro closures.

On their website, Gossamer Gear notes that the mesh used for the sleeping pad sleeve on some packs has been reported to stain clothing, and they recommend giving it a good soaking before using the pack. I encountered the problem, and it was a major annoyance. Sweat from hiking caused the dye to migrate from the pad sleeve to the back of my shirt and pants (see photo below), leaving a stain that did not come out by laundering. I found the dye difficult to remove; I scrubbed the mesh on three separate occasions in hot water with laundry detergent to finally get it out. Gossamer Gear also notes that stitching on the mesh pockets may unravel, and offer to repair existing packs at no charge. They plan to remedy both problems in the next production run.

Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW - 10
On their website, Gossamer Gear has an advisory about residual dye in the sleeping pad sleeve staining clothing. I found it to be a serious problem; the dye permanently stained the back of several hiking pants, shorts, and shirts.

Although the Miniposa is made of 1.3 ounces/square yard silnylon and mesh, I found it to be adequately durable with reasonable care. In my off-trail wanderings, I frequently bushwhacked through willow thickets and heavy forest cover, with no damage to the pack. The mesh used for the outside pockets is remarkably durable for its weight. Also, I had no problems with the stays slipping out of or wearing through their pockets. For hikers who are tough on their gear, or hike where there are sticker bushes, Gossamer Gear may offer the Miniposa in a heavier fabric (similar to the Mariposa Plus) in 2008.

Assessment

Although the Miniposa is a new pack model, its straight carbon fiber stays (arrow shafts) are a carryover from the Mariposa. Back in 2004 we were impressed with their miniscule weight and ability to support a heavier load. However, they are not bendable to fit the curvature of the user’s back, and in fact cause the top of the pack to lean backward. Bendable stays that can shaped to achieve an anatomical fit would be a marked improvement for the Miniposa (and Mariposa). The improved fit and comfort would be well worth the extra weight. Switching to flat aluminum stays would be an easy fix, but it would add about 3.5 ounces to the weight of the pack. Wouldn’t it be nice if Gossamer Gear, a leader in ultralight backpacking gear, developed some bendable (or at least curved) stays with little or no increase in weight?

The continued use of shoulder strap and hipbelt pockets to insert clothing for padding is also beyond its heyday. The technique does save a little weight, but it’s a pain in the butt. Since the alternative foam pads supplied with the pack weigh a total of 0.8 ounce, why not sew in the pads and save the weight and manufacturing cost of the Velcro openings?

The Miniposa is in a class by itself as a superlight, small volume (3300 cubic inches), removable internal frame backpack. The only comparable backpacks with removable stays on the market are the Six Moon Designs Comet and Starlite packs, and the Gossamer Gear Mariposa packs, but they are all larger volume (3700-4200 cubic inches). The Six Moon Designs’ flat aluminum stays are easily bent to the curvature of the user’s back, resulting in noticeably better fit and comfort. SMD packs also have a removable hipbelt with available pockets, and are made of durable Dyneema fabric. However, they weigh 8-11 ounces more.

Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW - 11
The Gossamer Gear Miniposa is in a class by itself - an ultralight, low volume backpack with removable stays. The Miniposa (center) is distinctly smaller than the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus (left) and the Six Moon Designs Comet (right).

Overall, the Gossamer Gear Miniposa and Mariposa are the lightest and most versatile convertible packs around. Their removable stays allow one pack to serve as either an ultralight frameless or internal frame backpack. In frameless mode, the Miniposa is very comfortable owing to its wide padded shoulder straps and hipbelt. With the stays in, its comfortable weight carrying capacity is extended to about 25 pounds. If your total pack weight is normally in the 15 to 25 pound range, consider getting the Gossamer Gear Miniposa (or Mariposa) instead of a frameless backpack or an internal frame pack meant for carrying heavier loads.

What’s Unique

Because of its removable carbon fiber stays, the Miniposa is easily the lightest internal frame backpack on the market in its size class. It’s also extremely versatile. With the stays and other components removed, its weight is comparable with many ultralight frameless backpacks on the market and it’s very comfortable to carry because of its wide padded shoulder straps. With the stays in, this 18.6 ounce backpack is capable of carrying 25 pounds.

Recommendations for Improvement

  • Switch to curved flat stays to achieve a more anatomical fit
  • Sew the foam padding into the shoulder straps and hipbelt, and eliminate the Velcro closures
  • Move the sternum strap buckle to one side to allow use of a sternum pocket
  • Source a colorfast mesh for the pad sleeve

Citation

"Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/gossamer_gear_miniposa_backpack_review.html, 2007-11-28 02:00:00-07.

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Gossamer Gear Miniposa Backpack REVIEW
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Greyson Howard
(Greyhound)

Locale: Sierra Nevada
Re: clarifying the clarifications on 11/30/2007 18:47:11 MST Print View

With all due respect, I disagree that a review should only contain objective data, a fact sheet could effectively accomplish the same thing - that's not a review.

A review is necessarily subjective, and you choose to read reviews from a particular publication because you respect the reviewers experience, knowledge, and opinions.

I would in fact encourage the reviewers here at BPL to accompany their scientific measurements and data with more subjective opinions from their experience with a product to better paint a picture of what using the gear is actually like.

The key is acknowledging which parts of a review are objective, and which are subjective.

Mike Hinsley
(ArchNemesis)

Locale: England, UK
Alternative stays on 12/19/2007 04:34:43 MST Print View

In a similar pack (DIY) I just use some 6mm Aluminum tubing cut to length. This transfers the weight nicely, bends to fit my back and weighs under 50g/1.7oz?

It's proven to be very comfortable on a week-long hike carrying 20+lbs at times.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Alternative Stays for the Miniposa on 12/19/2007 11:13:29 MST Print View

Well we have bamboo and now 6mm aluminum tubing. Any other suggestion for alternatives to the carbon fiber arrow shafts used as stays in the Miniposa. Exactly what are the dimensions of these carbon fiber shafts? Do the flat aluminum stays from sixmoons fit or do they have to be trimmed? If anyone has done this, share the method used. I had thought of using a pair of fiberglass wands that came from an old MH Ghost pack and just trimming to size and using the plastic caps that are already in place on these wands to protect the pack fabric. These are already very flexible even if they don't shape the way aluminum does. And they have proved to work exceptionally well in the Ghost.

Edited by mitchellkeil on 12/19/2007 11:17:58 MST.

Susan Conklin
(swetiepeti) - F
alternative stays for Miniposa on 03/24/2008 10:45:33 MDT Print View

well, I plan to try heavy duty zip ties as soon as the small Miniposa is available to buy. I've used them in sewing corsets and they bend but still maintain stiffness. They won't degrade as fast as the bamboo will when wet and stressed, although they won't be quite as stiff as the bamboo. You can cut them and sand or melt the edge to decrease rough edges. Will tell you how they worked out as soon as I get a small sized Miniposa to experiment with...

Michael Donovan
(mpdonovan) - F
Alternative stays for the Miniposa on 05/18/2008 09:12:56 MDT Print View

Did anyone ever find out if the Six Moons stays fit the Miniposa? I have a pair and I am considering the Mini, but I would love to know if they work before I order one.

scott Nelson
(nlsscott) - MLife

Locale: So. Calif.
Alternative stays for Miniposa on 06/06/2008 17:23:10 MDT Print View

Aluminum stays that are 1/2 inch wide and 1/8 inch thick will fit in the sleeves and weigh around 5 oz. This aluminum bar stock was available at my local hardware store, and easy to cut with a hacksaw. Alluminum Arrow Shafts will only weigh around 2 oz., are bendable, and will fit as well. I wonder if I drilled a hole in the arrow shaft near the top of the pack, and inserted a large cotter pin parrallel with the back of the pack, would it keep the shaft from twisting? It might need a piece of plastic to protect the pack fabric and firm the pin up. Of course, GG has a suggestion on thier website of taking a coat hanger and bending it between the two shafts with notches in the ends of the shafts to keep them from twisting. That might be the easiest and lightest solution after all. I just got the pack and it seems great!-Scott