GOSSAMER GEAR GORILLA 40 BACKPACK REVIEW
Gossamer Gear updated many of their pack designs in 2015, including the popular Gorilla 40 Backpack. The Gorilla has been a CleverHiker top pick for the last few years (see our previous review here), so I was very excited to get the new model on the trail and put it to the test.
It didn’t take long to see that the new Gorilla doesn’t miss a beat. The Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 is an exceptional ultralight backpack that I highly recommend. In fact, we’re currently working on a Top Gear Picks section for CleverHiker, and the Gorilla 40 is our top backpack. The Gorilla is an excellent choice for any lightweight backpacker because of its comfort, weight, durability, and affordability.
NEW ELEMENTS OF THE 2015 GORILLA
There are a few changes to the 2015 Gorilla 40 pack, but the most notable difference is in the materials GG used to build the pack. The Robic Ripstop Nylon on this pack is a bit stiffer and sturdier than the old pack, but it doesn’t add any weight. That gives the Gorilla increased toughness and a shape that stays consistent. I also like the look of the new fabric and color accents, so I think it’s a great change.
The new Gorilla 40 has a slightly smaller volume than the old Gorilla, but it’s still a well-sized pack for any lightweight backpacking trek. The Gorilla is on par with the volume of many ultralight backpacks and I would definitely consider it thru-hike ready. If you’re the type of hiker that prefers more room in your pack, have a look at the larger Mariposa 60 backpack (More about the Mariposa below).
The new Gorilla also has unisex ergonomic harness, which makes it a comfortable fit for both men and women. My wife Annie absolutely loves her Gorilla pack and many of our female friends feel the same way. Gossamer Gear packs also have removable hip belts, which means you can get the correct hip belt size and torso size on your pack, which makes a huge difference.
The 2015 Gorilla 40 also has trekking pole and ice axe holsters, which is a nice addition. The compression straps on the new Gorilla are much better than the previous model and the back mesh pocket is much tougher too. The shoulder straps on the new Gorilla have more padding and are more comfortable than the previous model. A convenient hydration sleeve was added to the inside back panel as well. All of these are very solid improvements to the Gorilla design.
All things considered, Gossamer Gear has kept the best elements of the Gorilla 40 and improved on areas where previous models were lacking.
The Gorilla 40 and Mariposa 60 are two popular Gossamer Gear packs with similar designs and frames. The main difference between the Gorilla and Mariposa is their storage capacity and weight carrying ability. The Gorilla is a 40L pack that’ll comfortably carry 30lb and the Mariposa is a 60L pack that’ll comfortably carry 35lb. That means the Mariposa has 33% more space for gear and can carry 5 extra pounds (15% more). The Mariposa 60 is the most popular Gossamer Gear pack for this exact reason and it really is a fantastic backpack.
My preference between the two is the Gorilla 40 for a few minor reasons. Mostly it comes down to the fact that I don’t really need the extra space of the Mariposa. I’ve found that 40L is plenty big enough for all of my 3-season trips and I would feel very comfortable taking it on a thru-hike. The Gorilla is also a few ounces lighter, but the difference is quite minimal. The other key consideration for me is that the Gorilla has symmetrical side pockets and the Mariposa has one long side pocket and one short side pocket. I prefer the symmetrical pocket design and look of the Gorilla. Again, those are minor details, but sometimes it’s the little things that count.
What the decision ultimately comes down to is the difference in carrying capacity between the Gorilla 40 and the Mariposa 60. If you’re worried about space, go for the Mariposa. It really is a fantastic pack. If you prefer to hike a little leaner and lighter, the Gorilla is probably your jam. You can’t really go wrong with either model.
PRICE – This is product has a fair price for the value it delivers. It is competitively priced in the ultralight backpack market and less expensive than most standard packs. Please check the GG website for specific price details.
WEIGHT – 26oz - This isn’t the lightest pack in the ultralight scene, but it’s very competitive among ultralight packs (especially when you consider the features this pack offers that others don’t) and it’s MUCH lighter than any standard backpack.
CAPACITY – 40L (2354c.i.). The new Gorilla has a slightly smaller volume than the previous model, but it’s still a great size. For lightweight backpackers, the Gorilla will have plenty of space. If you’re worried about space, check out the GG Mariposa 60.
FRAME – The Gorilla has a removable lightweight aluminum stay frame that combines with a foam SitLight back pad. The frame is sturdy, comfortable, and good for transferring weight to your hips.
SITLIGHT PAD – This is one of my favorite features of GG packs. The SitLight pad is part of the pack frame, but it can be removed at any time to be used as a seat. This is an extremely useful tool, especially for inflatable sleeping pad users.
MATERIALS – The Gorilla is made up of a sturdy combination of ripstop nylon and mesh fabric. The new Gorilla seems tougher than the previous model and it holds its shape well.
HIP BELT – The Gorilla has a very comfortable hip belt that doesn’t slide. GG hip belts are also removable, which means you’ll get the correct hip belt size and torso size for your pack. That’s another significant advantage.
HIP BELT POCKETS – GG packs come with built in hip belt pockets that are medium sized. They’re convenient for snacks and small gear that you want to keep handy.
TOP ZIPPER POCKET – The top lid has a convenient zipper pocket. This is uncommon among ultralight packs and it’s a nice feature.
SHOULDER STRAPS – The shoulder straps on the new Gorilla have more padding and are more comfortable than the previous model. Even with a tank top on, they won’t chafe your skin.
COMPRESSION STRAPS – The side compression straps on the Gorilla 40 are much improved over previous models. This makes the Gorilla a great small trip and daypack option as well.
TREKKING POLE HOLSTERS – The new Gorilla has trekking pole holsters that make storing your sticks much easier. I’d like for them to be a little closer and to secure my trekking poles a bit more, but they’re still very nice.
INTERNAL HYDRATION POUCH – Gossamer Gear also added a hydration sleeve to the Gorilla, which is a nice touch. It’s high enough that you won’t have to re-pack your entire bag to get a water bladder in there too.
For some reason Gossamer Gear puts extra clips on the bottom of their shoulder straps. I can’t really see any purpose for these clips, so I always take them off. This time they were really hard to get off though and I needed to use pliers, which was annoying.
The trekking pole holsters are a very convenient new feature. My only complaint is that I think they’re a bit too far apart and I wish they secured my trekking poles better. I’m planning to cut one of the straps off to re-sew it closer to the other one so my trekking poles will stay off to the side better. Some sort of clip-in system would be nice for securing them tightly.
Annie feels that the pack is a little “strappy.” Some of the straps on the pack have extra length and hang down a bit. I see what she’s saying but that’s not a huge concern for me. If some of the straps are too long, you could always trim them up, but I’ll leave mine alone.
I’m a big fan of the size, style, weight, price, and comfort of the Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 backpack. Throw in the added benefits of the SitLight pad, top zipper pocket, trekking pole holsters, and hydration pouch and you’ve got a truly exceptional ultralight backpack. This pack will be a fantastic fit for any lightweight backpacker and we recommend it as our top backpack for 2015.
Check out our Gear Guide for more great gear recommendations.
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