A lightweight pack will save you a ton of weight on the trail. As one of the three heaviest items that you're going to carry (backpack, sleeping bag, & shelter), it's important to keep your pack light. After all, all you really need out of a backpack is a comfortable way to lug around all of your stuff. But making a good lightweight pack is not that simple. When companies strip down their packs to make them as light as possible, the bags tend to lose very important features, like comfort, durability, and load-carrying capability.
That's why I get so geeked out when I find a pack that combines a super light structure, with comfort and durability. And on very rare occasions, I find a pack that really gets it right - an ultralight bag with comfort, durability, style, and a whole bunch of convenient extras. The Gossamer Gear Gorilla pack has it all and it's one of the finest UL packs I've ever carried.
This summer I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with the GG Gorilla pack for the first time. I took it to Grand Teton National Park, the Three Sisters Wilderness, and the Columbia River Gorge for some fantastic scenery. I've carried this pack about 150 trail miles and I feel very confident in highly recommending it.
The Gorilla will be a great fit for weekend travelers, lightweight backpackers, and I'd even recommend it to thru-hikers. If you're planning on regularly carrying 40lbs (18kg) or more, this probably isn't the best bag for you. But if traveling light is one of your priorities, this pack will be a wonderful fit for you.
Here is my simple and concise review of the GG Gorilla pack. If you have any questions or would like to know more, check out my links to other resources, watch the video below, or leave a comment.
- Weight – The medium Gorilla weighs only 26oz (737g). That’s a 1.6 pound pack in an arena where 4-5 pound packs are still the norm. This pack is super light, and your legs will thank you for it.
- Comfort – I was initially very surprised by the comfort of this bag. The shoulder straps, hip belt, and foam back pad all conform to the body really well. This is one of the most comfortable UL packs I’ve ever worn and I’ve heard the same thing from others in the lightweight community.
- Cost – $225 isn’t exactly cheap for a backpack, but it's not outrageous either. And considering the quality that you’ll get with this bag, I think the Gorilla is completely worth the price tag.
- Capacity – 3000 cubic inches (49L) is just about the capacity that I look for in an UL pack. It’s large enough for a thru-hike and small enough for short weekend trips.
- Toughness – I’ve only had this pack on the trail for about 150 miles, but it’s held up very nicely. The stitching is strong in all the right places and I suspect this bag will easily cover thousands of trail miles in it's lifetime.
- Back Support – the Gorilla has a firm, egg crate foam pad for comfort and a u-shaped removable aluminum stay for rigidity. This gives it a good blend of support and coziness.
- Back Panel/Seat – The foam back support can easily be removed and used as a seat on the trail. This is an excellent feature that will save weight and allow you to sit comfortably anywhere.
- Hip Belt – The hip belt for this bag is sturdy enough that it will transfer the weight of your bag to your hips when you cinch it tight. And it's comfortable enough that it won’t dig into your sides or cause chafing. The hip belt is also removable, which is an added bonus that might come in handy.
- Style – Style is totally a personal preference, but I really like the look of the Gossamer Gear packs. I think that the grey check pattern with orange accents looks sweet. Style is not as important as functionality in my book, but it's still pretty significant.
- Design Extras: You can tell that GG paid attention to the details when they designed this pack. Little things like water drainage grommets, an emergency whistle clip, water bladder tube opening, elastic sternum strap support, and much more really add to the packs functionality. It’s often the fine details that make a good product great and Gossamer Gear gets it.
- Hip Pockets – The hip pockets on the Gorilla are large enough to carry what you need but small enough not to get in the way. The zippers open and close easily and won’t let gear fall out.
- Mesh Back Pocket – The mesh compartment on the back of this pack is stretchy and strong. There's a ton of room back there and that's a very useful feature. I greatly prefer this type of mesh and find that it lasts long and works well.
- Top Pocket – The Gorilla comes with a convenient top pocket that can be used for small items that you want to be easily accessible. The top of your bag will be cinched down most of the time, so this pocket isn't very roomy, but it’s still quite useful.
- Water Resistant – The Gorilla is very good at repelling water, but it won’t keep the contents of your pack completely dry in a downpour. The top pocket and hip belt pockets are not waterproof either. That being said, I have yet to find a UL backpack that is completely waterproof, so this is far from a deal breaker for me.
- Top Closure Clips – The top closure system of this pack requires three separate clips. One to clip the top closed and two to connect the cinch straps on the sides. I found this closure system to be one step too many and slightly cumbersome compared to other closure designs. Again, I got used to it quickly and it wasn't a deal breaker for me.
- Extra Clips – The shoulder cinch straps on this pack come with clips on the ends that are unnecessary. I’m not exactly sure what they’re there for, so I took them off. Again, not a big deal.
The Gossamer Gear Gorilla is a fantastic backpack. It’s light, comfortable, tough, and appropriately priced. GG clearly spent a lot of time designing every detail of this pack and it really shows. I feel very comfortable recommending this backpack to any lightweight backpacker.
I wanted to keep this review short and sweet for everyone’s benefit, so I included some extra links at the bottom of this post for those interested in learning more. Also, if you have experience with this pack, or even just a question, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Fill out the comment form below and start up the conversation.
More About The Gorilla:
Section Hiker Gorilla Review - A detailed blog post of the Gorilla backpack from sectionhiker.com
Summit and Valley Gorilla Gear Talk - A recent post that addresses improvements from the previous model pack.
Video Content - This YouTube review from the The Outdoor Station is also very good. Skip ahead to minute 6:30 in the video for a detailed look at the Gorilla backpack.
Disclaimer: Gossamer Gear sent CleverHiker this product for testing, but we are under no obligation to give them a positive review. These are our personal thoughts and opinions.