With a larger carrying capacity and a lower overall weight than our previous Editors' Choice Award winner, the Gossamer Gear Gorilla, the Mariposa was the obvious pick for this year's Editors' Choice Award. It's hard to compete with a pack that is this lightweight and comfortable and still has the ability to carry large loads. After spending lots of time in the Sierra Nevada with the both the Gossamer Gorilla and the Mariposa, we preferred the Mariposa partially because of its ability to carry a bear can easily. The Mariposa is a little larger on the bottom than the Gorilla, with all the same features as our previous favorite.
The Mariposa carries like a dream, whether it's loaded up with a few days food and supplies or half empty on the final day of a trip. Additionally, all the pockets are big enough to carry a wide range of gear, from bottles to stoves to clothing. The feature set on this pack was hard to compete with. In every metric, the Mariposa impressed, giving it the title of Editors' Choice this season.
Gossamer Gear Mariposa Review
Cons: Large capacity makes it less versatile
Bottom line: The Mariposa wowed us with its perfect set of features, comfortable design, and carrying capacity.
Stripped Weight (ounces): 30.5 oz
Claimed Volume (liters): 60 L
Manufacturer: Gossamer Gear
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Ultralight Backpacks for 2018
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
For a lightweight workhorse that is durable and adjustable, nothing compares to the Gossamer Mariposa. The pack is large enough to carry heavy and bulky loads, but easy to adjust to accommodate smaller loads as well. Its removable hip belt and frame make it light and compact, and the movable foam backing is an excellent addition for trail-side stops and added carrying comfort. The shoulder straps are thick and cushions and distribute weight incredibly well. Out of all the packs we tested, this one was by far the most comfortable right out of the box. Its design is easy to figure out, with no extra accessories or features. This pack is ready for the trail right away and requires little to no break in period.
The features and unique top closure of this pack were exactly what we wanted in an ultralight backpacking pack. The large external, mesh pocket holds plenty of clothing, while the side pockets vary in size and can carry anything from a JetBoil stove to a Nalgene water bottle or a few snacks. If lightweight is your key feature, then look to the ZPacks Arc Blast 55 for a pack that is nearly 9oz lighter than our Editors' Choice award winner. Or, if you're on a tighter budget, the Osprey Exos 48 won our Best Buy award and has tons great of features.
Weight to Volume
Gossamer claims the Mariposa to have a carrying capacity of 60 liters. In our volume tests, we found this to be about spot on, depending on how much you overfill the top of the pack with its fold-over closing mechanism.
Weight Bottom Line:
Total Weight with all modular components = 1 lb 14.4oz
Pack striped of components =1 lb 14.4 oz
Lid = na
In our measurements, the pack had a capacity of about 65 liters, with the external pockets holding more than the company reported online. With a stripped-down weight of 30.5oz or 1 pound 12oz, the Mariposa weighs more than the Gorilla (which weighs in at 27.5 with all accessories removed). Our top scoring pack in this
metric is the ULA Circuit, which out-performed both Gossamer packs and the previously high scoring ULA Ohm 2.0. The Circuit has one of the largest carrying capacities with a low overall weight and also has a roll-top closure which adds storage space without the weight.
OGL Measured Volume Bottom Line:
Total Volume = 64 L
Main Bag = 48 L
Pockets = 16 L
Lid = 1 L
These three ounces are not much when you take into account the additional 10 liters of carrying capacity that the Mariposa offers. Compared side-by-side to the Gossamer Gorilla, the Mariposa scored lower overall in the weight to volume metric, but if you're looking for a pack that will perform in a more extensive range of situations, the Mariposa is worth the extra weight.
Load Carrying Comfort
This pack takes the cake regarding load carrying comfort. Tested on some different trails from Wyoming to the Sierra Nevada, the Gossamer Mariposa felt great from our first steps with it on the trail.
The wide shoulder straps and waist belt disperse the load comfortably without creating pressure points. The new belt design is stiffer than the older versions of this pack, providing more support in the waist. The new aluminum stay connects the back of the model to the waist belt which also offers more support when carrying heavy loads. We found this pack to work great when carrying light loads (around 15-20lbs) as well as more substantial loads (above 35lbs). Similarly, the Gossamer Gear Gorilla performed well carrying large and small loads, but overall, did better with slightly heavier loads. This consistency, seen in both packs, earned the Mariposa a "Great" in our comfort assessment. Some packs, like the Granite Gear Virga 2, did not work as well with heavy loads, since they do not have the same supportive waistband as the Gossamer packs.
The Gossamer Mariposa has just enough features so that each item in your kit has its own place, but not too many bells and whistles that the pack feels like a one-man marching band when loaded up for a few days out.
The side pockets are placed in just the right position so that you can grab your water bottle (and replace it!) while keeping the pack on. Similar to both the Gossamer Gear Gorilla and the Ohm Circuit, the mesh pocket on the back side is large enough to hold snacks, clothing, and other gear, while the side pockets are large enough to hold a JetBoil or water bottle.
The most notable new feature on the Mariposa is the Over-the-Top closure mechanism, which eliminates a lid from the pack's design. We liked this system as it keeps everything secure while providing flexibility for carrying larger and smaller loads. The new hip belt also comes with little pockets, which we found useful for carrying snacks or holding micro-trash.
Just like its slightly smaller cousin, the Gossamer Gorilla, the Mariposa is one of the most versatile packs we tested. It is easy to remove the frame and waist belt when slimming down and carrying lighter loads.
The side compression straps and the Over-the-Top closure also allow for significant adjustability concerning volume. The Ohm Circuit is similar in this way since it has a roll-top closure that provides tons of adjustability in load size. The Haglofs L.I.M. Strive 50 has similar compression straps to the Mariposa and can be adjusted widely in the same way. Because it is a bit taller and wider than the Gorilla, the Mariposa works exceptionally well when paired with a bear can - something to consider when comparing the pack to the Gorilla.
In the Mariposa, Gossamer Gear uses 100D Robic High tensil strength nylon for the bulk of the pack and a combination of 100D nylon and 70D ripstop nylon for specific portions of the pack.
These materials proved to be as durable as they sound during our testing period. The pack received hardly a sign of wear or abrasion, even after many trips above tree-line and through many alpine talus fields. The foam backing and simple aluminum frame durable while still providing support. Compared to the frames of the L.I.M. Strive or the ULA Circuit, the Mariposa was more supportive and durable.
This pack is the ultimate in ultralight comfort. For the diehard thru-hiker to those who are just interested in a lighter pack, the Mariposa is the ticket. It fits a bear can and has ample external storage for long adventures, but it also cinches down small and has both a removable frame and waist belt for short trips into the backcountry. No pack, except for its close relative the Gorilla, came close to the Mariposa regarding comfort. These factors combined make the Mariposa our newest Editors' Choice Award winner.
At $215, the Mariposa is a bit of an investment, but its guaranteed to pay off. The pack is both durable and versatile, so even if you're not going on long distance trips all the time, the Mariposa will still be useful as a day-hiking or traveling pack. The pack is also less expensive than the Gorilla and is similarly priced to the ULA Ohm 2.0 and the Osprey Exos 48.
We were blown away by the Gossamer Gear Gorilla in the previous round of ultralight pack testing, and this year we were excited to see how the Mariposa compared. As it turns out, the Mariposa impressed with its comfortable waist and shoulder straps, larger carrying capacity, and thoughtfully designed external pockets. This pack does it all and is durable to boot. the folks at Gossamer Gear have truly outdone themselves with the Mariposa.
— Jane Jackson