Gossamer Gear Mariposa

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    Kenneth Knight
    BPL Member


    Locale: SE Michigan

    I’ve found the Mariposa to be an exeedingly good performer since I bought the pack. Combining the 2 vertical stays with a sleeping pad to form the backpanel makes this 16 ounce pack (450g) a solid performer even when carrying fairly heavy loads approaching 28 pounds.

    My main complaint with the pack rests with the shoulder straps which are, for me, a bit wide. If they were curved to better conform to the body I think the pack could carry even more weight (not that I want to do that).

    This is not a pack I would use for off-trail hiking, but for long distance, 3 season, trail hiking it is probably my pack of choice based on what I currently own.

    Ken Helwig
    BPL Member


    Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA

    4200 ci with two stays. A pouch for your sleeping pad on the outside to add support to the frame, and the best part of the pack is that it weighs in at 17 oz. Other options include using clothing instead of foam for your straps, hydration sleeve with dual ports, a whistle integrated in your sternum strap, and large mesh pockets to store, and access gear. This is a pack for trail hiking or above treeline cross country as long as you’re careful. For all of the frameless pack manufacturers out there, by providing an outside pouch to store and use your sleeping pad for support is key. Excellent idea Glen. One wish would be to have some mesh hip belt pockets ala The Atmos or ULA. But then again it would add weight, and we don’t want that now do we.

    Love This Pack!!

    Glenn Roberts


    Locale: Southwestern Ohio

    8/8/05: I’d give this pack a 3. I didn’t really find anything wrong with the Mariposa; for someone else, it might be the ideal pack. The pad pocket is an excellent innovation. However, the one thing I could never get adjusted quite right was the suspension. I really missed the load lifters on the shoulder strap. Using the Gossamer Gear torso-length pad, or even a 6-section Z-rest, the pad held the pack away from my back at the shoulders. To compensate for this, and pull the load reasonably close, I had to tighten the shoulder straps too much. (The pack size was right.) This is a minor problem, at worst, and may be due as much to my preference for load lifters as to any actual center-of-gravity problem.

    The outside pockets are nice. The compression system is so-so. In all fairness, my evaluation is somewhat biased by comparing it to the Granite Gear Virga (I tried to avoid doing so, but I’m sure it crept in there.) The Virga is half a pound heavier, but it’s worth it, to me.

    12/11/05: I’ve just changed my rating of this pack from a 3 to a 5. After reading many of the forum posts about ultralight packs and how to pack them, I was inspired to pull my Mariposa back out and experiment with different packing methods. I found that by moving my food and stove slightly lower and putting my poncho and tarp on the top of the pack, I was able to eliminate the backward pull I described above. I took the loaded pack on a day hike, and I think it will replace the Virga as my main pack, simply due to the number and arrangement of the outside pockets and the ability to get the pad out at rest stops.

    2/17/06: A few more months makes one more revision necessary. I’m probably going to go back to the Virga as my primary frameless pack, simply because the Mariposa is a little too fussy. Yes, I can get it to ride comfortably (though not with more than 20 pounds), but it’s a minor hassle to do so. I often find that, even with careful packing, I have to stop at least once in the first hour or two and move some things around to get a really good carry. That’s just too much like work.

    I still think it’s a good pack, especially if you are a dedicated ultralight packer looking to squeeze the last few ounces out of your load. It’s just not living up to my expectations, long-term. Strictly personal preferences.

    Jim Ells


    I really like this pack, but I can’t keep the stays in their sleeve. I think the better solution would be to design the flap with a cup to catch the stays, they seem to have a propensity for sliding around the velcro flap and sticking up. In case Glenn doesn’t read this, I am going to send him my thoughts. I just returned from 10 days in Wyoming and I had 35 lbs. in it (I’m guessing) with the added food and water I had to carry. It felt fine on my back, no shifting or other problems. It doesn’t do well with nothing in it, as I used it for my daypack also. It loses its form and I know it is not really designed for that purpose. While out there I thought the smaller packs would work great if they had a hydration sleeve.

    Ron Stoecklein


    I recently purchased the Mariposa and took it out for a test spin flyfisihng the cottonwood lakes area and then Mt. Langley.

    My pack weight was about 16 pounds with Fly fishing gear.

    I found the pack to have plenty of room and to be super comfortable.

    I took a 2 liter Platy hydration pack with an extra cap and the hoser.

    I used a 1 liter platy canteen for hiking with full bpack–used the 2 liter platy with extra cap for camp—and then used the Mariposa as a day pack with the hydration sleeve and 2 liter hoser when I did Langley.

    I thought the Mariposa worked well with that setup as a daypack…but without the hydration sleeve being used and some fill(I took my Micro puff pullover with me)–it might be a bit awkward.

    This was the first trip with the Mariposa–I liked it a lot—and unless I go to the G6 will be my primary pack

    John Nielsen


    During 3 weeks in August ’05 I took the Mariposa on the JMT and had a great time. Pack weight before water & food was 12 lbs. I’m 47 yrs old, 5′ 11″, and 170 lbs. The pack held up very well with no visible signs of wear. The suspension system was very comfortable. Situating the bear canister high in the pack made for a comfortable ride on my back. The sleeping pad/back plane combination worked very well – great idea to keep excess weight off the pack. The external mesh pockets are large and baggy enough to allow access while the pack is stuffed tight. The two carbon fiber micro stays combined with the compression strap provided adequate stability. A Platypus Hoser 2 liter fit very well in the internal hydration sleeve. The external shock cord straps held damp socks, etc. while they dried. Overall the pack exceeded my expectations and performed just as well as the much heavier packs my two sons carried: Vapor Trail and Gregory Z.

    paul johnson


    Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest

    What do you get when you cross an UL pack with a feature-rich, Thru-Hike capable internal frame pack? Why,…the GossamerGear Mariposa, of course!

    Feature rich (external pad pocket, 4 ext. mesh pockets, thin “padding” pockets in the shoulder straps and hip belts, bladder pocket and twin hydration ports, top compression/bear canister-retaining strap, bungee compression, plus a sternum strap with integrated whistle). What?…only 16oz? yes,…and still “fat free”! you gotta’ be kiddin’!! what will Glen think of next?!!

    Robust enough for a Thru-Hike (no bushwacking please). Sized just right for an extended outing.

    i can’t say enough good things about this pack. once you get the suspension set properly (this consists of selecting the proper padding for the shoulder straps and hip belts – or you could just use the included, removable foam inserts), and packing/loading it just right (important since the two CF internal stays can’t be bent to conform to your back like Al bars can), this pack will easily carry 25lb IME (in my experience), with 30lb being “doable” the first day out until some food is consumed. given my current UL “kit” this fully loaded pack wt would only come about due to a lengthy out requiring more food, or in a very arid environment requiring that a lot of water is carried. at this point, i haven’t had the opportunity to truly appreciate this aspect of the pack. i’ve just loaded it up with extra water bottles to “test” it at 25+lb for day hikes/weekend excursions.

    since the CF stays are unbendable, this pack, if not packed properly, can develop a very small amount of backwards lean to it. this could result in the wearer over-tightening the shoulder straps in order to compensate. myself and two others have found, via experimentation, that if the weight is packed a bit lower, keeping the heaviest items below the shoulder blades, while still trying to keep the heaviest items as close to the small of the back as possible, that the backward lean is minimized, resulting in the shoulder straps not requiring as much tighting/cinching-down. YMMV depending upon the terrain you’re hiking (climbing vs. trekking over uneven terrain, for instance), the make-up of your gear kit, and the fully loaded base pack wt. [Note: this ReaderReview is the wrong place to go into detail on this subject.]

    the backpacking gang where i work, don’t (sic) think much of UL – pity them!! now, their ideas may change thanks to this pack. my boss’s first, and only piece (to date) of UL gear is the Mariposa pack. he liked mine (a gift from a good friend and a kind and generous man, thanks again GR) so much, he got one himself. he can’t believe anything so light can be so strong and so well made and still have all of its features. he’s in his early 60’s and is a burly, robust individual (just under 6ft), built like a “bear”, and has no trouble hauling 30lb around in it. this pack can take it. he uses the included removable foam pads in the shoulder straps and hip-belt pocket.

    no durability issues have surfaced yet for anyone with whom i am acquainted who uses this pack.

    my actual rating for the Mariposa would be more like 4.85 or 4.9 due to the unbendable CF stays which while light and strong enough, seem to make a little more forethought required when loading this pack.

    Tom Clark
    BPL Member


    Locale: East Coast

    This was my first lightweight pack, so it was a fairly big leap for me to carry a pack that used gloves, socks, and balaclava for padding in the hip and shoulder straps. I took this pack on a few overnight hikes along the AT and for a week long trip to Yosemite. The pack worked great. The clothing as padding provided better cushion than my old pack. Without the padding (in some cold weather) it was still comfortable due to the wide straps.

    The external pockets and bungee were great accessories, and most things I needed were within reach while hiking or short breaks without opening the pack. Very stable while hiking.

    I did miss the lifting straps at first with the pack maxed out with the BearVault loaded, but overall there were no problems. No problem with the stays coming out. I had thought about removing the stays, but they are sooo light, I couldn’t see an advantage.

    Glen was very help through emails with any questions.

    Craig Shelley


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    I’ve bought a lot of packs and compared to what I expected when I purchased the pack, the Mariposa was a big disappointment. Now, most of my backpacking has been off trail (tough on pack material) in the desert (extra water weight). It isn’t durable enough for off trail use. I’ve become convinced too that an extra pound (maybe two for my heavier packs) of weight for a pack with an internal frame sheet is well worth it. The carbon fiber stays in the Mariposa don’t stay put and are of little value. I only use the Mariposa when my total pack weight (water included!) is less than 15lbs and I’m staying on a trail (not often). It just isn’t as comfortable as other packs.

    Sven Klingemann


    I have been able to test the Mariposa both on shorter as well as longer trips. On the plus side, the Mariposa is a great combination of weight and size and suitable for a weeklong or longer trip. I love the sleeve for the sleeping pad and it is a much better setup than rolling up a pad inside of a pack. There are no real downsides but rather limitations to be aware of. Using clothing as padding is not recommended if you sweat a lot since any socks or shirts used as padding will get soaked.
    Careful loading and securing is also advised especially if one uses the entire height of the pack. Finally, the Mariposa can only take limited abuse and will not withstand any prolonged rain.
    I will definitely consider the new Mariposa plus for peace of mind in terms of durability.
    Overall, a great pack for sub 30lb loads.

    James Pitts


    Locale: Midwest US

    This backpack was MADE for me. At least that's what I have come to believe. It is basically the perfect backpack for how I hike.

    I actually own the Mariposa Plus made from nylon. I bought mine used from another backpacker thinking I could try it on the cheap and if I liked it I would get the lighter version.

    Before this I used a Gossamer Gear G4 pack (have owned two of them)… "old reliable". I mention this so you will have a reference point.

    The fit is perfect for me. My sleeping bag and other gear packs neatly inside it's rather large internal body. I can easily keep items handy outside the back using all the external mesh.

    The compression system works well for me. I can easily hike really fast or run in the pack.

    The site mesh water pocked that is angled is perfect for a Platy 1l water bottle.

    Almost a year on this pack and I have zero complaints. It is well built.

    It has stays in the unit that can be removed. I seldom remove them but plan to find a good replacement that is lighter in the future. Frankly I probably could ditch them altogether since my pack weight is really light.

    dave hollin


    Locale: Deepest darkest Wales, boyo

    have been lightening up for a couple of years now and recently took the plunge with regards to the last bastion of my kit philosophy….an UL frameless pack!
    OK so the Mariposa has internal stays..but I cant use the pack with them in as I have an odd shaped back so they dont work for me. However, i have have used a rolled up mat inside the pack to generate some rigidity and this works extremely well.
    I find the pack comfy and easy to wear. I dont find it that flimsy or fragile and certainly have loaded it up for a multiday trip without worrying if it will take it.
    The only grip i personally have and its a minor one…is that the shoulder straps are a tad too wide for my liking with the supplied foam inserts in. Solution? trim down the inserts so that they are narrower
    all in all a great pack for me and i can see me using this for all of my multiday trips for a long time to come

    Kenneth Reppart
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    I have the Mariposa Plus but there doesn't seem to be a separate entry for that pack.

    I don't think I can add anything to the many glowing reviews that have been written about this pack, it's great! I've only been out once with it, I'll update later when I have more experience.

    John Mc
    BPL Member


    Locale: PNW

    I own a 2014 edition. I'll admit that I only have approximately 250 miles on the pack so far, but I find it to be extremely comfortable for me. I'm 5'9" tall and weigh 156 lbs. I bought a large. I broke my back years ago so I need to have all the weight on my hips. I feel no discomfort.
    One odd reaction to the pack is it causes my butt cheeks to rub together so I need to smear some Monkey Butt in there. I've never experienced this with any other pack. I can live with that…but that first weekend with no lotion was Painful. :-)

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