The Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Ultralight Backpacking Pack is a lightweight, ready-to-order pack that stands out from the market by having the most external pockets of any ultralight pack. It isn’t the lightest, but it is fully strippable down to a very lightweight.
Gossamer Gear Mariposa
✅ Readily available (no lead time)
✅ Lots of pockets
❌ Only one accessible water bottle pocket
- Weight: 31.5 oz (1.97 lbs) (Medium with Medium Hip Belt)
- Weight/Load Capacity: 35 lbs (30 max for comfort)
- Volume/Carrying Capacity: 60 L
- Material: Robic Nylon
- Frame: Removable U-shaped strut and foam back panel
- Frame Material: Aluminum
- Suspension System: Padded hip belt, padded shoulder straps, load lifters, sternum strap, removable foam back panel.
The Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 is an ultralight backpacking pack with a 60-liter volume capacity and a 35-pound weight capacity. This pack has a removable frame and hipbelt if you want to make the pack lighter. It has a foam back panel that doubles as a sit pad, and more external pockets than most ultralight packs on the market. It is also almost completely waterproof, though I’d still recommend using a pack liner with this bag.
This pack is great for thru-hikers who need a ready-to-order pack that is lightweight, has strippable features for a variety of loads, and is very comfortable. Unlike many made-to-order ultralight packs that may have lead times of several months, this can be ordered and will arrive at your house in a few days.
If you need something with side water bottle pockets on both sides of the pack that are accessible while you’re wearing it, this isn’t the pack for you, though. The left side pocket on this pack is oversized, and while you can store water bottles in it, you won’t be able to reach them without taking the pack off.
For reviews on other ultralight packs, see our best ultralight backpacks post.
Performance Test Results
What We Tested:
How We Tested:
I tested this backpack on a series of shorter overnight backpacking trips in September 2022, in Colorado. The conditions were mostly clear, with cold temperatures overnight as you’d expect in September. I have thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Colorado Trail (multiple times), and the Grand Enchantment Trail. I’ve also been on countless shorter backpacking trips all over Colorado, my home state.
The Mariposa 60 is a very lightweight pack. With the frame, hipbelt, and foam back panel, this pack weighs 1 pound, 15.5 ounces. This pack is also fully strippable. If you remove the frame, hip belt, and foam back panel it will weigh 18 ounces.
This pack is relatively lightweight compared to other ultralight packs. There are definitely more lightweight packs out there, but the majority of ultralight backpacking packs with a full frame and hipbelt weigh about this much. Many ultralight full-suspension backpacking packs weigh more than the Mariposa, in fact.
Gossamer Gear Mariposa weighs 1 pound, 15.5 ounces (18 ounces without the frame, hip belt, and foam back panel).
When you consider how light this pack is fully-stripped, it is one of the lighter packs available to thru-hikers. The pack body material is a thin yet durable 100 and 200-denier Robic high-tensile nylon. This material is very light, which is apparent when you look at the fully-stripped weight of this pack.
This pack has a lot of features, considering the weight. It has a zipper pocket on the top closure, which is rare among ultralight packs. It also has an extra large side pocket on the left side, and two side pockets on the right side. It has zipped hip belt pockets and a back mesh pocket, too.
If a few of these extra features weren’t on this pack, like the zipper pocket, enlarged pocket, and extra side pocket, this pack would probably be one of the lightest full-frame packs available. However, it has these features, and many will find them useful. And despite the extra weight, they are useful.
The Mariposa is a fair price for a high-quality product. This is certainly not the most expensive full-framed ultralight backpacking pack, but it isn’t the least expensive by a long shot, either.
The Mariposa has more features than most packs that cost less than it does. It even has more features than a lot of packs that cost more than it does. This is one of the most versatile packs available, has a great frame and hip belt, and is an overall great value.
The Mariposa is also readily available. Many ultralight packs are made to order and may have lead teams of 4 months or more. The Mariposa can be ordered today and will arrive at your house in a few days, with free shipping. It will arrive even sooner if you pay for priority mail or another even faster shipping method. That is something that a smaller cottage-sized ultralight backpack maker can’t compete with in terms of value.
When I first saw how much the Mariposa costs, I was a little surprised, though. You see, most packs made overseas with less premium (ie not DCF) materials cost significantly less than this pack. I want to be clear, this pack is made of high-quality fabrics that aren’t cheap by any means. But at the same time, this pack isn’t made of DCF or EPX200 (also known as “Ecopak,” a newer material that many of the major players in ultralight pack making have already started using in place of X-Pac and Dyneema), which are premium fabrics. There are some ultralight backpacking packs that cost less than the Mariposa and are made with EcoPak.
The Gossamer Gear Mariposa is priced at $285.
Storage and Capacity: 8/10
I found the Mariposa to be one of the more comfortable packs I’ve ever used to carry a moderately heavy load while backpacking. This pack can carry up to a 35-pound load, but it can more comfortably carry 30 pounds or less. This is a comparable weight limit to most ultralight backpacking packs with a frame and hip belt.
This has a 60-liter volume capacity, too. In my opinion, this is more than necessary for a modern lightweight backpacking kit. However, the extra space is useful for long food carries, cold weather layers, and a bear can. You can fit a bear can in this pack but must pack it vertically. If you aren’t using all the volume capacity of this pack, the top of the pack can be cinched down pretty far as well.
This pack has a relatively high volume-to-weight ratio and is pretty light compared with other 60-liter packs. The main body compartment is 36 liters. It also has a mesh exterior pocket, a water bottle pocket on the right side with another pocket above that one, an oversized side pocket on the left side, a zipper pocket on the closure system, and two zippered hip belt pockets. Combined, these exterior pockets provide another 24 liters of capacity.
Compared to other ultralight packs in the market, this pack has significantly more exterior pocket space. Whether that is a good thing or not will depend on your needs and preferences as a backpacker.
External pockets of the Gossamer Gear Mariposa.
The oversized side pocket is a good size for carrying all of your food for the day, plus some extra water or gear. I’m not used to having a large side pocket that you can’t reach into while wearing the pack, and I’m a little skeptical that this is better than a side pocket you can reach while hiking. But I can see why some people may find an oversized side pocket like this useful. This pocket would work well for tents that don’t pack down small enough to fit horizontally inside the pack, too. Food for an entire day was the best solution I came up with for this pocket, though, because it balanced out the two liters of water I was carrying on the other side of the pack.
The right side has two pockets, the one in the traditional spot for water bottles can fit two bottles that are accessible while wearing the pack. The side pocket above the water bottle pocket is nice for a pair of gloves, a water filter, a Garmin device, sunglasses, or a mini tripod. The stretchy mesh pocket is great for stashing a rain jacket and other wet items.
External pockets at the right side of the Gossamer Gear Mariposa.
Internal Frame: 9/10
The internal frame on this pack is an aluminum U-shaped strut that extends up from the base of the back panel, behind the hip belt, and up to the top of the back panel where the shoulder straps attach. There is also a removable foam back panel that cushions your back. This frame transfers the load onto the hips very well and is a common design for ultralight backpacking packs. The Mariposa is one of the most successful implementations of this frame design I’ve seen.
When I detached the hip belt, I found it had been comfortably supporting about half the weight. My shoulders immediately felt a much more significant load when the hip belt was detached. This is evidence that an internal frame is effectively transferring the weight of the pack onto the hips.
Internal frame of the Gossamer Gear Mariposa.
The shoulder straps are very comfortable, too. They are adequately padded and have load lifters to adjust the weight distribution at the top of the pack.
Gossamer Gear claims that their shoulders straps and hip belt are a unisex design. However, many say that women tend to like S-shaped straps more than traditional J-shaped straps. The Mariposa has J-shaped shoulder straps, and I found them to be very comfortable as a man who also tends to like how S-shaped straps feel. I know women who use the Mariposa and like it very much as well. Ultimately, the shape of shoulder straps and hip belts that are most comfortable to you comes down to personal preference, regardless of your gender.
Gossamer Gear Mariposa's shoulder straps.
The Mariposa has a very comfortable frame, back panel, shoulder straps, and hip belt. It carries a heavy load very comfortably. This is one of the most comfortable ultralight packs I’ve ever worn.
I’ve said a lot about the comfort of this pack in the discussion of the frame, but I’ll add here that I found the back panel to be very comfortable. It’s a dense foam sheet that is removable from the outside of the pack, so you can take it out and use it as a sit pad during breaks. When using it as a back panel, it allows some ventilation along your back and keeps any sharp edges inside your pack from digging into you.
This pack doesn’t chafe your back or shoulders while wearing it all day. The foam panel helps with this, as does the soft mesh used on the face side of the shoulder straps and hip belt.
The Mariposa has all the features an ultralight thru-hiker could need:
- Ice axe loop
- Trekking pole loops
- Stretch mesh exterior pocket
- Right-side water bottle pocket
- Right side accessories pocket
- Left side oversized pocket
- Hip belt pockets
- Removable padded hip belt
- Removable foam back panel that doubles as a sit pad
- Removable frame
- Top closure zipper pocket
All these features are the maximum amount I think you’d want as an ultralight backpacker. Any more features and this pack would be too heavy. This pack has a few extra pockets than many other ultralight packs, too. So, if you like to have some extra options for storing and organizing your gear, this is a great pack.
The Mariposa is adjustable in terms of weight. The frame, hip belt, and back panel can be removed to make this an ultra-minimal frameless backpacking pack. It can also carry a variety of volumes. The top extension collar can be stuffed very fully so that the main compartment is closer to 50 liters. And, all the exterior pockets can be stuffed full with another 20+ liters of gear.
Removable hipbelt of the Gossamer Gear Mariposa.
You can adjust the strap length via ladder lock buckles on the shoulder straps and hip belt. The pack also has load lifters, which allow you to adjust how the weight is loaded onto your back. It also comes in three sizes: Small (11.5" - 15.5" torso), Medium (15.5" - 19.5" torso), and Large (19.5" - 23.5" torso). All three of these sizes come with a medium hipbelt, but other sizes of hip belts can also be ordered for this pack.
This pack is about as adjustable as most other ultralight backpacking packs on the market.
This pack is extremely water resistant, almost waterproof, really. I filled it with pink tissue paper and put it in the shower at my house to test its water resistance to see just how waterproof it was.
At first, I let the shower rain on this pack for one minute and stopped to check how wet the tissue paper was. To my surprise, it was almost completely dry. There were a few pieces of tissue paper with a very small amount of moisture but no significant moisture. Two of the pieces of tissue paper had 1-inch circles of moisture, and the rest of the paper was dry.
I waterproof-tested the Gossamer Gear Mariposa.
I repacked the bag with the tissue paper and turned the shower on. This time I left it in a complete “downpour” for two minutes. After two minutes, there was a small amount of water pooling at the bottom of the pack, but the tissue paper was still almost completely dry. This pack does not have waterproof taped seems, which is how water was able to pool at the bottom, but for the most part, this pack is almost waterproof.
Tissue paper after the waterproof test of Gossamer Gear Mariposa.
The main pack body material was beginning to wet out after three minutes in a shower, but the inside of the material was still dry. Water in a shower falls at about 2 gallons per minute, which is much more water than what falls in a typical rain storm, even the heaviest of rains. I would still recommend using a waterproof pack liner since this pack isn’t seem sealed, but this pack is much more waterproof than I expected it to be.
After the testing, I found the Gossamer Gear Mariposa to be "almost waterproof".
The Mariposa 60 is a very durable backpack. I have seen these backpacks survive for an entire thru-hike on the CDT. Though this isn’t the most durable ultralight backpacking pack available, it is durable enough to last for two, maybe even three thru-hikes.
The materials in this pack are not particularly thick or sturdy feeling. But, after seeing this pack survive some particularly heinous bushwacks, I’m convinced the Robic nylon material is much more durable than it seems.