Those of you who read UL Weekend Warrior may have noticed a “Mystery Pack” popping up on my gear lists, and now I can proudly be the very first to unveil its identity. The Type 2 Utility Backpack is the newest pack from Gossamer Gear. With 1400 cubic inches(23L) of volume, this pack is nearly identical in size to their Quiksak model but is built to be much tougher and have more features.
Straight from the Horse’s Mouth
Get out your pocket protectors and Casio calculator watches, gear nerds! It’s time to run through the tech specs and features of this new pack. This info is straight from Gossamer Gear, but I’ll give you a little color commentary along the way.
- Weight: 15.65oz, but 11.5oz can be achieved by removing the hip belt(3.4oz) and foam pad(0.8oz). My cheap-o WalMart scale puts it at 16.5oz. If you factor in manufacturing variances and scale uncertainty, that’s close enough for me. The version I tested was also a prototype, which may be slightly different than the final production model.
- Volume: 1400 cubic inches (22.94L) in the main compartment and a total of 162 C.I. (2.66L) in the other pockets.
- Fabric: The majority of the pack is made of 100D Robic Ripstop Nylon. Hyosung, who makes the fabric, claims that their Robic nylon is abrasion resistant, high tenacity, and has a high tear strength. Personally, I think the stuff looks great, too.
- 6 External Pockets: 2 hip belt pockets, 2 water bottle pockets, a zippered lid pocket, and a vertical zippered “Napoleon”-style stash pocket.
- Inner hydration sleeve and two hose ports: This sleeve very large, so that it can accommodate a laptop for traveling and commuting (although it isn’t padded). My 11″ Macbook Air does fit with room to spare.
- Other Features: Ice axe loop, Removable 3/16″ foam back pad, a single daisy chain, multiple attachment points (for lashing gear or threading compression cord), Air Mesh breathable shoulder harness, sternum strap, and rib strap (Like a sternum strap but about 6 inches lower. Created by using the slack in your shoulder straps).
I figured that this pack would be wasted on my style of summer day hiking. With only water, snacks, a first aid kit, and (maybe) a shell inside, the pack would be mostly empty. Luckily, I had a few opportunities, which did allow me to more thoroughly put the Type 2 through its paces.
The first time I carried this pack was in the Presidential Range in New Hampshire. I would be staying one night in the AMC Huts (Lakes of the Clouds Hut, to be specific), and I needed very little gear or food. My usual day pack would have been too small, and my usual backpacking pack (a Gossamer Gear Murmur) would have been a bit too big. I had carried the Murmur on a similar hike the year before, but it was only about two thirds full. The good folks over at Gossamer Gear offered to let me test a prototype of the Type 2, and it turned out to be the right size for this trip.
Volume-wise, the Type 2 was a nearly perfect fit. The pack was full enough to prevent the contents from shifting around, but not so full that I had to really stuff things inside. I carried a pretty light load (4.5lbs of gear, 1lb of food, and 2L of water) on this trip. With just over 10lbs inside, this pack carried quite well. I barely even knew it was there.
The shoulder straps were comfortable and breathed well. After a few miles, I had already decided on my favorite strap configuration (hip belt closed, rib strap closed, sternum strap open). As a larger guy, I feel that sternum straps can sometimes be too small for me. If I really start huffing and puffing, having a tight strap across my chest can hinder my ability to take deep breaths. Using the rib strap instead of the sternum strap solved this problem. The rib strap kept my shoulder straps in position without squeezing my chest.
We hit some pretty bad weather on this hike. Low visibility, sideways rain, and hurricane-force winds plagued us the entire second day. I fell flat on my back a few times, and the Robic nylon fabric never showed a single scuff or scratch. It seemed to be as tough as they claimed.
In August, I was planning a 2-night backpacking trip on the Black Forest Trail in Pennsylvania. I wanted to go as light as possible, targeting a Base Pack Weight of 6-6.5 pounds. I remembered that I still had the Type 2 prototype and thought that this would be another good test. This pack isn’t really designed for backpacking, but there didn’t seem to be any obvious reason to rule it out completely. If it could survive a weekend with me, it would be worthy of my two-thumbs-up. I loaded up my gear and headed out for my hike.
The Type 2 is a little heavier than my usual backpacking pack, a Gossamer Gear Murmur, but it still helped me work my total pack weight down. Being over 10 liters smaller than I’m used to, packing in the Type 2 forced me to re-evaluate the importance of each item in order to make everything fit and hopefully not go “stupid light” in the process. Since it was summer, I didn’t really need too much, and the packing went easier than I thought.
This small-wonder of a pack worked out great for this 42-mile, 2-night trip. With food and water factored in, I carried about 14lbs. The Type 2 rode comfortably and did an all-around good job. Much like in the Presidentials, I hiked with the sternum strap open and the rib strap closed. I had no regrets using the Type 2 on a hot-weather trip, and would definitely consider it for similar hikes in the future. For one-night hikes, which require less food, I’d even consider pressing this pack into 3-season use, if I can cram my 10-degree top quilt and hammock under quilt inside while still have room for everything else.
- Durable Robic Nylon Fabric
- Comfortable, breathable shoulder harness
- Two external pockets for organization and quick access
- Comfortable hip belt with integrated pockets
- Water bottle pockets are a bit too tall, making it difficult for me to get bottles in or out while walking
- Sternum strap is not removable
- Fabric is not terribly water resistant. I’m a very sweaty guy, and my moisture did eventually soak through the back/bottom of the pack. On the other hand, the rain in New Hampshire didn’t seem to penetrate the fabric much.
The Type 2 is very well-designed pack. Apart from a few nit-picky complaints listed above, it performed admirably for me on the trail. The pack was a great choice for my hut trip and can hold its own for short backpacking trips with total pack weights of 15 pounds or less. With versatility being the name of the game, there’s no reason why the Type 2 wouldn’t work well for peakbagging, dayhiking, climbing, commuting, or traveling, too.
Gossamer Gear President Grant Sible is fond of the phrase “type 2 fun”, and I think it has lent itself well to this pack’s name. The Type 2 will take all the dirty, miserable fun you can throw at it and come back looking for more.
1. An activity that is fun only after you have stopped doing it.“Ouch! I hurt everywhere! That was some type 2 fun.”-Urban Dictionary
Disclaimer: I am a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador and received this pack for free to test during the prototype phase. Gossamer Gear asked me to write this review, but they did not have any editorial control over its content. Other than the pack itself, I received no compensation in exchange for this review. All opinions stated here are my own.