The New Gossamer Gear Gorilla Pack

I recently had a chance to try out my new, upgraded version of the Gossamer Gear Gorilla backpack. Typically a pack like this is a little too big (volume-wise) for my short weekend jaunts, but when colder weather rolls around I end up needing a bigger pack (cold-weather hammocking required a LOT of insulation). With expected overnight temps in the mid-twenties, I thought my 3-night hike on the Loyalsock Trail would be a great test for this pack.

My Gorilla loaded to the gills on the first day of my hike

My Gorilla loaded to the gills on the first day of my hike

With a Total Pack Weight (Gear + Consumables) of roughly 25lbs at the beginning of the hike, I initially thought that the Gorilla was very uncomfortable. I tried adjusting the hip belt and shoulder harness, but it never really got better. While taking a break near the end of the second day, I saw the problem: I had installed the aluminum stay backwards. This stay is meant to contour your back and transfer weight to your hips, and installing it backwards created a VERY uncomfortable situation. Once I fixed my mistake, The Gorilla became extremely comfy. The stay and padded hip belt kept the load resting nicely on my hips and off of my shoulders.

The new shoulder harness was much softer and more breathable than in the previous version of the Gorilla (the old shoulder straps used to rub my neck a little). The shoulder straps are also a more ergonomic shape. They were designed specifically with women in mind, as an attempt to create a truly unisex pack. I can’t speak to their success in that endeavor, but they did make the harness more comfortable for me (a burly, broad-shouldered, barrel-chested, fat man). My only complaint as a “wide” individual is that there wasn’t enough slack in the harness to give me a great range of adjustment options. I was plenty comfortable, but I had to keep the straps at nearly their maximum length. This made it impossible for me to utilize the rib strap, which was a disappointment because I love using the rib straps on my other GG packs. I did get a chance to briefly discuss this with Gossamer Gear, and it seemed like they were aware of the issue and planning to fix it in future production runs. Even though I was a little disappointed, this was not a deal breaker. I’m an odd shape for a backpacker, and I’ve become used to the fact that 99% of gear isn’t designed for a person of my body type.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile the basic dimensions and shape of the pack remain similar to the previous versions, a few other things have changed for the better. The old shock cord compression system was replaced with adjustable compression straps, which (in my opinion) are much more functional. The cord and LineLoc buckles, which used to secure the Over-The-Top lid, were also replaced with webbing straps. The straps make the pack closure just a tiny bit simpler to adjust.

The new Robic Nylon fabric is a nice improvement over the old Dyneema Gridstop. Not only is the Robic nylon much prettier to look at, but it is also very tough and seemed to be fairly water resistant.

The new Gorilla also features trekking pole holders, which make it easy to secure your poles to the pack when you’re not using them. I used this feature a lot because I don’t use my poles that much. The system keeps the poles very secure while hiking, but you have to be careful when you set the pack down on the ground because the tips of the poles can get pushed out of the holders.

All-in-all, the upgraded Gossamer Gear Gorilla is a fine pack, and I plan on using it through the winter. If you liked the previous version of the Gorilla, you will love this one. It is a much more polished product, which I find to be more comfortable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing. If you get a chance, check it out!

Disclaimer: As a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador, I received this pack free of charge. I was not obligated in any way to write this review, and all thoughts and opinions contained herein are my own. Gossamer Gear had no editorial input into the writing of this review.

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9 thoughts on “The New Gossamer Gear Gorilla Pack

  1. Tucson Tom says:

    A pack with frame and waistbelt is pointless for loads under 30 pounds. A pack like this is something I look at for 30+ pound loads where I am carrying a couple of gallons of water. Let’s see a review that discusses how this pack handles the kinds of loads it is needed for.

    • dcbortz says:

      I can’t say for sure how it would handle 30+ pound loads. My guess is that it would be fine, but I don’t have the experience with it to say for certain. I typically carry a frameless pack without much of a belt for most trips, especially in summer, but on long days I get rhomboid and upper back pain (been happening ever since I was a kid with a book bag). It’s better for me to get the weight on my hips when I’m doing 18-25 mile days with anything over 20lbs. With lighter loads or shorter days, the pain doesn’t bug me as much. I usually only use a pack like this in winter when my gear is a little heavier/bulkier. In Pennsylvania there’s never any need to hump gallons of water. Worst case scenario, 3-4 liters will be more than enough (2L is more normal). Without schlepping water or 2 weeks of food, my Total Pack Weight will probably never reach 30lbs+. Your point is definitely a valid one, but I’d never have cause to test it under those conditions. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

      • Tucson Tom says:

        Thanks for commenting back. I almost ordered a Gorilla several years ago, but GG was out of stock. I ended up with a frameless MLD pack that I use with complete satisfaction for loads up to 30 pounds (typically 1 week backpacks in the California Sierra). Now I am considering doing Grand Canyon and Utah trips and so my total pack weight will be 22 pounds + 16 pounds of water = 38 pounds. The Gorilla would be a real candidate to my mind (though I could also trim my base weight some). The Exos 58 and Exped packs are also contenders. I ordered the MLD without a waist belt. That was a mistake and I added one myself. Unlike many, I prefer to hike beltless until my shoulders begin to actually hurt and fatigue, then a belt is nice — but most people want or need a belt all the time I guess.

      • dcbortz says:

        I use the last model of GG Murmur most often. The belt is only thin webbing, so it has zero weight-transfer properties (there are times I don’t even bother buckling it). With 20lbs+ I’m in pain by mile 15 or so. I was never able to figure out why. Like I said, it’s been a chronic issue I’ve had with all kinds of backpacks my whole life. It’s not so bad when my Base Pack Weight is in the 6-8lbs range. I tough it out most of the year, but when my BPW starts getting above 10lbs in winter it’s nice to have a stay and real hip belt. I know of people using the GG Mariposa for weights up to 50lbs. The Gorilla uses the same stay and hip belt, so I’m fairly confident that 38 would be OK, but I know that theory and real life application can often be 2 very different things. Good luck finding the right pack! If you remember, let me know what you settle on and how it works for you.

  2. JerryW says:

    How much does it weigh these days? (looks it up…:-) – hmm, almost 800g/28oz, and that’s without the hip belt. It is a lot more than my old Gorilla weighs, and a lot more than my Arcblast too. It’s still light, of course, but is it ultralight now? No.

    • dcbortz says:

      The large size lists at 28oz including the hip belt. I wasn’t able to get an accurate reading on my kitchen scale at home, for some reason it gets thrown off by weights more than 1lb (the most believable number it gave me was 30oz). I never got a chance to take it to work and weigh it on the lab balances. I think the Dyneema model weighed 25ish, so there was a 2-3oz increase. I’d have no trouble putting together a sub-10lb (or even 8lb) base weight using the Gorilla, so by that standard I’d still call it ultralight. It also fits the “2lb” rule for Big 3 Items. The trend of increasing weight IS something to keep an eye on, but I dont think GG has gotten themselves in trouble yet. Weight change aside, I definitely like the new Gorilla better than the old one.

  3. Dan says:

    I noticed the shoulder straps are not laying flat against your upper back. Do you think the pack is too large for your torso or is it due to your body type. The GG gorilla pack seems to run large on me.

    • dcbortz says:

      It is a tiny bit too big (even though my torso length falls right in the middle if the range for the large size). These pictures were also all taken on the day that I had the stay in backwards. My struggle for comfort caused me to adjust the straps and hip belt in weird ways. The straps still dont ride perfectly flat, but it’s not as exaggerated as in these pics. My partner was too far behind me the other days to grab decent pics once everything was fixed. I have a strange torso shape for a backpacker (5’11”,260lbs, built like a chubby powerlifter) so almost no pack fits me “correctly”, and I dont touch on it too heavily in my reviews. As long as I’m comfortable, I call it a win. In this case I was comfortable (once i fixed my dumb mistake with the stay).

  4. Aussie Dave says:

    Come on GG….the Gorilla is the right size/volume but it is now way too heavy. How about a stripped down version Miniposa/ Gorilla around 16 ounces, you can do it!

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