Gossamer Gear was ultralight before ultralight was cool. Founded as GVP Gear by Glen Van Pleski way back before the 21st century was a thing, Gossamer Gear has a much broader product offering these days but its packs are still the beating heart of the company, and their Mariposa 60 is the… left ventricle? OK, analogy fail but read on!
The Mariposa is a 60 liter pack that tips the scales at about two pounds even, depending on size and including the optional hip belt. Now that's light, but we've seen other packs weigh in close to that, so the question becomes: how much can you really carry, how comfortably can you carry it and how durable is it? The answers, respectively, are yes, ja and you betcha.
The Mariposa product description claims "comfortable carry even when overloaded with 35 pounds of gear," so of course we loaded up exactly 35 pounds of gear, including a bottle of prosecco for our tenth wedding anniversary, and hit the trail for a ten mile hike with friends to an alpine lake near Anchorage, Alaska. We were hiking with kids so the total carry time was longer than it would have been on an adult-only outing, close to seven hours round trip, giving us plenty of time to reflect on how the pack carried. Short answer: on the way up to the lake with the full weight the Mariposa carried wonderfully. Even better, it was a hot day with no overhead cover and despite the unrelenting sun the airflow on the pack was pretty good. There was a bit of sag in the bottom of the pack's main compartment with that much weight, but although it looked a little strange it didn't affect how it carried.
You'd expect an ultralight pack to be minimalist when it comes to organization, but just the opposite with the Mariposa. Seven (7!) pockets let you put everything exactly where you want it. In addition to (1) the main compartment there's (2) a small zip pocket on the rolltop, handy for maps and the like; (3) a mesh pocket on the front for layers/hats/wet stuff; (4 and 5) two quart bottle size pockets on the right side, one above the other; (6) a tall deep pocket on the left, perfect for tent poles and (7) a hydration sleeve inside.
The optional hip belt – not optional if you're carrying >20 pounds – makes heavier loads carry much easier and adds two more pockets for good measure. At this point if you're not organized you have only yourself to blame. Just for good measure, there's an axe loop on the bottom right and two small plastic tabs on the bottom left, into which you can insert the tips of trekking poles. Still looking for an easter egg? Fine, here you are: the Mariposa includes a removable foam pad that makes a great flat seat for two, or with one of the various sleeves on the market you could make a single chair with seat and back.
There are a number of lashing points on the sides of the pack, so you could rig up some 550 cord to carry pretty much anything any way you want to. Alternatively, go lighter by eschewing the hip belt and removing the stay. Really the Mariposa lets you have your pack pretty much any way you want it, so if you're typically under 30 pounds for your trips and looking for a hyper-organized ultralight pack, you have to check it out.