(Review Ad) Gorilla Backpack

This is my hiker review of the latest version of the Gorilla ultralight backpack.  I tested this pack on the Olympic Peninsula during four season conditions.  During my test I carried loads much higher than the manufacturer's suggested weight comfortably. It is a strong pack for carrying moderate volume loads and can definitely handle a lot of weight!

About the Gorilla Backpack

The robic Gorilla can be used by a minimalist hiker on overnight backpacking trips ranging from 3 - 7 days. It has a sweet spot for someone looking to do an average duration trip. Unofficially certified for the weekend warrior, who is looking to get out for 2 nights in the backcountry and get away from the city. Also perfect for much longer trips with the minimalist ultralight backpacker who wants all of their gear to fit in a smaller-than-average, lightweight backpack.

This backpack can also be used for day adventures in winter; when a hiker needs more space. It is good to bring bulky layers of warm clothing, often during the colder months. In winter I love having a higher volume pack for a day adventures. Unfortunately the fabric does let water into the main compartment.

This backpack's strong point is its functional water bottle pockets. A hiker can access water system {affiliate link} or snacks from either side, without removing the backpack. It also has a large stretch mesh pocket on the rear of the pack; allowing a backpacker to store small things or a wet tent fly. This is an important feature when living in the pacific northwest, after a night of heavy rainfall.

Editor's Note: Page has been updated in August 2016. See bottom of article!

The Gorilla in the Olympic Mountains

Fitting the Backpack

You can see in the above picture how nicely the pack fits to the body. I can pack a lot of weight and it is balanced in such a way that I maintain freedom to run around the mountains without feeling bulky or weighed down. A lot of this is also making sure that you make sure to pack properly, to give you the feeling of being more balanced. I feel comfortable fording rivers, navigating through rocky coastline, and even marching through snow and ice conditions.

gorilla backpack
(Update: Lid, shoulder straps and hipbelt changed in 2016) Padded shoulder straps - Comfortable hipbelt with 2 pockets - (sternum strap not shown) rib strap for descending and off trail - Duel mesh pockets for Sitlight storage

padded shoulder backpack
(Update: Lid, shoulder straps changed in 2016) Unisex ergonomic harness

gossamer gear gorilla
(Update: Lid, shoulder straps and hipbelt changed in 2016) Shoulder strap and hipbelt fit (sternum strap removed)

Pack Shoulder Straps and Rear Gear Storage

Since I do not use the sternum strap- I removed it to minimize the design. A female hiker friend finds it to be more comfortable with the sternum strap and says that it helps it sit on her shoulders properly- personal choice! I also removed the side compression straps because for my needs they are not functional. Instead I added compression cord in a zig zag pattern to carry my hiker umbrella and tripod. Below I made up a quick spec summary for those interested:

Gorilla Backpack Specs

- Weight (size large): 28 ounces

- Capacity: 40 liters

- Primary Fabric: Robic Nylon

- Suggest Max Weight: 30 lbs (I tested over 60 lbs)

- Number of Pockets: 4 - plus, one in the lid and large mesh pocket

- Tools: Ice axe loop and trekking pole holders

- Side compression straps: 4

- Hydration: Sleeve and 2 hose ports

- Frame: Removable stay for heavy loads

Top 3 Pack Competitors

{Affiliate links}

- Osprey Exos Backpack

- Granite Gear Virga

- ULA Ohm Backpack

aluminum stay
Removable aluminum stay (frame)

bear canister
Bear Vault Canister BV450 - space for small items on three sides

backpack pockets
Functional pockets (update: hipbelt changed in 2016); shown with a 1 liter bottle - Hipbelt pockets with zippers - Ice axe loop

size comparison
Size Comparison: Lightweight Mariposa - - Gorilla - - Kumo Superlight

mesh pocket
Rear mesh pocket holds my 1.3 liter pot and stove {affiliate link}.

Final Thoughts on the Gorilla

The Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack is a strong pack for its size. This pack is balanced to keep heavy loads tight against your torso and has padded shoulder straps-- making the Gorilla a tough little hauler. I would suggest this pack to a minimalist hiker to use on a one to five night trip, without leaving too much comfort at home. The large water bottle pockets on each side give super easy access to water and snacks without having to take your pack on and off. I also really like the large, stretchy mesh pocket on the back for storing light layers, drying my wet tent fly, and putting any items that I'll need easy access to (i.e. camera lenses, fishing gear, sunglasses). I will surely be taking it on my future expeditions in Washington State.

Unfortunately Gossamer Gear chose not to use a fabric blend with any kind of water repellency. This would be discouraging to someone who hikes a lot in bad weather, such as myself. I hope in the future they decide to keep that in mind.

Updated in March 2016: Gossamer Gear has since incorporated a new hipbelt and frame system. The shoulder straps, weight, webbing and power mesh has also been changed. I have not tested this new pack system, but have been told of this upgrade. Their aluminum stay (frame) now comes through the pack and terminates into the hipbelt. This should make load transfers more comfortable.

Additionally, the top of the backpack (lid) has also changed and was not tested in this review. I will note that the weight has increased, because of this change. The function and capacity is also questioned.

Disclaimer: I was provided this backpack for no charge. This article contains affiliate links to help finance this site.