Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50 Review

This year, Gossamer Gear massively overhauled their most popular packs, including the Gorilla. Designed with the more minimalist hiker in mind, the Gorilla 50 has lots of updated features to make it a more versatile ultralight pack.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50 At a Glance

MSRP: $275
Capacity: 50L
Weight: 33.5 oz
Offered Sizes: Small, Medium & Large
Materials: 70D and 100D Recycled Robic Nylon

Circumstances of Review

I took this pack out on several day hikes and a section hike of the Appalachian Trail through Connecticut. I hiked through a variety of spring conditions, from day-long rain to blue-sky sunny weather. I tested the pack fully loaded to its weight limit of 30 pounds, then dropped back below the comfort limit. 

The pack is small enough that I was able to use it as my carry-on when flying, keeping all my gear safely with me. I’m 5’5” and wore the medium pack with the small straight fit belt. 

Intended Use

The Gorilla 50 is versatile enough to go from day hike to thru-hike. Its lightweight design and smaller capacity caters to minimalist and ultralight thru-hikers. 

Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50 Features

Removable Sit Pad

The redesigned back panel of the Gorilla 50 doubles as a sit pad. It’s surprisingly easy to remove and put back in, even with the pack fully loaded.

The pad that comes with the pack can be replaced with the slightly cushier Air Flow SitLight Camp Seat (sold separately). Alternately, thru-hikers can replace the back panel of the medium and large packs with a narrow closed-cell foam sleeping pad like the Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite.  

PVT Frame & Belt System

The most striking update to the Gorilla 50 is the new frame and belt system. The system uses an aluminum frame that slips through the inside of the pack and into a pocket at the back center of the hipbelt.

The aluminum frame is shoulder-wide at the top and tapers to a rounded end at the bottom. It also has a slight S-curve, following the contour of the back. As you walk, the lower end of the frame can gently rotate and move back and forth in the hipbelt pocket, keeping the pack firmly centered on your back.

Hipbelt Options

Gossamer Gear’s other big update to the Gorilla 50 is a complete redesign of the hipbelt, which is now included with the pack (previous models required you to purchase the hipbelt separately). The previous version’s hipbelt has been described as basically a rectangle with rounded corners.

The new hipbelts include two different shape designs: Straight and Curved, which are based on different waist-to-hip ratios. Don’t be misled by the “straight” description, though. This hipbelt still includes a slight upward curve to better wrap around and rest on your hips. The Curved belt, meanwhile, follows a gentle S-curve for better weight transfer to wider hips.

The straight belt is available in sizes Small (26” – 53.5”), Medium (30” – 57.5”), and Large (34” – 61.5”), while the Curved belt is available in S/M (28.5” – 56”) and M/L (32.5” – 60”).

As an even more minimalist option, Gossamer Gear sells the Fast Belt, which clips to webbing loops and has lighter padding and mesh pockets. 

S-Curve Harness

The S-curve harness style has long been associated with women’s packs, but Gossamer Gear has opted to make it standard on the new Gorilla 50. The shoulder straps have a more curved design which follows the natural contour of the shoulders and chest, benefiting all genders. 

Load Lifters

Another new feature of the Gorilla 50 is the addition of load lifters to the frame. These help you to better balance the load, shifting weight off the shoulders and onto the hips. Load lifters are particularly helpful when loading the pack to its weight limit.

Minimalist Design

This is a lightweight, no-fuss pack, with the bare minimum of features to keep things simple. The new design features smaller straps and clips to further reduce pack weight and add to the minimalist aesthetic. The fold-over lid provides super quick access to the interior. 

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Pros

Fit and Comfort

I have a hard time finding packs that fit perfectly. I often end up between sizes and find myself having to compromise on certain aspects of the fit.

My torso length is 17.5 inches, but in this pack, I decided to size up to a medium (designed to fit 1- to 20-inch torsos, according to Gossamer Gear). Similarly, my hip-to-waist ratio was exactly midway between the recommended sizing for the straight or curved hipbelt. Due to my narrow hips, I opted for the Small Straight hipbelt, which can cinch down smaller than the S/M option for the Curved belt.

Thankfully, Gossamer Gear really prioritized fit and comfort in the redesign of the Gorilla 50. The S-curve straps contour to my body really well. The hipbelt keeps the pack squarely on my hips, and the load lifters give me a bit of control over the balance of the pack. The foam padding on the shoulder straps and the hips feels solid and comfortable. This is the first pack I’ve had that didn’t give me hotspots and bruising on my shoulders and hips. 

The newly designed aluminum frame provides exceptional contoured support through the back. I really like the feel of the pivot design. I can clamber up and down the steep granite slopes of the Appalachian mountains, twisting and bending, and the pack stays firmly balanced on my back.

I also like this pack’s smaller dimensions, which keep me more nimble and prevent me from overloading it.

Customization & Versatility

Having a versatile and adaptable pack is a huge benefit. The Gorilla 50 is great as a trimmed-down uberlight daypack, but it can also be pushed to its upper weight limit for a longer food haul.

Thanks to the three torso sizes and the five hipbelt size and shape options, a custom fit is almost guaranteed. Even the back panel can be swapped out for one that offers better airflow and moisture wicking. 

The Gorilla 50 has an upper and lower compression strap along both sides for better load management. There are also a number of webbing loops to add more compression to the front of the pack, expanding your gear-loading options. 


The main body of the Gorilla 50 is made of 70D Robic nylon, which is moderately tear- and abrasion-resistant. The base, side pockets, and hipbelt pockets use 100D Robic nylon for more strength and durability. The mesh on the back pocket is a tighter weave than I’ve had on other backpacks, which also makes it more durable.

All of the fabrics have held up so far to some scrapes along granite and under downed trees. I wouldn’t recommend any intense bushwhacking with this pack, but it’s designed to last for thousands of miles on regular trails.

Additionally, the foam used in the shoulder straps and hipbelt feels really solid and durable. It has molded to me but retains a firmness. The foam back panel flexes nicely for a more comfortable fit but already shows a little wear. I may replace it with the more solid-looking Air Flow SitLight offered by Gossamer Gear.


The pockets on the Gorilla 50 have really surprised me by just how much they can hold. I worried at first that the side pockets were too low, but they’re angled and shaped in such a way to keep items like sunscreen and bug spray secure. They’re not as ideal for holding a one-liter Smartwater bottle, but the smaller 700 mL version fits fine. I really like that they’re made of heavier-duty fabric as well. 

The mesh outer pocket is the real star of this pack. It’s deep, wide and stretchy and somehow sized perfectly to fit Gossamer Gear’s The One shelter in the bottom, plus any number of extra items.

The hip belt pockets are also well designed. I’m keeping my sunglasses and snacks in one pocket and my wireless earbud case and more snacks in the other. My iPhone 13 fits OK, but the newer larger phones may not fit as well. 

Good Value

There aren’t many ultralight, ultra-comfortable overnight packs available for under $300. The price point of the Gorilla 50 has fluctuated a lot over the years, but is currently sold at the same price as it was in 2015!

Gender Neutral

While other well-known brands continue to designate their packs as men’s and women’s, Gossamer Gear has removed gendered language from their descriptions. S-curve straps are generally associated with women’s packs but come standard on the Gorilla 50. The two hip belt options are based on hip-to-waist ratio and don’t specifically designate one as better for men or women. 

Gossamer Gear Gorilla Cons

Bear Canister

Because of its smaller volume and dimensions, a standard-size bear canister can only fit vertically in the Gorilla 50, using up a lot of the internal volume. Some hikers may find this pack a bit small for weeks-long early-season forays into the Sierra, where the more flexible and lightweight Ursack isn’t accepted.

Not Waterproof

The Gorilla 50 doesn’t claim to be water-repellant, let alone waterproof. Gossamer Gear has chosen to use PFAS-free fabrics which means the fabric doesn’t have any additional waterproof coating. While this reduces the overall water repellency of the fabric, it’s way better for the environment.

The Gorilla 50 is also made with a lower denier fabric and wets through quicker than thicker fabrics. I used a pack liner to keep my gear dry through the rainy days. Helpfully, the pockets have drainage holes, though the big back pocket still held some extra water at the end of the day. 

Lid Pocket

Like the Mariposa, the Gorilla 50 features a fold-over top with a flat zippered “map pocket.” This pocket is minimally functional. I’ve been keeping my spork and one or two other items in this pocket, and I’m finding that the loose items end up against my neck rather than down the front of the pack like I’d prefer.

Who Should Buy This Pack? 

The Gorilla 50 is a great pack for thru-hikers looking to push further into the realm of ultralight without breaking the bank and while still enjoying a comfortable harness and hipbelt system.

The pack is incredibly comfortable while weighing just over two pounds, which can be significantly reduced by removing the aluminum stays (4 oz), the backpanel (2.7 oz) and the hipbelt (6 oz). The slightly smaller volume can force you to think more minimally and reduce your overall base weight.

There are no bells and whistles to this pack, just good design. 

Shop the Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50

Comparable Packs 

Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60

  • MSRP: $315
  • Weight: 19.8 – 37.7 oz (depending on size and hipbelt choice)

Six Moon Designs Swift V Hiking Backpack

  • MSRP: $275
  • Weight: 36 oz

ULA Ohm 

  • MSRP: $279.99
  • Weight: 34 oz

The Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50 was donated for purpose of review

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