Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Review

I am on a quest to find the perfect backpack.

“But wait,” you say. “That’s such a subjective title to give a highly variable piece of gear!”

Have you read none of my previous articles? Making objective statements based on subjective opinions is my favorite thing to do. For the first time, I’ve decided to try out a pack with a frame to see if the added support and stability increases my comfort enough to justify the additional weight.

There is no better pack to put to the test than the most-used backpack in our 2023 Appalachian Trail hiker survey: The Gossamer Gear Mariposa. And, for some extra fun, I’m trying out the freshly revamped Mariposa released in 2024.

A little winter adventure with me, the Mariposa, and my marmot, Bean Dip.

The Gossamer Gear Mariposa At a Glance

MSRP: $315
Capacity: 60L
Weight: 34.5 oz.
Offered Sizes: Small, Medium & Large
Materials: 100D and 210D Recycled Robic Nylon

Circumstances of Review

I brought this bag on a weekend trip in snowy Colorado, as well as a checked bag on a plane trip from Colorado to Ohio. I wanted to see how it carried my full backpacking load, as well as how it held up through the wear-and-tear of an airport experience.

Intended Use

Designed for multi-day backpackers with a full loadout under 35lbs, this bag has quickly risen to the top of the popularity list among thru-hikers.

About the 2024 Update

The Mariposa has been a thru-hiker favorite for many years, but it got a makeover this spring. Besides a cool new colorway, the revamped Mariposa features a new frame and redesigned load lifters, as well as more choices for your hipbelt (choose between multiple sizes and either a straight or curved design).

Gossamer Gear Mariposa Features

Count ’em: 3 pockets on the side, 1 stretchy mesh at the front, 1 map pocket at the top, 1 main compartment, 2 hipbelt pockets, and 1 back storage compartment.

8 Pockets: The 60L Mariposa makes organization easy with eight pockets in addition to the main compartment: a stretchy Darlington mesh front pocket, two asymmetrical side pockets plus a small stretch pocket on the right side, two built-in hipbelt pockets, a back panel pocket, and a top map pocket.

Removable Sit Pad and Stay: The pack comes with a small foam sit pad included; you’ll find it slipped inside the back panel, where it can provide additional support and cushioning to your back while hiking.

Meanwhile, although this is an internal frame pack, the stay can be removed if you want to go frameless and save some weight.

Lid Closure System: Gossamer Gear recommends storing your bear can vertically inside the main pocket. That’s what I’d recommend doing too, but in a pinch you are technically able to strap it to the top thanks to the long lid straps.

Robic Nylon Construction: The Mariposa is made from Robic nylon, which is known for its durability and abrasion resistance. I’ve scraped this pack over rocks, leaned against it as a backrest on the trail, checked the bag while flying, and generally tried to beat it up pretty well. It has not torn, dented, bent, or otherwise been damaged in any way.

Not only is Robic Nylon great for durability, but it can also offer some protection against light rain and other moisture. This is great for hiking in areas that may be foggy or humid, as you can trust your pack to protect against some of the elements.

Read Next: Top Backpacks on the Appalachian Trail: 2023 Thru-Hiker Survey

Gossamer Gear Mariposa Pros

I love being able to store items like my sleeping pad, sit pad, and rain gear against my back. It allows me to access them without undoing the pack, and also adds a bit more support to the frame.

The Pockets

The Mariposa strikes a wonderful balance between efficiency and organization. The pack itself is 60L, which sounds very large for a backpack of this size. However, this volume is distributed across eight pockets and a large main compartment. Each added pocket decreases the volume efficiency of the bag, but the clear thought into the design makes me very happy.

Front Mesh Pocket: The stretchy mesh pocket at the front of the pack is made from Darlington Mesh. I find this material far stretchier than many front pockets I’ve seen in backpacks. I brought a different Gossamer Gear bag (the G4-20) on a thru-hike of the Colorado Trail, and found that front pocket capable of swallowing essentially anything.

Side Pockets: The two primary side pockets are asymmetrical, with the longer pocket being a perfect size to store many tents. I find that longer pocket perfect for storing my trekking poles and sun umbrella. The lower side pocket on the right securely fits two 1L SmartWater bottles and is stretchy to accommodate bottles of many sizes.

And the third, stretchy pocket on the upper right side is a unique feature I’ve grown to love. It fits my stove and pot perfectly, but could also double as a home for a stuffed animal.

Hipbelt: The built-in hipbelt pockets are a delightful touch, and are large enough to store a handful of granola bars, a power bank, or anything else you’d want throughout the day.

Back Panel: The back panel pocket is one of my favorite features of the pack. The Mariposa comes with a foam sit pad in that pocket, which provides comfort and airflow against your back when using it. Additionally, you’re able to shove soft items into that back panel, which serves to add more comfort and more support to the frame.

The one pocket I didn’t get much use from was the flat map pocket — more on that later.

Fit and Comfort

The load lifters help curve the frame of the pack around your body. It noticeably redistributes the weight of the pack in a way that is more comfortable.

To someone who has never used a framed pack while backpacking, the Mariposa felt like a dream. I loaded the pack with over 30lbs of gear, food, and water, and it never rubbed or consolidated all that weight to a specific part of my body.

The pack has load lifters, which are straps that connect the top of the shoulder straps to the internal frame. By properly adjusting these straps, I was able to pull the weight of the pack closer against my back, shifting more of the weight onto my hips and away from my shoulders and back.

Gossamer Gear is known for their comfortable hipbelts, and the Mariposa does not disappoint. The belt is thick, cushy, and more than capable of carrying the weight of my gear comfortably. I’ve seen thru-hikers with hipbelts that dug into their skin, gave them rashes, and ended up causing more discomfort than support. Being able to trust the Mariposa’s hipbelt is a big deal for me.

Supreme Adjustability

I’ve always considered framed packs as not very customizable. The Mariposa proved me wrong. Not only is the internal frame removable, which is fantastic if you’re looking to see if a frameless pack is a good fit for you, but pretty much every feature on the bag has a strap or cord that lets you tighten or loosen the fit.

This means I can alter it for my proportions as well as change how the pack carries under different loads.

Additionally, the pack has plenty of places to add DIY storage solutions. I tied some elastic to one of the loops on the pack, allowing me to easily strap in my ice axe and trekking poles when I am not using them. I always appreciate a pack that gives me some room to add the hyper-specific features I’m looking for.

And, not that this really impacts the functionality of the pack, but Gossamer Gear recently added more color options for the Mariposa. While we claim to prioritize utility above all, us backpackers love a good color scheme.


Backpacking gear, generally speaking, is expensive. I am a firm believer that gear becomes worth the price tag when it functions as advertised as well as possesses unique features that set it apart from comparable brands.

$315 may sound like a lot of money — and it is! But for a fully featured, framed backpack with an included hipbelt under 35oz, I genuinely consider this a wonderful price. When looking at other 60L framed packs, the price is quite comparable to the Mariposa. And, when comparing the packs themselves, the Mariposa has a ton of differentiating features that, in my opinion, place it above other similar packs.

gossamer gear mariposa with bear canister strapped on outside below top lid

Gossamer Gear recommends storing your bear can vertically inside the main pocket. That’s what I’d recommend doing too, but in a pinch you are technically able to strap it to the top.

Gossamer Gear Mariposa Cons

Flat Map Pocket

The flat map compartment on top of the pack is the only pocket I haven’t yet found a good use for. I, personally, don’t use paper maps, and it’s a thin enough pocket that I struggle to fit anything with real bulk in there, like a headlamp or snacks.

Limited Load-Carrying Capacity

The Mariposa claims the ability to carry 30lbs of gear, with the ability to stretch that number to 35lbs before damaging the internal frame. I personally consider this a Pro, as my fully loaded pack almost always falls below that weight limit. However, consider the total weight of your gear (plus food and water!) when looking into this pack, as it may not be the right option for those with a higher base weight.

Less Comfortable Sit Pad

The pack comes with a sit pad stored in the back panel. This isn’t really a con — it adds to the overall comfort and design of the pack. However, the Mariposa’s sit pad is thinner and less comfortable than the one in the back of my G4-20. I’m not sure if all Gossamer Gear sit pads have changed, or if the G4-20 just features a more comfortable version, but I’ll probably end up swapping out the Mariposa’s sit pad for the one from my G4-20 when I take it into the backcountry.

Water Resistant, Not Waterproof

While the nylon may repel light rain or mist, I would not say the pack comes close to being waterproof.

This is my first (and, spoiler alert, only) real complaint about the Mariposa. I wish this pack were waterproof. Yes, you are able to buy a pack cover or use a trash compactor bag as a liner. However, I’ve recently been using a waterproof pack that negates the need for any sort of liner or cover. Having to return to those methods with the Mariposa is a tough pill to swallow.

Swapping Hipbelt = Inconvenient

The Mariposa comes standard with a medium hipbelt. If you want something different, you’ll have to add your preferred belt to your order, swap the hipbelts at home, and return the original for a $25 refund. This is a pretty large hassle. Considering the amount of effort that goes into backpacking, complaining about having to deal with the Postal Service is a bit absurd, but I’m lazy by nature and will absolutely complain about this.

I would love to see Gossamer Gear allow you to choose the hipbelt size while checking out, and take care of any swapping that needs to happen on the back end. But, they are a small company and I understand this is me asking them to juggle even more for each bag.

Summing It Up

Almost every part of the pack can be adjusted, allowing me to alter it for my proportions as well as change how the pack carries under different loads.

The Pack’s Greatest Hits:

In my personal order of most to least impactful, I find the pack’s strongest features to be:

  1. Thoughtful pocket design leading to a great blend of organization and storage space
  2. Ability to comfortably carry my full backpacking load with food and water
  3. Ultralight features and abilities at a fraction of the typically-seen cost

The Pack’s Largest Misses

Really, there’s only one: I want this pack to be waterproof so badly. If Gossamer Gear ever releases a waterproof version, I will be the first customer in line. Until that day, I can’t say this is the perfect pack, despite it coming pretty close.

Scoring the Mariposa

hiker wears fully loaded gossamer gear mariposa on snowy trail

You can use that upper side pocket for all sorts of things (poop kit, pot & stove, cold soaking container). I choose to use it for the most essential item of all (my stuffed animal).

So, what constitutes “The Perfect Pack?” I’ve put together a list of five qualities I look for in a backpack and have given the Mariposa a score from 1 to 10 for each.

Volume Efficiency and Packability: 9

How well is the space in the backpack is utilized? The most efficient pack will have one large central chamber and nothing else, allowing you to place all your gear in one spot without any wasted space. However, many people prefer a middle ground between volume efficiency and the ability to organize their gear.

I gravitate towards packs with fewer pockets but found the Mariposa’s creative pocket placement and materials a very welcome surprise. It would make only a nominal difference to the overall efficiency, but I would not mind seeing the upper map pocket’s volume absorbed into the volume of the pack’s main compartment.

Overall, when looking at the efficiency of this pack compared to the organizational abilities offered by the pockets, the Mariposa gets a 9 in this category.

Fit and Comfort: 9

A properly fitting backpack should conform to all backpacker’s body shape and size, with the pack evenly distributing the weight of your gear across your shoulders, hips, and back. A comfortable pack should do this while allowing you to move freely, maintain good posture, and hike in different conditions and terrain.

Outside my one nitpicky complaint about the back panel, the Mariposa delivers strongly in both fit and comfort. As long as the total weight of your packed gear falls below 35lbs, I’ll give it a 9 for this category.

Durability, Construction, and Weather Protection: 6

On hikes of all lengths, you can expect to eventually encounter less-than-ideal weather and trail conditions. It’s important to trust your pack to keep your gear dry, especially when you’re having to set up for the night on the trail. We need to consider the tear-resistance of the pack, along with the construction materials when anticipating how the pack will perform in adverse circumstances.

Before I tried a waterproof bag, I wouldn’t have rated this so low. However, once you go waterproof, it’s hard to go back. Despite the wonderful durability and construction of the pack, I have to give the Mariposa a 6 in this category, entirely due to me wanting a waterproof version.

Adjustability and Customization: 8

Everyone has a different body and different needs and wants from a backpack. Packs need to be able to adjust to work for many people, instead of rigidly sticking to one fit. While the Mariposa is not a highly customizable pack in the sense that the construction and setup of the pack is fixed, I wanted to see how flexible the fit could be.

I have no complaints regarding the Mariposa’s adjustability in the field, but I wish there were more customization options when ordering, specifically surrounding the hipbelt sizing. However, overall, I give the bag an 8 for its adjustability and customizability.

Price and Value: 10

Easy 10. I’m so sure of this, I don’t even feel the need to justify it too strongly. Like most of Gossamer Gear’s products, the Mariposa is a fantastic budget option without sacrificing any of the features and abilities you’ll find in other packs.

Final Score: Would I Recommend This Pack?

gossamer gear mariposa loaded with umbrella, water bottles, and ice axe in external pockets

I think the Gossamer Gear Mariposa is a perfect option for anyone with a decently light setup still looking for the comfort and support provided by a frame.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10

So, would I recommend it? Strong yes, with some disclaimers.

If your gear routinely exceeds 35-40 lbs, the Mariposa likely isn’t the pack for you. That weight may be a bit much for the internal frame to handle, and the durability of the pack would suffer.

Additionally, if you do most of your backpacking in an incredibly rainy environment, that lack of waterproofing may lead you to look elsewhere.

Outside of those two circumstances, I have no issue with giving this pack a strong endorsement. It will become a staple in my gear rotation and has changed my previously-held opinions on framed packs.

You can find the Mariposa at the link below. And, if you have more questions about the pack, please reach out. I (clearly) love talking about gear.

Shop the Mariposa

Comparable Packs

Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50

  • MSRP: $275
  • Weight: 31 oz

Six Moon Designs Swift V

  • MSRP: $275
  • Weight: 36 oz

ULA Circuit

  • MSRP: $280
  • Weight: 37 oz

Disclosure: The Gossamer Gear Mariposa was donated for the purpose of review.

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