Gear Review: Gossamer Gear Minimalist 24 Daypack
As COVID-19 continues to mess around with our thru-hikes, day hikes or overnighters are becoming the only way we can scratch that hiking itch. Jenny and I didn’t have any hiking packs other than our 68L ULA Circuit and 58L Osprey Exos that were used on our 2018 PCT thru-hike. Last summer we realized that these were overkill for our weekend escapes to the country, especially when we were carrying packs that weighed 2.5 pounds to hold 10-15 pounds of weight. At the start of this year we began looking for a more minimalist pack that we could take on these day hikes and overnighters.
We’ve had the Gossamer Gear Minimalist 24 litre Daypack for a couple of months now and we have been using it as our “daily driver.” It quickly became Joal’s commuting bag (back when that was a thing) and we’ve used it for over two months worth of day hikes, cycles, and a limited number of overnighters.
Gossamer Gear Minimalist At-a-Glance
- MSRP: $59 with option to add hip belt for $19
- Weight: 11.6 ounces (328g)
- Volume: 24 litres—the main pocket accounts for 21 litres, with two water bottle pockets and a large stretchy stuff pocket along the front
- Pack Dimensions: 20 inches x 11 inches x 4 inches
- Carrying Capacity: 20 pounds (9kg)
- Body Materials: 70 denier Robic Nylon Ripstop main pack body, a built-in foam back pad and air mesh fabric shoulder straps.
- Suggested Use: Day packs, minimalist overnighters, commuting/international travel
Main interior pocket with a drawstring top: The main pocket of this bag is made from Gossamer Gear’s custom 70D Robic Nylon, which feels tough and has held up well through the testing period. Inside the internal main pack are three loops for a hydration kit and a zippered pocket. We really enjoyed the internal zippered pocket as it meant valuables were stored safely, yet accessible. The key loop is also a nice feature. The main compartment is big enough to fit a 15-inch laptop should you want to use the bag for commuting and is impressively spacious for such a light pack. I packed out our double quilt, warm clothes, rain gear, food, and cooking supplies with room to spare. The drawstring top made for easy opening and closing, but did mean that persistent rain could become an issue.
Large external mesh pockets: Running across the front of the pack is a large, slanted stuff sack. This maximizes storage, while making it possible to reach around and grab stuff from the front. We’re used to keeping snacks in our hip belt and were worried we would miss this, but the size of the pack, along with the slant meant it was possible to grab stuff out while on the move. The two mesh pockets on the side of the pack are the perfect size for a Smartwater bottle. Gossamer Gear says that the external pocket capacity of this bag is three liters but we believe this could easily be 5+ depending on what you were carrying and how you packed it.
Compression straps: The pack has two elastic compression straps that run down to the two side pockets. This helped keep the pack snug and close to your back. These can also be removed if you are gram conscious
Two sternum straps: The adjustable chest straps help keep your load balanced and distributed across your body rather than solely on your shoulders.
Foam back and shoulder straps: This is a frameless pack with no rigidity coming from the pack itself. The back and shoulder straps both use an AirMesh fabric for comfort and breathability.
Size: We are both big fans of this bag’s size and versatility. On paper this pack looks big for a day bag, coming in at 24L. With the elastic compression straps on the side of the pack, this bag never felt “too much” as it shrunk to the load it was carrying. In addition, at 11.6 ounces in weight it beats packs in the 8 – 15L range (e.g., the OMM ultra 15L, which comes in at 12 ounces, or the Osprey Talon 11L, which is 21 ounces). The pack worked great for us, although I would not recommend this for overnighters unless your tent and sleeping bag pack down really small. While we managed fine, we also have an unusual setup, as explained in this post. If you are using a trekking-pole shelter (like the Zpacks Duplex) and a good fill-power down bag then you should be fine, though the title of the bag gives you a clue at what type of hiker you need to be.
External storage: We love how much external storage there is in this pack. With space for two water bottles and a very generous front pocket, your snacks, rain gear, and did we mention snacks, are within quick reach.
Style: If, like us, you are having withdrawals from your time thru-hiking, this pack will allow you to bring some cottage industry hiking equipment into your daily life—something that can’t be said for a lot of hiking gear. This pack doesn’t look out of place in the mountains, or on the London underground.
Cost: At $59 this is a great addition to any hikers arsenal and isn’t expensive for what you are getting. Most packs we researched were much more expensive even if the materials were heavier or the carrying capacity was smaller.
The sternum straps: While we enjoyed the double sternum strap idea (built with female hikers in mind), the main chest strap doesn’t stay tight. As a result, we ended up having to resort to the inferior chest strap that is attached to the excess fabric from the shoulder strap adjusters. We don’t know if this was just the pack we received or if this is a problem with the design of the clasp.
The drawstring top: For 95% of day hikes the drawstring top of the bag will be a great design due to the speed and ease of opening and closing the bag. While testing the bag we noticed there was always a small gap even when the bag was pulled as tightly shut as possible and therefore water could get into the bag through the hole at the top. As a result we ended up packing our rain gear at the top of the bag just in case. In a future design a bit of excess fabric or Velcro could go a long way to alleviating any worry about stuff getting wet.
Back sweat: While not an issue for Joal, who rocks the ULA Circuit, Jenny found that moving from the Osprey Exos to this pack made for a sweatier back than she was used to. As the bag fits very snugly onto your back, this is something to consider if you are not used to it.
It’s evident that this is a pack made by hikers for hikers, as there are a lot of small details that are well thought out. Gossamer Gear calls it the minimalist, yet we were impressed with the number of features on this bag. With three external pockets, large carrying capacity, an internal zippered pocket, and a daisy chain to hang extra gear from, you won’t run out of space for a day hike.
We’re both really pleased with our choice and would recommend this to others looking for a pack that can be used on shorter hikes or in the off-trail world. While our 60-liter packs gather dust, this bag makes a daily appearance, even if it is just to head to the shops to buy pasta and toilet paper.
Comparable Day Packs
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit Pack
Weight: 13 ounces
Capacity: 30 liters
Six Moon Designs Daybreaker
Weight: 20.7 ounces
Capacity: 25+ liters
Gregory Citro 25
Weight: 33 ounces
Capacity: 25 liters
This item was donated for purpose of review
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