After a quick overnight #MicroAdventure last weekend, I thought I’d put an initial review together for my Gossamer Gear Mariposa Robic pack. This is probably a bit premature as it’s not had a proper test yet – I don’t think two short walks with a camp in between can be counted a true test of the pack, but it’s enough to start the ball rolling. I purchased the pack from Bob and Rose at backpackinglight.co.uk – there’s a bit of background here.
This is the first new pack I’ve used in over five years, so it was always going to feel ‘strange’ on my back. My GoLite Jam has become part of me over the past few years and my back knows what to expect when I haul it up on my shoulders – not so the Mariposa, which felt awkward to begin with. I have dismissed this though as ‘only to be expected’ and the remaining thoughts are as objective as possible.
Things I Liked
Pockets, loads of pockets! There is a huge pocket on one side of the pack. This is designed for a tent and my Vaude Taurus Ultralight fits into it just fine with a bit of a different roll-up technique. I can now pack up inside my tent, stuff all my gear into the pack, exit the tent and stow it in the side pocket. This worked perfectly on Sunday morning when the rain was hammering down and wind was blowing a gale.
The other side of the pack has two pockets, one above the other and these take my two bottles in the upper and my hat and gloves in the lower. There is also a massive front pocket with a flexible mesh material that seems to swallow all the bits and pieces that I may need during the day’s walk. I love the pocket flexibility.
The hip belts are much more substantial than I was expecting for a lightweight pack, so too the shoulder straps – both would be more at home on a 2Kg backpack, suitable for carrying 30Kg. They take some of the weight you’re carrying and distribute it to your hips, something that was always lacking in the Jam.
The provision of a hydration pouch inside the pack was a bonus I wasn’t expecting. Having spoken to @hillplodder about his Mariposa, this was something he missed and although mine is a slightly newer version of the pack I wasn’t expecting to find the pouch. It’s actually wider and shallower than the Jam and actually works better with the Platypus I use. The 2lit Big Zip SL (slimline version) is wider than the usual Platypus and fits beautifully into the pouch. The addition of a small carabiner could also be employed to prevent it sliding down into the pouch when the Platypus is empty.
The pack is wider than the Jam, mainly due to the multitude of side pockets I guess. The additional width means that the pack sits closer to my back so it never felt like it would topple me backwards – even when we were scrambling up beside the waterfalls in Buckden Beck.
Things I Didn’t Like
A very short list this – I didn’t like the hip pockets on the optional hip belt. They aren’t very big and although they are quite high from top to bottom, they aren’t very deep. I struggled to get the few regular items I use in my Jam into the Mariposa’s pockets.
The width of the hip belts, which I do like, also means I couldn’t attach my Lowepro camera case to them. I’m very comfortable with the way I can quick-draw the camera from its case and I was disappointed not to be able to use it. In the end I had to put the camera into the hip pocket of the belt. This worked well enough, but the zip on the hip belt isn’t designed to be opened 100 times per walk (which is about how many photos I normally take on a walk) and I guess it’s not going to last long if I continue to use the hip belt pocket for the camera.
I decided to make the case fit the hip belt and so I came up with this little mod.
I used a couple of cable ties, which I poked through the material of the camera case, rather than the pack – the camera case is easy to replace if I need to and I didn’t want to start poking holes in my new pack if I could avoid it.
The pack felt comfortable enough considering how used I’ve become to the Jam and nothing ached or hurt after the trip, so in that respect it was fine. A truer test will be a longer trip with more time spent in harness, which we have planned for next weekend!