By Will Rietveld
At 46 liters, the Gorilla is a medium volume pack suitable for hikers on the upper end of ultralight or the lower end of lightweight, in other words a base weight between 8 and 12 pounds. It’s intended for loads in the 15 to 25 pound range, and optimally in the 15 to 20 pound range.
When I reviewed the original Gorilla for Backpacking Light Magazine in 2009 I gave it a Highly Recommended rating. Now, in August 2014, Gen 3 will be arriving soon, and I can safely say its better than ever.
|Now Gossamer Gear will soon be introducing Gen 3 of the Gorilla; what are the changes and how much do they affect pack weight?|
The Gen 3 2014 Gossamer Gear Gorilla – What’s New?
The main changes are as follows:
- The Gorilla is now constructed of Robic fabrics (see below for a description); the previous 140 denier Dyneema Gridstop exclusive to Gossamer Gear will be phased out.
- The side compression straps are back (hooray!!), two on each side.
- An internal hydration sleeve with two hose ports has been added.
- The shoulder straps are narrower and thicker, with spacer mesh on the inside.
- The hipbelt is wider and thicker, also with spacer mesh. (Identical and interchangeable with the Mariposa)
- New stretch mesh on the pad sleeve and front pocket.
- A trekking pole holder has been added to the front of the pack.
- Webbing cinch straps replace the previous cord/buckle to hold down the top cap.
- Cord loops are added to zipper pulls on the hipbelt pockets and top cap pocket.
As you can see, the changes are basically the same as the updates to the Mariposa pack. The main difference from the Mariposa (besides volume) is the Gorilla has side compression straps and only one pocket on each side (versus the Mariposa’s one tall pocket on the left and two pockets on the right). The weight of the pre-production Gen 3 Gorilla is 28.3 ounces (size Medium) by my scale.
Fabric Changes – What is Robic?
As you can see, the 140 denier Dyneema Gridstop fabric of Gen 2, which was touted as “the ideal lightweight backpack fabric”, has been replaced in Gen 3 by Robic fabrics. Robic, made by South Korea’s Hyosung Corporation, is designed for applications where very high resilience and durability are needed. It surpasses Nylon 66 in tensile strength, tear strength, puncture resistance, and abrasion resistance. According to the manufacturer, this fabric is 100% high-tenacity nylon that can easily retain its original exterior even after long periods of use. The "old" Dyneema Gridstop contains super strong Spectra fibers in a grid pattern, but the rest of the fabric is ordinary Nylon. Bottom line, Robic is more durable than Gen 2’s 140 denier Dyneema Gridstop, lighter weight, and more cost effective. Gossamer Gear uses 100 denier Robic in the body of its new packs and 100x200 denier Robic in abrasion areas.
Photo Tour of the Gen3 Gossamer Gear Gorilla
|The frontpanel view shows the new webbing straps (gold) to snug down the top cap and new mesh on the front pocket.|
|The side view shows the pack’s side compression straps; welcome back! Side pockets are durable Robic fabric.|
|The Over-The-Top lid is retained. The zipper pull on the top pocket, and hipbelt pockets, now have a cord loop that is easier to grab.|
|Bottom view. Note that the removable Thinlight pad supplied for the pack’s backpanel overlaps the hipbelt, providing extra lumbar padding.|
|Close up view of the new narrower/thicker shoulder straps.|
|Close-up of the new spacer mesh on the inside of the hipbelt, and shoulder straps.|
The hipbelt pockets remain the same size and have a cord loop on the zipper pull to make them easier to open.
Based on my experience with previous generations of the Gorilla, and my testing of Gen 3 so far, following are my initial impressions:
- After researching Robic fabric I am very impressed by its claimed strength, durability, and lower cost. It’s very easy to understand why Gossamer Gear made the switch. However, this is a new fabric to outdoor gear and its suitability needs to be tested under field conditions.
- I am delighted to see the return of real webbing side compression straps.
- Refinement. I like all the upgrades; the Gorilla just keeps getting better!
- Pack weight continues to creep upward, another 2.3 ounces by my measurement, but that could change in the production pack.
- Frame. Since the Gorilla is a medium size backpack, Gossamer Gear’s removable stay system is probably sufficient for weight transfer and carry comfort. Even with pack weights down to 15 pounds, my research has found that the removable stay effectively maintains pack torso length, transfers weight well without a closed cell foam pad, and helps the pack conform to the user’s back. The standard contour of the stay fits many users, and can easily be bent more or less to tailor it to the contours of a user’s back. Simply pull the stay out of the pack and bend it on the edge of a kitchen counter.