I've asked Santa Claus to search for the best backpack for my 4-year trip to Africa. Naturally, I told Santa to start the search by looking at the latest offerings of Gossamer Gear, which sponsored my last two thru-hikes, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.

For my thru-hikes, I favored a minimalist backpack. When I backpack in the wilderness, I prefer a pack that weighs less than 226 grams (half a pound). Such ultralight backpacks have small capacity and are uncomfortable when you carry more than 10 kg (22 pounds). That forces you not to take junk. For example, my CDT packweight was less than 3 kg (under 6 pounds).

However, in Africa, I won't be hiking nonstop. Instead, I'll mostly rely on vehicles to get around. Furthermore, I'll be able to buy food nearly everyday. Translation: Low daily mileage + Frequent access to food = I can load up on luxury items :)

My ideal backpack for Africa

The requirements for my backpack are:

  • Less than 1 kg (2.2 pounds) when empty
  • High storage capacity (I won't use the capacity most of the time, but I want the option to carry extra stuff)
  • It should hold comfortably carry 15kg (33 pounds).
  • Several pouches/compartments to help organize stuff
  • Few zippers (they often break over time)
Watch this video to see how the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Backpack does:


Mariposa Backpack Highlights

  • The Medium sized version weighs 765 grams (27 oz.)
  • The backpack is made out of custom 140 denier Dyneema GGridstop™ fabric. 
  • 7 exterior pockets
  • The OTT (over-the-top) closure system for a simple, solid, secure closure that also includes a zippered top pocket.
  • The "Shock Top™ shock cord top-of-the-pack lashing system for attaching your foam pad or other gear to the top of the pack
  • The Mariposa is best with loads under 30lbs but will handle up to 35 just fine

For capacity, it carries nearly 70 liters or 4,244 c.i. Let's break that down:

  • 2860 c.i. (47 l.) in main pack body/extension collar
  • 1384 c.i. (22 l.) in all 7 pockets combined

Let's break down the 765 grams (27 oz.) backpack:

  • Pack Body = 15.85 oz (409 g) (Average for medium size)
  • Removable hip belt = 5.15 oz. (146 g.) (Average for medium size)
  • Aluminum curved stay = 3.5 oz. each (96 g.) (Average for medium size)
  • Sitlight Pad = 2.0 oz ( 51 g. ) (Average)
  • xtra shock cord and cordlocks .55 oz (16 g.)


With just two months to start my Africa trip, this looks like the backpack that I need. Of course, thru-hikers and backpackers will also appreciate this backpack, especially for winter trips or trips where you have to carry more than a week of food. Its durability gives me the confidence that it will last three years. Yes, it will be mangled, but it's tough. 

The only downside is that there are two closure clips to lock it down. I miss the old Mariposa backpack, which just had one closure. Still, given the other improvements, it seems we've got ourselves a winner! I'd give it 4 out 5 stars.

15% Off Coupon

If you want 15% off from any Gossamer Gear purchase, use the HIKER coupon code when you checkout from Gossamer Gear's shop. You'll get 15% off. You're welcome.

Mariposa Backpack photos

Gossamer Gear Mariposa Backpack


The Mariposa harness has a cool integrated whistle



Use the small black plastic thingy in the center to hook it all together
If it's raining, it's helpful to do this before folding the top over - it will make it more waterproof.
Rear of Gossamer Gear Mariposa Backpack


When fully loaded, you can use the compression straps to put even more crap on top (like drying clothes), but you'll be blocking access to the stuff in the zippered compartment







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