I’ve had my Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus nearly five years now. In that time it has become my “go to” rucksack. I’ve used it a lot and sometimes treated it rather roughly. It’s still in pretty good condition, although some stitching has come a bit loose around the shoulder straps (not the bar tacking) and I’ve made a couple of small rips in the rear and large side mesh pockets. For a lightweight rucksack made of seemingly fragile materials it’s worn well.
Off and on over the years I’ve exchanged emails with Grant Sible of Gossamer Gear. Earlier in the year we had an exchange where he revealed that GG was working on a new Mariposa. Although I gave him a few ideas, I think the design was pretty much already decided. Nonetheless, the improved hip belt and shoulder straps were in my wish list, along with sturdier pockets. I also wanted daisy chains on the shoulder straps, which haven’t made it, but there are two useful D rings on each, making attaching pouches, maps or bottles easier.
Strictly speaking I didn’t need to replace the Mariposa Plus yet, but I decided that I liked the new Mariposa enough to buy the new version. Grant very kindly offered me a small discount which offset most of the shipping charge, although I was still stung by import VAT of £29.12 and an outrageous handling charge of £13.50 by Parcel Force. The total cost came to just over £200. From ordering to delivery has taken slightly over one week and it arrived today.
Perhaps it’s my imagination, but the new GG packs have stirred up a fair amount of interest, so I thought I’d give you my first impressions and compared it to the old Mariposa Plus. You might want to look at Mark Roberts’ blog for some better quality pictures, as he beat me to the punch for the first initial impressions review. Below is a slide show of my new Mariposa along side the old Mariposa Plus.
So, what do I think? As you can see from the photos, the basic design is the same. The biggest difference is the top closure and the materials. My Mariposa Plus also has the old carbon fibre stays rather than the newer aluminium yoke. The old Mariposa had a draw string closure for the top, which is nice and simple, but needed to be carefully folded so it didn’t let water in.
The new over the top (OTT) closure is much neater, with no chance of water ingress. I wasn’t sure whether I’d like it, but now I’ve seen it in the flesh, it looks good. Losing the top Y strap might be a draw back if you want to load a tent or a bear canister on the top of the sack, but there’s some shock cord for lighter items. There’s also a pocket on the lid, which is useful for valuables and small, light items.
The new custom 140 denier Dyneema GGridstop pack material is a definite step up from the older pack material, which seemed a bit flimsy (but has been fine in use). I like the grey grid pattern, which looks very smart. The old material was not very water resistant, so it will be interesting to see how this shapes up.
I like the idea of the side pockets in solid fabric as it should make them more robust. One draw back might be that they could be vulnerable to water pooling, but they have drain holes. The rear pocket is made of a much finer mesh, which is stretchy, which I think should be better than than the old, coarser, non-stretchy material.
The same fine stretchy mesh is used for the back pad pockets. The lower one is noticeably deeper and the stretch means that the back pad is held more tightly. The pack is supplied with a SitLight pad. It might be a bit of a squeeze fitting a thicker Nightlight pad, though. The mesh is noticeably more abrasive than the softer material in the old Mariposa, so this could be an issue with some clothing.
The hip belt is much wider than the old version and feels very comfortable, although I’ve not tried it with a heavy load. The inside of the belt has a much finer mesh, but reasonably soft. The other major difference on the hip belt are the integral pockets, which are a reasonable size, plenty large enough for my Lumix TZ5 camera. I’m going to add some zip pulls, though.
The shoulder straps are much firmer than the older ones, primarily because they have sewn in foam rather than the removable insert of the old sack. The grosgrain straps are smoother than the older version and there are some useful D rings, as I mentioned before. Overall, I’d say the carry feels better than the old sack, but I’ve not tried it with a realistic weight yet.
It’s probably also worth mentioning that the bar tacking on the shoulder straps has changed to a (possibly) more secure configuration with both vertical and horizontal bar tacks compared with the older solely vertical ones. The shoulder straps also have load lifters and there’s a haul loop.
The sack comes with a length of shock cord and three cord grips. There are eight attachment loops on either side for various compression options. These loops are much smaller than the ones on the old version, which I don’t suppose makes much difference but will make threading a little more fiddly. Naturally, I will be adding lots of loops of shock cord for trekking poles, bottles and maps!
There is a hydration pocket inside the pack with two exit ports near the top of the shoulder straps. I don’t use a hydration system, preferring a water bottle, but it is quite useful for storing maps and papers in an old map case.
As per usual, I got the weighing scales out! It’s quite tricky balancing a pack on them, so regard this as slightly approximate. The new pack (with sit mat) weighs 756g. The aluminium yoke is 97g and the sit mat is 57g. For comparison, the old Mariposa Plus is 702g (with same sit mat) and the carbon fibre stays are 22g. So the packs are very similar in weight, allowing for the different stays. Although the aluminium stay is backward compatible, the carbon fibre stays are not, which is a shame.
I’m not sure what else I can tell you. The quality of workmanship is very good. GG have taken a step up the quality curve, in my view, and the new Mariposa compares very favourably with the ULA Ohm pack I own. For those in the USA, it is made in the US, so that might be a factor. Is it better than the old pack? A judgement will have to wait until I take it out for a trip, but I like the new materials and generally have a favourable impression of the changes to the design. All I need to do now is get out, but that may have to wait until September, unfortunately.
Disclosure: the Mariposa 2012 pack was purchased with my own money, Gossamer Gear gave me a modest discount on the advertised purchase price.