Gorilla Ultralight Backpack
- Product Review (submitted on August 31, 2013):
For 10+ years, I've been backpacking with my wife regularly in the pacific northwest mostly on 2-3 day trips, 14-30 miles. After camping with some friends obsessed with UL backpacking, I started to rethink a few items, backpack was one of them. Previously I had an Osprey Atmos which was pretty good but just too much in many regards. After REI graciously took my return, I was greenlit to try the Gorilla 2012. I'm 5'10", 140 lbs with a 30" waist so I ordered the Gorilla 2012 Large pack and Small hipbelt which fits me perfectly. After 5 trips, I feel like I can give a review.
The specs I wanted (in order of importance) in a new pack were:
1. comfortable with ~21lbs
4. lid/top pocket
5. side pockets
6. quick stash for the ever changing need for swapping layers.
7. pockets on the hipbelt
8. hydration sleeve
While the above may look like the spec sheet, the last item is missing. Oh well, it's pretty close and a diy solution using a clip and a dry sack works. Plus, they provided holes for the drinking tube so it's not like this was ignored, I'm sure it's just part of a 'less is more' philosophy.
To begin, I love the way this thing carries; it's almost like part of your body. I feel nimble with it on which can be extremely important at times. I can definitely attest that at 23 lbs and under, it rides like a dream. At 17 lbs, I feel downright guilty. Makes for much better descents.
Storage is fantastic. Hipbelt pockets hold aquamira bottles, energy bars/chews, some jerky...they're really a nice size and the zipper action is smooth. The back mesh pocket is also a treat. It's transitional storage for items that get swapped a lot. My hat, gaitors, button up shirt and long sleeved smartwool shirt frequently go on/off depending on temperature, wind, exposure to sun, rate of gain and this pocket is great for storing these items. Note that I wouldn't use it for anything with substantial weight or sharp items. It's also good for wet socks or my tyvec tent footprint after it's been used. The top lid exists which is a victory in and of itself. I don't get why you wouldn't want one especially the way this one allows for a good degree of floating with various sized loads in conjunction with the way the straps work. This is where I keep a lot of small items:headlamp, contact supplies, key, wallet contents, pack towel, more snacks. With it all being zipped up, I can trust I won't lose anything. The side pockets are also quite good and I use for an empty Nalgene, trekking poles & small fuel bottle. Again, the bulk here is appreciated as when the seasons change, I think more layers will need to be stored here. As far as the main compartment, it's pretty straightforward but I like how it's more wide than deep thus keeping the load close to your body. The closures are quick to operate and work fantastic.
I could go on but in summary I also really like:
- modular design philosophy
- wide shoulder straps
- hipbelt straps allow you to pull thru items in back of the pocket, like a wet bandana
- dyneema really strong/light
- strategically durable at key parts, lighter in less key areas (no need for giant buckles/straps in most places)
- details on shoulder straps: nylon for hydration tube, whistle, lash points etc
- lashing on side of pack
- sit pad, SWEET! (never had one of these)