I love: All those pockets! Great size, fairly low weight.
Dislikes: Relatively flimsy mesh pocket, buckles tend to break, boring gray color.
I started using the Mariposa 60 liter backpack on monthly backpacking trips a little over a year before embarking on my PCT hike. I immediately liked the size and relatively low weight of this pack. It was comfortable even carrying a bear canister and awkward, heavy loads (like snow shoes strapped to the outside). Most of all, I loved the external pockets. By the time I started hiking north from the Mexican border, I was confident in my choice of pack.
This backpack has one large mesh pocket on the front (or back, depending on your perspective), two small pockets on one side, and one tall pocket on the other side. The tall side pocket was my absolute favorite feature. Here’s why: I drink out of a water bladder, and I treat my water using an in-line filter. I carry the water bladder in the large side pocket. When I need water, I simply pull out the bladder, fill it, then tuck it away. The water is filtered while I drink. This made for quick, easy water refills.
I’m a fan of large pockets on hipbelts. I was able to cram a lot of stuff into these hipbelt pockets, including snacks, chapstick, handkerchief, a small tripod, a headlamp, a pen for signing trail registers, etc. (all at the same time). Also, the hipbelt was comfortable. No complaints there.
I like the removable foam backpad in this pack. Over time, it molded to the shape of my back, which I really liked. By the end of my hike the cushioning was completely gone, but it was still really comfortable. After my hike I only swapped out the pad for a new one because it reeked of hiker sweat. I like that the pad is replaceable, and that it is easily removed to use as a seat cushion.
As expected, pack comfort was compromised when weighed down with a fully-loaded bear canister. When stuffed with a fully-loaded Bearikade Expedition, the largest bear can around, oh boy. I was uncomfortable for a few days until the food weight went down. Prior to re-entering the Sierra with heavier clothing and extra gear, I tried on other packs that would distribute all of the weight better. But I ended up sticking with the Mariposa – mostly because I couldn’t give up that large side pocket! – and it was fine.
I carried my sleeping pad, the accordion-style ZLite Sol, strapped to the outside of the pack in front of the mesh pocket (as seen in the above picture). For the most part, this kept the mesh from ripping. However, I still ended up with a few holes, and I consider this mesh to be a weak point in an otherwise wonderful backpack.
The backpack’s second weak point is buckles. I had two buckles break during my hike: the hipbelt, and one of the buckles that secures the “lid.” In each case I was able to keep using the broken buckles, but I worried about how long I would be able to do so. When contacted about the broken buckles, Gossamer Gear readily sent replacements, which I greatly appreciated.
All in all, I loved this backpack. After six months of hard daily use (plus more than a year of use before that), the pack is still fully functional. I anticipate being able to carry this backpack for another year or more. When it finally wears out, I will buy another one.