During 2009, I used a Gossamer Gear Gorilla for a number walks and was impressed with it, and wrote briefly about it here .
However, with trips requiring bigger loads planned I moved away from the Gorilla to bigger tougher packs, ultimately preferring the Hyperlight Mountain Gear Porter packs.
Life has changed and in 2016 I have been seeking out a light 1 to 3 day pack as the Porter is overkill for my needs, and my Lowepro Photo Sport pack is a bit small for overnights. Throughout the years I have continued to follow the development of Gossamer Gear packs and with the older 2015 model of the Gorilla being updated the 2016 Version 2, I decided to obtain a 2015 Gorilla at a discounted price.
Upon receiving the pack my first observation was the evolution in the carrying harness and feature set since 2009, whilst the basic design remained the same including;
- a big meshfront packet,
- side pockets,
- the inverted U frame inside the main bag,
- as well as the foam pad pocket fr the.
It was also noticeable that the shoulder strap and hip belts were narrower and thicker.
The inverted U frame which was an innovation in 2009 is still being used in 2015&16 packs incorporating similar methods of attachment as the 2009 model. However, the connection method to the hip belt has changed significantly for the 2016 Version 2 hip belt. The 2016 model has the “2 legs” of the inverted U frame exiting the back panel of the pack just above the hip belt attachment point and inserting into the hipbelt stay coupler on the stiffened hip belt.
Perhaps the downside to the 2016 design, in my view, is the removable top lid (aka Brain) which is something I would prefer not to have, but the new shaped and stiffened hip belt is a desirable feature especially if you are carrying maximum loads (13 kg). I soon set about wondering how the the u frame connection could be used on the pre 2016 Gorilla packs. (Note the new 2016 hip-belt will fit all Gorilla and Mariposa packs from 2011 to 2016.) A quick search on the internet soon solved the problem of retro fitting the 2016 hip belt to the 2015 Gorilla.
Modifying older Gossamer Gorilla’s to take the 2016 hip belt.
Backpackers are an innovative lot and it does not take long to find ways to modify gear and the 2016 Gorilla hip belt retro fit is no exception.
A comprehensive series of photos of undertaking the modification.
The steps I took are similar to this in the photos and are described below.
- Removed the sit light pad, but left the frame inserted.
- Marked a spot 1/2” up from the stitching.
- Using an electric hot knife cut a cross at the marking.
- Punched a hole into a piece of self adhesive velcro (this is what I had) but some form of sealing will be required to stop the tearing of the fabric on the back panel around where the frame exits the inner tube.
- Carefully secured the velcro onto the back of the pack
- Then passed the frame through the holes and into the help belt, a 15 minute job max.
The finished result is shown below.
All that remains is to reassemble everything , here I recommend watching Bob Cartwright’s excellent video on inserting the frame into the 2016 hip belts.
According to the GG website the average Weight Fully Configured Medium (pack, belt, frame, lid and pad) for the 2016 Version 2 of the Gorilla is 33.6 oz / 954 g
Whereas my modified (see below for detail) Medium 2015 Gorilla with a large 2016 hip belt is 840 grams.
I have not carried sufficient weight in the gorilla yet to test the load transfer but overall it fits well and feels snug. I can see me using this pack for many future trips.
Other commentaries on the 2015 and 2016 Gossamer Gear Gorilla
For a detailed review of the 2016 version 1 of the Gorilla see here (note that this pack was removed from the market and replaced with the “floating lid” version).