Ultralight is great, hyperlight is cool and megalight is risky but each trip has different requirements. The Olympic National Park marmot survey is one such trip for my 17 year old daughter and myself where we were base camping for 5 days and day tripping off trail to survey sites. Now I'm a Murmur fan and I use my Gorilla quite often when I'm carrying camera gear for projects (including a tripod) but what to do when you throw in a bear canister, radio and spare batteries, 5 days of food, 4 cameras and spare batteries, ice axes, paperwork folders and myriad other things we wouldn't normally take on a fastpacking trip? Thank goodness we had the new Mariposa. Last year on this same trip (but to a different area) we had to make do with a couple of my older packs that had enough volume but made us suffer mightily under the load. The redesigned Mariposa was perfect for our 30 plus pound loads where the external pockets, lashing points and even the hip pockets came in extremely handy. We had to schlep into our base camp site in the Olympics up a very rough trail. Additionally, during the day forays up steep terrain and bushwhacking through unyielding forest I found that carrying the Mariposa for myself, with camera gear and essentials, worked out perfectly while my daughter was able to day trip using her Minimalist (as did I on one day). At 8 ounces the Minimalist fit easily into our already burdened packs and proved invaluable during the off trail day hikes. Slightly lighter on the trip out, we again appreciated the Mariposas in the descent through the gnarliest parts of the trail. Very seldom do I need a pack that can carry this much weight and I usually like my packs void of bells and whistles (However I really like the built in whistle on these packs), but at under 2 pounds the new Mariposa pack makes for a marvelous and useful addition to the Gossamer Gear pack lineup; still light and rugged but with the features that make a trip like our survey possible and as comfortable as we could expect under unusually heavy loads.
Other GG stuff:
NIghtLight Sleeping Pad:
I was using a 3/4 Z-rest pad for this trip but I put a NightLight torso length pad in the Mariposa pad pocket and used this for under my legs and feet for a total full length system at minimal weight.
LT4/LT4S trekking poles:
Essential! We used one set of poles to hold up our Tarptent Double Rainbow tent and the other set for the day trips, one each. Probably one of the handiest and coolest things in the GG lineup for me is the Lightrek camera mount. By mounting a GoPro Hero2 on top of the pole I was able to capture video in places where stopping to get a camera out of my pack, or even digging into my chest pocket, would have been hard due to the usually steep terrain we were on most of the day. Also, by simply jamming the pole into suitable terrain, I had a ready made "tripod" in that it was secure enough to capture video hands free. I also have a mount on the bottom of the pole for a Contour Plus camera which I used mostly for underwater video capture. All this versatility and still being able to use the pole in the traditional way of helping in stability whilst negotiating tricky terrain! Also, one pole apiece worked out well on this trip as many times we needed one hand to grab rocks, trees or roots in our off trail travel. Anyone doubting the durability of these extremely light carbon fiber poles should put their worries to rest; we've used ours for over 4 years under circumstances that probably put more duress on the integrity of the pole than any normal backpacking trip would. The only sign of wear is a slightly chewed cork grip from a salt craving deer. I now put the poles out of reach at night to stymy salt munching critters.
What can I say, I think my daughter is stylin' in her GG Headsweats hat which she wore during the day. I wish I had one.
Other Systems Integration:
I've written about our B4 bags. On this trip they were essential on one day when we were high above Upper Lena Lake where the bugs were voracious: Cassie even mentioned she was perturbed with the "incessant buzzing." These bags saved our butts by enabling us to take a 30 minute break and enjoy our lunch(s) without being eaten alive.
I was able to attach my modified ZPacks chest pack (camera bag) to the Mariposa pack and used it every day. Having a camera at the ready is essential when trying to capture shots and I used it to good advantage. The chest pack is rugged enough to take bushwhacking through brush and trees and is moisture and dust proof, a great garage for my Panasonic GH2, Contour Plus and spare batteries.
Pack It Gourmet:
There are two things that keep my daughter happy: sleep and food. We have never eaten better on a trip and I am now an enthusiastic supporter of Pack it Gourmet. We ate so well that our food bars went untouched. Burritos, Lemon Cheesecake, Banana Pudding, Apple Waldorf Salad plus other easy to prepare meals were so tasty after hard days of off trail work that we could hardly believe we were eating while camping. I can't stress enough how much difference these tasty meals (to a one) made in our trip. If you've never tried this company's wares you don't know what you're missing. Plus all I had to cook with was a skimpy tiny alcohol stove, but it was enough to heat up the water for the meals plus hot chocolate. Pack It Gourmet = happy girl.
Summary: I find appropriate gear according to use is an evolving experience and ever changing. I am lucky in that each year I am able to adjust my gear quiver to better serve my purposes. Of course I'm using Gossamer Gear because my daughter and I are Trail Ambassadors for the company, but there's nothing like real world use to weed out the stuff that doesn't work. I remain an enthusiastic supporter because this cottage company makes thoughtful gear that holds up to tough usage.
Readers: when this article was written both myself and my daughter were Gossamer Gear trail ambassadors. This is no longer the case. We currently use the Minimalist packs, LT4 and LT3 trekking poles and the hats.