So we all know I’m not the biggest “gear review” kind of person but this one I gotta give a blogpost of its own. Why? Cause this pack feels a tiny tiny bit like “my baby” and… I love it!
As always: I have no obligation what so ever to write this review, I’m no longer a Gossamer Gear trail ambassador, and I can do and write whatever I want. So why does this pack feels a bit like my baby? Cause I had the honor of naming it “Pilgrim” and now that I’ve used it, I’m even more sure that the name suits it perfectly! (Anyone who doesn’t like the name… Don’t let me know, don’t comment; just swallow it down, jep that’s right… Cause yes indeed, you don’t tell a mom you don’t like the babies name!)
So… the Pilgrim… here’s what I think of it:
Specifics and design:
- Weight: 19.3oz / 547g (For size Small that I have)
- Capacity: 36 L, maximum! recommended load: 30lbs
- Fabric: 100 and 200 denier Robic nylon
- Roll-top closure
- 1 large stretch mesh front pocket
- 2 easy accessible side pockets
- 1 fixed minimal hip belt with two hip belt pockets (made of stretch mesh with zipper)
- fixed (non-removable) adjustable sternum strap
- Loops to attach Ice axe or whatever
- Trekking pole tip holders
- Frameless, back panel consists of removable sit pad
- Inside: zipper pocket for valuables, pocket for water bladder
- Water tube openings on both sides
- 2 compression straps on each side
I tested the Pilgrim on a 2 week hiking trip on the Canary Islands La Gomera and Tenerife and I was amazed by how much could fit inside (and I still had tons of space left).
So this is what I packed:
- In first went a nano-sil waterproof stuff sack from Sea to Summit. I normally use a sturdy trashbag for a liner, but a normal bigsized trashbag is too big for this pack and I still had this StS stuff sack and it fits perfectly for the Pilgrim. (In terms of waterproof: I actually prefer a trashbag over any sil-nylon stuff sack that claims to be waterproof… Cause in the end, when it rains non-stop like shit, the sil-nylon ones will leak through eventually. Yet as the Canary Islands are having a dry climate, I knew I’d be alright this time.)
- Against the backpanel I put my Thermarest Neoair, folded in 4. The back doesn’t need the extra cushioning because the sit pad does a good job, but that’s just the way how I like to pack my sleeping pad and how I feel like it takes the least space.
- In the bottom goes my Zpacks sleepingbag in it’s cuben (fuck the new name, I just keep on using cuben) fiber stuff sack.
- On top of that go my Bedrock sandals (I sometimes put them in the front pocket or side pocket too).
- On top of that I put my extra clothes (longsleeve Tshirt, leggings, extra pair of socks and underwear, puffy jacket, and my rain gear if it’s not raining) in a lightweight stuff sack.
- On top of that goes my foodbag.
- In the front pocket I put my visor, my Patagonia houdini windjacket and windpants, my warm hat, my journal, my sunglasses and stuff like that.
- In the one side pocket I put a bottle of water, in the other one my snacks for the day.
- In the hip belt pockets I put stuff like my tiny swiss knive, the stick pic, lip balm, my head lamp,…
HQ was carrying our Zpacks tarp, a softtyvek groundcloth and our cook system (titanium pot plus MSR pocket rocket and Trail Designs windshield), not because it would not fit in the Pilgrim but because I have to go as light as I possibly can because of my hip problems). I would have had more than enough space to add those three items to my pack. I even would have managed to carry a lightweight tent (in a side pocket, and then put my snacks in a hip belt pocket).
Who/what I think the Pilgrim is perfect for:
- Hikers who wanna go lightweight (and so have lightweight gear that packs small), want a comfortable shoulder strap system and a minimal hip belt that doesn’t take aaaall weight from the shoulders but still enough. My Base Pack Weight was 3,5 kg / sub 10 pounds. I feel like a BPW of 5 kg / 12lbs or even a bit more would have still worked well with this pack. It’s not like the pack is gonna fall apart from a too heavy load, it’s rather gonna be less comfy. The Pilgrim is recommended for a maximum! load of 30lbs. Less works better.
- Pilgrims (not the pack but the people) who -for instance- hike the Camino de Santiago. Most pilgrims (or also people who hike from hut to hut or from hostel to hostel… which is a very popular kind of hiking in Europe) don’t carry a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad but just a liner to use in the shelters. And so for pilgrims who often don’t have the newest lightweight gear (carrying heavy rain jackets and triangria cookers – I’m not making fun here… hell they are out there and doing it right, so that’s awesome-) this pack is still perfect!!!
- 3 season (spring, summer, fall) lightweight backpacking trips.
What I wouldn’t use the Pilgrim for:
- A winter trip, but only because my winter sleeping bag (Western mountaineering Antelope) packs as small or rather as big as the main compartment of the Pilgrim haha.
- Hiking trips that require me to carry a bear can. Maybe those small bear cans you can rent in Yosemite would fit inside. But I don’t think I’d be happy with a Pilgrim and a Bearikade or a big Bear Vault. I think you might manage to strap a Bearikade Weekender or a smaller Bear Vault to the top but I don’t like to carry my bear can outside of my pack.
- Desert hiking trips where you have to carry big big amounts of water (like seven or ten extra liters) and so your over all pack weight would become too heavy for the Pilgrim to deal with comfortably.
For those kinda hikes (where I need a tad more space and I need to carry a heavier load) I will keep using my Gossamer Gear Gorilla.
Compared to the Gossamer Gear Gorilla:
- The pilgrim is smaller: 36 L compared to 40L. Even though both backpacks are recommended for a maximum load of 30lbs, I’d say the Gorilla carries that maximum capacity more comfortably.
- The pilgrim is lighter: 19.3oz / 547g (size S) compared to 21.55 oz / 611 g(size S) + additional hip belt 5.6 oz / 159g (size S) (Total Gorilla: 770 g)
- The pilgrim has no frame (There’s a metal frame in the Gorilla… which you can remove btw).
- more minimal but still very comfortable shoulder strap system
- Fixed and more minimal hip belt. The Gorilla does a crazy good job in transferring the pack weight from your shoulders to your hips. The Pilgrim can’t keep up with that, and the way I see it, doesn’t need to, cause my pack weight when I use the Pilgrim is less than when I use the Gorilla. The Pilgrim does transfer the weight from the shoulders to the hips, just not as much as the Gorilla.
What I like about the Pilgrim:
- It’s lightweight, yet still sturdy and it won’t fall apart from a bit of bushwhacking and cross country hiking (that is something I really like about the GG packs, they can take something and don’t break easily).
- The over all “feeling” of it. The pack feels very small, yet still manages to carry everything I need.
- The removable sit pad, which I often use to sit on during breaks.
- The fixed sternum strap (I lost the non-fixed sternum strap on my GG Gorilla, and so I consider this to be an improvement)
- The roll top closure. It’s so easy and it gives you lots of additional space. And if you don’t need the space, you just roll up the extra fabric and it all looks nice and small.
- The shoulder strap system. Super duper comfy!
What I don’t like:
- Hard one. Maybe that the robic fabric isn’t waterproof on itself, but that is something ridiculous to complain about. So I just won’t.
- Also I never ever use those plastic thingies to carry your trekking poles with when you don’t use them. But that is not something I dislike. It’s just something I don’t use. I guess I could just cut them off then ;cP
That’s it. The Pilgrim. I’m gonna take this baby to far away places and distant trails and to the swimming pool around the corner and for foodshopping too. Yep! Cause not only traillife but everyday life is a pilgrimage too and this one is a good companion for just about anything!
Also remember that it’s not about the gear or the stuff that we “have” but about being outside, about breathing the wild air and walking this wonderful earth. Lightweight gear makes it easier for me to enjoy doing what I love, but in the end -for me- it is and only will be about that love for the outdoors and the earth, about the place I call “home”!
Cheers and love,
PS: As always I’m happy to help if you have questions. Just put them in a message or a comment. All I ask for is to keep it positive and kind, cause really there’s no need to spread negativity into the world ;c)