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Ultralight Backpack Showdown! LiteAF vs Gossamer Gear

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If you’ve been hanging around Terradrift for very long, you know that we’re all about ultralight backpacking. It’s one of our favorite things to do (along with mountain biking, hiking, and kayaking, of course). And we’ve tested a lot of great ultralight backpacking gear, including two standout packs: the Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50 and the Light AF ECOPAK Curve 40. But we decided it’s high time to test them back to back, side-by-side in the ultimate ultralight backpack showdown: LiteAF vs Gossamer Gear!


Our method: To test these two packs (again), we took them both on a backpacking trip on the Allegheny Trail in West Virginia. We each carried one on the hike out, then at the halfway point, switched packs to really see how they compared. Here’s our side-by-side comparison of these two ultralight packs.


Read more about what was in our packs to create an average base weight under 10lbs!

woman with a Gossamer Gear ultralight backpack in front of snowy mountain.

Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50L

We’ve tested this pack before (plenty of times) and are big fans. Now, to be clear, this is the previous generation of this ultralight backpack; the newest version has a slightly updated hip belt, is made with recycled materials, and the foam pad is a smidge different. But otherwise, the functionality and features are nearly identical.

Features:

  • U-Shaped Aluminum Frame: Provides rigidity and support.
  • Hip Belt: Enhances stability and weight distribution (and is available in several shapes and sizes depending on your gender/body shape and size).
  • Removable Seat Pad: Doubles as back padding/more structure and a convenient seat.
  • Pockets: Includes hip belt pockets, two spacious water bottle pockets, a zippered pocket on the lid, optional shoulder strap pockets (as add-ons), super stretchy front stash pocket, and a large main compartment.
  • Weight: Just over 30oz for a size small.
  • Material: Made of recycled materials and available in 2 colors.
  • Lash straps: No additional cords for lashing items externally, but there are compression straps and loops to add on cord.
  • Price: The Gossamer Gear Backpack is the more affordable of the two at $275.

Performance:

  • Comfort: The foam pad adds comfort and airflow.
  • Size: Holds 50L, although it feels smaller on the body (which is a good thing).
  • Durability: Despite the softer fabric, it’s proven durable over time.
  • Customization: Accessories like hip belt pockets and shoulder strap pockets can be added and the pack is available in several sizes.

LiteAF backpack leaning on a trekking pole outside.

LiteAF ECOPAK Curve 40

We’ve also tested this pack (on the PCT in Southern California) and love it for it’s hyper-customizable design and wild variety of colors and patterns available (which I love because it looks great in photos). It’s a solid, über-durable ultralight backpack that’s also easy on the shoulders and supremely usable with all the additional features you can design into the pack if you don’t choose to order one “off the rack.”

Features:

  • U-Shaped Aluminum Frame: Provides rigidity and support.
  • Hip Belt: Comfortable and highly adjustable, plus available in several sizes. But no built-in hip belt pockets.
  • Numerous Pockets: Large water bottle pockets, shoulder strap pockets, extra side pockets, one on the bottom for quick-stashing extra layers, and a super deep stretchy front stash pocket.
  • Weight: Just over 31oz.
  • Material: Made of durable recycled ECOPAK material, which is available in a wide array of colors and patterns.
  • Lash straps: Several non-stretchy cords for lashing items externally, plus points to customize cord routing.
  • Price: In the configuration I tested with all the bells and whistles, this pack isn’t cheap at $418+.

Performance:

  • Comfort: Lightweight and comfortable (but you’ll need to focus more on proper packing).
  • Size: While the capacity is 10L less than the Gossamer Gear backpack, it feels just as large or larger, possibly because it’s taller and thinner.
  • Durability: Extremely durable material justifies the higher price.
  • Customization: Highly customizable with various color and pattern options, addition of pockets, etc.

A man carries a LiteAF ultralight backpack while hiking in the woods.

Ultralight Backpacks On the Trail: The Review

Testing these two packs back to back, even switching them mid-day, offered an excellent perspective when it came to comparing the two, both of which are backpacks we’ve recommended highly in the past. Here are a few of the pros and cons of each lightweight backpack.

Our Take on the Gossamer Gear Gorilla 50

  • Comfort: This pack is impressively comfortable, with no pressure points, good support, and soft, flexible, padded straps.
  • Functionality: The removable seat pad was a highlight, adding convenience and multi functionality on top of slightly more breathability and structure (and protection from hard gear poking you in the back).
  • Packing: We easily fit all the necessary gear, although frankly, it felt too big for the amount of ultralight gear we carried. Thank goodness for those compression straps!

Our Take on the Light AF ECOPAK Curve 40

  • Lightweight: This pack is incredibly light and easy to carry. In terms of comfort, we had few complaints (other than the back panel can feel a bit hot in humid climates).
  • Pocket Space: We love pockets for keeping things organized, so we appreciated the numerous and easily accessible pockets all over this pack. Hip belt pockets would have been a bonus, but we did fine without thanks to shoulder strap pockets.
  • Packing: The pack is easy to pack, though a bit more care should be taken during packing to ensure hard or lumpy items aren’t pressing against your back. We could 40L plenty sufficient for multi-day trips. When not packed full and tight, the material also made a bit of a crinkling noise when hiking.

LateAF vs gossamer gear backpacks.

Bottom Line: Which Pack Reigns Supreme?

While both packs are excellent choices in their own right, and frankly, I would happily carry either one any day of the week, if we had to choose an all-around favorite, we both leaned towards the Gossamer Gear Gorilla for its comfortable carry and removable seat pad. That said, the Light AF ECOPAK Curve is still a fantastic option, especially for those who prioritize customization and extreme durability (and photos of backpacking trips that pop)!

The Gossamer Gear backpack was just a touch more comfortable between the shoulder pads and foam back panel (though foam isn’t terribly sustainable), and it offered an overall quieter carry. The LiteAF backpack was just a touch noisy, though that could likely be remedied by tighter packing. However, the options for customization make it a standout option for those looking for one pack to perfectly suit all their needs.

Did you find this comparison helpful? Let us know in the comments if we helped you decide on a pack or if you have thoughts or opinions about either of them (or other ultralight backpacks you think we should compare, like the old and new Osprey Ultralight packs we reviewed). Then get out there, pack ultralight, and wander on!


Searching for more ultralight backpacking content? Check out our review of the Durston X-Mid 2 ultralight backpacking tent, ultralight mistakes beginners make, and a bunch of ultralight headlamps.