Gossamer Gear G4-20: Best Ultralight Pack For 2023?

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Looking for a lightweight pack or looking to branch into the world of ultralight gear?

The Gossamer Gear G4-20 is the perfect pack to consider.

A frameless pack with a lot of features, built to last multiple years of regular backpacking use.

The G4-20 Ultralight Backpack will give you a larger capacity than others in its class, with the features of a backpack twice the price.

It’s water resistant and can function as a day pack or be used for multi-night backpacking trips.

Oh, and it’s under 2 pounds and less than $200.

Quick Stats And Overview

     

      • Total Volume: 42L

      • Weight, without sit pad: 20.9 oz – 22.4 oz.

      • Weight, with sit pad: 23.5 oz – 26.0 oz.

      • Max carry capacity: 25 pounds

      • Material: Robic nylon, with DWR coating

      • Frameless

      • Roll top closure

    Pros And Cons

    Pros

       

        • Versatile

        • Lightweight

        • Comfortable

        • Lots of external pockets

      Versatile. The thing I love most about the G4-20 is just how versatile it is. It is large enough to take on a multi-day trip (if weather and trail conditions are right), but it is also light enough to use as a day pack. If I could have only one backpack, this would easily be on the shortlist.

      Lightweight. At an average weight of 24.7 oz. it is hard to complain. This includes the 3.1 oz. sit pad that is included in the pocket/sleeve along the back. If you are taller and opt for the large pack, the weight only increases to 26.0 oz. and if you are shorter, the total weight drops to 23.5 oz.

      Comfortable. This was my second frameless backpack, and I was still a little bit hesitant of frameless packs. But the G4-20 opened my mind to the idea of frameless backpacks being viable multi-night packs. The fixed hip-belt is perfect for me; it is padded enough to be comfortable but not too much to feel intrusive on my stride. (A nice little hug to let you know it’s there without engulfing and smothering you)

      External Pockets. I am a sucker for high-volume, functional external pockets, and this pack is like a dream come true. Two hip-belt pockets. Two side pockets (one tall pocket and one short pocket). And one big mesh front stretch pocket. The hip-belt pockets are perfect for storing your phone on one side and a couple of snacks on the other. The side pockets are perfect for water bottles or a bottle on one side and other quick-access items on the other. (Plus, it is easy to reach your water bottle in the short pocket without removing your pack or asking for someone else to grab it) And the open mesh pocket is amazing to use for maps, jackets, or drying some clothes while you hike! This past year I did a couple of multi-day trips with this pack and was able to store my tent, tent poles, sleeping pad, and more using just the exterior pockets! (Perfect for opening up space in the main compartment for a bear canister)

      Cons

         

          • Shoulder straps

          • Need to have a low base weight

        Shoulder straps. The shoulder straps are padded, but I would not consider them luxurious by any means. Particularly when the total pack weight is closer to the 20-25 pound range, I felt like my shoulders were feeling sore at the end of the day. Going to the large size versus the medium may reduce this issue, as I am right in the height range between the two sizes.

        Base weight. If your base weight is above 15 pounds or so, I would recommend going with a framed backpack. Gossamer Gear recommends a max of 25 pounds for comfort on this pack, and I feel like that is spot on. By the time you add in water and food, if your base weight is not below 15 pounds, you will not get the most out of this pack.

        In-Depth Rating

        Comfort

        The Gossamer Gear G4-20 is an ultralight backpack that you can load up for a single or multi-night trip and forget that you are using a frameless backpack.

        If you start to reach that 20-pound weight threshold, the pack starts to become a little less comfortable. That is the nature of frameless packs, so it is hard to ding the pack for it too much.

        The hip-belt is nice and wide with adequate padding, and they can be tightened or loosened to achieve the most comfortable fit.

        The shoulder straps are plenty wide and padded. They have adjustable straps to loosen or tighten to achieve your fit. There is also a sternum strap that can be loosened or tightened across your chest.

        The sit pad (a fairly simple foam pad) that is included with the pack sits along the back of the pack in a designated pocket/ sleeve. This provides a nice layer of comfort that protects your back against any hard or uneven items that you have in your pack.

        Unless you carry more than 20 pounds, you will hardly notice that you are wearing a pack, which is about the best compliment you can have for a pack.

        Durability

        I have used mine for two years worth of backpacking trips, and you would never know; it looks brand new.

        All of the stitching has held up. None of the webbing or straps have frayed. The exterior material has no holes.

        It has primarily been on trips in mountainous terrain, so I am holding out to take it on some more varied terrains before I give it a perfect rating for durability. Though I see no signs of wear and tear so far.

        For reference, before this pack, I was usually using the Osprey Exos 48 on trips in mountainous terrain, and it showed more wear and tear in a similar time frame. The mesh pocket on the Osprey pack had multiple holes in it, and some of the stitching was coming loose along the waist belt.

        Features

        The G4-20 has pretty much every feature I was looking for in an ultralight pack.

        Large front mesh pocket. Large hip belt pockets. Roll top closure. Large side pockets. All in a frameless pack that weighs under 2 pounds and can carry up to 20 pounds.

        The front mesh pocket is huge and durable. The bottom of the pocket is robic nylon, so you can put any item with a sharp edge toward the bottom of the pocket for extra protection.

        The hip belt pockets are large and zippered. This is perfect for a phone or snacks. Or another item you want quick access to during your hike.

        The roll top closure allows you to compress the top of the pack down to the level you have it packed to. You could use the full height of the pack or roll it all the way down. There are clips on either side of the roll top that clip in on the side of the pack. This gives you added flexibility to use the pack for longer trips or short day hikes.

        The large side pockets offer a lot of storage and are easily accessible. The two pockets are asymmetrical (one is taller than the other), and this is something that hikers either love or hate. I love them because the short one is reachable while I am wearing the backpack, so it is perfect for my main water bottle. The taller one is flexible it its use; this year I stored my tent poles and stakes in it, saving room in the main compartment.

        Other notable features include: a zippered pocket on the front (above the mesh), removable straps, a removable sit pad, and an ice axe loop on the bottom of the front.

        Gossamer Gear also offers a couple of optional features (for an extra cost). Those are a shoulder strap pocket and an umbrella clamp. I do not have either, so I cannot speak to the quality of them.

        Value

        You are going to pay for a pack that is this light and has as many features. Though, compared to other packs in this ultralight range, the G4-20 is among the best values.

        This pack is still priced under $200, which for an ultralight pack in 2023 is quite impressive.

        I see this pack lasting me at least 5 years (and probably more). Even if this was your only pack, I could see this one lasting over 5 years.

        Plus, with the added daypack/backpack flexibility, I think this pack is well worth the investment.

        Total

        This Gossamer Gear backpack is as versatile and durable as any other frameless backpack on the market.

        Gossamer Gear has been popular among ultralight backpackers for years, and for good reason. Their packs are lightweight while still emphasizing durability and useful features.

        Is The Gossamer Gear G4-20 Worth The Price?

        Yes.

        You are hard-pressed to find an ultralight backpack with this much storage, a comfortable hip belt (plus with hip belt pocket), and comfortable to carry up to 20-25 pounds at this price point.

        You usually have to sacrifice on either comfort, features, or price. But the G4-20 gives you what you need without having to sacrifice any of those three.

        Who Is This Pack Right For

        Anyone looking for a lightweight pack that has maximum flexibility and durability.

        If you are looking to lighten your pack without spending a huge amount of money, this is one you should look at.

        I would recommend that you have your base weight dialed into the 10-15 pound range before considering this backpack for overnight trips. Frameless backpacks can be rather unforgiving if you try to exceed their weight capacity.

        In my experience, the Gossamer Gear G4-20 strikes an excellent balance between comfort, weight, and durability. It is a great do-it-all backpack!

        Conclusion

        The G4-20 is a homerun from Gossamer Gear.

        Under 2 pounds, can carry up to 25 pounds, does not sacrifice nice features, and all for under $200?

        Rather unbelievable for a backpack in 2023.

        If you are into backpacking and want something a little lighter than your big-name brands offer, check out the Gossamer Gear G4-20.

        I switched to this pack for my main overnight backpack a couple of years ago and have not regretted it at all.

        I have plenty of storage, a lighter load, and I find myself enjoying every step of my trips!

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