Gossamer Gear is best known for their backpacking gear that helps do what their moto promises, take less and do more. Formerly GVP Gear, Gossamer was the brainchild of backpacker and civil engineer, Glen Van Peski, who was motivated by his childrens’ time in the Boy Scouts, stuck with with more traditional, heavier packs. While Glen remains on board (literally, the board), the Gossamer of today is headed up by president Grant Sible out of Austin, TX.
Unlike almost everything else in Gossamer’s lineup, the Vagabond line is triple-pronged approach to daypacks. The Vagabond is available as the Daypack, Jet, or Packable. Each being for hiking, daily carry, and travel respectively. They all share the same general pattern, but have unique feature sets where it counts.
|Capacity||1404 cu. in.||23L|
|Capacity||1404 cu. in.||23L|
|Capacity||1404 cu. in.||23L|
Quality & Comfort
Each bag is made from some variation of Robic nylon that Gossamer has chosen to suit each use case. The heaviest (at a whopping 22.8oz) is the Jet, with a 210D ripstop body, and a waterproof base made from PU coated 305D Cordura. The Daypack comes in a bit lighter at 18.5oz, and uses a 100D ripstop nylon for the entire pack. The Packable, as expected, is the lightest of the bunch at 11.2oz, made up of a lightweight 70D nylon.
The Daypack and Jet use YKK Aquaguard zippers on each external facing compartment, while the Daypack uses standard reverse coil YKK zips. The Aquaguard use on the main compartment is almost a necessity, as the recessed tote-style build of the packs makes them susceptible to catching and holding rain or debris in the top of the bag. We’ll talk about that more later.
All three bags have compression straps near the mid-top of the bag, though the Packable only has a single-sided compression strap. I’m not quite sure why that is, other than to maybe save some extra ounces.
Each pack has an appropriate amount of shoulder strap padding for their intended use, while the Jet and Daypack have a molded foam and padded airmesh panel respectively. The Jet’s backpanel is my favorite of the bunch. Since this is for daily carry, Gossamer was right to skip on the airmesh, as tends to wear on clothing. The molded foam is comfortable and gives a little room for your back to still breath. The Daypack’s airmesh panel has a few air channels along the side, and a larger channel down the center. It’s comfortable.
The more substantial shoulder straps on the Jet and Daypack were actually a little too wide and close together for my liking. I imagine they might wear in better over time, but since they’re lighter bags to begin with, I think they could probably do away with some of the width. This is a personal preference however, and you may not take any issue with them.
Each bag has a sternum strap, attached either via a wire stitched into the straps (Jet and Daypack), or via a daisy chain (Packable). They’re adjustable, and work as expected. The only issue I found was that the wire-attached version has a slightly pointy edge. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but I worry that it would be a wear point in the future. It could be fixed, in my unprofessional opinion, by just curving it into the strap, or swapping to a daisy chain attachment.
Given all that, the general build quality is superb, as many have come to expect from Gossamer Gear.
As you can probably guess, the organization is similar across the entire line, with some variations due to their intended uses. All three bags have stretch water bottle pockets on either side, and seemed to swallow up any bottle I threw at it. If you wanna rock dual Nalgenes, have at it. The pockets don’t take up any internal room, but since the materials of the packs themselves are relatively lightweight it might seem that way if you’re bag isn’t packed out.
Like the bottle pockets, each bag also has a stretch front pocket. These are typical on many thruhiking packs – useful for stuffing items you need quick access to, or for letting damp gear dry off while you hit the road.
The shoulder straps on each are adorned with simple stretch pockets. I love these pockets on the Daypack and even the Packable – they’re great for stowing gloves, hats, and snacks. But I thought they were a bit of a miss on the Jet, only because I would have rather had some lashing points here instead, for lashing my keys, or similar. That said, they’re definitely useful on the Jet, just maybe a little too outdoors oriented in both look and function.
The top entry is secured with YKK Aquaguard zippers on the Daypack and Jet, and YKK RC on the Packable. As you can see in the photos, this bag is more or less a tote, and the zipper is reminiscent of one. I don’t think this proves great access to the interior, but it’s not bad either – it’s simple and it works.
The real downside to this design is that since the zipper is recessed slightly, it creates a bucket in the top of the pack, which does an excellent job of collecting debris and precipitation depending on how you’re using it. On one of my hikes with the Daypack, I returned home to find that the top of the bag had a bunch of small sticks and leaves in it since I had cut through between some trails. I would be slightly worried if you were using these packs in rainy weather that it would funnel the water into the pack, but the YKK Aquaguard zippers should protect against that unless you’re really in a downpour.
Future iterations might want to look at moving the zipper to the edge of the top of the bag, so it can’t sag inward. Another option would be having a snap or strap that cinched the top close, to shield the opening. You can accomplish this yourself by just strapping the two top handles together, if it worries you. Also worth noting is that if the bag is packed out, the opening protrudes above the top of the pack, alleviating some of this issue.
The inside of each Vagabond is, you guessed it, tweaked between each version. The Packable and Daypack have water bladder hangers and sleeves, while the Jet has a surprisingly nice dual laptop and tablet sleeve that should fit up to a 15″ MBP-sized laptop.
A front accessory pocket adorns each bag, with similar zipper choices as the main compartment. On the Packable, this acts as the stuff pouch, allowing it to fold into itself down to a 7″x7.5″x2.5″ cube. It pretty easily fits into any piece of luggage or primary bag you might be traveling with.
The accessory pocket on the Daypack is also accessible from inside the pack, but this isn’t the case on the Jet, which is only accessible externally. In my use this didn’t have much of a functional difference. The Jet also has a small accessory organizer, in the form of some elastic webbing, and a key hook. I thought the accessory holder was a bit novel, with a nice minimalistic touch.
- Tote format is great for quick trips around town or the local park and carrying the bag from transit to destination.
- Stretch pockets are great on all three bags, giving some extra stash room and quick-access space.
- Each bag, while similar, is truly tailored to its respective intended use. The suspension and organization choices are specifically worth mentioning.
- The laptop compartment in the Jet is surprisingly great, and better than many out there.
- The recessed opening of the tote-style main compartment can act as a bucket for debris and precipitation if the bag isn’t packed out.
- The straps, for me, are either a little too wide or a little too close together.
- Despite the tweaking between each bag, the Jet specifically could use some further tweaks to give it more of a “city” look, like doing something differently with the shoulder pockets.
It’s always great to see a maker stepping out of their comfort zone and pursuing different designs that may or may not be their typical bread and butter. While that doesn’t always work, I’m happy to report that this isn’t the case with the Vagabond lineup from Gossamer Gear. Each bag truly shines at its respected task, and I’ve been getting a great deal of use out of all of them.
The Packable is a worthy travel companion, and a good alternative to the TAD Azimuth which is a bit unobtainable at the moment. It even packs down smaller. The Daypack works just as well for a trip to your favorite theme park as it does for a day long hike up into the hills. The Jet, in my opinion, is the true standout of this bunch, offering up a truly great crossover, do-all pack that can take you from your office job, to the gym, and even over the same terrain as the Daypack.