Review: 2012 Gossamer Gear Murmur Hyperlight Backpack

General info:

  • Weight: 9.1oz
  • Volume: 2200cu. in. (36l): 1,700 c.i. (28 l.) in main pack body/extension collar, 500 c.i. (8 l.) in main pocket
  • Max Weight Capacity: 20lbs (15lbs preferred)
  • Dimensions: Height 22”, Width 11”, Depth 4.5 “
  • Materials: 30D Silnylon, 140D Dyneema Gridstop, 210D Dyneema Gridstop
  • Price: $140

Unboxing and initial packing:

First, I have to mention that Gossamer Gear ships this pack in a small cardboard box with no excess packaging. There are no packing peanuts, wadded up papers, or plastic bags. The company doesn’t even include an Owner’s Manual, but they do make them available on their website. I really like this environmentally friendly approach!

As with most ultralight gear, some of you might have your qualms about the durability of the materials used in this pack, BUT let me reassure you. The Dyneema Gridstop materials used on the “high abuse” areas is pretty tough stuff. Even if you manage to accidentally puncture it, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll develop a full on tear. The 30D Silnylon on the rest of the pack is nowhere near as tough, but, as long as you treat the pack with a little respect (Gently PLACE it on the ground, don’t DROP it to the ground!), this material should hold up pretty well.

The overall design of this pack is pretty nice. That being said, it is pretty obviously designed for someone with the typical “thru-hiker’s build”. I’m a pretty big guy, so I needed to extend the shoulder straps almost all the way. The J-shaped and minimally-padded shoulder straps weren’t noticeably uncomfortable on my first hike around the living room. I wear size-38 jeans, and the attached hip belt just barely fit me. However, Gossamer Gear includes a longer belt, which is pretty easy to swap out yourself.

The external pad sleeve holds the included Gossamer Gear Sitlight pad, which gives the pack a little bit of shape and padding. This sleeve isn’t very large though. You might have trouble using it with a regular-sized closed-cell foam pad. Deflated air pads and self-inflating pads MIGHT fit, if folded carefully. external water-bottle pockets are positioned well. Using a solid bottle (such as Nalgene, Gatorade, or SmartWater) you should have no problem grabbing your water bottles on the fly. I played around with my 1L Platypus Smart Bottles, and they were tricky to get in and out (but not impossible). There are ports for a hydration hose, but keep in mind that there is no bladder sleeve inside the pack.

The pack volume is small, so beware. If you have bulky gear, this pack might not be for you. Using my bulkiest winter gear, 2L of water, and 3 days of food, I pretty much had this thing full to capacity. To me, that means it will suit my 3-season needs pretty well. Also note that I had to make liberal use of the external mesh pocket to achieve this. My tarp, bivy, stakes, personal items bag, 2L platypus, wind shirt, and first aid kit are all in the mesh pocket. I’m OK with that (for now) because the stretchy mesh seems to keep everything in place. There is also a way to secure this a bit more using the customizable shock cord compression system.

The biggest bitch-factor on this pack is going to be the Gossamer Gear Over-the-Top closure system. Rather than the drawstring and roll-top closure that most ultralight packs employ these days (See: Granite Gear Virga or GoLite Jam), this system uses a bit of shock cord to cinch the top closed (only closes about halfway). The whole top is then folded over and secured with CordLoc buckles. I don’t think any gear should be able to fall out, BUT there could be potential for water to work its way in. If you use a pack liner, as I do, this should be a non-issue. I personally don’t love this system, but it’s one of the very few “Cons” about this pack. I’m willing to live with it. I’ll give this closure the benefit of the doubt until I get a little trail experience with it.

All in all, this is a great little pack. It will work well for the ultralight weekend warrior, or even for the SUL long distance hiker. The $140 price point is fair, considering that Gossamer Gear is a lower-volume manufacturer compared to the “big” names (Granite Gear, GoLite, Osprey, etc). My Granite Gear Virga was cheaper, but it also weighs almost three times as much. I got my Murmur on sale for $112, which is pretty fantastic. So, keep an eye out for the occasional sale over at Gossamer Gear. I’ll update this review as I start to put some trail miles on this pack.

Update: 11/25/12
I carried this pack for a 14 mile day hike on Friday, and I was satisfied overall. I was carrying a heavier than normal load (10lbs 6oz Base weight + 3 days of food and fuel + 2L water) of 17lbs, which is 2lbs heavier than Gossamer Gear’s recommended load of 15lbs. The pack felt great until mile 12, and then it started to hurt my shoulders a bit. That’s acceptable to me, since I was technically overloaded. I have a few minor complaints. The hip belt, shoulder strap, and sternum strap webbing all slipped in the buckles, which required periodic re-tightening (Not a big deal). All-in-all, I’m happy so far! I’ll report back when I get a chance to carry it overnight.

Update: 12/10/12

I took my Murmur out for a 1-nighter (18 wet and cold miles on the AT), and it performed admirably. Everything inside the main compartment stayed mostly dry, including the things that weren’t in liners or dry bags! I am now officially sold on the Over-The-Top closure. It makes accessing the pack quick and easy, and it kept my load compressed and secure. My Exped Synmat UL7 does fit in the Murmur’s pad sleeve, if folded properly. It actually provided great padding, even deflated. Getting 1L Platypus bottles in-and-out of the water bottle pockets was a bit tricky on the fly. I might end up switching them out for Smartwater or Gatorade bottles when I use this pack in the future. Once again, I was slightly above the 15lb suggested load (15lbs, 9.5oz including consumables). I must report some shoulder and back discomfort at the end of the 2nd day. I think I might have to limit this pack to use in late spring-early fall, when my base weights are lower. All in all, I still think this is a solid pack. I just need to adjust my system, so that I can use it to its full potential.

Update: 5/5/13

I carried my Murmur a few weeks ago on a 3-Day/42-mile hike. My base pack weight was right around 7.5 pounds, with a total pack weight around 15.5lbs. It seems that I’ve finally found a combination of gear, which allows me to use this pack within its intended load rating, and it was a whole new world. The Murmur is definitely going to stay in my starting line-up!

*I bought this pack with my own money. Gossamer Gear didn’t ask me to review the pack for them, so I was able to stay unbiased. 

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