Review: Gossamer Gear Murmur Revisited

Since my first review of the Gossamer Gear Murmur Hyperlight backpack was little more than a glorified “unboxing” review with some field notes added after the fact, I decided to revisit this review and give you a more in depth look at my experiences with the Murmur. I’ve been using this pack a lot over the past year or so. It’s accompanied me on 90% of my backpacking trips and pretty much every day hike. I’ve put it through its paces and definitely haven’t treated it with much respect, but it still seems to have plenty of miles left in it.

The Cold, Hard Data

On my cheap-o Wal-Mart kitchen scale, this pack weighs in at exactly 10oz (not including the SitLight Pad that it came with). This is pretty damn close to the 10.1oz that Gossamer Gear advertises, so I’m happy about that. The total volume of the Murmur is 36L: 28L in the main compartment and 8L in the stretchy mesh pocket. This pack is 100% frameless. There are no frames, frame sheets, or stays to help transfer the weight to your hips. This saves overall weight, but also limits how much weight you can carry. Gossamer Gear says that this pack is capable of 20lb loads, but 15lbs is the max “comfort” load. I’d say that this is a fair rating. I’ve pushed this pack a little past 20 pounds, and it does get pretty uncomfortable at that weight. Since the hip belt isn’t designed to be load-bearing, all the weight is born by your shoulders. I find that to be pretty uncomfortable after a half-day of hiking. However, below 18lbs or so, this pack is very comfortable for me. I barely know it’s on, and don’t even bother taking it off during most breaks.

Materials

The grey material with the white criss-cross pattern is 140D Dyneema Gridstop. This material is very durable. There are a few puncture holes in my pack, but I am absolutely confident that they won’t be able to tear much more. The white Dyneema fibers criss-crossing this fabric are extremely strong and won’t easily tear under normal use. So, even if you poke a hole through the grey part of the fabric, the white threads will stop the hole from becoming an all out tear. This material is also lighter than the more commonly used 210D Dyneema Gridstop (example: GoLite Jam). This fabric is water resistant, but NOT waterproof. Gossamer Gear uses this fabric across their entire pack line (except the G4).

Most of the black parts of the pack are 30D Silnylon. The nylon is impregnated with a silicone coating that slightly increases tear strength and also acts as waterproofing. That being said, the silnylon is still much less durable than the Gridstop, which is one of the main reasons that this pack isn’t very suitable for bushwhacking. One stray branch or stick, and you could have yourself a nice rip. The waterproof quality of this fabric is pretty nice, though. In conjunction with the water-resistant Gridstop material, the inside of the pack stays pretty dry (for the most part). Besides a few scuffs and scrapes, the 30D Silnylon on my Murmur is holding up pretty well.

Stretchy mesh is used for the outside pocket and the sit/sleeping pad holders on this pack. I’ve heard stories about this material being less-than-durable, however I’ve never had any issues with it. I usually have this pocket full of rain gear, my cook kit, and a few other odds and ends. Even stretched to capacity, I haven’t had any problems. I’m more or less indifferent towards this material. It’s held up well, but at the same time doesn’t do anything impressive. It functions, and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.

Over-The-Top Closure

Instead of the more typical drawstring/roll-top closure for the main compartment, Gossamer Gear has developed what they call the “Over-the-Top” closure. The excess fabric at the opening of the compartment is loosely gathered together with a shock cord and cord lock. This fabric is then folded over and then buckled in place with 2 Lineloc Buckle. If you fail to tighten the buckles enough, you could potentially run the risk of smaller-sized objects shimmying out through the opening and being lost forever. Fortunately this has never happened to me, but I am obsessive about keeping those buckles tightened. On the brighter side, I find that this closure is very convenient, if you want to get in and out of the pack very quickly or while walking. I think that folding the flap over and buckling it in place is much more convenient than the more conventional drawstring/rolltop/strap-and-buckle system.

Shoulder Straps and Hip Belt

The Murmur’s shoulder straps are very lightly padded, but at the pack’s intended load, you won’t need much padding. This lack of padding does create a minor problem for me. The shoulder straps don’t have much stiffness to them, so they tend to twist when I am putting the pack on. Over many hikes, this twisting has caused the seams to loosen where the straps are sewn to the body of the pack. I noticed this pretty early on and reinforced the seams with some Shoe Goo, which seems to have stopped any further damage. The shoulder straps have one other minor flaw: the lightweight webbing tends to slide in the buckle and loosen over the course of your hike. I find myself tightening them every few miles. Despite their little problems, I think the shoulder straps are comfortable and do their job fairly well.

There isn’t much to say about the Murmur’s hip belt. It is a narrow piece of plain-Jane webbing with a buckle. There are no pockets or padding of any kind. Unlike most traditional hip belts, this belt isn’t meant to help carry the weight of the pack on your hips. It’s pretty much only there to stop the pack from swinging around too much as you walk. With a total pack weight of 15-18lbs (or less), you could probably just take it off altogether. The hip belt webbing and buckles have the same slippage issue as the shoulder straps, but I’ve become used to it. I barely even think about it anymore. Sometimes, I’ll just loosely knot the webbing around the buckles to keep everything in place.

Overall Impressions

I think I’ve covered all my major issues with this pack, but I think the pros outweigh the cons. The materials are sturdy, the quality of construction is good, and the pack is comfortable to carry.  Unless you make your own or do some mods to another pack, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a sturdy 10oz pack at this $140 price point. I can definitely see myself carrying this pack for the foreseeable future, when it is the appropriate pack for the trip.

Disclosure: I am affiliated with Gossamer Gear as a member of their Trail Ambassador program. I did, however, purchase this pack at full price with my own money. Gossamer Gear did not ask me to write this review, and they did not read/edit it before it was posted here. 

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