The big news this week is Gossamer Gear’s redesigned ultralight backpack, The Murmur, which has a completely new shoulder harness system, a new top closure system, and incorporates Dyneema fabric in high wear areas for improved durability. I received one of the first of the new Dyneema Murmur’s to come out of production last week, along with two other Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassadors, Brian Green and JJ Mathes. We all agreed to post first look reviews today, so you should check out what they have to say about the new Murmur at Brian’s Backpacking Blog and JERMM’s Outside.
The Murmur’s Essence
Despite these seemingly huge changes, I don’t feel like that essence of The Murmur has really changed all the much. It still has the same overall shape and dimensions of the old Murmur and carries a 15 pound load just like it. The capacity has stayed the same at 22oo cubic inches (total) / 1700 cubic inches (internal), and the pack weight has only increased by 0.4 ounces, up to 8.4 ounces on my scale.
Additionally, The Murmur still has the signature Gossamer Gear sit-pad holder on the back, an un-padded waist strap, four side tie-outs for securing external attachments, and it requires careful packing using a rolled up foam sleeping pad (see Ryan’s post) to give the main compartment a little more structure.
There are a few other littler changes, all for the better in my opinion. The older easily torn mesh on the back pocket has been replaced with the finer and much more durable mesh used on Gossamer Gear’s Gorilla Backpack, and the side bottle pockets now have drain holes in the bottoms.
New Shoulder Harness
I never particularly cared for the shoulder harness on the old Murmur. The padding wasn’t sewn in and it would slip down inside the shoulder strap unless you blocked it’s migration south with a safety pin. In addition, the tops of the straps would get twisted around (because the padding had slipped) and it always a pain in the ass to unravel them when you put the pack back on.
The new straps eliminate all of those annoying problems because the padding is sewn in. On top of that, the new shoulder harness has an adjustable sternum strap, and short daisy chains sewn on the straps with D rings, which will make attaching water bottles or outer pockets easier. I like at least one external shoulder pocket for carrying my camera although I could also see attaching a small water bottle using this system.
One thing Gossamer Gear did preserve with the shoulder straps is their width (2 and 7/8 inches.) I’ve always really liked how their straps distribute load across my shoulders and collarbone because they are so wide. It’s less important with the Murmur since you wouldn’t want to carry more than a 15 pound load with it, but I’m glad that they’ve remained wide because in all probability, Gossamer Gear will use the new harness on future upgrades on their other packs.
One thing I should note with the Murmur, is that you can really only use a thin sit pad in the back pad pocket: one panel of a 3 panel nightlite torso pad works best. Any thicker than that, and the shoulder straps will be too short.
Gossamer Gear is using a 140D Dyneema on the new Murmur, that was specially manufactured for them. In addition, a higher quality, more waterproof 30D silnylon is used to keep the weight of the pack down. This is the first use of the 140 D Dyneema by a cottage manufacturer, as far as I know, and strikes a good balance between durability and light weight, especially since this is an ultralight pack.
I am really pumped that Gossamer Gear has chosen to make their packs more durable because I feel it will significantly expand their customer base. Many backpackers have shied away from ultralight packs because of durability concerns, so it’s good to see Gossamer gear addressing the challenge head on.
New Over the Top Lid System
The new lid system on the Murmur is really a radical design departure for Gossamer Gear and it caught me off guard when I saw it. It’s grown on me though, because it provides top-down compression that the old Murmur never had, as well as making the main compartment more waterproof.
The top lid is basically a flap of fabric which secures to two line lock connectors, anchored on the back part of the bottle pockets. The cord is easily replaceable if you need to make it a bit longer, and it’s a simple but robust system.
To close the pocket, you cinch the top of the main compartment as shown here. It’s a little unintuitive because the compression line runs inside the top of the back half of the pocket, not all the way around, and you can still see down into the pack even when it’s cinched tight.
To close, you simply flip the flap over the hole, connect it to the back line locs and the pack is closed against the rain. I don’t think I could have come up with an idea like this, but it works, and I suspect it was designed like this to save weight. It’s a clever system actually, and I can see how you could even add a pocket to the lid if you wanted to provide some additional external storage on the pack to carry keys or a map.
I’m really impressed with the new upgrades to the Murmur and suspect that we will see many similar durability and design upgrades to the venerable Gossamer Gear product line over the coming year. I like the new Murmur a lot better than the old model and look forward to becoming more acquainted with it on longer walks when the weather warms up next spring.
- 8.4 oz
- 2,200 ci/ 36L total
- 1,700 ci/ 28L main pack body
- 500 ci in main pocket
- 15 lb comfort capacity
- 20 lb maximum carry capacity
- 16”-24”/41–61 cm torso
- up to 42”/ 107 cm waist
- 22” H x 11” W x 4.5” D
- 30 d 1.3 oz. per sq yd silicone coated ripstop nylon
- UL 140d Dyneema ripstop
Disclaimer: Section Hiker (Philip Werner) is a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador and received a complementary 2012 Murmur Ultralight Backpack for testing and review.