Welcome! Ultralight backpacking is my passion, and keeping up on new technologies, gear, and techniques relevant to UL backpacking is what floats my boat. I'm always looking for the lightest, most functional gear to improve a lightweight or ultralight backpacking kit, and report my impressions and field testing results here. For hikers wanting to keep up on the latest and greatest ultralight backpacking gear, this is a good place to hang out. Also, there is a lot of information here (and on our informational website Southwest Ultralight Backpacking) on useful techniques and backcountry etiquette -- food for thought for hikers wanting to lighten their load and their impacts.

My goal for Ultralight Insights is to understand, test, and report on new technologies and gear of interest to lightweight and ultralight backpackers. It's a passion after all, so we just plain enjoy talking about it. I hope readers will add their own wisdom and comments, respond to my questions, ask their own questions, and correct me if I get something wrong. Happy hiking! Will

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

GEAR REVIEW: Gossamer Gear 2012 Murmur SUL Backpack

By Will Rietveld

The updated 2012 Murmur super-ultralight backpack (8.4 ounces/238 g, US$140), coming out in December, 2011, introduces Gossamer Gear's new 140 denier Dyneema Ripstop fabric, which raises the bar for lightweight and durable backpack fabric. The new fabric and other significant feature changes will migrate to their other packs.

Testing the updated Gossamer Gear Murmur on a recent backcountry ski trip. Overall, I took it on three day hikes, one snowshoeing trip, and one backcountry skiing trip.

The original 2200 cubic inch (36 L) Murmur was constructed of silnylon and light mesh to achieve its light weight of just 8.1 ounces (230 g). The new 2012 Murmur, which retains the same dimensions and volume, introduces Gossamer Gear’s new 140 denier Dyneema Ripstop fabric, which (in my humble opinion) is the biggest new development in lightweight pack fabrics since silnylon. In the new Murmur, the 140 denier Dyneema is used for the top flap, bottom, side pockets, and shoulder strap attachments – which are high abrasion and stress areas where a more durable fabric is needed. The remainder of the pack body is high grade silnylon and durable lightweight mesh. The new pack weighs just 8.4 ounces (231 g), an increase of only 0.3 ounce (8.5 g).

As I pointed out in my recent article on Frameless Backpacks State of the Market Report 2011 at BackpackingLight.com, ultralight backpacks have gained weight in recent years as the market places more emphasis on durability and longevity. The 210 denier Dyneema Ripstop fabrics used by several manufacturers are very durable, but they are overkill for an ultralight backpack. Cuben Fiber of course is lighter, but heavier weights of CF are needed for backpacks, so there is little weight savings and CF has limited longevity. Gossamer Gear’s new 140 denier Dyneema fabric seems to be the perfect balance of light weight and durability.

The photo gallery below provides a tour of the updated Gossamer Gear 2012 Murmur SUL pack.

Close up view of Gossamer Gear’s new 140 denier Dyneema fabric on the Murmur’s new “Over The Top” closure, which replaces the conventional drawcord and roll-down closure. The new closure design and fabric make the pack’s topside more durable and water-resistant. Under the top flap is a short drawcord closure that pulls in the front and sides of the pack opening to keep the contents from falling out.

Frontpanel view – the top flap is secured with two side-release buckles with Line-Lok type adjustors and braided cord, which eliminates some webbing to save weight. The front pocket is a very lightweight, stretchy, durable mesh.

Backpanel view – the backpanel retains Gossamer Gear’s traditional pad pocket, which is intended for a thin foam pad or small inflatable sleeping pad. A major change is new shoulder straps that are still wide to distribute weight, but more thinly padded than the original Murmur. Gone too is the “socks in the shoulder straps” feature (sorry Glen) which allowed the user to stuff clothing in shoulder strap pockets to save weight. The removable hipbelt is simple 0.75 inch (19 mm) webbing; two lengths are provided.

Side view – the side pockets are made of the new 140 denier Dyneema fabric for extra durability, and are angled forward to allow easier access to water bottles with the pack on. Note that the new Murmur no longer has side compression straps, but it does have loops to install a front bungie system.

Overall, the updated Murmur is one sweet pack, and just the right volume for ultralight backpacking. Don’t dismiss this pack because of its smaller volume; if your base weight is less than 8 pounds (3.63 kg) – which is not hard to achieve nowadays – then this is the pack size you should be looking for.

Disclosure: The author is a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador and received a sample of the new Murmur backpack from Gossamer Gear for testing and review purposes.

Go to Southwest Ultralight Backpacking 

1 comment:

  1. Will - nice to see you blogging. Can you change the comment settings so those of us with normal email addresses can leave a comment? Thanks Philip Werner.