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, September 16, 2014

First Look: Gossamer Gear 2014 Murmur Hyperlight Backpack

By Will Rietveld

Introduction and History

The Murmur is a frameless minimalist rucksack for ultralight backpacking. The 2014 version is generation 3 of this popular pack. The dimensions and volume remain unchanged: 2200 cubic inches (36 liters). The pack is available in only one size.

The original silnylon Murmur Gen 1 came out in 2008, weighed 7.5 ounces, and had wide, thick shoulder straps padded with lightweight foam or your spare hiking socks. It even had a pair of side compression straps.

The 2012 Gen 2 Murmur is made of 140 denier Dyneema Gridstop and silnylon, has an Over the Top flap (no pocket), and thinner shoulder straps. The pack gained 1.5 ounces, but added useful features and durability.

Now the Gen 3 2014 Murmur is being introduced. This version is constructed of lightweight and durable Cordura high-tenacity nylon 6-6 ripstop nylon and Robic high-tenacity nylon, has thin perforated foam shoulder straps, replaces the Over the Top flap with a drybag closure, and adds hipbelt wings with pockets. The weight by my scale is 10.85 ounces without the provided SitLight pad and shock cord system. So, the latest Murmur has gained another 1.85 ounces; what are the changes and how much has the pack been improved?

The new 2014 Murmur backpack is unchanged in dimensions and volume and is available in one size. The weight has increased 3.3 ounces from the original.


The fabric used for the body of the new Murmur is 20-denier Cordura high-tenacity 6-6 ripstop nylon, the bottom is 100-denier Robic 100% high-tenacity nylon. These fabrics are lighter and more durable than the previous 140 denier Dyneema Gridstop fabric. Why? -- Because Dyneema Gridstop fabric is ordinary nylon 6 with a grid of high-strength Spectra fibers for strength. High-tenacity 6-6 nylon is industrial strength and highly abrasion-resistant.  If you are interested in learning more about these fabrics, Google “6-6 nylon” and “Robic fabrics” to get the details. There is a big difference between ordinary nylon 6 and high-tenacity nylon 6-6 and Robic.

The following photo sequence shows important details of the new Murmur.

The frontpanel has the same pocket design as previous versions. The big front pocket is a new more durable Darlington Mesh; fabric panels with lashing loops are attached to the mesh. Trekking pole holders have been added on the bottom left and removable tool loops on the upper body.

The backpanel has a thin Power Mesh for the pad sleeve. Note that it absorbs water (and sweat) as shown. A SitLight pad is included with the pack, which can be removed and used as a sit pad on breaks.

Side view: the side pockets are fabric and stretch mesh (same mesh as the front pocket), and are fairly tall. With the pack on, a water bottle can be inched out and replaced in the side pockets, but I would not rate it as easy. Note that there are no loops sewn in the side seams to attach a shock cord or compression system.

The top has a new drybag-type closure that replaces the Over the Top flap on the previous version. One side has a stiffener to facilitate rolling the top down. It’s held down with two side straps (see previous photo); their ¾-inch width is a bit on the heavy side for an ultralight backpack.

The bottom of the pack, including the bottom of the side pockets, is a 100% high tenacity Robic nylon fabric, which is very abrasion resistant. The hipbelt wings are attached with clips, so they are removable. There are two attachment loops, so the pack torso length can be shortened if desired.
Close-up view of the front and side mesh pockets.
The hipbelt wings each have a zippered mesh pocket. Note the clips that attach the hipbelt to the pack, and the second loop 2 inches higher to shorten the pack torso length.

Trekking poles attached to the pack’s trekking pole holders.
A folded ThinLight pad (about 3 ounces) in the pad sleeve adds a bit more weight than the provided SitLight pad (1.75 ounces), but it’s more versatile.

The new pack’s shoulder straps (and hipbelt wings) are padded with a thin perforated Wall Mesh, which should be very breathable.


Initial Testing and First Impressions

I carried the new Murmur packed with weights of 10, 15, and 20 pounds on seven day hikes, one of which was an ascent of a 13,000’ peak. The other hikes were my daily 5 mile walk up a local mountain. Following are my initial impressions.

The new Murmur comfortably carries loads up to 15 pounds; it’s less comfortable at its limit of 20 pounds. This agrees with Gossamer Gear’s specifications. The reason for its reduced comfort with heavier loads is pack torso collapse, which puts more weight on the shoulders, and the thin shoulder straps distort and do not spread the weight.
This photo shows the exact same load in the original silnylon Murmur. The shoulder straps are wider, thicker, and more supportive. As with any frameless backpack, pack torso collapse still occurs, putting more weight on the shoulders, but the wider, thicker shoulder straps in this case spread the weight over the shoulders, substantially increasing comfort.
The new Murmur’s hipbelt wings, padded with the same Wall Mesh, are no better than the shoulder straps; they collapse with heaver loads and do not spread the weight. I found that the ordinary webbing waist strap on the original Murmur is just as comfortable.

  • The new Murmur effectively uses the latest high-tenacity nylon fabrics and mesh to enhance durability while minimizing weight.
  • Small webbing loops in the side seams have been eliminated, so the pack does not have any volume compression capability. On previous versions I was able to run thin cords with cordlocks through those loops to create a compression system.
  • I really like the new drybag-style top closure; it’s easy to use, keeps water from entering the pack, and tightly secures the top.
  • The trekking pole holders are a nice feature and add little weight. There are many times on a backpacking trip where I want to stow my poles and have my hands free.
  • The Murmur is available in only one size. I measured the pack torso length at 18.5 inches (center of hipbelt to shoulder strap attachment), which translates to a size Medium. Connecting the hipbelt wings to the upper loops results in a pack torso length of about 16.5 inches for shorter hikers. I found the pack to be a bit too short for taller hikers like me, but usable with lighter loads.
  • Overall, I like all of the changes in materials and design of the new 2014 Murmur, except the very thin padding in the shoulder straps and hipbelt wings. When I compared the new pack with the original Murmur’s thicker/wider shoulder straps, I found the original pack substantially more comfortable carrying the same 20-pound load. Also, the new version does not have any volume adjustment capability as previous versions did.


Specifications and Features

Gossamer Gear (www.gossamergear.com/)
2014 Murmur Hyperlight backpack
Sizes Available
One size (Medium), adjustable to Small
2200 cubic inches total (36 liters)
Specified Weight
Minimum weight 8.5 oz; weight with hipbelt 9.2 ounces; total weight 12.7 oz
Measured Weight
Minimum weight 8.65 oz; weight with hipbelt 10.9 oz; total weight 13.65 oz
Pack body is 20 denier Cordura high-tenacity ripstop nylon coated  one side with silicone and the other with a PU/silicone blend; bottom is 100 denier Robic 100% high-tenacity nylon; front, side, and hipbelt pockets are Darlington stretch mesh; pad sleeve is Power Mesh
Stretch mesh front and side pockets, front pocket has attached lashing loops, trekking pole holder, ventilated foam padded shoulder straps, drybag top closure with 2 side straps, interior hydration reservoir hangers and two hose ports, detachable padded hipbelt wings with zippered mesh pockets, 2 attachment heights for hipbelt wings, backpanel sleeping pad sleeve with SitLight pad included, 2 tool loops, ice axe loop, haul loop

 Questions for Readers

I have been pondering the following questions, and hope that you can enlighten me. Your responses will help me keep up on current trends.

  1. Does anyone use the virtual frame technique anymore? That requires a closed cell foam pad. With the availability of LW comfortable inflatable sleeping pads, it seems like most hikers are adopting them, which makes it difficult to create a virtual frame. How do you create pack rigidity, or not?
  2. When you use an UL frameless backpack, like the Murmur, what is your initial weight? How comfortable is that weight in a frameless backpack, or do you go to a different pack for those weights?

After further testing of the new Murmur on backpacking trips I will add additional comments to this article and convert it to a review, stay tuned.


  1. I really enjoy reading your blog, thanks for sharing it :D it's really beautiful

  2. In the photo where the shoulder straps are buckling, were you closer to 20 pounds? Did you experience any buckling around 15 pounds?

  3. A friend of mine has the original and couldn't get comfortable with the shoulder straps, she's a petite woman and found them too wide. The 3rd generation has minimalist Golite type straps which I have no problem with, on my Jam 35. But I also have the 2nd generation Murmur - OK to 20lbs, fabulous at 15. Wide shoulder straps OK for me, probably the best so far. It takes a winter load UK style for one or two nights with a full tent - I think it will be perfect for a summer trip of 2 -4 days and tarp tent, load max 15lb with food, under 10 'dry' weight. Bloody excellent pack, just a tad slimmer if taller than GL Jam 35 so mostly comparable and nearly 1lb lighter if unlikely to wear so well. But that's what it's about these days if you want the least of the least.


  4. When I got my gear system below 15 pounds I discovered that I didn't need a hip belt anymore (which saved even more weight). This solved the pack rigidity challenge, and I was then able to incorporate an inflatable pad...and go to an even smaller pack.
    Call Me Ishmael

  5. Several of my hiking buddies have moved to inflatable pads and still need enough rigidity for good weight transfer to their hip belts. They have found success by packing carefully, using the GVP method to stuff their sleeping bags in a liner bag and using the pack compression straps. Then they inflate their sleeping pads that they have folded into the pad pocket on their packs. This is similar to using a Klymit Air Beam framsheet except that now the pad performs double duty (framesheet and sleeping pad).
    Call Me Ishmael

  6. I took the 2015 Murmur out with 24 pounds. The Shoulder Straps gave me no problems, but I carry a 43 pound pack about 4-5 times a week. I guess the 24 pounds doesn't register a complaint.

    I also added a three layer NightLite pad but it was a a pain getting it into the pad keepers the first time. Then it stretched a bit. The three layer nightlight fixed the pack collapse, but also added about 5-6oz.

    The Hip Belt was a problem, however. It started coming off after the third day on the trail. I superglued it onto the loop.

    Overall, it was an excellent pack for a week out. I carried fishing gear and my camera. And, of course, my old SVEA.

    James D. Marco

  7. Excellent post. Informative and interesting which we share with you so i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts. I am tiring the same best work from me in the future as well.