Later today Gossamer Gear will be unveiling a redesigned version of their popular ultralight backpack, the Murmur. As a Trail Ambassador for GG, I've had the pleasure of putting one of the new Murmur backpacks through its paces over the last few days in order to provide my initial feedback.
I took the Murmur out on a weekend trip with enough gear for myself and my dog Coco, to see how it would hold up. As I have not been able to test the Murmur long-term, this will simply be my first impressions of how it performed.
The new GG Murmur is a completely reinvented version of its predecessor with a new closure design, more durable materials, and improved hardware. Despite the changes, it still manages to weight in at mere 8.4oz, which for a 28L (36L including internal & external) backpack that can comfortably hold 15-20lbs is no small feat.
This is most definite not your grandma's old, bright blue, silnylon Murmur. The new version is made using a combination of custom made UL 140 denier dyneema gridstop, for high wear areas such as the top flap, pockets and bottom, and a higher grade 30 denier silnylon for the main body.
The large rear single pocket is made using a lightweight, highly snag-resistant mesh. I had expected to have problems with the rear mesh pocket on my trip due to all the tall dry grass, leaves, and branches - but to my amazement it was a non-issue.
I have to admit that I have never personally been a fan of dyneema gridstop, mostly because the 210 denier version that other manufacturers use seems way too stiff and over the top for UL packs. However, the new 140d dyneema gridstop that Gossamer Gear has chosen to use is made to order for UL backpack construction and feels almost as flexible as silnylon, but with much more durability. It also looks pretty darn sweet, if aesthetics are a consideration for you?
Over The Top™ Closure System
A significant change in design from the previous version of the Murmur is the new top flap closure. The opening of the main compartment is a combination of inner draw string (silnylon) and outer cover (dyneema gridstop).
Unlike the draw string closures that I have on some of my other backpacks, including the Gorilla, the new Murmur has a partial draw string on the inner section of the opening. It serves to narrow the opening but not completely close it tight. The entire opening folds down to create the cover flap.
Each corner of the cover flap has a snap buckle for cinching it down tight. The type of side-release buckles used are new to me. They look like your typical side-release buckle upper, married with line lock lower and Gossamer Gear's own EZC high-viz cord.
I experienced a minor issue with the end of the EZC cord that is attached to the side of the backpack via a small flap of material and reinforced hole. The cord is held in place by a simple overhand knot that prevents the cord from pulling through.
Unfortunately, the cord knot on the left side of the pack accidentally pulled through the reinforced hole when I tried to cinch it shut. I wasn't applying very much tension, definitely not enough to break it the cord. It appears that the knot on that side was pulled much tighter than the other knots which resulted in a smaller size knot that poped through the hole.
I'd had a similar problem with my Terra Nova Laser 20L so I knew how to fix this. I reinserted the cord through the hole and instead of using a simple overhand knot, I tied a double overhand knot that would form a slightly larger knot and wouldn't slip through quite as easily. It probably took me three minutes to fix this in the field.
New Shoulder Harness
If you saw my earlier post about the modified harness on my GG Gorilla backpack, then you'd know that Gossamer Gear has heard, loud and clear, that the straps on their packs need to be improved. The Murmur is the first of their backpack line up to use their new harness and it's very comfortable.
The straps have a more ergonomic contoured form that wrap smoothly around the shoulders and narrow significantly as they go under your arms. I've had issues with straps on my Gorilla and have heard from other GG backpack owners that have experienced the same.
The velcro openings have gone and the shoulder padding it thinner and permanently fitted. The upper sections of the straps are made using dyneema, with the lower sections made of silnylon. The sternum strap is vertically adjustable with three positions for addition comfort.
As you can see in the photo above, I'm not a fan of sternum straps and wasn't using one for the Murmur. I really wasn't carrying enough weight to justify it.
There are hydration ports on both of the top corners of the flap cover that allow you to pass a drinking tube through. The ports are partially covered so that rain will not accidentally get inside the pack. There is no internal compartment for a hydration bag, so you will have to pack a little more carefully to accommodate it if you plan to use one.
I like to use the side pockets on my backpacks to hold water bottles and other easy to reach items. So I was pleased to see that the pockets on the Murmur have been cut at a sloping angle toward your back. It may seem like a minor detail, but this significantly improve the ability to reach behind your back and remove or replace a water bottle.
Each of the pockets also have a small drainage hole at the bottom to let out any rain, rather than collect it ans let it soak into your pack.
There are four small compression loops on each side of the pack for running shock cord through. The pack I was sent did not have an shock cord, so I added some that I had to test the placement. I prefer to thread my compression cord so that the cord lock is at the top of my pack. I find that it snags on things far less if threaded that way and works better with the top of my drinking bottles. The loops on the Murmur were in the right place as far as I could tell. They were even perfect for holding my Tenkara rod.
SitLight Pad Pockets
One of the things I love about my Gorilla pack is the ability to store my insulation pad in the back panel of the pack. The Murmur also has the signature upper and lower mesh pockets that are designed to accept the GG SitLight pad or even a GG ThinLight insulation pad. The pockets appear to be made from the same snag-resistant material as the large pocket on the back of the pack.
Thicker sleeping pads, such as the NightLight (folded) or even the popular Therma-a-Rest Zlite would be too thick to use in these pockets. You could however use them inside the main compartment of the pack for extra stability.
Removable Hip Belt
As with the previous version, the new Murmur has removable hip belts. These are thin lengths of nylon webbing with no padding whatsoever. I personally don't even think that you need a hip belt with the Murmur unless you are pushing the boundaries of the load weight or planning to go on a run wearing it, which you might be.
The hip belts do their job and are about the lightest weight option possible. If you want to use them they are there, if you don't want them you can simply unbuckle them. You could even exchange the standard hip belts with padded ones if you so choose, that's the beauty of making them removable.
Gossamer Gear have stayed true to the spirit of the original Murmur hyperlight backpack, while upgrading almost ever aspect of the original design. I've been curious about the Murmur for quite some time, but put off by the use of silnylon for its construction.
I have some frameless ultralight backpacks that are made of Cuben fiber, but despite being technically strong, they feel very vulnerable. The Murmur is super light, but doesn't feel at all flimsy.
The new 140 denier dyneema gridstop is amazing. It looks good and seems to be incredibly tough. My dog took a liking to it at one point and even her big clumsy paws and claws didn't damage it.
I've only had the opportunity to test the new Murmur for five or six days so far. Only two of those days were actually on the trail, so there is only so much feedback I can provide. With that said, I'm really liking the Murmur for shorter trips. It's far more capable than just a daypack. It could possibly replace my beloved Gorilla.
I'm supposed to return the Murmur in the next few days, but I can honestly say that I'm reluctant to do so. In fact, don't tell Grant and Dave at Gossamer Gear, but I think I'm going to keep it!
If you're interested in reading more about the new Murmur, or looking for some other perspectives, check out the blogs of my fellow Trail Ambassadors who have also been putting the new Murmur through its paces this weekend.
Philip Werner | SectionHiker
JJ Mathes | JERMM's Outside
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.
Brian is a Charlotte based backpacker, gear junkie, runner, and CrossFit(er). Originally from Southampton, England, Brian has lived in the US for over 20 years, finally settling in North Carolina. He spends as much time backpacking as his busy work schedule and family life will allow.