Review: Gossomer Gear Kumo

Back in November I posted a piece about the Gossamer Gear Kumo pack (the post is here). This was a pretty favourable first impression but since I’ve been using over the winter how has it stacked up?

GGKumo

The Kumo

Almost inevitably you notice things as you use a piece of gear and views change a little. I still find this a great pack but here is a little more feedback. Before reading on you should bear in mind that this user is based in the UK

First Impressions

The Kumo is an ultralight pack clearly designed and built to save weight. My pack — a long back length — weighs spot on 500 grams.

The pack is made of a Dyneema-like material but this looks like a finer grade of Dyneema that I’ve used before. The white thread is still the ballistic, indestructible, stuff but the main fabric is thin; Gossamer Gear has commissioned their own bespoke version of this material which they call Robic. It is clearly light but I wonder about it’s robustness. The base material does wear. I spent some time on last year’s TGO Challenge with a walker who had one of these and I couldn’t help noticing one of the side pockets had torn during the walk, something that it is quite difficult to do with usual Dyneema. But it seems durable enough for my use.

The pack is a backless pack a simple design that I prefer for lightweight backpacking. A sleeve on the back of the pack carries a section of sleeping mat material and this gives the back some protection and adds a certain stiffening to the whole affair. With my other packs I tend to stuff a folded Gossamer Gear mat down the back; it is nice to see this sleeve built into the design like this.

There is a hip belt though you can remove it easily if you want. This is not a particularly hefty piece of kit but it does distribute weight well and keeps the pack from moving about when scrambling. When walking on the flat or around time I tend not to use it at all. Gossamer Gear reckons that this pack and belt will carry weights up to 25 pounds or just over 11 kilograms.

The shoulder straps are worth a mention. This is a new system. The straps are not padded in the conventional sense and appear to be very thin, a couple of millimetres or so. The material looks like a kind of thick re-enforced card. The straps have a good width to them. Despite their unconventional nature the straps have proven to be very comfortable in use.

All of the straps and connectors are designed down in weight terms. For example, the adjustable chord that tightens the lid connectors is little more than the lightweight chord you might use on a tarp. The clips are smaller than you would usually find on a pack, even a lightweight pack

On the front of the pack is a large stretch fabric pocket in which it is easy to stash gear. Two side pockets are made of the Robic material and each has a decent sized drain hole.  

The pack also has the usual ice axe loops and uses a lightweight bungee chord system for compressing the load (on the sides) and for securing side pocket loads, for example walking poles.

The lid has a slightly odd fitting design. The lid itself simply roles down over the pack but it has a clever zipped compartment. I’m not a fan of top lids as it is too easy to fill them full of stuff but this pocket is a clever piece of design and will easily hold keys, a map or two, etc. Open and extend the top properly and you see two sets of clips. The main set fasten the lid to the adjustable chord on the main pack. The second (and smaller) clips seem to narrow the width of the top. I really don’t understand what these are for and I’ve found them rather annoying in use!

In Use

I’ve found this to be a very comfortable pack. I’ve used it predominantly for day walks although I have used it for none overnighter.  I’ve also used it as a daypack in the city and for weekend breaks where it can hold most of the stuff I need. In this mode I’ve gone over the suggested carry weight and it has still been comfortable enough. For loads under 10 kilograms it carries very well and can easily hold a camera tripod, spare lens and lens case and so on.

Using this in the British winter is a little unfair as our weather tends to mean we carry a lot of stuff for a wild camp, extra clothing for example. But it is almost a perfect weight and capacity for more basic summer camps.

Some Suggested Improvements

I’ve already mentioned the two sets of clips on the lid enclosure. Personally, I find these annoying and wish the smaller clips weren’t there.

The use of thin chord for adjusters works well as does the bungee chord for compression. This bungee chord has a simple adjuster near the base which means it is easily to release tension in order to remove poles (for example) without removing the pack. I’m a little less enamoured with the use of very small clips. In the cold of the winter I’ve found this fiddly and a bit of a pain to use; I would prefer larger clips.

The side pockets are useful and of a decent capacity. But there is no draw chord around the top of them and as such it is quite easy for things to drop out — for example a swiss army knife and such. Personally, I’d like a draw chord.

Overall Observations

I really like this pack. It is well designed and carries light loads very well. For me it is a day pack. I’ll use it in the summer for overnights but I’m pretty sure that I will stick to my MLD Exodus for that — using this in compressed mode. Why?

The Exodus feels a little bit more robust all round and it has a greater capacity. This probably won’t be an issue in the warm but in the cold I really don’t like packing in tight packs and so I’ll use the Exodus.

Also — and rather oddly — my Exodus only weighs 10 grams more than the Kumo and so there is really no weight saving for the gain in capacity. However, for smaller loads — and day loads — the Kumo does carry better than the Exodus in compressed mode.

Conclusions

So, a very good pack and one that I am happy to use and happy to endorse. It has its place in my gear collection primarily as a day pack. It happily carries sleeping bags, micro stoves and fuel and a small amount of food but waterproofs and other stuff that you would carry over a longer hike do eat up capacity.

One great thing about Gossamer Gear is that their lightweight range is regularly available in the UK which probably means a great deal to many gear buyers here. Indeed, it was primarily because I didn’t have to mess around with customs that I bought this pack. I’m happy that I did but with a little more attention detail this really good pack could be an excellent one.

Gossamer Gear

Comments

  1. Maybe the new Robic fabric is a good compromise between regular Dyneema and the Spinnaker fabric used on previous Gossamer Gear sacks? I know Spinnaker is very strong for the weight, but even so I don’t fancy putting my GG Spinnaker sack in the luggage hold on a flight for example. No probs at all with regular Dyneema (GoLite Pinnacle sack) on flights – so far. I tape up all the straps.

    Interested to hear an update on the robustness of the Robic fabric after further use.

    Thanks for the review.

    • Jay, it will certainly be better than Spinnaker but I will report back with a longer term test.

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