Friday, April 26, 2013

Gossamer Gear Kumo Backpack Review

I used my new Gossamer Gear Kumo backpack on an overnight outing in Florida, and I was very pleased with how well it performed.
My actual pack load was a little heavier than the 17.88 pounds I had planned during the packing list creation due to the temperature dipping into the upper 40's at night.  The long underwear and knit hat I added put me at a pack total weight of 19.5 pounds.
Gossamer Gear Kumo.
The full pack fit me well.  The large model (weighing 14.65 ounces) was long enough to place the hip belt right at my hip (the regular size was too short for my long body).  I put the pack on without the usual grunts and gymnastic antics I used to use to hoist the (then) heavy weight onto my back.  Once strapped on, the wide shoulder pads absorbed the load and distributed the weight evenly across my shoulders.  Clicking the sternum strap together held the shoulder straps in place all day without it being too tight, once I had it adjusted.  I used the waist belt mostly out of habit, but I could feel the weight of the pack riding on my hips and that felt comfortable.  It was like I was not really wearing anything on my back.  I never felt pulled from side to side or from front to back like I have with other backpacks.  And I never experienced any balance issues or had any difficulty walking.  I also didn't have to sling my pack to the ground at the water break, I just stood there with it on like it wasn't on me at all.  Someone asked if I needed to take off my pack (for the break) and I said no thanks.  And all of this while also carrying 4.27 pounds of tent instead of carrying only 2 pounds of tent.
Getting my soft water bottles out of the side pockets was a challenge for me.  I asked for help getting them out and then back into their side pockets.  I'm not quite a fan of the soft water bottle yet.  Because my pack weighs so light I may consider carrying my old hard-sided water bottles or use lightweight recyclable water bottles just for on-trail water drinking.
When it came time to setup the tent, I liked that everything I needed was outside of the pack.  I laid down the footprint in a couple locations, then laid on top of it to chose my tent site.  The tent, poles and stakes were in the same front pack pocket and on the side of the pack, and I was able to setup the tent without unpacking anything from inside the pack.  I removed my sleeping pad from the back of the pack and laid down for an hour nap, zipped inside my tent with the tent doors open to enjoy the breeze, using the still-closed pack as a pillow.
When I awoke, I unpacked my cook kit, and brewed a cup of tea at the picnic bench.  I took my headlamp out of the top zipper pocket for when it got dark and looked at the map I had placed there for the trip.  There was still room for a few other small items in the top pocket.  Robert and his friend Gerry from the Sierra Club were napping in their separate hammocks.  I watched the clouds go by for some time, then explored the land around the ponds.
At bedtime, I opened the Kumo pack inside my tent, and dumped everything out in one bundle onto my sleeping pad and got ready for the night from there.
The next morning after breakfast I repacked the Kumo pack as I had before my trip, with the sleeping bag in the stuff sack at the bottom, then clothing, then the repair kit and finished with the food kit on top and the raincoat outside of the water proofing trash compactor bag.  I put the headlamp back in the top zipper pocket of the pack and packed my snacks in my pants pocket for the hike back to the trailhead.  Packing the tent parts back into the outside pocket was easy, even after the pack interior was loaded.  The tent poles easily slipped under the elastic cords above the side pocket, and I stood around with the pack on for a while before we left the campsite.
It still felt like I really had nothing on my back.  There was no shoulder, back or neck pain at all and I didn't need to take any pain medication during the overnight.  Perhaps the Kumo weighed a little bit, like a small daypack, but certainly not what all my gear used to weigh for an overnight camping trip.
On the walk out the backpack was a little lighter, and the pack again carried fine, even though it was slightly unbalanced left to right due to how it was packed.  There were no surprises or even small problems.  The pack just fit me and fit me well.  When we got back to the trailhead, I took off the pack and placed it in the car with one hand.  Man, was I pleased!  My congratulations to Gossamer Gear for creating such a fine, well fitting backpack!
I did apparently over-pack the bag on the back panel with my sleeping pad causing a slight tear in the mesh fabric on the seam.  Going back to the GG supplied pack pad has reduced the stress on this point.  For future trips I'll be packing my sleeping pad inside my pack, and using the supplied pad in the pad pocket, so this will not be an issue for me.
The good news:  This backpack comfortably rocks for my one or two night backpacking trips, and may serve me well for 3-4 nights in warm and clear weather.  The overall fit is good and the shoulder straps really carry the weight well without being too tight while using the sternum strap.  The hip belt is very useful in pulling the light pack weight to my hip bones, and may be even more useful with a pocket or two added for trail snacks, navigation gear or my camera.  I like this pack and had a great backpack in and out with no issues.  With adding waist belt pockets, purchasing a lighter tent and using hard-sided water bottles, I may be happily set with using my Kumo pack for a long time.
The just OK news:  For carrying bulkier items like winter jackets, and plenty of warm clothing, this 36 litre pack is just too small, while it is fine for clear weather camping in reasonably mild temperatures.  The side pockets were a little too tight for me to grasp my soft-sided water bottles and remove or replace them.  I don't typically use water bladders on overnight trips and did not use the packs bladder holder either.  The torn mesh on the back pad pocket will be left alone unless it tears more, then I'll return it to Gossamer Gear to have it repaired.

1 comment:

  1. I had a great time reading this. Thank you so much for sharing what you know about this topic.

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