I remember the first time I met Dirtmonger last summer, 2014. I was roughly half way through my hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, in Northern California. He was sporting a Kumo Superlight, and it looked as if it were just a day pack on him. I was with my good friend, Not-a-Chance, and she pointed out how small the pack looked.
“He looks so cool, his pack so small on his back.” She said to me.
“He’s a pro. And has the gift of height.” I responded. Dirtmonger is roughly 6’5”. I’m 5’7”, and Chance is several inches shorter than me.
“Packs will never look that tiny on us.” She responded, bummed that we’ll never get a pack to ‘look’ that small on us.
It’s no secret that hikers have a large amount of vanity, and I’m in that group. I want my backpack to be as small as possible, as it’s a silly status thing on the trail. The smaller your backpack looks, the lighter it must be, right? And the lightest were the fastest. I must have a small pack!
I was carrying a homemade pack at the time, and a month or so later, in southern Washington, that pack started to fall apart. I knew exactly what pack I wanted to replace it: the Kumo Superlight Pack. Dirtmonger gave it rave reviews when I had him tell me about it, and it seemed as though my gear fit it well.
I used the Kumo for the last 300 miles of the PCT. I then flew out east, and hiked from Hanover, NH, South to Springer Mountain on the Appalachian Trail. I put over 2,000 miles on my original Kumo, and in the process, found my pack of choice.
There were several things I liked about the pack besides its aesthetics. The original version weighed in at just over 13oz, and proved on my AT hike that it could survive the perpetual abuse I put my packs through. The pack is frameless, and to counter this, the shoulder straps were nice and wide. This distributed the weight on my shoulders very comfortably. I did not use the hipbelt, and all of the weight for a several day haul carried easily on my shoulders with the help of the straps. Coupled with a 1/8” insulated pad stored in the pad holder pockets, the pack was more comfortable than any pack I had used previously. Most importantly, for me, the Kumo’s durability is unmatched for its weight. I saw this first hand while hiking through the Shenandoah’s in late September.
When I approached Gravel Springs Shelter, on the north end of the park, the shelter was completely full with hikers. There was also a park ranger there, warning of a problem bear that had been acting aggressively in the area. No worries, I thought, I’ll hang all my food and scented items, and I’ll be fine cowboy camping 40 or so yards past the shelter on my own. After hanging everything, I went and set up my cowboy camp, and laid my Kumo over the sleeping bag before going up to the shelter to eat with the other hikers. After dark, I returned to my camp to find a young black bear standing right on top of my sleeping bag.
“Shoo! Get out of here bear!” I yelled. He looked at me, not impressed.
I call over my friends Wolfburger and Scudz, and we’re able to yell the bear off as a team. But when I get to my stuff, I notice that it’s been torn into. My neo-air popped, my sleeping bag ripped open, my clothes scattered in the woods, and my backpack chewed into. Not a good feeling when you’re in the middle of nowhere. The Kumo took some stitching to the lower body, and the shoulder strap was stripped. But there was nothing I could do but continue on. And low and behold, it held up! For the next 1,000 miles, I walked with this same backpack, torn up a bit here and there, but still able to handle the everyday backpack use. The Kumo, an ultralight backpack that is tough!
When the new version of the Kumo came out, I was excited, but also a bit suspicious. I didn’t want my favorite pack tinkered with, possibly in a negative way. However, when I received the new Kumo, I was impressed. The new Robic material used is great, and seems to be more water resistant than the previous dyneema. That is a huge bonus! It is important that you find what pack fits your torso size.
One of my favorite parts of the previous version, the wide shoulder strap, was still wide. Gossamer Gear even improved on the wide shoulder straps by adding more padding, at no weight penalty to the previous model. I’ve loaded my pack with a full weight for the trail, and it carries great on my shoulders.
In all, there’s not much different about the Kumo aside from the additions mentioned above, and for me, that’s great. My favorite pack got a few tweaks, and got even better. I’m already counting down the days until I take it out on the Continental Divide Trail with me this summer!
This post was contributed by Gossamer Gear Brand Ambassador Steven “Twinkle” Shattuck