Gossamer Gear Kumo 36L Superlight Backpack Review: Vaporwave Edition
At a blisteringly austere 14.6-ounce base, the Gossamer Gear Kumo is a bare-bones backpack that doesn’t actually have any bones (it’s frameless). It offers everything a long-distance hiker could need and nothing they don’t. And at a 36L capacity, it hits the sweet spot of having enough space for all your ultralight gear AND a multi-day food carry.
I tested the limited edition Vaporwave version, which bundles the Kumo with the Bumster fanny pack. And as they might have once said in California, it is, indeed, “hella tight.” With regal purples, the hottest of pinks, and a completely 90s Macintosh design, I’m finally the ultralight peacock I always wanted to be. When I hike with this thing on trail, I feel like Moltres, Articuno, and Zapdos combined. Pair the Vaporwave Kumo with the equally bodacious 1.5L Bumster fanny pack and you can bet your most flamboyantly bottom dollar that you’ll be a successful minimalist in no time.
Read on if you want the full skinny on how phat this backpack actually is.
Gossamer Gear Kumo At a Glance
MSRP: $180 ($160 for Vaporwave Kumo + Bumster combo)
Capacity: 36L total, with 1.5L extra in the Bumster. There are 26 liters total on the body, plus 10 liters split between the shoulder straps and two removable hip belt pockets.
Carrying Capacity: 25lb capacity, with a 20lb comfort rating. (e.g., if you have a 10lb base weight, then you could comfortably carry 2.5L of water plus 5-10lbs of food with zero issues).
- Pack: 14.6 oz
- Fast belt: 3.3 oz
- Removable Sitlight back pad: 2.3 oz
- Cord and Cordlocks: 0.3 oz
- Total: 20.5 oz
Weight of Bumster: 3.9 oz
Circumstances of Review
This Kumo has clocked about 500 miles and just over 20 nights on trail. It’s been pounded with hail, buffetted by wind, gently sleeted upon, frozen and thawed out at least 10 times, and serenaded by the Spice Girls at least thrice. It’s seen the lion’s share of summer in the PNW, as well as shoulder season in Colorado and Utah, and finally a bit of Southwestern desert sun for good measure. The colors have faded dutifully, and the stitching has been pushed to its limits without too much wear to show.
High Key Gossamer Gear Kumo Features
Detachable Hip Belt: Clips on and off easily if you don’t need the extra storage or support. Personally, I used it about half the time, depending on whether I needed the Bumster.
OTT (Over the Top) Closure System: As evidenced by most of the photos in this review, I took advantage of the Kumo’s top lid closure to carry a foam pad comfortably atop the pack. In contrast, many other ultralight backpacks’ roll-top closures would’ve made it harder to carry a foam pad.
70D and 100D Robic Nylon: This fabric weight should be adequate to prevent most rips. Although the same can’t be said for the mesh pockets. Those are of regular mesh quality.
“Ergonomic Shoulder Strap System”: Which feels like a fancy way of saying extra-padded shoulder straps, which were something I didn’t know I needed. But I can say objectively that this pack sits more comfortably on my shoulders than any other pack I’ve ever carried.
Removable Sitting Pad: Acting as extra cushioning for a frameless pack, the pad here can also be removed easily and used as a sitting pad or pillow.
Honestly, I think that this backpack is lacking in any particular set of outstanding features, which is what I love about it. Simplicity is what makes it so elegant, and minimalism is what makes it so streamlined. The quality materials and construction make it stand out more than any one feature.
Should I Get the Bumster With It?
While we’re here, let’s talk fanny packs. The Bumster doesn’t come standard with the regular Kumo, although the Vaporwave version is sold as a Bumster/Kumo bundle for $200. Which is good because those matching purples are too powerful, y’all.
A Bumster can take even more weight off your shoulders and transfer it to your hips than the hip belt can. Combine the two and you’re really sitting/standing pretty. I wish the Bumster could be either a little roomier or a little more waterproof. But dang does it look good. If buying separately, the Bumster costs $28 and weighs 3.9 ounces.
READ NEXT – The Best Thru-Hiking Fanny Packs
Gossamer Gear Kumo Pros
One of the Lightest: At 20.5 ounces for a medium (or 14.6 ounces in its most pared-down form), the Kumo sits close to the S-tier of featherweight ultralight packs. It’s tough to scale down much further than what’s on offer here. But at the same time, it doesn’t feel like quality is being sacrificed for weight.
Comfort & Adjustability: Between the removable hip belt, extra-padded shoulder straps, and padded back, there are a lot of ways you can adjust the Kumo to your own comfort level. I’m all about the pockets on the shoulder straps as well, which are a feature that I’m glad to see becoming more common.
Affordability: Retailing at $180, the Kumo also slides in beneath almost all other comparable UL packs. Take, for example, the Zpacks Nero ($250 base), the Pa’lante V2 ($240), the Waymark EVLV ($255 base), or the HMG Southwest 2400 ($350). To me, this pack offers some of the most while costing the least.
Ed. note: The Vaporwave price recently dropped to $160 while supplies last—a great value considering you get a Kumo and a Bumster for less than the price of a regular Kumo.
Gossamer Gear Kumo Cons
Slash-style Mesh Front Pocket: Touted as a way to reach items in the back of the pack more easily, I wasn’t a huge fan of this feature. I found it to be more of an inconvenience than a help in most cases. For example, if you want to carry anything more than Tyvek and a pair of camp shoes outside your pack, you’re pretty much out of luck—which can be a dangerous game to play when you leave some ramen to cold soak inside your pack. And even still, the camp shoes would barely fit in there. I’m fonder of the straight-across style front pockets on GG’s other models, like the Murmur.
Mesh in General: Although it is undeniably lighter and probably quicker drying, I think the days of regular mesh are numbered. A lot of UL gear companies these days are switching over to Ultra mesh, and for good reason. It’s so much more durable and hardly sacrifices any weight or stretchiness. I’d like to see GG make the switch, but the fact that they haven’t is also probably part of what keeps the Kumo so affordable. In fairness, the water bottle pockets and the bottom of the front pocket are reinforced, and the other mesh pockets on this pack have held up fine over 500 miles.
This has easily become my go-to pack for pretty much any sort of overnight trip. It’s great for short, multi-day trips, but it’s also perfect for a thru-hike. As stated above, I think it strikes that perfect balance between comfort, price, and weight.
For reference, I carried the Pa’lante V2 and the HMG Windrider on previous thru-hikes, but both packs started to wear on my shoulders after 500 or so miles—whereas the Kumo’s extra-padded shoulder straps appear to have alleviated that problem, and I couldn’t be happier about it. The Kumo is in the Goldilocks zone: not too feature-heavy, but not too austere either. Rejoice, y’all, we can finally live out our most deep-fried ultralight dreams in comfort & peace.
Weight: 16.8 oz
Weight: 10.5 oz
Weight: 14 oz
The limited edition Vaporwave (Gossamer Gear Kumo + Bumster bundle) was donated for purpose of review.
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