For this review, I sent the MHM Fifty-Two 80 Backpack out with a tester I knew would work the pack hard over two trips. By the end of the two trips, I had a good review in my inbox, but I couldn’t pry the pack out of his hands. He was determined to use it on his upcoming summit of Kilimanjaro. That should tell you something about the pack. Meanwhile, I’ve learned something about the hazards of delegating gear reviews.…such is the life of a blog editor…but if it means I get to work with fun people, I’ll take it!
First, here is what MHM has to say about the 2013 version of the Fifty-Two 80:
“This deluxe pack is built for your longer multi-day adventures/travel or just carrying a heap of gear. The sYnc A.C.™ suspension coupled with the VariCant™ hipbelt will give you a customized fit and keep your back happy under heavy loads. A large J-zip pocket in the front of the pack for extra storage is just 1 of the 12 pockets on this pack that makes stashing and organizing your gear a breeze. Like the Divide, the Fifty-Two 80 has Dual #10 YKK zippers on each side of the pack that extend up through the roll-top so the entire pack can be opened flat into a ground mat. The pack has deployable/removable straps and tool loops so it maintains all the technical features you need for demanding outings. However, all the straps tuck away neatly when not being used so your pack doesn’t look like an octopus with all the hangy do-dads and straps…”
- Volume: 80 liters
- Weight: 6lbs / 5.5lbs*
- Fits Torso: 16-24 in.
- Fits Waist: 29-40in.
- Number of Stays: 2
- Main Pack fabric: 315 denier ripstop Invista CORDURA® Plus, Nylon 6.6, 80g PU/DWR.
- Bottom Fabric: 840 denier Invista CORDURA® HD, Nylon 6.6, 80g PU/DWR.
- Shroud Fabric: 100 denier seam taped Nylon 6.6, 80g PU/DWR.
- POP color: 210 denier mini diamond, Nylon 6.0, 40g PU/DWR.
- Frame Material: 3mm x 20mm & 3mm x 25mm 6061 tempered aluminum stays and 1.5mm HDPE framesheet
*weight of pack with all removable features removed (top lid, straps and hydration holster)
Retail Price: $399.00
Review Notes by Steve Seliger
I recently tested the MHM Fifty-Two 80 backpack on two separate trips – a three-day backpack up Paintbrush Canyon and down Cascade Canyon in the Tetons, and a three-day backpack to the summit of Utah’s highest point: King’s Peak [13,528’].
This pack is built for comfort, adjustability, flexibility and convenience. Even on 12+ mile days with a fairly heavy load [30 to 40 lbs] and steep terrain, the waist belt, shoulder straps and ventilated back panel were so comfortable that I experienced no sore or numb spots. It was so adjustable that I rarely, if ever, had to play around shifting weight back and forth between my hips and shoulders. Even after days of hiking, I found myself focusing on the scenery and wildlife rather than on pack fatigue.
At 6 pounds, this 80-liter multi-day backpack is not for ultra-light enthusiasts or minimalists. This pack has so many pockets, pouches, clips, zippers, mesh bags, and compression compartments -even a built-in dry bag -you can be very organized (or get very lost trying to remember which pocket has your gummy bears). This is handy if you want easy access to multiple items without having to unpack (or even take off) your pack. The front / back easy access to the top lid was handy.
One feature I didn’t appreciate is the ability to unzip the pack top to bottom like you’d fillet a fish. In the end, I always wind up packing it like a giant stuff-sack anyway, so the added weight / design feature was wasted on me. That said, I’m kind of a minimalist and used to getting by with much simpler gear.
The MHM Fifty-Two 80 is a well-built pack rich with features. I would recommend it for the backpacker looking for comfort, ease of access, and keeping lots of gear organized while tromping through the wilderness.
Editor’s note: I fit this pack to my 5’5”, 125 lb girlie frame [before losing it to my tester] and found it adjusted easily. Not many packs can claim that much adjustability. I’ll do my best to persuade Steve to bring back pics from his Kilimanjaro trip along with a performance update on the pack [Hint, hint…]
More gratuitous gear shots…
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MHM provided the sample Fifty-Two 80 pack to us for testing purposes with no obligation to provide a review. All opinions are our own based upon our experience with the pack. We won’t say nice things if we don’t like the gear. It’s that simple.