MHM Salute 34

MHM Salute 34

Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34, Blister Gear Review.
Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34

Volume: 34 liter; 2073 cubic inches

Weight: 3 lbs. 4 oz

Waist Size: 26-48 inches

Torso Size: 16-21 inches


  • Main body: 315D Cordura, 80g PU/DWR
  • Bottom fabric: 840D Cordura, 80g PU/DWR
  • “Snake-Loader” S-zipper
  • VariCant dual-pivoting hipbelt
  • Included pack cover
  • Stowable compression straps and ice axe loops
  • 9 pockets, plus main compartment

Reviewer Waist Size: 30″

Reviewer Torso Length: 18″

MSRP: $229

Locations tested: Pikes Peak, Lumpy Ridge, Eldorado Canyon, South Platte, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Indian Creek

Days tested: 30+

Look at the backpack section of a local gear store and you’ll see dozens of different packs, each tailored for a different purpose. With all the options out there from established companies, you might think there isn’t space for a young start-up to carve out their own niche.

But in a competitive market, MHM is a small pack company based out of Denver that tries to set themselves apart with a few distinctive designs.

The Salute 34 fits in the mid-sized technical daypack category, but MHM also offer 42, 55, and 80 liter packs for larger loads as well as several smaller commuter and urban-use packs.


Unlike many companies that use basic nylon fabric in their packs, MHM elected to use more durable (though more expensive), Cordura fabric throughout the Salute 34. While I believe that three months is not enough time to truly test a pack’s durability, I also definitely believe that the Cordura will increase the pack’s lifespan.


The Salute 34 comes in one size with fixed shoulder straps and hipbelt, and it fit my 18-inch torso well.

I am, however, concerned about the hipbelt. I have a 30-inch waist, and the hipbelt, even when fully cinched down, barely tightens enough to keep the load on my hips.

Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34, Blister gear Review.
Matt Zia with the Mile High Mountaineering Salute 34, Indian Creek.


Name a feature that you’ve seen on another daypack, and the Salute 34 probably has it. From a burly suspension system to an included rain cover, the Salute 34 is nothing if not fully featured. Now let’s look over those features in detail…

Suspension and Frame

The suspension system is the beefiest I’ve ever seen on a daypack, rivaling many packs in the 50-70 liter range when it comes to rigidity of the framesheet, and thickness of the aluminum stays and foam on the hipbelt and shoulder straps.

The suspension does its job, keeping the pack’s weight on my hips. I definitely appreciate the thicker padding on the hipbelt and shoulder straps—it’s a welcome relief from the common thin foam—or worse, straight webbing—that’s found on other (admittedly less expensive) daypacks. I was able to carry about 35-40 lbs. before I started pushing the limits of the suspension.

Mile High Mountaineering salute 34, Blister Gear Review.
Suspension system

MHM also did a good job with ventilation on the Salute. I sweat a lot when I’m hiking, and I have yet to find a pack with enough ventilation to really keep my back dry. The Salute 34 is no exception, but it’s certainly better than average when it comes to back ventilation. This is probably due in part to the thick foam on the back panel, the shoulder straps, and hipbelt; while the thin foam on most daypacks compresses against my back, the Salute’s thick foam keeps the air channels open.

Similar to most other pack manufacturers today, MHM designed the hipbelt to move independently from the pack frame, a design they call VariCant. Honestly, I haven’t noticed a difference between the pivoting hipbelt on the Salute and that on any other daypack I’ve used with either a fixed hipbelt or a different pivoting design.

Overall, in the case of the suspension system, over-engineering works in the Salute’s favor.


The most striking feature of the Salute 34 is the “Snake-Loader,” an S-shaped zipper that snakes its way around the entire pack. It’s designed to allow access to all sections of the pack, and while I believe this design is conceptually genius, in practice, I found it could benefit from some refinement.

The “S” zipper really shines when you’re carrying mixed loads—for a day of cragging or a day hike with variable weather conditions, for example. Unlike traditional top-loaders or simple inverted ‘U’ zipper packs, the Salute’s Snake-Loader makes finding gear easy, a feature I found especially nice when I was carrying climbing gear.

I like to pack my helmet, shoes, and harness on top because of their bulk, but that makes finding everything else difficult. With the Salute, when I need the extra layer or the lunch that I packed in the middle, I just unzip the corresponding portion of the pack.

As with any zipper though, the zipper on the Salute has a tendency to get clogged with grit and dirt during normal use. While this certainly isn’t a fatal flaw, several times while hiking in particularly muddy or sandy situations, I found myself wishing for a simple drawstring closure. I think this could be fixed simply by putting a weather guard over the zipper.

And here’s the caveat. While the zipper on the Salute works wonderfully when I’m carrying relatively small loads,it doesn’t work as well when the pack is fully loaded. I’m sure most people know what it’s like struggling to zip a fully stuffed duffle bag; this process is made even more difficult with the Salute’s “S” zipper.

While I appreciated the ability to easily unzip the pack and grab what I need from the bottom or middle of the load, I found myself most wanting to use this feature when the pack was full. And when the pack was stuffed, it was hard to use the “S” zipper. The space needed to zip the pack makes filling it to capacity a struggle, but I think that properly placed compression straps could alleviate this problem.

NEXT PAGE: Compression Straps

8 comments on “MHM Salute 34”

    • That’s impressive! Using the Salute as an AT thru-hiking pack just goes to show how different users can utilize a pack differently. I’m always in awe of how little ultra-light thru-hikers carry and the size of their packs. It’s so cool to hear that there are people pushing the pack’s limits in that way.

  1. Is there a means of fastening trekking poles onto the Salute 34. Plus I know most airlines limit carry-on items to 22″. i am guessing I might be able to lose a few inches (to get it to 22″) if I leave the lid empty. True? Thanks.

    • Hey Mike, the Salute does not have a set of dedicated trekking pole holders like what’s found on say, the Osprey Kestrel 32, but the ice axe loops can certainly hold a pair of poles with ease. As for the carry-on, I did not attempt to take the pack on a plane, but I have taken a fully loaded 60 liter pack as a carry-on multiple times without issue. Generally when flying with gear I’ve found that no airline makes a fuss about a backpack, it’s duffles and roller-bags that are more of an issue.

  2. Could you also use this bag for the snow? I’ve heard it’s possible to attach a snowboard on the back with the compression straps

    • Hi Jeremy! Although you certainly could use the compression straps to attach a snowboard to the back of the Salute, I prefer using a snow-specific pack for the winter. A couple reasons for this:

      First, a snow-specific pack will have a dedicated pocket for avalanche safety equipment. If a partner gets caught in an avalanche, the last thing I want to do is wrestle my shovel and probe out of my pack around my layers, water, etc.

      Second, although you can use the compression straps on most packs to put skis or a snowboard on the back, I’ve found that most straps (or rather the buckles) are inadequate for holding the board in place securely. Having tried to use normal packs for skis, I often find that the weight and torque of the skis ends up loosening the straps as I boot-pack and then they end up sliding down, hitting my legs, or throwing me off balance.

      MHM makes a snow-specific pack, the Powderkeg 32 which Blister has reviewed as well: (a quick search of the site will also bring up several other winter packs)

      All that said, yes, you could use the Salute 34 for snow, but I think there are better options out there. If you want to stick with just one pack and use it occasionally for winter adventures, the Salute 34 will work just fine. But if you’re looking for a dedicated snow pack, I’d steer you towards something like the Powderkeg 32.

Leave a Comment