MHM Fifty-Two 80
- Volume: 80 liters
- Stated Weight: 6lbs / 5.5lbs*
- Fits Torso: 16-24”
- Fits Waist: 29-40”
- *without removable features (top lid, straps and hydration holster)
- SyncAC Suspension
- Slide n’ lock adjustable harness
- Dual-pivoting, fully adjustable hipbelt
- Built-in, fully waterproof stuff sack
- Internal compression system
- Stowable compression straps
- Stowable tool loops and bottom straps
- Stowable hydration holster on hipbelt
- Roll-top main pocket
- Dual side zippers
- J-zip front pocket
- External stretch/stuff pocket
- Detachable brain w/ dual access
- Hydration reservoir compatible
- Main Pack Fabric: 315 denier ripstop Invista Cordura (DWR treated)
- Bottom Fabric: 840 denier Invista Cordura (DWR treated)
- Shroud Fabric: 100 denier seam taped Nylon (DWR treated)
- Frame: 3mm x 20mm & 3mm x 25mm 6061 tempered aluminum stays
- Framesheet: 1.5mm HDPE
- Height: 5’11’’
- Weight: 165 lbs
- Torso Length: 18”
- Waist: 30”
Color: Orange Crush
Days tested: 18
Locations tested: Sawatch Mountains, Colorado.
MHM, a small, Denver-based pack company, has distinguished itself among pack giants with its distinct designs and durable products. Last summer, I was extremely impressed by the design and durability of their Salute 34 pack, and was curious to see how the much larger Fifty-Two 80 could stand up to a summer of abuse leading outdoor education trips in the Colorado backcountry.
MHM offers the Fifty-Two 80 in one size only, but the pack has a highly adjustable hipbelt and shoulder straps mounted on sliding pieces of webbing that are secured in place with a locking buckle (MHM calls this their Slide n’ lock adjustable harness). There are markings on the webbing that make incremental adjustments of the shoulder straps easy when the pack is empty. The shoulder straps are difficult to adjust on trail when the pack is loaded down, so as with any large pack, you’ll want to make sure you get the fit of the Fifty-Two 80 dialed before loading it up.
With a torso length of 18”, I land close to the middle of the shoulder straps’ adjustment range and had no problem dialing in the fit to distribute the weight of the pack evenly. My 30” waist was almost too small for the hipbelt (which is said to fit 29-40” waists), but I was still able to tighten it down enough to carry loads properly. Again, the Fifty-Two 80 is only available in one size, but the stated adjustments ranges are fairly wide and seem quite accurate.
The pack fit my back and waist comfortably while carrying 60 pound loads or while running up a peak carrying only a few layers and some food. I’ll talk more about the Fifty-Two 80’s features below, but with respect to carrying loads comfortably, the pack’s compression straps did a great job of keeping loads secure regardless of how full the pack was. The Fifty-Two 80’s suspension system also helped achieve a snug, comfortable fit.
Padding & Ventilation
Carrying 60 pounds on your back all day over variable terrain can be grueling, but a pack with a well-designed suspension system can make things much easier and more comfortable. I’m glad to say the sYnc A.C. suspension system on the Fifty-Two 80 is one of the best I’ve used. The pack’s back padding, shoulder straps, and hipbelt are generously padded and prevented my hips from getting bruised from carrying heavy loads.
The ventilation across the back panel of the Fifty-Two 80 is also excellent, thanks to air channels that help move air through the space between the pack and your back. I have yet to use a pack that allows enough airflow to keep my back entirely dry, but the Fifty-Two 80 performs as well as any other system I’ve used in this respect. The back panel’s foam padding is thick enough and its air channels are deep enough that I was able to feel air moving across my back on windy days. (I’ve also felt this on an older Deuter Futura 28 and the Osprey Atmos 65.)
The foam padding on the Fifty-Two 80 also dries very quickly. The only time I had to put on a wet pack was one morning after an all-night rainstorm, but the padding dried out in a couple hours.