MHM Fifty-Two 80

Matt Zia reviews the MHM Fifty-Two 80, Blister Gear Review.
MHM Fifty-Two 80

MHM Fifty-Two 80

Specs:

  • 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)

Features:

  • 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

Construction:

  • 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 

Reviewer Info:

  • Height: 5’11’’
  • Weight: 165 lbs
  • Torso Length: 18”
  • Waist: 30”

Color: Orange Crush

MSRP: $400

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.

Fit

Matt Zia reviews the MHM Fifty-Two 80, Blister Gear Review.
Slde n’ lock adjustable harness on the Fifty-Two 80

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.

Matt Zia reviews the MHM Fifty-Two 80, Blister Gear Review.
Matt Zia with the MHM Fifty-Two 80, Sawatch Range, Colorado.

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.

Matt Zia reviews the MHM Fifty-Two 80, Blister Gear Review.
Back panel and harness of the MHM Fifty-Two 80

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.

3 thoughts on “MHM Fifty-Two 80

  1. Matt, compared to something like a Gregory Baltoro 75, how would you say the suspension compares for loads upwards of 50lbs? Lumbar support good?

    • Hey Jeff, I think the suspension on the Baltoro 75 is comparable to the Fifty-Two 80 as far as >50lbs loads go, but as far as carrying comfort goes I personally prefer the foam that MHM uses as it’s a bit more airy and I think dries faster than the foam that Gregory uses. I would also say that I have had few good experiences with the durability on Gregory packs; specifically I’ve seen multiple Gregory packs on which the stitching around the shoulder straps blew out. With that said of course, I typically put a lot of wear on packs, upwards of 60 field days a summer, and as such tend to accelerate the process.

  2. Very much appreciate the response. Like every review on Blister, yours on this pack is complete and no-nonsense. I’m in the market for a pack simpler than what I have and need it to carry heavy loads well, for miles at a time. I dig the small shop, innovation of companies like MHM and love the fact that sites like Blister are taking the time to look at them. For the amount of money it takes to get into a good pack, taking a chance on less well-established companies is a risk many are not willing to take. Anyway, enough being all wordy… you guys are awesome and your review and response to my question has made my decision. Thanks and keep up the great work.

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