Mile High Mountaineering Divide 55 Backpack Review
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Mile High Mountaineering is a small Denver-based company that has only been around for a few years and in that time has shown that they aren’t messing around with producing top of the line, highly functional, and well-designed backpacks. The Divide 55 backpack is their weekend/3-5 day backpacking pack and it takes the more is more approach to features and design; minimalists need not apply. With pretty much every feature available, you’d expect the Divide 55 to be extremely heavy but Mile High Mountaineering has managed to keep it in a very manageable at 5.5 lbs. To be honest, at first I found the feature set of this pack to be slightly overwhelming. That feeling quickly disappeared as I realized that every feature came out of the company’s dedication to understanding how people use their packs and imagining better ways to do so. Keep reading to find out why the Mile High Mountaineering Divide 55 is the best backpacking pack I’ve ever used.
Mile High Mountaineering Divide 55 Fit and Suspension
Like most aspects of the Divide 55, the suspension system takes the best parts of multiple suspension designs and combines them and takes them a step further. Pivoting hip belt? Check. In this case, each side pivots independently for great mobility when high stepping and scrambling. Adjustable torso length? Check. On the Divide 55, the system is intuitive and straightforward and offers a wide range of adjustability. Backpanel ventilation is handled by separating the padding into pods made of vented mesh. This allows solid air flow when conditions heat up. All this contributes to a suspension system that offers great load stability and directs most of the weight to the hips, where you want it. I had no trouble filling the pack with a extended weekend load.
Mile High Mountaineering Divide 55 Features; More is More
It would take many pages to fully go over all of the features of the Mile High Mountaineering Divide 55 so I am going to cover some of my favorites. Frankly, if you’re a gear nerd like me, you will be blown away by the amount of functionality packed into this bag. MHM took the approach of giving you multiple options for doing things to fit your style and I appreciate this. An example is the access to the pack bag. A roll top access allows you to condense space when you aren’t using the full capacity and also makes for a good drop-your-gear-in-quickly port for people who organize with stuff sacks. For people like me who like to see the inside of the bag to organize, the Divide 55 has dual side panel zippers that open the pack up completely flat, giving easy access to items, regardless of where they are. Inside the bag, you will find what Mile High Mountaineering calls the BackHugger ICS, which is basically a compression system to compress and stabilize certain items like tents that should be held against the back panel. This worked great for me in practice. For storing quick grab items like a rain jacket and mid layer, the Divide 55 has a long front pocket that works perfectly on the trail. You can also use one of the two mesh side pockets for this purpose if not using them for water bottles. Speaking of water bottles, the Mile High Mountaineering Divide 55 has a removable hydration pocket that conveniently places a bottle in an easy to access orientation on the hip belt if you’re not the hydration bladder type of backpacker. One of the best features of the Divide 55 is something I wish all backpacking packs had and that is a built in waterproof stuff in the lower part of the bag. It has it’s own zippered access and a roll top closure for waterproofing and multiple uses. If you have a down sleeping bag, it is a great place to stuff it in and save space in the rest of pack. Another use is as a place to store trash you want to keep segregated from everything else. Moving on. While not convertible to a hip pack like some, the top lid is well designed with zippered access from both sides and a water resistant zippered pouch on the inside. There is also a mesh pocket on the underside for your use and the lid is easily detachable with buckles. Finally, the hipbelt pockets are worth mentioning because they have both a zippered pocket and a quickgrab stretchy mesh pocket on each side. These proved to be convenient while hiking. Take a look at Mile High Mountaineering’s website to get a full list of features.
Mile High Mountaineering Divide 55: Summary
The Mile High Mountaineering Divide 55 really is a tremendously well thought out, feature rich, and functional backpack for weekend+ trips. It has a whirlwind feature set that somehow doesn’t seem like overkill. The suspension system is well designed and comfortable. Like I said at the beginning of this review, the Divide 55 is the best backpacking pack I have used and I give it my full stamp of approval. For more information, please visit www.amazon.com/mhmgear.
It looks like a lot of thought has gone into the design of this pack, the suspension system looks good, plenty of organisation and also great looking.