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David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
MH Thruway 50 (out of the box) on 02/14/2012 18:06:49 MST Print View

Looks like this pack will be hitting stores soon. I'll be testing this pack extensively over the next ~5+ months, and along with another long established UL frameless pack from major manufacturer doing a review which will discuss in depth not only the features and load carrying ability of each pack, but why each pack has the load carrying ability and characteristics is does. Which aspect(s) of each pack fails first when loaded beyond capacity, things like that.

The jury will be out on that for months, so what follows is the basic numbers and some descriptive photos to better guide any potential early adopters.

First weight. My size large is 1 lb 15.4 oz for the pack, and a further 12.8 oz for the folding foam pad which comes stock.

The pack is between 10 and 11" wide, around 8" deep, and 37" from the bottom of the backpad to the top of the roll top.

thruway1

Torso length. The issue of proper torso length, with and without load lifters, will be addressed in depth in the article. There's a little more than an inch of up-down adjustment with the velcro hipbelt attachment, under the lumbar pad.

The lumber pad is a thinish bit of dense foam atop a piece of plastic sheet. The upper back pad is thick 3D mesh over a corrugated plastic sheet.

thruway2

The stock foam pad is a pragmatic 20" by 48".

thruway3

The joints are cut down and sewn to facilitate low-profile folding. It's a very dense, rubbery closed cell foam, which explains the hefty weight for the thickness.

thruway4

Fortunately you can fold it so the creepy, abstract bird eyes are not visible.

thruway5

Using another pad will be tricky, as most won't be long enough. The zipper above the load lifters is a waterproof #5, and leads to an inside compartment.

thruway6

Upon which LNT guidelines are printed.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Thruway on 02/14/2012 18:35:01 MST Print View

thruwaystraps

Shoulder straps are thick, very dense foam. Against the skin is a light, wicking fabric.

thruwaybelt

The stock belt is very thin. I'll be testing the pack with both this one and the thicker Alpine belt MH offers.

thruwayaxe

Ice axe loops. I reckon the blue ones wouldn't work on many axes, and I'm not sure why there are two.

The bottom fabric sure feels like Dimension Polyant DX40, or something darn close. Should be burly. The body of the pack (dark blue) is a densely woven 100D nylon which seems like it should be a good balance between burl and lightness.

thruway pockets

The compound back pocket on the Thruway looks fantastic. There are no dividers between the side pockets (easily reachable with pack on) and the back pocket which is quite deep. My experience building packs with similar features has shown this to be a very versatile design. An interesting addition here are the secondary, upper side pockets, also stretch mesh. They are totally open at the bottom, so presumably meant to help hold things like poles and fishing rods. The bottom compressions strap does seem to close them off, so they could likely be pressed into service to hold rain gear and the like.

thruwaypockets2

The roll top buckles fit together, and the straps for the roll top can be buckled together across the back of the pack.

thruwaytop

I'll be interested in seeing how this performs in the field. The feature set and materials are certainly to my liking.

Nick C.
(nixie) - F
re: Thruway on 02/14/2012 21:00:07 MST Print View

Interesting looking pack. Are the two blue string loops (one of which is holding an ice axe in the picture) possibly designed for holding a pair of trekking poles?

(The tips of the poles might fit through the loops, while the mudguards just above the tips would catch on the loops. Presumably there is another strap further up to secure the rest of the poles?)

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Thruway on 02/14/2012 21:25:53 MST Print View

That's the only plausible explanation I've been able to think up. The little bungies near the top of the outside pocket would hold them.

One interesting thing I forgot to mention: no provisions whatsoever for a hydration system.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: re: Thruway on 02/14/2012 22:03:39 MST Print View

Wow, after that brief synopsis it looks far more well designed than when I first heard news of it. Before I just thought it was another run of the mill pack, but they put a lot of effort into it.

David, I don't know if this is in your plans but it would be nice as a side note to see if the back pad can be pressed into service as a sleeping pad. If it's as dense as you say it probably won't be any more comfortable than existing products but insulation may make up for its weight. Of course maybe cutting a regular thinlight type pad to spec may provide the same support for less weight.

Daniel Sandström
(sandstrom.dj)
Sidepockets on 02/14/2012 23:18:06 MST Print View

I really dig the design of the "double" side pockets. Very nifty.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Thruway sleeping pad on 02/15/2012 08:08:17 MST Print View

Dustin, that has to've been the intention of MH. No other reason to go out of their way to make the pad such a good size for bivvying. I'll be integrating the stock pad into my sleeping system, and investigating how using different pads affects load carry and torso collapse.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: re: Thruway on 02/15/2012 10:49:39 MST Print View

Those smaller blue loops are definitely trekking pole loops. Deuter (and maybe another manufacturer or two) has been doing them for years. Other than Osprey's Stow-on-the-Go system, they're the best method I've seen for storing the poles while not in use. Of course, a small zip tie can quickly turn a larger ice axe loop into a double one.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: re: Thruway on 02/15/2012 10:55:25 MST Print View

After reading this in more detail, I am quite impressed with the design of the pack. I like the roll top system, more straps if you clip it up, or the option to clip it down. It looks like it could perform well in winter too if you can rig a way for the roll-top straps on the side to carry skis. Have fun beating this thing around Glacier and the Bob.

Stephan Doyle
(StephanCal)
Re: MH Thruway 50 (out of the box) on 02/15/2012 12:02:44 MST Print View

I'm not sure about that pad, but everything else looks great. Simple, aesthetically pleasing, with features there if you want them, and versatile.

For 13oz you can get a full-length Z-rest or the like. I hope that "frame" is super stable, because the thickness doesn't lend itself to much warmth. Maybe not as multi-use as it seems, and makes the pack much heavier than spec.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Thruway frame on 02/15/2012 12:42:01 MST Print View

The foam in the stock mat is very dense, and my assumption is it will provide more resistance to torso collapse than just about any CCF of comparable thickness. This will of course be quantified.

Clayton, good to have confirmation on the trekking pole holders. Makes sense.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
MH Thruway 50 (out of the box) on 02/15/2012 20:25:57 MST Print View

Will the side straps accept skis do you think, Dave?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Thruway and skis on 02/15/2012 20:59:04 MST Print View

I don't see why not. Will find out soon.

Nick C.
(nixie) - F
re: MH Thruway 50 (out of the box) on 02/15/2012 21:10:02 MST Print View

Do you know what the design brief was for this pack?

I think the name is throwing me off because sitting back here in the peanut gallery, the pack almost seems more suited for low-angle mountaineering than thru-hiking. (And those double side pockets look almost perfect for holding wands and possibly pickets.)

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: re: MH Thruway 50 (out of the box) on 02/15/2012 22:53:22 MST Print View

Nicholas, the MH website says it's great for thru-hikers. That said MH does have a climbing pedigree (and customer base) so it's no surprise that a lot of climbing friendly features found their way into the design.

Personally I think this may make a great alternative for my Osprey Talon 44. The outer pockets and roll top seem much better designed than the Talon and weight is comparable depending on set up. Also with the optional hip belts this single pack seems to cover a wider gamut of trips. It's kind of following the "systems" approach of UL hiking to allow it to do double duty.

I'm very interested in seeing how this pack performs. Much more interested in a piece of gear than I have been in the past.

EDIT: To confuse things even more, the thu-way has a long distance hiker description yet is categorized as a "climbing and sport" pack on their website. I think MH has no clue what they designed. Hopefully it'll be a quality generalist pack regardless of your outdoor pursuits.

Edited by upalachango on 02/15/2012 22:56:55 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re; Thruway design intention on 02/16/2012 08:21:52 MST Print View

I certainly can't claim any insight into the MH design process, though I'm inclined to think they didn't just pick the name completely out of thin air. It is odd that it's in the climbing section of their website, and that this pack gets grouped with the gear designed by or in collaboration with Ueli Steck.

Perhaps they're hedging their bets. MH isn't exactly know foremost as a backpacking company, and I do think alpinists will find a lot to like about this pack. We'll see how the market reacts.

The real x-factor is going to be load carry. They went all-in on a not especially conventional suspension, which is nonetheless fairly heavy. If it tests out in the upper echeleon of contained foam mat packs (ie the Jam and Pinnacle, with 95% torso collapse at around 30 pounds), we'll be cooking with gas.

Nick C.
(nixie) - F
re: MH Thruway 50 on 02/16/2012 13:07:45 MST Print View

Good points all. I look forward to the review.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Thruway on 02/20/2012 09:27:10 MST Print View

thruwayski

The pack in use this weekend.

Seth Brewer
(Whistler) - MLife

Locale: www.peaksandvalleys.weebly.com
Owl Eyes must be pre-production on 02/20/2012 09:37:01 MST Print View

My ThruWay 50 doesn't have the Owl eyes on the pad...maybe they thought people would get freaked out...Pad


Here is it next to my ULA Circuit for comparison. BTW is was 34 oz. out of the box with everything (20"x48" CFF mat = 4 oz., Waffle plastic backpanel insert = 1.45, Waist Belt = 3.63 oz.). Looks pretty cool and looking forward to trying it out for a NET thru in a few weeks or so.Comparison

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: MH Thruway 50 on 02/20/2012 09:54:07 MST Print View

Dave, do you think you can get a bear canister(bearikade)in on it's side or just vertical in there?