James Parkinson heads out into the hills to see if the Miage 35 pack from Salewa, really is as versatile as it sounds?
Value for Money****
Billed by Salewa as a “classic backpack for alpine needs” the Miage 35 is designed for mountaineering, ski-mountaineering and via ferrata.
First things first – the Salewa Miage 35 is an exceptionally comfortable sack to carry. The Contact Fit system uses big foam pads against the back which move with the wearer and enables good freedom of movement for climbing of scrambling. I climbed up to HVS wearing the Salewa Miage 35 and didn’t have any trouble.
The removable hip belt is very well designed; it sits nicely on my hips and takes most of the load off the shoulders. Some people may not like a full-on padded belt on a climbing/mountaineering sack but for those long walk-ins carrying a full rack and ropes I found it very useful. The buckle system on the belt is worth mentioning; instead of a large buckle front and centre, a smaller buckle attaches on the left hand side and the belt is tightened via pull tabs on each side of the waist – a simple idea that works well. When the climbing harness goes on and the gear is racked, it is very simple to remove the belt (it’s held in place via a slot and a large Velcro patch) and stow it in the body of the pack. A smaller webbing belt is included as a replacement if needed.
On first acquaintance, the shoulder straps may seem a bit thin and I was concerned that they may cut into my shoulders. This turned out not to be the case; the combination of the ergonomic shaping of the straps and the excellent belt meant that I never had sore shoulders.
The 35L size makes the Salewa Miage 35 ideal for UK trad climbing (I’ve had all my gear in it for a big day on the north face of Scafell and a rope strap under the lid gives you further options) but many of the other features of the sack point to more specific uses. A diagonal ski carry system (as well as side compression straps for a more traditional A frame) along with compartments for an avalanche probe and shovel make this a very functional sack for ski-mountaineering missions or hut-to-hut tours. One slight drawback is that there is only one ice axe holder, further highlighting the specificity of the sack towards classic mountaineering rather than harder winter climbing.
The lid has both internal and external pockets for all your bits and an elastic bungee on top. A nice touch to the underside of the lid is an SOS label, giving emergency phone numbers for several countries as well as simple arm signals and Morse-style codes for if the worst should happen.
A couple of other features that are useful are the slot for a hydration tube (and elastic holders on the shoulder strap) and a small pocket on the left of the hip belt and a fabric gear loop on the right. There are also mesh pockets on each side for stashing water bottles or ski skins.
The Salewa Miage 35 is a comfortable and versatile sack, very good for UK rock climbing as well as classic mountaineering and ski touring. Maybe not ideal for winter climbing due to only having one tool attachment point but would do the job. Several nice little touches and features.