I wear a lot of Sitka gear during hunting season. Their 90% pants, Jetstream Jacket, and and an older Celsius Vest are my absolute hunting base layer. I love everything about them except, ironically, the camo pattern, which I am not sold on. Any camo works, but I would actually prefer a basic Realtree print. The reason I use Sitka anyway is because of the *amazing* build quality.
Sitka is similar to Simms Fishing Products, only in the hunting market. It has a direct relationship with W.L. Gore (and in fact is partially owned by Gore). Now based in Bozeman, Sitka is legitimately designed by hardcore hunters. They have a great blog, in fact.
Last season I picked up the Ascent 8 and it immediately occurred to me that it would make a great fishing pack. Unlike most fly fishing lumbar systems, it has a built in water bladder sleeve, with clever clips on the waist for the water line. Bladder systems distribute weight evenly and eliminate sloshing; key in the woods, and less annoying on the flats. The material of the pack is extremely lightweight, with most of the mass of the pack in the padded lumbar system, which is substantial.
Large finger loops make it easy to open and shut pockets, even with sun gloves on. Notice the jacket retaining straps clipped to the rear? This is the only system I have seen that gets those secured and out of the way when they are not actively being used to hold on a rain shell. The carry-all strap on top of the bag is super robust, making it easy to convert this over to boat deck use. The loose sections of the front lumbar straps, which always flop around on other packs, actually roll up and velcro down on this model, where they won’t snag fly line.
There are lots of lumbar packs out there and simpler is usually better. But with this pack Sitka has simply addressed every annoyance and inconvenience I can think of with a pack. Since it can also pull double duty during hunting season, it’s really a one stop shop for the bow hunter/rifle hunter/flats angler/tailwater angler. Its $129.00 price is in line with the high end stuff from fly fishing companies, so if you’re a big fan of lumbar systems for fly fishing like I am, give this your consideration.
Rating: Four stars out of five (demerit for price and non-waterproofedness).
Purchase: Directly from Sitka.