This will be a preliminary review, as I’ve just picked this bag up and haven’t had it on the water yet. Right away, though, there’s a lot to like. For one, the manufacturers have finally refined their process on making waterproof bags. The first generation of this type of kit started with Patagonia’s venerable avocado green line of Great Divider bags. Those things were burly, durable, and ahead of their time, but they were also strangely sticky, had serious zipper difficulties, and tended to turn an unpleasant shade of yellow after too much UV exposure. The second generation of this type of bag followed a couple years later, with Simms leading the charge, and that technology has now been tweaked to near-perfection.
This bag is made of what appears to be a vinyl-coated ripstop fabric, but the coating is thin and matte-finished. It is smooth to the touch and not tacky at all. Using either heat welding, pressed glues, or possibly radio welding, Fishpond has affixed tabs to the exterior; these lay down utterly flat and are perforated for use with Fishpond’s excellent series of push-button pin-attachment accessories, which are worth their weight in gold. I might hesitate to strap too extreme of a load to the orange strap tabs in the rear, but frankly I can’t think of anything I would want to strap to the back of this already-cavernous bag anyway.
Seriously, you could get a full size tent in this thing, or a small laptop. It’s burly, which is great both for its intended audience (actual guides playing Sherpa for a party of anglers) and for the age of full-sized, FX-style digital cameras.
Fishpond has kind of halfway followed Sitka’s lead in creating a pouch for a water bladder, but this is clearly not a dedicated function. I plan to run my waterline out the side of the main zipper; there is no other port. I would have preferred to see two zippers so the line could be positioned as preferred, but on a $140 lumbar pack I understand the need to save costs somewhere.
Waterproofedness is the killer app on this pack, but Fishpond has also installed some other things I am really excited about. Several years ago I sketched out a lumbar pack design with a slot on the front, against the angler’s back, for a long-handled net to slide into. Fishpond arrived at the same solution; this way your net will stay attached to the pack even when you slip it off on the bank. Isn’t that smart?
I expect this to become my primary boatbag/lumbar pack. Being waterproof (if not submersible), it’ll make an excellent easy-access place to store cameras and other sensitive electronics in the bottom of my canoe during the upcoming striper season. And if I decide to slip into the water to swim to that next rock, the pack’s coming with me for once.
Purchase: From Fishpond ($140).
film bag is not yet rated.