IFTD 2014 Highlights: Packs and Bags
Although the list of winners that emerge from each year's International Fly Tackle Dealer show helps highlight the crowd favorites in many a category of fly fishing gear, very notable products often don't get enough recognition. Recently, we highlighted some of the most intriguing fly fishing accessories from this year's show in Orlando, Florida, and now we're back to shed light on some of the standouts packs and bags.
Waist packs, chest packs and sling packs have become as essential a piece of fly fishing gear as the venerable vest, but are constantly evolving as they still relatively new. Manufacturers keep finding way to pack in more thoughtful features, make the packs wear better, hold up longer and so on. And much of the same can be said of waterproof storage and fly fishing luggage. Here are a few of this year's highlights.
Vedavoo Tight Lines 'Beast' Sling Pack
Vedavoo's existing Tight Lines sling pack is their most successful piece of gear and is beloved by those who own it. Still hand sewn in Massachusetts by Vedavoo founder Scott Hunter and his team, the Tight Lines pack has for several years now been a hallmark in quality and performance. Built with important concepts like balance and center of gravity taken into account, the Tight Lines pack wears light despite its construction out of durable Cordura fabric, stays put without the need for extra, pesky straps and offers easy, well-thought-out access to its contents when needed. It's a minimalist fisherman's dream. But for those who like to swing big flies (which get toted along in big boxes) or carry a full load (flies, lunch, jacket etc), it just isn't big enough.
Enter Vedavoo's new Tight Lines 'Beast' Pack. The Beast builds on all of the successful concepts that its little brother is built on, with the simple added goal of allowing you to carry more stuff. In comes a bigger central pouch, designed to hold a Cliff Beast Jr. fly box (but that will also hold a bevy of smaller boxes), a water bottle holder, a deep, sort-of-hidden pocket for stashing rain gear or other apparel and lots of other thoughtful additions.
Simms Dry Creek Boat Bag
Simms has updated its entire Dry Creek line and one of the most notable updates is the refresh of its boat bag, which features a new magnetic closure system. The new Dry Creek boat bag's top is built with an overlapping design that helps keep rain, oar splash and the like out of the bag while not requiring the user to fasten the bag's primary, water-resistant zipper closure. The result, it seems, is a bag that will be drastically more usable on the water. Most of us, whether we're stashing cameras and other electronics, or just our fly boxes, like to get in and out of the bag we're toting those things in with a minimal amount of hassle and Simms looks to have taken that desire to heart. It is also worth noting that, because the new closure system is magnetic, it fastens on its own -- eliminating the chances that you're likely to pick the boat bag and dump its contents before noticing that the top isn't zipped.
Orvis Safe Passage Guide Sling
Orvis has refreshed its entire Safe Passage lineup with new aesthetics and design considerations, even managing to pack thoughtful new features into its well-loved Safe Passage Guide Sling pack. Its predecessor was one of the most fishable sling packs we've tested, but there's always room for improvement, right? The new Safe Passage Guide sling will hit shelves in 2015 with more room, added padding, integration with Orvis' grossly under-recognized cell phone pouch/holder, a bigger water bottle holder and other astute improvements like a "no-dangle" zinger holder and more appropriately orientated fasteners for Orvis' add-on tippet spool bar.
Umpqua Tongass Waterproof Bags and Packs
Umpqua introduced an entirely new line of waterproof bags and packs, which it is calling the "Tongass" line and those who have ventured to Southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest will agree that there may be no better namesake for a line of bags that intended to keep things dry. The line is fairly expansive, and offers a great number of options including a variety of simple and affordable roll-top dry bags (some of which are priced as low as $25), a beefy roll-top duffel, a waist pack, a large backpack and more. Each model seems carefully designed and full of well-though-out features that you'd want given the bag's purpose. Most importantly, the bags are designed to keep things from getting wet. All of the bags' waterproof sections revolve around double-flap roll-top closures that will keep out even the heaviest Tongass rainforest downpour.
Fishpond Westwater Line
Fishpond's Westwater line of bags and packs has long been one of our favorites. The Westwater large duffel is bombproof and endlessly roomy, the lumbar pack has been one of our go-to waist packs for the last couple of years (read our review here) and the Westwater roll-top boat bag has no shortage of fans. Though Fishpond hasn't reinvented the wheel with this year's refresh, it has done something very important by bringing its Cyclepond fabric into the Westwater line. The new Cyclepond-based models are a snazzy green, but there's more to it than green. If you're not familiar with Cyclepond, it is a Fishpond-exclusive fabric that is made from recycled commercial fishing nets. Learning that Fishpond is bringing Cyclepond into its Westwater lineup will be welcome news to folks that like to see garbage re-used, crude oil saved and greenhouse gasses reduced. That is, if you're into that sort of thing.