September 03, 2015

Reels. Rods. Binoculars. And, now, DSLR’s. The flyfisherman’s bag is filled with finely-tuned if not precision, and often expensive, products brought to the water’s edge.

I’ve seen it happen before — a quick flip, a quick flip of a large tail, a small unexpected wave — and suddenly the Canon is on the fritz, or the box is soaked, or the something is ruined. In that moment, your trip goes from an inexpensive day trip or overnight, to a couple hundred or a couple grand. It’s the worst.

Even on trips when it doesn’t happen, I worry about it. I check and recheck bags nervously. I wonder aloud about them. And then, suddenly, I’m the guy on the trip everyone thinks has OCD.

And so, in recent years, I’ve set out to find a good dry bag for fishing trips. Here’s what I wanted:

  • Something light — this is a trip, not an expedition, after all;
  • Something reliable — the contents are worth protecting;
  • Something with a good brand behind it — something I can not just use, but believe in;
  • And something with a decent warranty, should something go wrong.

I’ve always been a fan of Filson, as I’m a fan of wool and waxed cotton. And then recently they began offering some rugged dry bags. At first glance, I knew I wanted to give them a try.

These products retain much of the core of Filson’s core brand offering — rugged, well-constructed, and backed by Filson’s great warranty. They mange to look both like Filson, and also a bit more contemporary. They manage to feel the same way, too. This has always been my gripe with a lot of the dry bags out there: they may keep your stuff dry, but they feel flimsy in the hand and they look like a piece of extruded plastic. Flimsy they often are, too: I’ve had bag handles rip after 3-4 trips.

When you pay good money for a product, you want a good product. That’s what you get with these Filson bags: they keep your stuff dry on the 10th trip, not just the 1st, and they do so with some style.

I’ve had my two Filson dry bags — the dry duffle and the dry day backpack — for a little less than 6 months. And I’m a big fan.

I’ve taken them striper fishing in rough water and heavy wind off Cape Cod. I’ve taken the backpack hiking in the Whites, also through a heavy rain storm. I’ve taken the backpack Tenkara fishing along little mountain streams. I’ve left the dry duffle in the bottom of a big wooden canoe fishing, while water sloshed around in the bottom. And I’ve taken the daypack Atlantic salmon fishing in such a heavy rain that my Gore-Tex wading jacket was soaked through. As if that wasn’t enough, I took my hose to them, and poured water over them both for a fair amount of time.

Here’s the thing, too: every time I did so, I did so with more than $5k worth of equipment in it. And never once did the contents get wet.

Dry Day Backpack

A waterproof, roll-top day pack with padded shoulder straps made of 18-oz. vinyl-coated polyester. The shoulder straps on this are extremely comfortable. There’s a handy little front pouch, in which I often store things like keys or a leather — things you don’t want to have to fish around for. I find the size is perfect for a day hike. It’s also tall enough to fit a Tenkara rod.

FEATURES
  • Roll top with hook-and-loop tab closure
  • Adjustable side buckle straps for cinching load
  • Oval base keeps pack upright
  • Sternum strap stabilizes load on your shoulders
  • Ergonomically shaped, padded shoulder straps with nylon loops for clipping accessories
  • Roll top secures with hook-and-loop tab to protect contents from water, dust and sand

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Dry Duffle

Perfect for a weekend trip — or for your DSLR fishing bag. I’ve often used it to store my Canon 5D Mark III and accessories — the GoPro, the various lenses, the sound equipment. It’s a great bag for these purposes, and keep it all safe and sound.

FEATURES

  • 18-oz. vinyl-coated polyester
  • Roll top with hook-and-loop tab closure
  • Adjustable buckle straps cinch down on the sides
  • Twin quick-drying webbing handles
  • Radio-frequency-welded seams
  • Roll top secures with hook-and-loop tab to protect contents from water, dust and sand

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Pros:

  • High quality
  • Highly versatile
  • Waterproof
  • Rugged
  • Backed by a strong warranty
  • Stylish construction

Cons:

I honestly struggle to find any, but were I to offer two criticisms they would be: 1) For the duffle, make the shoulder pad such that it can slide more easily across a broader range of positions; 2) For the backpack, make the velcro strip longer, and make the top clips such that they could clip into each other, not just the sides.

In the end, if you are looking for a high-quality waterproof bag or your fly fishing needs — and if you’re carrying expensive equipment — I would recommend these bags by Filson. A great product.

Filson’s dry bags — a great choice for the fly fisherman.


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