One of the fun things about our work here at the Compleat Angler is that we get to carry only the top brands that we know and trust. To make the cut, suppliers must provide a well-made product that can stand up to season after season of fishing and it must incorporate the right features for our anglers. And of course a supplier must have a well-established warranty and good customer service to keep our anglers on the water. One supplier we’ve recommended for many season is Fishpond - we absolutely love working with them. They have phenomenal products, fair prices, and fantastic customer service. Today we thought we’d take a look at one of their new products, the Fishpond Wind River Roll-Top Backpack.
Fishpond’s tackle systems, luggage, packs and waterproof series are consistently one of our top sellers. And we expect the Wind River Roll-Top Backpack to be no exception. This backpack as all the features you need for a comfortable day on the water whether you are fishing from a drift boat, flats boat, or on foot.
Why a Roll-Top?
The Fishpond Wind River Roll-Top Backpack (as its name suggests) has a roll top feature for the main compartment. The reason behind this are three-fold.
First, the alternative - waterproof zippers - often require considerable force to open and close. They can be difficult to use and need to be waxed periodically to keep them functioning properly. In fact, such zippers often have oversized T-Handles which are necessary to apply enough force to open and close the pack or bag. That tells you something.
Second, waterproof zippers are a heavy gauge and can actually be painful on the hands as well. They tend to not open very well and will clamp down on your hand as you go in and out of the bag. This can prove to be quite the nuisance, especially when it is cold (I have actually had a waterproof pack’s zipper draw blood on my hands when it was cold out). Not something I was very excited about while suffering through a late December Steelhead trip.
Lastly, if the zipper is not shut tight, it will leak. It is sometimes not obvious whether or not the zipper is closed completely. We have had customers come in convinced that their pack was leaking only to find out after manufacturer testing that the pack was leak free and not zipped completely closed. If there is something in the bag that absolutely cannot get wet, this is a huge drawback.
By contrast, the roll-top feature on the Fishpond Wind River Backpack is completely watertight and easy to use. It is as easy as pinching the two seams together, taking 2 or 3 rolls down and clipping the sides. This Backpack has opposing buckles on each side allowing you to clip the bag closed on the sides of the bag or together at the top. Regardless of which method you use, it will not affect the water tight seal.
Another benefit of the Fishpond Wind River Roll-Top Backpack is that it is surprisingly light, especially for a bag this size. One reason is that Fishpond has opted for a minimalist approach, keeping this bag free of compartments, excessive side pockets, and fancy detailing. This design has kept the weight down making this a very manageable pack for those longer days on the water. I also like this streamlined approach because it often makes packs more durable as well. There are fewer seams and zippers that can fail.
The minimalist design of the Fishpond Wind River Roll-Top Backpack also provides another benefit - you can pack this bag with an astonishing amount of gear. I have personally loaded this bag up with lunch, water, extra layers, 15 or more fly boxes and all manner of terminal tackle and STILL had plenty of room for more stuff if I needed it. And even with all that gear, it was very comfortable on the body thanks to the robust shoulder straps, chest strap, hip belt and back support. However, if you are not bringing as much stuff as I tend to carry, you can certainly load this bag light and roll it down to a smaller size. The bag can be rolled down to a short 21 inches tall when you are packing much less gear. Or, if you need more capacity the bag will top out a cavernous 28 inches. I have found that this flexibility is one of my favorite features of this Backpack.
The Fishpond Wind River Roll-Top Backpack has a single small internal pocket perfect for a wallet, keys, or any other smaller items that need to be easily accessed. A small external front pocket is also available. Although it is not waterproof, this is a great place for leader, tippet or an extra fly box. On the side of the bag are 2 Velcro straps designed for rod tubes and clips on the opposite side will accommodate a wide variety of Fishpond accessories.
The Fishpond Wind River Roll-Top Backpack was introduced last Fall and was reintroduced this Spring. They have made it even more durable by increasing the thickness of the waterproof fabric while still keeping all of the great features this backpack has to offer. As if that weren’t enough, Fishpond has made the Wind River Roll-Top Backpack compatible with many of their chest packs by incorporating modular buckles into the shoulder straps and hip belt. If you cover a lot of water on foot and don’t want to sacrifice your Fishpond chest pack you can clip it right to the Wind River Roll-Top Backpack and hit the river.
I personally own this bag and absolutely love it. It is a flexible and practical backpack for everyday situations. Light, durable, and waterproof, the Fishpond Wind River Roll-Top Backpack is a great solution to the age-old issue of transporting gear while on the water. Rain or shine, I have this with me on the water constantly and have not been disappointed yet. It holds everything I need for full days of slinging bugs and I rarely leave home without it at this point. Granted a backpack is not for everybody, but for those of you - like me - who have a habit of carrying a fair amount of gear, this is a great option.Those days of debating what you can bring with you vs. what you have to leave home are a thing of the past. Whether you plan on fishing new water or unsure of the weather, having plenty of room to pack everything you may need ultimately results in a much more pleasurable and productive experience. And keeping all that stuff dry is icing on the cake.
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