The good folks at Fishpond sent me their new Westwater Guide Lumbar Pack. I registered my first impressions a few weeks ago. Since then I've fished with it a dozen times including a few days wandering about in Yellowstone National Park. While at the park I recorded a video review.
A summary of what I liked and didn't like:
- Stupendously water resistant - the material (thermoplastic polyurethane) is impervious to water and the zippers are highly water resistant. Anything short of a dunking will keep your gear safe.
- Large capacity - swallows a bunch of gear including four fly boxes, cigar case, headlamp, lunch, and the bazillion consumables (leader, floatant, strike indicators, etc) that one needs on the water.
- Comfortable to wear, all day - wide, ventilated waist band and comfortable shoulder strap make this fairly comfortable, even fully loaded.
- Customization - lots of lashing points externally for zingers and gear both on the belt and the case itself.
- Lacks an effective place to put a net. (True of all waist packs I've used). I used a s-biner to connect mine to one of the d-rings on the belt. A d-ring on the shoulder strap would have been great.
- The straps on the bottom are too short to accommodate a heavy weight jacket. They either need to be an inch longer or include a quick release snap (or both)
- The zippers are very stiff (yet water resistant). You really need two hands to zipper effectively (True of all waist packs and most vests I've used). Single handed closure seems to be the holy grail of packs/vests -- desired but unobtainable.
Overall, I like the pack. There's some competition coming out in the next few months and I'll be interested to compare those packs with this one. Until then, I'll be using the Fishpond Westwater Guide Pack on the water.
Retail Price: $139.95
Full Disclosure: This pack was sent to me gratis. I'd like to think that doesn't matter in the words that I chose. You judge for yourself.