Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fly Product...TLTFF Review of The Fishpond Westwater Zippered Duffel

Fishpond couldn't have picked a better time to drop their newest lineup of bag and gear this past fall, I literally had about half a dozen tabs open on my computer of bags I was looking at buying over the winter for this Spring. They were all abruptly closed with new ones taking their place of the Fishpond options. It went from broad industry spectrum to a more narrowed company specific line.

Within the newly released products, there is the Westwater line. The basic features that tie together the Westwater packs and bags include TPU welded fabric construction, YKK #10 water-resistant with oversized rubber zipper pulls, and a blue, grey, green and orange theme.

I was able to get my hands on the Westwater Zippered Duffel after much debate and couldn't resist the urge to give this bag a review. Click below to read on to the review and see the the specs and description of the duffel from the Fishpond site...

New for 2014, the Westwater Zippered Duffel takes it's cues from the Large Zippered, including single hand and integrated backpack-style shoulder straps, and wraps it up in a package sized for the everyday adventurer. At home on a dirt airstrip in the Caribbean, or the back of a pickup truck in the Pacific Northwest, it hauls everything you need without weighing you down.

  • TPU welded fabric construction
  • YKK #10 water resistant zippers with oversized rubber zipper pulls
  • Integrated and removable backpack straps for easy hauling
  • Exterior accessory pocket
  • Two padded Jacquard webbing carry handles
  • Nylon webbing lash points
  • Two sets of Fishpond rod tube straps
  • 3,173 cu. in.
  • 2.3 lbs
  • 23" x 12.5" x 11"

This duffel, compared to the "Large Westwater Zippered Duffel" is regarded as small, but by no means fits that bill. The construction of this bag makes is unbelievably light-weight by itself (2.3lbs, ideal for weight-restricted flights in water planes or even the 50lb commercial limit) but has the room and space to pack for a considerably long trip (3,173 cu. in.). This of course, depends on how you pack, if your the type of angler that deems it necessary to bring a full lineup of rods, reels, every fly box you own, and two sets of clothes per day, my previous statement is inaccurate. Haha just kidding, but seriously, this thing holds more gear than the average traveler would need.

With all of its lash points, the removable backpack straps and rod tube straps, the options for configuration are endless. This bag can go from a suitcase to streamside bag in minutes with the addition or subtraction of gear, rod tubes, clothing, etc.

The first time I put the Duffel to use was when I packed it up for our overnight in Lancaster, PA for The Fly Fishing Show. It fit all the gear I needed to bring for people at the show, my clothes for the night, and even some fishing gear in case Luis and I found time to dip into some PA streams. After all of that was packed into it, I still had room for more, a lot more, I was pretty blown away. I almost wanted to find more gear to throw in it just to fill it up.

Ready for The Fly Fishing Show in Lancaster, PA

It worked perfectly and made packing extremely easy for the trip and to head home. I attached my Fishpond Low Tide LTE Backpack (the one I would use for the show to carry purchases and gear to give out as well as magazines, stickers, etc) to it with two carabiners and I strapped in my two rod tubes and boom, one pack on the back that carried everything for the trip, and kept my hands free.

Packed up for Tie Fest

The second trip I took the pack on was to Tie Fest, where I packed all the necessities for my table as well as tying materials, cards, stickers, and some gear to showcase from our awesome affiliates. I jammed in a large majority of my fly tying gear in case someone asked for a pattern they had seen on our social media outlets. While packing for Tie Fest, I also kept in mind that I wanted to save some room in case I decided to decrease the bank account and purchase new gear, books, etc. After all the packing was done, and most of my tying room was put into the duffel, I my jaw it the ground, when without effort, the zipper closed. I did in fact add more materials to the collection at tie fest and of course had to pick up some new gear to help support our local fly shops. And in the end, I was still able to pack and zip the duffel (of course that was after packing it back up like I was on level 20 of Tetris).

Bag in the lower right corner full of tying materials at Tie Fest

If you've fished with me or followed us long enough, you know I love to take a lot of gear with me on trips/on the water as far as having camera gear with me, flies, equipment, rods, water, food, etc. The fact that this has so many options for attaching gear to was what really won my heart. I loved being able to clip things in, strap them down, and still have the freedom of using my hands while everything was on my back.

Knowing all that gear is safe from foul weather while also knowing it is close to me when I need it, brings peace of mind. Thats where the weather-proof build of the duffle comes into play, and sets this bag apart from many others on the market. I would even venture to say it helps set the bar (among a few other high end packs currently on the market) for others to look forward to.

Fishpond's Westwater Zippered Duffle comes in at $169.95, a little on the high side. The Simms Dry Creek Duffle comes in at the exact same price but has double the cubic inches in room and is therefore larger, but is set apart by not turning into a backpack, not having lash points, and simply being a gear bag. The Patagonia Stormfront Roll Top Boat Bag also falls into the same category and comes in at $149.00 but only has 2868 cubic inches of space and does not have lash points or features other than its rod tube straps and exterior zippered pocket for easy access to the necessities. The last industry-leading bag that falls into the weather-resistant duffle category is Orvis' Gale Force Duffle. Coming in at $169.00 and 3,100 cubic inches its $0.95 less than Fishponds duffle and has slightly less room but again...does not have lash points and is simply a boat/gear bag.

Everything considered, this is one rad bag. There was only one aspect that affected the overall score, the cost. For quality bags these days, I totally understand you have to shell out some clams, but I would have liked to have seen that price dip closer to the magic $150 mark. Overall the Fishpond Westwater Zippered Duffle gets 4 out of 5 stars. I cannot wait to load up this pack for our Beaver Island trip in June and really put it to the test on the boats with my camera gear and others necessities.

A huge thank you goes out to Fishpond USA for making such a quality product and Backbone Media for steering me in the right direction for this bag! Be sure you check Fishpond out on Facebook and now Instagram!


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