Kitchen Sink Will Travel: The Fishpond Westwater Sling Pack

gear bagSearch the patent office database and you’ll find thousands upon thousands of inventions that are guaranteed to help you catch more fish. Most have never made it to market, because fish are infinitely smarter than anglers.

I’m one of the dummies, but I do think the most marketable incarnations are the ones that make life easy for the fly fisher, like allowing he or she to travel in comfort and convenience; to carry all those useless fly fishing implements with ease. Do that and shops will sell more of the needless things; prosperity reigns supreme. If it’s water-resistant, you don’t soak the camera when you tumble into the river – you hence catch those background images you desperately need for the hero-shot Photoshop jobs – again, victory. Finally, make it extra spacious, and the roadside burrito cart vendor wins too. If you add all of these elements together someone might accuse you of conducting espionage at some top-secret military installation. Or just being the designer of the Fishpond Westwater Sling Pack.

Fishpond Westwater Sling PackBuild quality

If I knew exactly what technique Fishpond used to weld the seams on the Westwater Sling, you probably wouldn’t care anyway. Let’s leave the techno-babble to those geeky marketing types who are clueless as to what actually matters, and just say those seams are welded tight, look great, and feel like they don’t exist at all.

While Fishpond doesn’t bill the Sling as “waterproof” – they opt for “water resistant” – the Sling was clearly built to keep the wet stuff out. I spilled a half can of beer on it, and splashed it with water to clean it off. When I unzipped it to grab another beer, all was nice and dry on the inside. What more proof does an angler need?

The Westwater Sling is contructed of 1680d TPU fabric i.e. very tightly-weaved with a thermoplastic polyurethane laminate. It should be very tough, and nearly waterproof. I loaded it up for numerous trips, did some bush whacking, carelessly tossed it on gnarly rocks, and threw it in a river. Much to my dismay, the Sling took this abuse in stride. After that, I emptied the pack, carted it into the backyard, and stomped all over it while watching South Park re-runs on my mobile timesuck device. The pack lived, and could still hit the blacktie charity circuit.

Usability

With its single shoulder strap, the Westwater Sling is worn over the right side by design. The strap padding keeps the pack riding high, and the strap itself is just wide enough to keep moderate loads comfortable without impeding motion, or burying itself in your neck or hanging halfway down your arm. On one outing, I hiked roughly five miles of fairly rugged river with the Sling in tow. Inside were four full sized C&F waterproof boxes, one medium Meiho box, a one liter Platypus water bladder, as well as leaders, floatant, weights, six spools of tippet, and a 20 ounce New York Strip with twice baked potato. I never stopped for lunch, and all was still fine with the world.

Getting to the goods is where this pack really shines. Reach the right hand around towards the left hip, grab the strap, and pull. All of a sudden the pack is resting across your chest with a full length zipper staring you in the face. It opens to a large single compartment, with a smaller half zippered/half mesh pouch hanging downward – I use the latter for holding a tip wallet and leaders, leaving those gadgets quickly and conveniently accessible. There is also one exterior zippered compartment, good for holding “must have now” items such as Cohiba Robustos and matches, and a exterior plastic ring for hooking a net (I lashed my tippet spools and nippers to it instead). Finally, a really nice touch – a small welded slit on the top of the pack fits hemos perfectly.

The Fishpond Westwater Sling Pack specifications are as follows:

Dimensions – 16.75 X 10 X 5 inches
Capacity – approximately 800 cu. in.
Weight – approximately 1.3 pounds

Yea, so as packs go it is bigger than normal, and little on the heavy side. My previous experience with the Fishpond Nimbus Guide Pack, however, taught me that bigger is better – carry a voluminous pack and you’ll just put more stuff in it. More stuff means more fun, or garages across the land wouldn’t be so full, right? And as mentioned earlier, the sling strap is ample enough to distribute that weight, along with that of two racks of ribs and a fifth of bourbon, in comfort. Just in case though, Fishpond built hip straps into the Westwater Sling, so if you did indeed lug the contents of your own garage, you’d probably still be ok. I never used them, and I knew the fully-loaded pack was there. It was the fish that made me forget all about it.

Fishpond Westwater and fish

MG signing off (to hand this Westwater Sling Pack back to its rightful owner…ok maybe not)

FTC Disclosure: This pack was handed to me free of charge, after a beer keg went empty. No agreement was made to review it, and since I’m not even sure the folks at Fishpond remember I have it, I’m probably going to keep it.

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