A Great Lineup of Fly Fishing Packs
|Exterus Ebb Series Large Sling Pack|
Before going much further, let me clarify my requirements. First off, I hate traditional vests and haven't worn one for over 20 years. I like to have nothing in the way of my arms when I cast yet I like to have easy access to my gear. I also don't like the idea of a back-pack style system because you end up having to remove it to gain access to your stuff. So most of my packs over the years have either been hip or fanny pack style or sling back style (or just slap stuff in my cargo shorts pockets style with a lanyard).
Enter the new line of Allen Fly Fishing packs: The Exterus Ebb Series. I decided to give these packs a try because I no longer needed the big camera bag and wanted something more modular and designed for fly fishing. I ended up going with the Large Sling Pack, the Lumbar Pack and the Chest Pack. One thing I didn't mention is that I like to use different pack setups depending on where and how I'm fishing. I don't believe in a "one size fits all" solution. I like the sling bag for more all-day type river or stream trips where I can store more than a couple of fly boxes. The lumbar and chest packs are nice for quick small stream trips or when planning for less time on the water. I also like to combine the chest pack with the sling pack to use as more of a belt or hip mounted pack rather than the chest. It allows me to have quicker access to a fly box or two without slinging the sling bag around to the front.
As far as design goes, the packs are full of useful features and accommodate more storage than you'd think. I won't go into all the nooks and crannies where you can store or clip things to, but you'll be happy with the variety of pockets, straps and holders. If you haven't fished with a sling-style pack, you really need to give the two sling pack options from Allen here a try. While maintaining the same concept of a backpack hanging off your back, you can easily sling the bag to your front-side without having to take it all the way off and set things down. The bottle holder on the bottom is also great because you can access your bottle there without so much as moving a strap. Super-convenient!
For reference, you can check out the full lineup of packs here: http://www.allenflyfishing.com/packs/
|Cheech sporting both the lumbar and chest packs|
All models feature the molded "protected" fly box pockets that you've come to see across most pack manufacturers. I actually use these often for storing my smaller camera. It's padded and protected in there. All packs we've used are relatively lightweight given their storage capacity and seem to be put together well. I can't speak to durability as I've only had them for a few months, but so far no major wear or tear issues. I can, however, say that I took the sling pack to Mexico and it served as a carry-on computer bag, camera bag and on-the-water gear bag. Super versatile and it was comfortable to boot!
Cons: To be fair, we can't do a review without pointing out a few issues we found. First off, and this isn't restricted to just these packs, but the zippers end up getting caught on pack material as you zip up from time to time. Not a big deal and it's only on a few occasions.
But overall, these are well-made packs and work like a champ.