As I have written in previous posts, I have been fishing with a hip style pack lately. While this is a nod to my minimalist spirit, I often wish that I had a place to store a raincoat, additional layers, or a hearty streamside lunch. The hip pack does not allow a lot of extra room for these things, but when I am on the river for a day, I sometimes find myself needing the extra gear. Most of my fishing involves a short hike, and I've been known to get lost in a stand of willow trees and thick brush in search of a beaver pond, so the gear that I use needs to be durable.
I have examined several backpack options, but most are too big for the small amount of gear that I need to carry on these short excursions. If the pack is too big, it ruins what is left of my minimalist dreams.
Enter the Fishpond Bitch Creek backpack. It is a great size for my intended purposes, at 1,434 cu. in, and 11" x 8.5" x 20". The pack is made of a cool new fabric called cyclepond, which is recycled commercial fishing nets. Its a great way to reuse something from the fishing industry, and it has a nice texture. The pack uses YKK Aquaguard #8 external water resistant zippers, has two external pockets for water bottles or fly rods (more on that in a minute), room for a hydration bladder, and a spacious main compartment.
The backpack has a structured air mesh back panel along with padded shoulder straps. The air mesh back is well designed, and seems like it would keep me cool when I was wearing it on a hot summer day.
One of the most interesting things about the pack is the zip out rod holders. Upon initial review, it appears that the pack has two traditional water bottle style holders. However, there are cleverly designed zippers in both that allow an expansion of two solidly constructed piece of material that allow your rod tube extra security. This helps the balance of the pack when you are carrying rod tubes, as it allows it to be less top-heavy.
A few days ago I took the pack fishing to see how I liked it. It was a typical Colorado winter day...cold and gray to start, with the wind picking up during the day, allowing the bright sunshine to offer what warmth it could. A day like that requires layers for comfort. In preparation for a change in conditions, I put a couple of extra layers in the backpack, along with extra water, lunch, and a couple of fly boxes that I usually leave in the car. There was still plenty of room in the pack if needed.
The pack was very comfortable to wear while fishing. It is small enough to feel like it is not in the way of my sometimes erratic casting, and the straps are truly comfortable. I was wearing it over a heavy Filson fly fishing coat, so I can't comment on how cool the mesh makes it, but I will report on that this summer when I wear it in the heat. My initial impressions of the pack are positive, and I look forward to using it on a variety of fishing trips in the future. If you are like me, a review is most helpful when you can see how a product holds up during real world use. I plan to publish periodic updates of how this pack performs while fishing with it, and I will rate it later using the BDF rating system.
The Fishpond Bitch Creek Backpack retails for about $149. Check out the fishpond website for further information on this pack. fishpondusa.com/product/detail/gore-range-tech-pack/362