January 18, 2013
"Welding" used to mean using extremely high heat to unite two pieces of metal. Now, it just means using heat to securely join two similar pieces of material. The Stormfront Pack, Westwater Duffel, and the Dry Creek Boat Bag all use welded construction, which means there are no sewn seams for a union that is less bulky. TPU or thermoplastic polyurethane keeps the nylon or polyester material waterproof, and when applied as a liquid solvent, it cures into a flexible, abrasion-resistant membrane.
Four Bags, Four Uses
Patagonia's Stormfront Pack (1) is a waterproof backpack for fly fishers on foot. For boats and rafts, use the Simms Dry Creek Boat Bag for easy wide-mouth access. Columbia's Axel Hauler (22") is a water-resistant carry-on roller bag, but for truly large capacity you'll need FishPond's Large Zippered Duffel that converts to a backpack.
Columbia Axel Hauler $180
Columbia's 22"x14"x9" Axel Hauler is legit carry-on size and has beefy, smooth-rolling wheels and a two-stage telescoping handle so you can quickly roll your way through airports, hotels, and city streets. When you get to the water, the rugged exterior proves to be an excellent fishing companion. The 600-denier polyester is treated with Columbia's Omni-Shield to not only keep the contents dry, but keep the exterior looking clean as well. Our tester took this bag to Central America and watched it sit beside a plane in a rainstorm that baggage handlers decided to wait out. After a one-hour tropical downpour, the clothes inside stayed dry, as did the book in the top zippered security pocket. And after a week in a drift boat in Canada, the Axel Hauler still looks like new, and the wheels are still rolling through airports.
Fish Pond Westwater Large Zippered Duffel $200
When you take a big trip, you need a giant duffel to hold waders, boots, a week of clothes, and all those other 'extras ' you'd regret leaving at home. But when you hit close to your 50-pound bag limit, a regular duffel is too hard to carry through the airport. Enter the Westwater Large Zippered Duffel with two regular duffel handles, and a removable backpack harness with padded shoulder straps and a chest strap. When you're hauling the bag, use it as a backpack, and when you check the bag at the airport, remove the straps so they don't get caught up in the baggage treadmill. The duffel also has external rod tube straps, a small zippered accessory pocket, and nylon webbing lash points. The TPU construction with welded seams and water-resistant zippers means your stuff will stay dry whether on a rainy riverbank or in the bottom of a raft.
Patagonia Stormfront Pack $150
Some bags are water resistant and others are truly waterproof. This one is the latter. Patagonia recently received a handwritten letter from a U.S. customer who lost his Stormfront Pack overboard while on a fishing trip along the coast of Mexico. His bag held an SLR digital camera, extra lenses, as well as his wallet, passport, and other important travel documents. Three days later, the unlucky fly fisher was in the process of applying for a new passport when his luck changed and the bag was returned. The camera, passport, and everything else was dry after three days at sea. The fabric is 840-denier TPU-coated nylon with welded construction, and a single YKK waterproof zipper. Our tester said 'It's a simple no-frills pack that does one thing and does it very well — it keeps your stuff dry. ' Inside, there is a single zippered mesh pouch for valuables like a wallet, and the backpack straps are removable.
Simms Dry Creek Boat Bag $200
This bag was carefully designed to sit in 3 inches of water, and to keep your iPhone, digital camera, lunch, and everything else dry on those precious days when it's gray and raining, and the steelhead are moving upriver. Our tester reported that the Dry Creek Boat Bag works exactly as advertised, and like John Hannibal Smith, 'We love it when a plan comes together! ' Although the zipper on the main compartment is rated only as water resistant, the flap-over design ensures that as long as the bag stays upright, and the laws of gravity stay intact, no water is getting into the bag. Just don't submerse it or lay it on its side, because that's not part of the plan. The Dry Creek Boat Bag comes in three sizes: S (11 liters), M (28 liters), and L (30 liters, shown). Inside there are simple, adjustable dividers that create three large storage areas. There's also a clear, zippered compartment on the inside of the top flap for things like maps, leaders, and fly lines.