In our latest Gear Review, we had the chance to test out FishPond’s Submersible Backpack and Chest Pack from their Thunderhead gear line. Check out what we had to say below.

As fly-anglers continue to push themselves deeper and deeper into the unknown in pursuit of undiscovered adventure, they depend on gear that can not only keep up with them, but keep their gear safe and functional. With the recently updated Thunderhead Submersible Gear line, Fishpond has set out to create just that.

casting into the wind

On hearing this, we decided to grab a Fishpond Submersible Backpack, with an accompanying Submersible Chest Pack, and put them to the test ourselves. The combo accompanied us from the east coast to the west, and from the rivers in our own backyard, all the way to the last frontier. Charged with the task of protecting everything from irreplaceable camera gear to the following day’s lunch, we put the Thunderhead packs through rain, mud, wind, and mud to see just how true to its claims this gear would hold.

overview

Upon Opening:

Upon initial unboxing, we were immediately impressed. The backpack felt sturdy, and the 1680D TPU coated nylon exterior felt more possessed a more rigid structure than any other packs we had experienced. Immediately, it was clear water was going to have to work overtime if it was to have even a chance at penetrating the bag. The chest-pack was one-in-the-same. It felt extremely compact, and presented a low profile look and feel.

compact backpack
Image courtesy of Gerry Dimarco

What had originally drawn our attention to the 2 packs was their seamless integration into one another. Before even snipping the tags, we had buckled the chest pack into the corresponding receivers on the backpack to see how it felt on the shoulders. The clips snapped together with a clean click and felt firmly in place. With the chest pack resting just over the diaphragm, the pack combo was set firmly in place, comfortably secured around the upper body. The pack combination delivered a tactical feel, allowing access to anything one could need, all with limited encumbrance.

toting chest pack

The matching Yucca Green packs were obviously meticulously designed and manufactured. However, while it was nice having them shiny, clean, and beautiful to start; we couldn’t wait to toss them in the mud.

Field Testing:

Performance:

When it comes to the places this back traveled with us, it’s easier to name the places it didn’t for it would be a far shorter list. From Pennsylvania through Delaware, all the way across the state to Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and even up to the Iliamna River in Alaska: it’s safe to say this rig has been somewhere.

fishpond performance

The primary function of the bag, is, of course, to be waterproof. This is why, as we sat bundled in raingear, jet-boating through icy Alaskan rain, we could focus on the mission of catching fish, and not as to whether or not our many thousands of dollars of camera equipment was safe. When fishing, it’s of course always important to consider rain a factor, for it changes fishing conditions, safety factors, and of course the condition of the contents you’re carrying. Luckily, with these two packs, our gear stayed bone dry, even when unexpected downpour, or of course, the accidental river bath (which seems to be a common occurrence after a few river brews) decided to rewrite the fine print of our plans.

waterproof close up

The other feature we feel most important to touch on would be the versatility of the pack to pack combo. As mentioned before, the technological compatibility of the whole line allows for one’s full loaded fishing rig to become much more streamlined and easier to travel with. Because the pack, which can hold about 2 Tacky “Catch-all” fly boxes, plus a phone, flotant, nippers, and a few other necessities: can be so easily integrated into the pack, you’re always able to carry as much, or as little, as you feel you need, on a whim. This brings us to our next point.

Capacity and Portability:

With the chest pack holding 5L worth of storage capacity and the backpack holding 28L, you’re looking at around 33L of total storage on your person, not including wader + jacket pockets. Don’t worry, we did the math. With that, you’re easily able to pack along just about whatever you’d need for a day on the water. Whether that’s an extra few fly boxes, a water bottle (please, bring a water bottle…), a camera, or a few extra layers, you’re most likely going to be able to find the room you need. However, because of the pack’s TPU coated shell, once you’re at your carrying capacity, there’s not much room to stretch. You’ll find this to be the case with pretty much every submersible bag.

full scope of backpack

When it comes to portability, this combo is extremely user conscious. The backpack is has a padded backing built-in, put there to allow the waterproof coating to stay off your back, and allow for added comfort and proper airflow. The packs hip straps are noticeably built out, and will actually provide added support by transferring an appreciatable amount of weight from your back to your hips. This really goes a long way when spending a whole day out, or hiking up to a remote alpine lake. Furthermore, if you’re not looking to lug the backpack all the way up a mountain, the chest pack can be attached to an included lightweight back harness, which includes a D-ring, and a net slot.

chest pack rain

The chest pack, when attached sits well balanced on your chest or diaphragm, depending on where you position it. Something to mention with the pack is that you can keep it as loose, or locked into your body as you choose. With the easily adjustable straps, you can tighten it towards your shoulders, giving it a snug and tight feel on your chest. Furthermore, and more importantly, there are two bottom straps on the chest pack that clip into slots on the hip straps of the backpack, allowing for an even more secure connection. This is perfect for moving fast and keeping what’s important to you close.

Final Review:

rain

Waterproofness: 

5 star rating

Functionality:

4 star rating

Durability: 

4 star rating

Carrying Capacity:

3 stars

Portability:

4 star rating

Price:

3 stars

Visual Appeal: 

5 star rating

looking at sopris

Conclusion:

If you’re looking for an overly-engineered piece of fly fishing gear that’ll be ready for anything you can think to put it through, this pack has got your back (and front). Built out to encompass any fly fishing utilities you can think to throw on it, this pack combo is certainly a testament to Fishpond’s ability to put together some high-end gear. While the price tag isn’t exactly conducive to the budget of the weekend warrior, you can certainly consider this pack an investment, and the last one you’ll need to make for a long time.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE FISHPOND SUBMERSIBLE THUNDERHEAD BACKPACK

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CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE FISHPOND SUBMERSIBLE THUNDERHEAD CHEST-PACK

 

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