Patagonia Stormfront Hip Pack
I had planned a fishing trip recently where deep wading was going to be frequent and not something that I could avoid as much as I might like to try. I'm not the tallest guy on the river so a truly waterproof pack was a requirement. I decided on a waist pack and specifically, Patagonia's Stormfront Hip Pack.
My requirements were fairly simple: 100% waterproof/submersible and ample storage for minimal terminal tackle, coffee thermos and water bottle, fly boxes.
After doing some research on various packs, I found a coupon and a sale price so it made the choice to go with this particular pack a no brainer.
When I got the pack, I was immediately impressed with the build quality. The zipper and zipper pull are absolutely top notch, I have not seen one better. I've had some water resistant packs that bleed water through the material after being subjected to rain/snow and I simply couldn't use a pack like that for this trip. I felt immediately confident due to the locking mechanism of the zipper and thickness of the material that this bag would indeed be waterproof. Anyone who's owned waterproof gear knows that zippers are sometimes a little sticky, so I appreciate the T pull on the zipper. It makes opening it up and locking it down MUCH easier when its on your body or on the bank. I applied some zipper lube (wax) to aid in opening and closing the zipper to make it even easier.
The Stormfront is a simple build, one large zipper and 3 mesh zipper pockets internally on the inside, nearest your body when worn. On the outside, it comes with rod tube straps made from and coated with the same materials the pack is made from. I've pulled them off and will likely look to replace them with Hook & Loop stapes as I think they'll hold much better. These straps look fancy, but I found them to pop off rather easily if you put something in there like a jacket or a coffee thermos.
The mesh belt is the best design and most comfortable I've worn to date. It flexes easy and there are adjustment points to ensure your pack isn't hanging/sagging from your backside like some packs do. The dimensions are absolutely ideal. It's long and the perfect depth and height which I'm sure added to my comfort in hiking with it. I also wore it as a sling pack when hiking out of the river to give myself a little more comfort.
Performance on the river was quickly put to the test by rains and deep wading. I waded over the top of the pack the first time and quickly opened it up once I got to the bank to check the contents. Not a single drop of water inside. Perfect! I didn't have to look again, I knew it would hold up. The only water that got since the pack was from rain drops and being open on the bank while I fumbled through it to get items out of it. During the course of the week, I continued with deep wading and am pleased to report the pack is as advertised. WaterPROOF. No bleeding of water on the inside whatsoever. In fact, the pack is so tight it provided me buoyancy on more than one occasion. I'm not advocating this as a life preserver, but it certainly helps keep you up.
My only gripe with this pack, and lowest mark, is in value. I still gave it a 9 on value because the build, performance, quality and Iron Clad warranty help to offset that bitter pill that comes with the price tag. At full retail ($199-$219) it is not cheap. In fact, it's downright expensive! Perhaps ridiculously so even. That said, compared to other packs which are at least half the or more of the price, the comparitive performance of the Stormfront to the others is not even close. Not by a mile. Heck, maybe even hundreds of miles. And I don't say that lightly. I'm talking major brands in the fly fishing industry here, not the smaller, lesser known brands.
If you need a pack that is truly waterproof, this pack is absolutely worth consideration if you are willing to separate yourself from that much money.
Here's the descriptive from Patagonia's website.
Torrential downpours, sneaker waves, bow spray, and through it all, you somehow have to keep important gear dry. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution: our Stormfront® Hip Pack. This fully welded, waterproof hip pod stands up to foul weather with burly 100% nylon double-coat, a polyurethane film and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Salt water? No sweat. The zipper resists both water and corrosion. There’s also a quick-drying, moisture-wicking 3D-spacer-mesh back panel for comfort and air circulation. Inside you’ll find three handy zippered pockets to secure and protect keys, wallet and accessories. And when you aren’t on foot, the top handle makes the Stormfront Hip Pack an ideal small boat-bag.
Waterproof, fully welded pod with waterproof/corrosion-proof main zipper
3D spacer-mesh back panel wicks moisture, dries quickly and allows air to circulate
Interior zippered security pockets secure keys, wallet and accessories
Outer pack: 840-denier 100% nylon with a polyurethane coating and a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. Back panel: 3D spacer mesh
433 g (15.3 oz)
Made in China