Orvis Waterproof Backpack

Michael Milkovits takes a dive into the Orvis waterproof backpack.

Whether you are wading through chest-deep pools, boulder hopping in ankle-deep runs, or something in between, your backpack is – one way or another — going to get wet. And when you have reached your limit for soggy sandwiches, you may very well start to consider a waterproof backpack. I have been using the Orvis variant of this breed of pack for close to two years now.

The thought put into the design is apparent from the well-formed structure, including a flat, padded base and a moulded vented backrest – a welcome feature on hot days. The shoulder straps are wide with comfortable padding. The height-adjustable sternum strap is practical, not only in relieving stress on the shoulders but pulling the shoulder straps closer together to allow for unencumbered casting. Unlike some other offerings, this pack has a full padded waist strap to support load distribution between your shoulders and hips, making heavier loads easier to manage. A key differentiator is that all straps feature retainer bands to keep their tag ends from tangling in fly lines and keeping things tidy.

The pack material is TPU coated 500D nylon, which has stood up to rock scrapes and dense blackberry patches as I have ungracefully fumbled my way through the scrub to my favourite streams. For some, the bold ‘Orvis’ logo on the back panel and accompanying chartreuse trim may be a bit ‘loud’, yet those posting their adventures on Instagram will undoubtedly appreciate the colour in photos. The overall asphalt grey tone of the pack’s body is on point and will ensure that you blend into your streamside surroundings.

The pack has dual side drink bottle holders (a massive convenience), which also accommodate the bottom of a rod tube that can be further secured using side straps. There are D-rings at the sides, top and the rear of the pack providing ample gear attachment options. My one gripe is that the shoulder straps only have gear mounting ports on the left-hand side. However, this is made up for by the practical attachment points that are provided to mount the likes of nippers, small retractors, a fly patch and hemostats – there is not much more you could need.

There is a moderate-sized compartment that opens via a vertical zipper running along the front of the pack. This compartment is, however, not waterproof, so consider what you put in there carefully. A waterproof YKK Flexseal zipper seals the primary compartment. This section boasts a very reasonable 21 litres of storage – plenty of space for a day on the water. Having completed several ‘dunk tests’, not all on purpose, I can vouch that the pack is deserving of its waterproof designation. In the main compartment, the three internal zippered pockets create some order to things and make the retrieval of cached gear a breeze.

For the features included, the weight is surprisingly low at just over one kilogram. It is priced at $570 AUD at the time of writing, which puts it at the high end of other waterproof options, however, more affordable packs are not as feature-laden, in my opinion. 

Overall, I have found the backpack to be an extremely versatile and well-appointed fishing tool. It will appeal to any fly angler wanting to carry a good volume of equipment on their favourite streams, with comfort and waterproofing as a priority.