Patagonia Convertible Vest

Like mint tooth-paste and orange juice, my old, much loved shortie vest and new Patagonia Stormfront pack are, on their own, brilliant and useful items, but put them together and there’s going to be some suffering. The Patagonia Convertible vest changes that somewhat repugnant thought by being worn over the pack straps as opposed to under them, and is far more comfortable and flexible because of it.

To ‘convert’ the vest you unclip the mesh back and clip the two front halves to one of three compatible Patagonia day packs via D rings on the shoulder straps and on the body. Simple retainers on the inside of the vest keep everything in place. Once together, everything is very adjustable and it was easy to get my fit.

On the outside the vest has three vertical pockets on either side, being small, medium and large. The large pocket holds my biggest fly box (a C&F waterproof) and the medium pockets are a good match for most of the others, while the smallest pockets are ideal for tippet spools. Also found on the outside of the vest are a dock for forceps and zinger, and a very small mesh pocket that I haven’t yet found a use for — though I will. Between the inside and outside there’s a pair of hand-sized pockets with zips on the front inside seams, where my phone, in its waterproof case, finds a home.

The fairly minimal and narrow vertical layout of the front pockets aids forward vision, and the half length size allows for deep wading.

All the outside pockets have a slightly stretchy gusset at the opening and have oversized cover flaps with pull tabs and a criss-crossed velcro arrangement that allows for overstuffing and easy opening and closing. The fact that they remained securely closed through all my summer scrambles up, over and under some pretty nasty northeast Victorian creeks speaks highly of the design.

Inside there’s a couple of simple velcro closing pockets for tippet and one flat, hand-sized pocket above on either side. All the inside pockets are mesh on mesh, so really slim gear like my strike indicator tool and nail knot tool have been moved to a zip-lock bag to save them slipping through the gaps. That’s a price I’m happy to pay for the reduction in heat.

If this whole arrangement has a problem, it’s that getting into the top inside pockets is hindered, but not totally blocked, by the shoulder straps of the pack. I found a simple work-around was to put infrequently used stuff in there, like spare leaders.

When not fitted to a pack, the included simple mesh back has a couple of small neoprene shoulder pads under the D rings and a large, double layer all mesh pocket zipped at the top. On its own, it’s a very functional minimalist vest that’s great for active anglers and hot weather.

All the materials and the build look solid, and given my previous experiences with Patagonia gear, I have no doubt the vest will last. 

I bought my Convertible Vest from the guys at Riverfly1864 for $99, which is quite a bargain. You can also buy the vest with a Patagonia Sweet Fish Pack as a set for $229