YETI Panga Backpack 28 and Sidekick Dry Review
Updated: Mar 31, 2020
The new YETI Panga Backpack 28 brings a lot of what we love about the Panga 50 Duffel (reviewed here, by the way!) and delivers all that goodness in backpack form. Fly anglers bring any number of tools and accessories with them on a fishing day, but for storing more and larger items like snacks, extra clothing, a camera, or spare spools, a roomier storage solution like a backpack can come in handy. Coupled with YETI's legendary ruggedness, the Panga Backpack 28 is also advertised as being totally airtight/waterproof just like the duffel. Delivering a host of other features, it seems like the perfect on-the-water companion.
Dimensions: 20" x 12 1/2" x 7"
Empty Weight: 3.9 pounds
Approx Capacity: 28 Liters / 1700 cubic inches
Shell Material: Laminated high-density nylon
Colors: Storm Gray
This backpack uses a lot of the same materials and features that are found on the Panga Duffel we tested. For waterproof durability, the YETI's ThickSkin outer shell is made from a high-density nylon with TPU lamination to resist tears and punctures. To totally keep moisture out, the beefy HydroLok zipper has a special U-Dock end that keeps any water from reaching valuables inside. Other features that you'll get include adjustable DryHaul shoulder straps, removable chest straps and waist belt, MetalLock hardware, QuickGrab lash points, an inside mesh pocket and sleeve, and HitchPoint grid on the back of the bag for attaching accessories......like our SideKick Dry bag (scroll down for that).
Just another high-quality bag from YETI. Everything is professionally finished with tight welds and strong stitching inside and out. The bag is also rigid enough to keep its shape really well and can stand up on its own when empty, rather than toppling over like a typical backpack. Despite it being constructed of the same ThickSkin material as our Panga Duffel, the material feels slightly different here. No, not a bad thing, just making note of it.
The puncture and abrasion-resistant ThickSkin shell material is indeed strong and should be able to withstand more punishment than it'll ever see from me. Pulling vigorously on all of the straps and seams resulted in no failures or separations, and the material easily held up when I poked at it with a screwdriver and fish hook.
When I called the zipper "beefy" earlier I meant it. It's both large and has a pretty firm slide action, but the T-bar handle helps a lot when running it back and forth. To totally seal out water, the zipper must be pulled all the way into the U-Dock at the end. When you feel that firm little "thunk" at the end, you'll know the bag is now prepared for dunking.
The side lash points are handy for me when securing into the bed of my truck. I just loop a bungee cord through one of them and that's it—simple. The handle on top offers another nice carrying option as well as yet another point to secure the bag to something.
Storage capability is good with plenty of room for the day's necessities. There's just one main compartment to the bag, but the interior pocket and zippered mesh pocket provide areas to separate smaller items.
As expected, the Panga Backpack easily passed pool submersion tests. With the zipper pulled snugly into the U-Dock, the bag was submerged multiple times for up to about 10 seconds each. After each test, the interior was totally dry!
Wearing the bag is quite comfortable. The shoulder straps are nice and wide for even weight distribution, and the thick back wall provides a bit of cushion and a nice flat surface while being worn. The removable chest straps and waist belt work very well to keep the bag more solidly in place, but I mostly kept these off and just wore the shoulder straps alone.
YETI SideKick Dry
Dimensions: 11 3/4 x 7 1/8 x 3 1/4
Empty Weight: 12.8 ounces
Material: DryHide Shell
Colors: Fog Gray, Field Tan
The new SideKick Dry offers a handy little additional storage solution and connects right up to the Panga 28's HitchPoint grid system with its four velcro straps. Boasting a DryHide shell (similar to whitewater raft material) that’s UV and puncture-resistant, it also comes with a strong magnetic HydroShield closure with velcro flap, RF-welded seams, and an interior mesh pocket.
Like the backpack, the material is very strong and the bag proved to be completely waterproof in my pool testing.
YETI's Panga Backpack 28 and complimenting SideKick Dry offer great storage solutions for us fly anglers. Well-made, tough, and I love the peace-of-mind they offer when it comes to protecting and transporting valuable gear rain or shine. With a combined total cost of about $350 the pricing is certainly premium, but anything I’ve tried with the YETI name on it oozes quality and dependability.
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