• Paul

Review: Breakwater Supply Explorer Waterproof Backpack

The backpack: simple, bland, and basic...right?

A typical backpack can serve as a handy means of transporting gear for us fly anglers, but its effectiveness will be limited by the conditions we encounter. When wading aggressively, fishing in pounding rain, or any number of other more extreme scenarios, you need to have confidence that your belongings WILL be protected. This is where the Breakwater Supply Explorer Waterproof Backpack comes in.

Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 6 inches

Empty Weight: 1.9 pounds

Main Compartment Capacity: 25 Liters / 1500 cubic inches

Shell Material: 600D Waterproof TPU

Colors: Cascade Grey & Azure Blue

Price: $174.95 (grey); $184.95 (blue)

The Explorer is designed using 600D waterproof TPU Hydrowall™ material which is said to offer "...an advanced dual-sided waterproof coating that's heat-applied to make a permanent, durable, incredibly protective exterior. It's tough-as-nails and resists rips, abrasions, and stains. It keeps shape and has a canvas-like feel. It's eco-friendly, non-toxic, and biodegradable."

As claimed, the material truly does have a "canvas like" quality and isn't too stiff or rigid. However, the pack does have a touch more stiffness around the perimeter, thus helping it keep its shape without fully collapsing inward like a thinner, flimsier backpack. In addition, all seams are fully welded to seal out water.

On the front face of the backpack, there's a lower grab handle with built-in carabiner loops, waterproof zippered pocket, and an adjustable buckle strap that can be used to secure bulkier items to the exterior. I found this strap to be an extremely handy spot to hold a lightweight raincoat on a particular day with intermittent rain showers.

One side of the pack features a mesh pocket with a small attachment loop sitting just above. The other side has a similar loop along with a waterproof phone pocket (measuring 6.75 x 3.75 inches) crafted from TPU material.

This pocket is accessible only through the interior of the backpack, but the clear material lets you quickly check a phone for updates from the outside. I was even able to swipe, tap, and type on my iPhone fairly well when housed in the pocket, so removing it for usage shouldn't always be necessary!

The backside sports a grab handle, molded EVA back panel with Breakwater Supply logo, and padded, curved neoprene shoulder straps. Each strap has D-ring attachment points, and there's a removable chest strap that links the two main shoulder straps together for a more secure fit.

Inside, the large main compartment is complimented by a 16-inch laptop sleeve with Velcro strap closure, 11 x 7-inch zippered pocket, and twin 4 x 6-inch mesh pockets.

I recently brought the Explorer Waterproof Backpack along on a 12-day trip out to California and Nevada. While the entire trip wasn't totally focused on fishing, MOST of it was!

It turned out to be a great trip for testing because of the different conditions that were faced on the water. From violent afternoon wind gusts and blowing clouds of desert sand on Pyramid Lake, to moderate rain on the CA Delta and foothill lakes, this pack actually proved to be far more handy than I imagined.

Whether on a boat or on foot, it was the absolute perfect companion to carry things like lure or fly boxes, a spare sweatshirt, snacks, and other items. The main compartment has enough room for medium to larger items, while the smaller interior pockets are awesome for holding smaller loose items like tippet spools, hand sanitizer, hook packs, and more.

In terms of comfort, the Explorer Waterproof Backpack earns two BIG thumbs up from me. My days at Pyramid Lake were about 6–7 hours each, and I experienced no discomfort or issues with the pack being any kind of hindrance. The textured, padded back, adjustable shoulder straps, and chest strap really allowed it to fit me securely without any slop or excess movement. Thanks to its ability to trap air inside, it also doubled nicely as a pillow during afternoon lunch breaks on the shoreline sand.

Is the pack truly waterproof? My gear stayed totally dry while fishing in some decent rain out west, but that's not a true test in my eyes. After returning home to Florida, I submerged the backpack underwater in a swimming pool for about a minute, and the result was zero water in the main compartment or outside pocket. Perfect!

The one common gripe I do have with waterproof packs and bags like this one are the zippers. Airtight drysuit-style zippers are used here, and like others I've tried, they are quite beefy and take a lot more force to open/close. Of course, if you need a waterproof pack this is just a minor annoyance you've gotta put up with. That being said, these zippers do have a quality look and feel, plus the T-handle makes pulling with added grunt a lot easier.

I have to say, this bag really surprised me. I've never been a huge backpack user while fishing, nor have I ever taken one on an extended trip, but my experience with the Breakwater Supply Explorer Waterproof Backpack has me rethinking things. It gave me added confidence for keeping gear dry, allowed for a higher level of organization, and I really appreciated how it stayed put and kept out of my fly line's way while fishing. The folks at Breakwater Supply say the testing period for this backpack lasted 18 months which included 5 different prototypes. After putting some hours on the pack, it's obvious to me that this is an extremely well-thought-out piece of gear for fishing and much, much more!

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