Review: Breakwater Supply Explorer Waterproof Backpack
Updated: Jun 30, 2022
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 efficiency can also be limited by the conditions we encounter on the water. When wading aggressively, fishing in pounding rain, or in other more extreme scenarios, you must be confident 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 uses 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 entirely collapsing inward like a thinner, flimsier backpack. In addition, all seams are fully welded to seal out water.
On the front of the backpack, there's a lower grab handle with built-in carabiner loops, a waterproof zippered pocket, and an adjustable buckle strap that can be used to secure bulkier items to the exterior. For example, I found this strap a convenient 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 back side sports a grab handle, molded EVA panel with Breakwater Supply logo, and padded, curved neoprene shoulder straps. Each strap has D-ring attachment points, and a removable chest strap links the two main shoulder straps together for a more secure fit.
Inside, the large main compartment is complemented 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 an ideal time for testing because of the different conditions I 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 proved far handier than I imagined.
Whether on a boat or shoreline, it was the absolute perfect companion to carry anything I needed. The main compartment had enough room for medium to large items, while the smaller interior pockets were fantastic for holding smaller loose accessories like tippet spools, hand sanitizer, hook packs, and more.
The Explorer Waterproof Backpack earns two BIG thumbs up from me in terms of comfort. My days at Pyramid Lake were about 6–7 hours each, and I experienced no discomfort or issues with the pack being any hindrance. The textured, padded back, adjustable shoulder straps, and chest strap 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 genuinely waterproof? My gear stayed totally dry while fishing in some decent rain out west, but that's not a valid test in my eyes. So, after returning home to Florida, I submerged the backpack underwater in a swimming pool several times for about a minute each. The result was zero water in the main compartment or outside pocket. Perfect!
One of my common gripes with waterproof packs and bags like this has to do with the zippers. Airtight drysuit-style zippers are used here, and like others I've tried, they are pretty beefy and take a lot more force to open/close. But, of course, if you need a waterproof pack, this is just a minor annoyance you have to put up with. That 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 surprised me. I've never been a huge backpack user while fishing, nor had 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 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, including five different prototypes. After logging some serious hours with the bag, it's evident to me that this is a highly well-thought-out piece of gear for fishing and much more!
Support Demystifly by Purchasing Your Explorer Backpack