Although I do own one, I've never been super fond of fishing vests. Mine certainly comes in handy sometimes, but day in and day out I'm a pack man. Right now I personally own two packs: a small one that's worn across the chest, as well as another that sits on my waist fanny pack style. I love them both, but the latter one (which just so happens to be a Fishpond) has likely endured the most usage over its four or five year lifespan. It doesn't look quite as nice as it once did, but it's still hangin' in there and is perfect for my needs!
Yes, I'm very content with my current waist pack, but some of the latest varieties sure look intriguing. New stuff is at least fun to scope out, right? When covering Fishpond at the IFTD show this year, one such pack caught my eye—the Thunderhead Submersible Lumbar Pack. Not only is it noticeably larger than what I use now, but the fact it’s submersible seemed pretty dang intriguing to me!
Dimensions: 13.5" x 9" x 5"
Empty Weight: 1.65 pounds
Approx Capacity: 10L (610 cubic inches)
Material: Cyclepond Fabric
The construction is what I expect from Fishpond which means the bag is well-made with a high-end look and feel. It's overall design is largely made from the company's unique 1680D TPU-coated Cyclepond fabric which is derived from recycled commercial fishing nets. The pleasant light-green "Yucca" color scheme is accented by a modestly-sized grey outer pocket in front and orange accents/logos around the bag. There's also little attachment points and other doodads scattered about, but more on those in the next section.
I think of the Thunderhead like an everyday back support belt with a bag built-in to it. The padded and adjustable waist band is wide, firm, and provides some very effective back support. I've always had some minor but annoying lower back pain when standing for long periods, so it's nice getting some extra support down there. The fit is excellent, adjustment is a snap, and it’s a cinch to take on/off.
If you'd rather not wear the Thunderhead around the waist, there's a padded and adjustable shoulder strap included. It easily connects to a pair of eyes on the main bag with a couple of easy open/close hook clasps. If you think it's just a plain shoulder strap you'd be mistaken, because Fishpond included some tool and accessory attachment points here for holding things like forceps and retractors.
Along with various other attachment points along the outside, there's generous storage inside, too. Starting with the small outer pocket, it's lined with thin, soft fabric and is the perfect size and location for quickly accessing something like a wallet, phone, and/or keys. The cavernous waterproof main compartment can easily swallow larger items like a camera, several fly boxes, or even my YETI Rambler 26 bottle with plenty of room to spare. Inside the main compartment, there's also a smaller zippered side pocket and clear snap-top pocket for storage of smaller items you'd like to separate. Need a place to hold your Fishpond Nomad landing net? Just slide the net handle into the hidden net slot between the main bag and waist band.
To test the bag's waterproof capabilities, I zipped it up tight and held it underwater for about 30 seconds. The small outer pocket does not have a waterproof zipper and as expected did get water on the inside, but the main compartment stayed completely dry. Awesome!
Like any waterproof bag I've dealt with, the bag's material is stiffer than you may be used to and the beefy main zipper takes a little more force to slide along. While the softer material and the more "average" zippers on my personal bags are a little easier to live with and manipulate, the trade-off is they offer far less protection and aren't nearly as rugged.
About my only wish for the Thunderhead Pack is that it came with at least one outside water bottle holder. My current personal Fishpond bag, an older Tech LTE Low Tide Lumbar Pack, definitely lacks the storage capacity and features of this one, but it does have a water bottle pocket on either side. Not just super handy, but outside bottle holders allow me to maximize the bag's interior storage capacity.
All in all, this is one heck of a bag. Good looks, ample waterproof storage capacity, and some excellent back support make this more than just a regular tackle storage bag. The substantial price tag will be hard for some to digest, but if you can swing it, the Thunderhead Submersible Lumbar Pack will keep your necessities shielded from moisture no matter what mother nature throws your way!
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