Fishpond Piney Creek Tech Pack Review
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The folks over at fishpond were kind enough to send over the Piney Creek Tech Pack for us to review and play with. We love checking out local companies, and fishpond is located right in our backyard. For those of you who don’t know fishpond, you probably will soon. Get ahead of the curve and check them out now. They are growing each year, and expanding their lineup continuously to include new products, color choices, and designs that fit an active lifestyle. I get ahead of myself, though – let me talk a little bit about what I learned of them in the testing phase.
I first heard of fishpond due to my newfound favorite hobby – fly-fishing. It’s by turns either the most frustrating or most rewarding sport I’ve ever undertaken. As a result, I’ve been frequenting shops all over Colorado. At local shops (both up in the mountains, and down here in Denver) the people working there all had one thing in common – having some sort of product from a company I’d not yet heard of. In looking at their products in these shops, it was exactly what I look for in all of my outdoor endeavors – thoughtful, well made, and built to last. Fishpond is located in Dillon, CO (as I said, right in our backyard), and has been making and selling product for only a few years – they are pretty fresh on the scene, but their love of innovation and design are starting to help them pull away from the competition. Reviewing and reading their website made me even more intrigued – as a company, they have a solid foundation in good business ethics and sustainability efforts; all of their products come with a lifetime guarantee, and they actively look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint by researching heavily where all of their materials come from.
As a result, I was excited to give the fishpond Piney Creek Tech Pack a good, rigorous round of testing. Over the three weeks that I’ve had the pack, I was able to get up fishing with the pack four times, in a variety of scenarios. I hiked nearly twelve (six in, six back) miles in the pack, used it streamside on day trips twice, and also shouldered it for the eight mile bike ride up Waterton Canyon for a short afternoon/evening of fishing. In every excursion, I used the Piney Creek pack to carry the following gear with me: rod, reel, waders, two fly boxes (and all of the various small items you need on the water), wading boots, water bottle, net, and a couple of sandwiches/clif bars. As you can see from the photos, all of the gear fit comfortably in the pack; I did have to rig the outer straps of the pack to carry my wading boots, but that was no problem. I did not use the rod holder as intended on the pack, as my boots were in the way, but I was able to clip my rod case directly to the pack with a carabiner.
The best feature of the pack is definitely the fact that it is really two packs in one; a modular design feature of the pack is that the outer most pack clips off the bag entirely to become an on the water chest pack with a fold out fly bench – this feature was awesome in and of itself, as the photo below shows. It made access to all of your flies ridiculously easy out on the water as the bench folds down half way, as is actually fairly stable. I was able to fold it down, put a roll of tippet, some floatant, and my nippers right on it and still tie a knot. Granted, I’m a bit more comfortable working with a lanyard so I don’t drop everything, but for the testing phase this was awesome. I’ll actually never go back to plain fly boxes again – having a bench out on the water is way, way too handy.
I obviously used the pack as a hiking/biking pack for all of my gear – it fit everything I needed for a day trip out on the water – but the modular design is such that you can actually wear the entire pack out on the water. The chest pack either clips to the back, the front, or comes completely off and attaches to an included neck and back strap to form it’s own chest pack (like I used it). It’s nice to have all these options, and even the plastic clips are well thought out.
As for the rest of the pack, it consists of two main compartments – a medium sized compartment on the front (which is nice for fly boxes and food) and then a large compartment that is the size of the whole bag. I kept my waders in the large compartment when hiking around, but if you wet wade or shore fish, then you have double the storage capacity for just about anything you need. Another bonus is that the bag doubles as a hydration pack – you can choose whatever your favorite hydration system is, remove the bladder/tube, and put it in this pack. The bladder goes in a separate compartment on the back. I never used it like this as when I set it up at home, my waders actually took up quite a bit of space. For the testing phase, I used quilted waders, which don’t pack down all that well; a full 100 0z water bladder with the quilted waders made the pack just slightly uncomfortable for my frame. The system once set up correctly does work very well, and if I was using my lightweight waders at the time, I’d have had no problem bringing along both.
When testing out a product, it’s immediately obvious whether or not a company has taken the time to sort out the small details which separate good products from great ones – fishpond has done this, and done it in spades. Everything on this pack, from the way the clips fit together to the teeth on the zippers was well thought out and designed to be useful. Believe me when I say that at $179.95, I find the pack to be well, well worth the investment. Head on over to www.fishpondusa.com; review the company statement of intent, breeze through a few other products, and check the piney creek tech pack – you won’t be disappointed.