Fishpond Westwater Large Zippered Duffle Review

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Westwater Large Zippered Duffel by Fishpond. Photo Louis Cahill

There’s a lot of fly anglers that look at the price tag of fly fishing travel luggage as say, “Good God, that’s expensive”. I’ll admit that most of the fly luggage isn’t cheap. Most large pieces will set you back at least a couple hundred dollars before tax. But before you go writing fly fishing luggage off for only the rich snobs that have plenty of money to blow, you might take a minute like I did to check out the current pricing on traditional travel luggage. I found that luggage of similar size and quality was actually quite a bit more expensive. On average, it was priced a hundred dollars above most fly fishing luggage. Furthermore, just about all of the traditional travel luggage brands I researched weren’t waterproof.

These days, all of the old boxy travel luggage I’ve acquired stays hidden away in my stairwell closet collecting dust. Just about every trip I take now, whether it’s for a fishing trip or a family vacation, I use my fly fishing luggage. Quite frankly, its lighter, just as durable, and like I said before, it’s waterproof (that’s a mandatory feature for me). If you’ve been interested in purchasing some new fly fishing travel luggage but found yourself hesitant, I encourage you to do the reasearch like I have and then go out and talk with some anglers that own some of it. I’ve been 100% satisfied with all of my fly fishing luggage with the exception of one piece that had some minor defects. westwater-large-zippered-duffel

This past year, I was provided the opportunity to try out the new FishPond Westwater Large Zippered Duffel. Timing was perfect because I’d been needing one more large piece of travel luggage for my extended fishing trips. I put it to use right away and it has served me very well on my past five trips.

Weight

With most airlines these days being obnoxiously strict about luggage weight, it’s very important to choose a piece of luggage that’s large enough to accommodate all of your gear but also be light weight. It’s really easy to reach the 50 pound weight limit if you’re not careful. After all, wading boots, waders and most other fishing gear we travel with, isn’t really on the light side. That’s one reason I really dig this Fish Pond duffel. It only weighs 2.75 pounds. Yes, you read that correctly, it weighs less than three pounds. The extra weight you save with its light weight construction will allow you to bring along some back up gear or even a couple souvenir’s home the wife or kids.

Design Layout & Construction

I really like that the entire bag is basically one large compartment. There’s no dividers to eat up packing space or add to the overall weight. I know there’s probably some of you out there that really like organized dividers. If that’s the case, this bag isn’t for you. Personally, I don’t fancy them because they limit me to the size of gear I can fit into the luggage and where I can put it. The Westwater Large Zippered Duffel’s wide open design allows me to cram all my gear into it in a hurry without any problems. And that’s come in handy on more than one occasion when I stayed up a too light with friends, and had to catch an early flight.

The Westwater Large Zippered Duffel by Fishpond is basically water tight, minus the water resistant YKK Zippers. I tested it out by spraying it with the hose in my front yard before the first trip I took with it, and it kept my gear dry. I’m sure that eventually water would have seeped in through the zipper if I would have drowned it, but it performed well enough for my standards with a moderate spray at ten feet. Therefore, you should have no concerns about the dryness of your gear if this bag gets caught out in the rain, just don’t throw it in lake or use it as a floatation device.

The TPU welded fabric construction proved to be really damn tough. It spent most of its time riding around in the back of a pick up truck during my travels with it and there’s really no significant signs of wear at all. It won’t deter a knife, and you won’t want to drag it behind a truck down the road, but it will take what you dish out to it in most situations with no issues. Point being, you won’t need to baby this duffel. I’m pretty certain this duffel will outlast me, but time will tell. The YKK zippers open and close easily and they had no problems taking the load and stress when I crammed every nook and cranny with my gear. Other than the one main large compartment, there is one other small exterior waterproof pocket. It’s not huge but will come in handy for stashing small pieces of gear when you don’t want to take it with you on the water.

The bag has two velcro rod tube holding straps, one on each side of the bag. You won’t be checking your bag with your rods attached of course, but it does come in handy when you’re trying to keep track of your own rods in transit with a bunch of buddies. If for any reason you do want to pack 4-piece fly rod in a tube inside the bag, it will barely fit. Just pack the rod tubes before all your other gear or you’ll have a hard time getting them in the duffel. The bag also has two nylon webbed strips of lashing down each side of the bag that you can secure stuff to if you want to. I haven’t really used them, but it looks like the webbed lashing would be great for holding shotgun shells.

Duffel Design Concept

The duffel design is perfect for me because I have the habit of packing everything but the kitchen sink for my trips. The sides and top flex a fair amount, making it easy for me to slide in a few extra items if I feel the need. The flexibility also shines when you find that you’ve got way more luggage than storage space in your vehicle. Internal frame luggage can’t be squished into the tight spaces like duffels can, and that’s something you’ll find helpful if you travel with family or friends like I do.

Transporting Features

One feature that you don’t find on most duffel bags is back pack straps. This makes for easy hauling from the baggage claim to the vehicle or if you need to hike with it on your back for short distances. The shoulder straps (which are removable) are padded nicely and it comes with a sternum chest clip. Both provide a wide adjustment range to accommodate varying body sizes. One thing they left off in the design that I really would have liked to see was a waste strap and clip. If you’ve backpacked at all, you know how important this is to distribute the weight of a pack throughout your body correctly. If you have this duffel loaded to the max, you won’t find it pleasant to pack around for long distances. That being said, it’s honestly the only design flaw of the Westwater Large Zippered Duffel that I could find, and in most cases, you shouldn’t find the need to carry it on your back for lengthy periods. I will also cut Fishpond some slack, since they market it as a duffel bag, not a backpack.

Demensions, Capacity, Price and Rating

28.5″ x 16″ x 13″

5,065 cubic inches

Price: $199.95

Personal Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

The Westwater Large Zippered Duffel will undoubtedly be a mainstay piece of luggage for my traveling. It’s tough as hell, nearly 100% waterproof and it’s large enough for me to pack just about all the gear I’ll need for a week long fishing trip if I don’t go overboard with my packing. I like the option of being able to carry it on my back or by my side, and it’s a huge plus that it only weighs 2.75 pounds. If you’re looking for a large piece of fly fishing luggage that doesn’t need to be pampered, this is a good choice. At $199.95 the Westwater Large Zippered Duffel is one of the more economical luggage pieces out there for what you get. I’d recommend this bag to friend in a heart beat. If you’re looking for a new piece of fly fishing travel luggage, go to your local fly shop and check this bag out.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
www.ginkandgasoline.com
hookups@ginkandgasoline.com
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