I like to fish light and this is mainly because I wade fish almost all the time. I either spend my days walking up rivers, around lakes, or across saltwater flats.
Walking for hours at a time with a heavy waterproof backpack isn’t my idea of fun as it adds a lot of weight, constrains me when I’m casting and is generally not as comfy as not wearing a backpack at all.
So, what are my options? I have to have some kind of bag with me to carry important things like my lunch, a rain jacket, spare flies, and the rest of it, so how do I avoid a backpack?
The Fishpond Thunderhead is a small waterproof hip pack that is perfect for a half-day of fishing or when you have left camp to fish in the golden hours of dusk or dawn.
It’s big enough to hold everything you need, fully waterproof, built to last, and features clever design elements that make fishing a lot easier. Plus you have the pleasure of not wearing a heavy backpack as you do.
How Does It Look?
The Thunderhead pack looks like it’s meant to live on a fly fishing guide’s hip; it’s that good-looking. Between the yucca camo color, smooth finish, and all the attachment points, it’s one of those bags you would see in a fishing shop and walk straight up to.
What Is It Made Of & Will It Last?
The Thunderhead pack is made from 1680d TPU-coated recycled Cyclepond nylon. Now, if you know your Denier ratings, you’ll know that 1680d is a thick material, and when you consider that it’s also TPU coated, it becomes pretty bulletproof, plus it’s 100% waterproof.
If you’re worried the Fishpond can’t go the distance, well, don’t be. This hip pack is puncture-resistant and abrasion-resistant; therefore, it will survive the harshest environments while keeping your gear bone dry.
Another great thing about this material is that it’s recycled Cyclepond material. Fishpond takes old pond linings and other used waterproof materials and turns them into waterproof packs, so this is about as “green” as a waterproof pack can be.
Is It Waterproof?
The pack is super waterproof to the point that it’s submersible. Once the TIZIP zipper is fully closed and locked in place it creates an airtight seal, and when combined with the waterproof material and stitching, if you tried to sink the pack, it would float. So it’s beyond waterproof!
You can swim across rivers and creeks with this pack on, and your gear inside won’t have a drop of water on it. The pack will actually float and even make you swim a little easier!
Is The Zipper Reliable?
Yes, the zipper on the Fishpond hip pack is super reliable, but it is a little stiff to open and close, and this is because of the air-tight seal it creates. The hardest part of opening the zipper is removing it from the lock when closed. Be sure to pull hard but smoothly so as not to damage it over time.
You will need to look after the zip by putting some zip lube in the form of Vaseline on the zip every few months. This makes the sliding motion much smoother and ensures the zipper lasts without damage.
How Much Space Is Inside?
The lumbar pack comes with a 10-liter capacity, which is more than enough for fishing light. You’ll be able to put in a few fly boxes, a sandwich box, a rain jacket, and more to ensure you have everything you need while wading.
Are There Any Pockets Inside?
Inside the Thunderhead, you will find a clear stash pocket perfect for valuables like your keys, wallet, and phone. Plus, being clear, you can even see if you have any messages with a quick check of your phone. This is also another zippered pocket inside that is great for keeping your gear separate and organized.
Around these two pockets is a large compartment designed for fly boxes, a water bottle, and a rain jacket.
Is It Comfortable To Carry?
You have two options for carrying the pack, either with just the hip straps or with the shoulder sling, too. The hip straps work well, and most people only use these; plus, being padded, they ensure maximum comfort and support.
If the pack gets a little heavy, you can always add on the shoulder sling for extra support and to keep the pack riding high.
Are There Any External Attachment Points?
Yes, there are a ton of external attachment points that make organizing your fishing gear about as easy as it can be. There are plier holders, clips for water bottle holders, and places to attach your nippers, and the Fishpond Thunderhead even has a net sleeve.
Fishpond has an optional bottle holder called the FishPond River Rat 2.0 Beverage Holder that you can attach to the hip pack. The bottle holder can hold cans or any lock-neck bottles of your own choice. There are four color options available, including a “riverbed” camo.
No matter what you need to do on the water, whether it’s to net a fish, unhook it, or change a fly, this pack makes sure your tools are close by and ready for action.
How Good Is The Lifetime Guarantee?
The Fishpond stands by its lifetime guarantee on all its products and will repair or replace them for free if they fail due to a defect in materials or workmanship.
This means you’re getting a bag for life when it comes to the Fishpond Thunderhead.
Built from ultra-strong materials that last and are 100% waterproof
Abrasion-resistant to handle any environment from saltwater flats to high-altitude mountain streams
A great size for fishing light with all your essentials
The TIZIP zipper is 100% waterproof and submersible, so you can swim with this on, and nothing will get wet
It comes with a waist strap and shoulder sling for excellent carrying comfort
Features multiple inner and outer pockets for excellent gear organization and easy access to your gear on the water
Enough space for your lunch, rain jacket, camera, and more
Multiple tool attachment points so you can keep things like pliers, nippers, tippet spools, and floatant close by
A clear stash pocket inside is perfect for keys, wallets, phones, and fishing license
It comes with a neat sleeve, so you never struggle to find your net in a time of need
There are lots of external attachment points, so you can add items like a water bottle holder
Includes a lifetime guarantee
A little bit expensive
The zipper can be a little stiff to open, but that is due to the airtight seal it creates
Is The Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Lumbar Pack Worth It?
The Thunderhead is a great hip pack and, without a doubt, worth owning if you’re on your feet roaming while you fish. It just makes fishing so much easier as all you have to do is pick up the small hip pack and your rod and walk to the river.
The days of leaving your backpack on the bank while you wade and having to go back for it will be gone. As will those moments when your shoulders ache from casting & carrying a large backpack.
Whether you plan to fish deep mountain canyons or saltwater flats, the Fishpond Thunderhead is a great addition to your fly fishing gear. It keeps everything tidy and easy to find, and the 100% waterproof protection also gives confidence that all your accessories and valuables are kept safe.
I hope this article was useful in helping you decide to purchase this fantastic lumbar pack; alternatively, check out my review on the Vixyn fly fishing waist pack, which is far more affordable without the frills and has fewer features.
Growing up fly fishing on trout streams in Kenya and the UK, Jamie has traveled the world in search of fly fishing nirvana. From his time managing bonefish lodges in the Bahamas and running fishing safaris in East Africa, all the way to guiding on the flats of Seychelles, there aren't many species or environments he hasn't experienced firsthand.