Patagonia Hip Pack—Tougher Than The Rest

This hip pack went the distance.

Just sold the big GMC and didn’t really want to do it. In fact I was surprised to find that I actually suffered from seller’s remoarse, which I never thought would happen. My daughter, Tate, also was sad and she walked up to the truck before it was driven away and gave it a big hug. She said, “I don’t want you to sell it.” That’s when I had to explain that a truck is nothing more than a material item, not a family member, not a friend, not a pet. I said, “Get over it. We can always get another. It didn’t breath. It doesn’t have feelings. It’s just a truck and served its purpose for us.”

Then, the next day I was trying to load up my favorite waist-pack and the zipper completely failed. This didn’t bother me because the zipper failed. It bothered me because I’ve had this pack for eight years. And I’ve worn it for more than 800 days on the water. And I didn’t want to see it die! Here was the material item I didn’t want to lose.

The truth is, I’ve fished lots of vests, fanny-packs and backpack/vests from various brands. And I’ve never found a bag that worked like this one. What is it? I don’t know. Patagonia made it back in the late-1990s and early 2000s. It was not made specifically for fly fishers and, in fact, I’ve never seen another angler wearing this pack. I bought mine at the Patagonia outlet store in Dillon, Montana for, get this, $12. That was in 2002.

I bought the pack for several reasons. First, it was made by Patagonia, which to me means quality. I’ve worn other Patagonia items into the dirt, but that was after much abuse. I still wear a Patagonia Snap-T that I bought in 1995. So, I figured this bag could take some abuse. Mainly, I bought the pack because I could carry two beers in the mesh side pockets and I could easily fit my 35 millimeter Nikon in the main compartment.

It turns out that this waist-pack opens perfectly so I can see into it and find all my gear in the three main pockets, without having to take the bag off. The thick waist strap cinces super tight so I can carry heavy loads, meaning that camera and a couple lenses, plus my fly boxes, flask, leaders, tippet, split-shot, knot-tying tool, nippers, etc.

The back of the pack is pretty sturdy, not rigid, but rigid enough to provide great support and to feel comfortable. I wear this pack and I don’t get the feeling that it’s slipping down over my butt. It rides high. This is the model that other pack manufacturers ought to be following. But I still haven’t seen anything like it.

So I guess today I’m eating my words, wondering if I should feel the same way about this Patagonia pack as Tate did about the truck. The thing is, I also know that we should all try to live small. I could probably call another company and get a brand new pack, but this thing rocks. And if I replace the middle zipper, who knows. I could get another eight or 10 years of service out of this. I just put a call into my friend, Corey Hardy, who has a business called Mantana. He’s an interesting guy who is starting to make custion “cocktail casual” clothing for men. Sounds like he’s going to style me out with some Angler’s Tonic pants. Maybe a shirt, too. But first, I’m going to put him to work on this pack, see what he can do, and see how many more years of service I can get out of it. That, I think, is the right thing to do.

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