Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Product Review: Orvis Safe Passage Magnum Sling Pack

Magnum Sling Pack

It has taken a few years for me to finally settle on a tackle-management system. I really don't like the vest, especially when using a two-handed fly rod. I tried older Orvis chest packs and a Simms waist pack, but I didn't feel like I found the right pack until I tried the Orvis Safe Passage Sling Pack. It's a great pack, but I always thought it would be nicer if it was a little roomier.

Fighting a salmon-original Safe Passage Sling Pack

Enter the new Orvis Safe Passage Magnum Sling Pack...

I had considered buying the highly water resistant Orvis Gale Force Sling Pack instead, but decided against it (more on that later). Here is the volume breakdown of all three packs:

Safe Passage Sling Pack: 472 cu. in.
Safe Passage Magnum Sling Pack: 840 cu. in.
Gale Force Sling Pack: 1,008 cu. in.

As you can see, the Gale Force pack wins in the capacity department. I decided against it mainly due to the fact that it is one large compartment. I wanted the separation that the Magnum pack offers. Sure, it would have been nice to have the water resistance, but very little of my stuff is loose, so I think what is inside will stay relatively dry.

The Magnum is almost double the capacity of the original and the difference is definitely noticeable. I don't feel like I have to cram anything in there. Most of the time, while salmon fishing, the original Sling Pack is sufficient. For my Russia trip, I felt I needed greater capacity as most of my flies/tubes are substantially larger than the flies I use in North America. Plus, I felt I could use the extra room for storing extra shooting heads, polyleaders, snacks, etc.

Aside from the overall shape, both Safe Passage sling packs have virtually identical features. The original pack does not have a zippered inside compartment, however. I find that inclusion to be quite useful on the Magnum pack. Like the original, the Magnum comes with a velcro-backed fly patch. I don't store flies on the patch as much as I use it to dry flies on, or at least store them after being fished. There's probably enough room in this pack to fit two velcro fly patches if one was inclined to do so.

Fly patch & internal pockets (elasticized & zippered)

I use the main compartment to store my Finsport Fly Wallet (for tube flies) and a large fly box. There is easily enough room for another good-sized box or two smaller boxes, snacks, empty collapsable water bottle, etc.  Sure, you might have to stack things up inside, but I just put the lesser accessed stuff on the bottom and it seems to work just fine. 

Main compartment

My only real gripe is with the nylon waist strap. I can't stand using it as a waist strap. It does, however, come with a buckle that can be (theoretically) used to secure the waist strap around the opposite shoulder/armpit area. I think having another strap would help reduce back strain which can occur from a long day on the water. Unfortunately, the strap cannot be adjusted small enough for me to use in this fashion. It's about twice as long as I need it to be. I'm sure Orvis could have found a way to make the strap adjust to a smaller size. I guess I'm going to cut mine in half and affix an extra plastic buckle. Whatever works, I guess...

In conclusion, I rate the Orvis Safe Passage Magnum Sling Pack 4 out of 5 stars. If I had some options with the waist strap, I might have given it all 5 stars. This is a great pack, especially for those of us who fish with two-handed rods. If there was a way Orvis could fuse the Magnum pack with the Gale Force pack, I'd probably give it 6 stars! Of course, I would be happy to field test any future prototypes, so please put me on the list...

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