**This review is for the Oxbow Backpack. We will be reviewing the Fishpond Savage Creek Chest Pack in a separate review.**
The Fishpond Oxbow Check/Backpack was my first venture into high end fly-fishing gear. There were a few features of the Oxbow Chest/Backpack combo that caught my eye and encouraged me to make the purchase.
Let's start with the technical specs of the pack:
From Fishpond, the backpack is 549 cubic inches. It measures 17" long, 9" across, and 6.5" deep. There are three zippered pockets, a pocket for a hydration bladder (hydration system not included), a small, open pocket on the back, and two expandable pockets for water bottles or rod tubes. There are plenty of places to lash gear onto the bag as well. One of the features that sold me on this pack is
I have had the pack for about five months now and have truly enjoyed using it. One of the positive features that I really liked when deciding to purchase it was the fact that the chest pack came with the neck and back straps, just in case I wanted to use the chest pack without the backpack. To be honest, I have done that about three times and every single time I have regretted doing so.
The backpack allows you to be prepared for multiple different fishing scenarios. Hiking up to Marjorie Lake, I decided to fish some of the smaller streams that dot that area of the Uinta Mountains. For fishing the lake, I wanted to have my 8' 2 wt. rod, but for those small streams, some of which can be utterly covered by brush, I wanted to have my 6' 2 wt. With the expandable water bottle pockets, I was able to carry both rods.
The backpack itself allows you to be prepared. One of the things that is a necessity, at least for me, when fishing in the backcountry is to have a real serious emergency/safety kit. I created one that lives in a nalgene water bottle. The pack allows me to take the kit as well as a light weight rain jacket, some snacks, and a maybe another fly box or two. Please be aware of the size of the pack though, and the construction of the pack. This is the smallest of the Fishpond's backpacks and it shows if you try to over pack the thing. Want to pack a rain jacket, fleece, emergency kit, and your hydration system? Not going to happen. The construction of the pack is so durable that nothing wants to stretch, especially outward, everything stretches into the pack. The tight construction, while making it durable, impacts the ability to over pack.
Hiking into the backcountry is also nice due to the fact that the chest pack can attach to the front of the backpack and is out of your way while hiking. That versatility was another design factor that pushed me to the Fishpond over other makes and models, I don't want to be tied into the system on a five mile hike to one of my favorite backcountry lakes. But, once you get to that lake, or decide to wear this system while fishing your favorite river, putting the chest pack on your chest and rigging it to the shoulder straps of the backpack, you are tied into that system. To be honest, you really don't notice it, but there are straps going over every part of your chest, sides, and back.
- Chest pack integration, both front and back of the pack.
- Everything is a tight fit in the pack.
- Be aware of the size of the pack, it's smaller than it seems in pictures.
- If you use the backpack and chest pack together, you are rigged into the middle of both pieces.