Expert Review: Orvis Waterproof Backpack

This review is my honest opinion of the backpack, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2021.

A man wearing the Orvis Waterproof Backpack.

All photos courtesy of Joseph Smith

Published on

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the backpack, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2021.

My take

The Orvis Waterproof Backpack is a roomy, comfortable bag that can hold a day’s worth of gear or serve as a boat bag. This bag conveniently holds gear to make travel to fishing destinations easy.

Inside view of the Orvis Waterproof Backpack.

About the backpack I own

  • Model: 2021 Waterproof Backpack
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Size: One size
  • Pack capacity: 21L
  • Pack type: Backpack

About me

  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 200 lbs
  • Experience: 40+ years of fly fishing

Test conditions

  • When I bought it: April 2021
  • Type of fishing trips: Day trips fishing from boat; fishing trips that require travel far from home
  • What I carried:
    • Fly Box: Mayfly boxes, Bug Luggage boxes, Cliffs Bug Box, Large Streamer boxes
    • Accessories: Possible smaller chest or sling pack, tippet, pliers, towel
    • Rain Gear: Simms Freestone Jacket
    • Other: Lunch, water, Flats wading footwear
  • Total pack weight: Around two pounds unloaded
  • Used for: Fishing trips far from home and as a boat bag
  • Where I’ve used it: Belize, Florida Keys, Minnesota waters
  • Seasons I’ve used it in: All seasons

How it performs

Back Breathability

What I was looking for

I was looking for a bag that could carry all the gear I would need for a day’s worth of fishing as well as help carry my gear to the fishing destination. Comfort and ease of transport—especially through the airport and TSA checkpoints—was a must. As I often fish from a boat for saltwater fly-fishing trips, I wanted the bag to be able to double as a boat bag.

Why I chose this gear

I purchased this bag because it is waterproof. I also liked the internal compartmentalization, which makes storing of other gear easy. As I often will bring more than one rod with me on extended trips, I liked that it has the space to securely transport two rod tubes.

I also considered the Orvis Carry It All but did not purchase it; I felt it would not work well as a boat bag, and I also had concerns about its eligibility as an airline carry-on piece. I came close to choosing the Orvis Bug Out Bag. I liked the deployable rod tube extension feature and the integrated net holder. I did not choose this bag because it was only set up for one rod tube, was not waterproof, and I felt the internal pockets were too numerous. It felt like a school bag and not a fishing pack.

Back view of the Orvis Waterproof Backpack.

What I love about it

  • Durability: Despite over a year’s use and travel both internationally and domestic, this pack has stood up to the demands I have placed on it. I feel just as comfortable wearing this through an airport as I do hiking into a fishing hole.
  • Weight: This is not an issue. Not overly heavy and even when full, it is not tiring to wear all day.
  • Ease of use: As far as carrying gear, everything I need will fit in the bag and the internal pockets make it easy to organize.
  • Comfort and Accessibility: This pack is comfortable to wear. As far as getting gear out while fishing, it is not as easy as a sling pack. For boat use, it is not an issue. For this reason, I typically do not use this for wade fishing or will pack a smaller sling pack inside to use while wade fishing.
  • Adjustability: This fits my frame fine. Though it is not adjustable like a high-end backpacking pack.
  • Capacity: At 21L capacity, this adequately holds everything I need for a day on the water. For travel through airports, it holds everything I need for fishing as well as room for other items I do not want to pack in my regular luggage.
  • Weather Resistance: Made with a TPU 500D nylon coating, this pack has survived many dunkings. I feel secure placing my phone and other electronics inside and do not worry about water damage. The main zipper is rated to 0.05 to 0.4 barr of water pressure to ensure the contents stay dry.
  • Organization and pockets: The internal pockets help keep smaller items secure. A tool dock is on the left shoulder strap and makes holding frequently used stream-side tools easy to get to. The main compartment has plenty of room for lunch, rain gear, and anything else that is needed. A smaller external pocket (just water resistant and not waterproof) can hold smaller fly boxes and other items for quicker access without having to dig through the main compartment.
Outside view of the Orvis Waterproof Backpack.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Features: The waist belt is adjustable, and the straps are comfortable. I do wish that it had an integrated net holder rather than a D-ring attachment point. Also, an integrated tippet whippet—similar to Orvis’ sling pack—is an absent feature that I would enjoy. A major design flaw is the lack of the deployable rod tube extension. Come on Orvis, you do it for your Bug Out Bag, do it for this bag, too, please. Without the rod tube extension, rod tubes are above the top of the bag and inconveniently knock into branches, people, and other objects. It would sit better and be more comfortable if the rods could be centered over the pack rather than protruding above the pack.
Close up of the Orvis Waterproof Backpack strap.

Favorite moment with this gear

My favorite moment with this gear was on a trip in Minnesota. To get to my fishing destination, I had to hike in, and the bag helped me get there. Once I was there, I had the whole river to myself, and I wondered just how often it gets fished. The smallmouth bass were crushing my streamers like they had never seen a fly before. It may not be an accurate statement, but on that day, it felt like I had discovered my own private fishing hole.

Value for the money vs. other options

I feel that for a waterproof pack that travels well, this is money well spent. I appreciate that I can safely keep all my fishing gear together. Also, it travels well and can go straight from an airline carry-on to a boat bag without changing anything. When the need arises to hike into my fishing location, this is a comfortable way to transport my gear and carry everything I will need for the trip.

Final verdict

The Orvis Waterproof Backpack is a convenient way to carry fishing gear to your favorite location and keep it dry–even in downpours or unintentional falls.

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Orvis Waterproof Backpack
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Written By
I am an avid fly fisherman. Luckily, I have a pond in my backyard exactly two minutes from my fly tying bench. If there is open water, I will fish just about every day. Although I grew up fishing the fabled streams of Pennsylvania, I love to travel and fly fish for diverse species both fresh and sa...

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