Umpqua Tongass 650 Waterproof Waist Pack ReviewAugust 15, 2015
- Waterproof gear protection
- Generous capacity
- Supports heavy loads
- Few pockets and compartments
- No net carry
The Umpqua Tongass 650 Waterproof Waist Pack’s beefy shoulder and hip straps lets this pack pinch-hit as a sling.
The Umpqua Tongass 650 Waterproof Waist Pack is a straightforward pack with no mysterious pouches or lash points. Instead, there’s a big roll-top main compartment and a secondary zipped pocket with three interior sleeves. There’s no exterior tippet holder or tool loops off the exterior, but flotant can be stored in the two stretchy mesh pouches on the outside. There are two water bottle holsters, though the bottle may slip loose if the hip belt isn’t cinched tight. The system for holding a backup rod is nice in theory, but tricky in practice—in testing we had to make sure the tip didn’t drop and drag on obstacles. There’s a foam fly patch that attaches to the hip belt with a carabiner, and while it’s convenient, it also tends to swing around to the inner fabric, where its rough underside clings to the mesh lining and causes it to pill. There is no net attachment but it can be stored inside a wading belt.
The fat, 5” wide hip belt stabilizes the load and keeps it from sagging, as does the ergonomically shaped shoulder strap. In testing, fishing gear along with two liters of water and a DSLR camera were easily carried with little fatigue.
The waist belt adapts to bodies both big and tiny, but the shoulder strap does not cinch very small, making this design best for tall women and average-height guys.
Despite the meshy lining, the wide, body-hugging hip belt and shoulder strap are not supremely breathable. Unclipping the hip belt and letting the shoulder strap support the load allows ventilation to the lower back.
In testing, we submerged this pack and left it outside during a rainy overnight raft trip in southern Idaho, and it proved waterproof throughout. The roll-top closure is not as easy to operate as a zipper and takes some getting used to. The waterproofing was a valuable asset during rainy fishing sessions keeping gear dry.
The waist pack looks small, but the 11L pack somehow swallows every add-on imaginable. The main compartment is big and square, and easily contains a fleece, a lunch, and a camera—leaving the secondary pocket for fly boxes and accessories. When it wasn’t filled to capacity, the roll-top and side straps effectively compress the pack and keep it from feeling slack and unstable.