I received this pack right before I headed back to Montana to spend a couple of weeks fishing some of my favorite rivers and the waist pack; it did not disappoint.
First off, this pack has a amazing amount of storage space. To be honest, I was convinced that everything I had stored in my older ledges 650 waist pack would never fit in this new version as it looks much smaller. Boy was I wrong. Everything I had in the older model fit and I was even able to slip in some additional items without the pack feeling too heavy. The solid molded back panel with the mesh overlay has a great combination of comfort and support without losing any of the main pocket space, which was a minor issue with the previous model.
The Zero Sweep design features on the bag streamline it and provide the angler with the opportunity to keep the outside of the bag free from snag-able items. Unfortunately, I found old habits die hard when it comes to perceived accessibility and soon my Umpqua “Zero Sweep” bag looked like, well pretty much every waist pack I have used…Half tied fly rigs trailing off the fly patch, tippet spool draped over one side, excess waist strap hanging down, bug dope swinging haphazardly off the back, and the list goes on. My point being, Zero Sweep while being a great idea and well incorporated into the design of the bag cannot automatically redesign a messy angler. That being said, my hope is that the great design of the Upmqua Zero Sweep line features nudge me toward having a more streamlined day on the water.
The pack has one large compartment with a full zipper that is angled forward to aid in opening/closing. There are folder-like separations in the pocket that can be utilized or compressed in the front of the pack. I use the folders since I usually access what I need by reaching back not rotating the pack forward and the folders allow me to arrange fly boxes by touch (i.e. front folder nymphs, middle streamers, back folder dry fly). There are also many small mesh pockets in the back of the main compartment as well as a shallow zipper pocket on the top of the pack where additional tool ports and tippet holder sleeves are located.
The new Zero Sweep Ledges 650 waist packs still have the tool sheath but it is now between the two small pockets on the back of the pack. These pockets are tailor made for the person who accesses most of their things without rotating the pack around their waist as it lets you better compartmentalize your angling gear.
The new version of the pack also has a removable foam fly patch on the top of the pack which I like much more than the older versions patch as it is removable and my flies seem to hold better in it. Nothing bugs me more than taking the time to untangle or retrieve flies only to loose them off of your pack during the day.
The Zero Sweep Waist Pack kept the same design for the waist strap pockets with one notable exception, they added tool ports that are horizontal with the pocket which is handy for an extra set of retractable nippers. They also put the drink pockets on the waist belt instead of on the pack a feature that I think is a great improvement from the previous model.
All in all I have been impressed with the performance of the new design features and the comfort of the pack is top notch given it’s capacity for storage. These packs are available for purchase at Minturn Anglers fly shops and come highly recommended.
Minturn Anglers Guide