Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Gear Review: Cabela's PackRat Fly Vest


I purchased the Cabela's PackRat Fly Vest back when I started fly fishing in 2008. Since that time, it has gotten a lot of use on the river, in the boat, and in the back of my truck. It's fairly durable, it holds a lot of stuff, and best of all it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. The one I own is size 2-XL.

The vest in its first summer.
Storage wise, it hold everything I need and keeps it easy and quick to reach. On the front, it has two zippered pockets at the top, along with velcro pockets infront of the zippered ones. I keep my two primary fly boxes in the zippered pockets. The fold down pockets hold my floatant on one side and my indicators on the other. The fly patch is a weak point, as it doesn't always hold the flies very well. I have probably lost a half dozen flies or so on the vest. Also on the left chest pocket is a slide for your forceps. It's very handy and as long as i don't overstuff that pocket doesn't get in my way. If I put to much gear in there the handle will sometimes catch my fly line.

Below that there are two long pockets that zipper close. I keep my larger streamer and terrestrial flies in these pockets. On the outside of those are 4 smaller tippet pockets that are great for carrying your tippet, and a small tape measurer. Be careful with these pockets though. Sometimes it can be tough to tell if you closed it all the way and things will fall out. I haven't lost anything, but I wouldn't put my keys in there!

Inside, there are 2 additional pockets. I use these to keep my license, leader, and fly retriever. There are also 2 long pockets that line up with the lower front exterior pockets. One of these is water resistant, and holds my maps. The other pocket holds a snack or trash depending on what part of the day it is.

Rear View
On the back side of the vest is a large full length pocket that is zippered.This normally holds my gloves or a rain jacket quite easily. There is also a D ring for clipping your net too. I keep my net on this and rarely have trouble getting it off while fighting that large fish! Additionally there are 2 long vertical pockets. I usually keep my sunscreen in one, and a bottle of water in the other. Many timesI don't carry anything back here, as the weight will make your vest slide backwards and be uncomfortable.

Lastly there are 2 large straps. For me these straps were realatively useless. Both straps tore off holding a small 4 piece empty rod tube while I was fishing in the back country.

Lastly there are additional D rings on the front and a rod holder to hold your external gear. All works well, and I haven't had the need to attach any of my retrievers into the fabric directly.

This vest lasted me four strong years. It would probably continue going, but I've lost some weight, and as a result I was just swimming in this vest. I am moving into my new vest now. I'll let you know how it goes later this summer. I thought the vest was very comfortable, wasn't hot, yet never made me feel cold. The neoprene collar is actually a nice touch that kept that part dry so my neck didn't get irritating by being up against a sweat soaked collar.

Overall this is a great fishing vest for those new to the game.

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