There are a number of quality “waterproof” pack products for anglers on the market, but most are “non-submersible”, meaning they’ll take a good splash, maybe a brief dunk, but they are not watertight. Simms used to carry a waist pack that had a roll down, submersible compartment, the one Ed Ward totes in his video, Skagitmaster. In fact, that was the reason I set out to find that fanny pack. Unfortunately, Simms had apparently switched to a “waterproof” zipper model that was not submersible. Then I stumbled on this waterproof waist pack at a local LL Bean store. It was, as far as I could tell, a close copy of the original Simms bag.
I’ve had the LL Bean Waist Pack now for almost two years and have put it through many field tests. In my latest trial, I stuffed paper towels in the bag, rolled it up, put it on and went wading, submersing it for two minutes. The bag was bone dry. The exterior tippet pocket, which closes via a “waterproof zipper”, was full of water though; the “waterproof” zippers don’t seal.
The field utility of this bag is quite good, and at $90, it’s an OK deal. While I’ve used it exclusively for freshwater fishing, it would be great for surf fishing as well. The belt is comfortable, but lacks the waterbottle and pliers holsters the Simm’s Dry Creek Flat’s Bag sports. While the Simm’s model has more bells and whistles, the LL Bean pack is submersible though. It’s a good choice as a small ”boat bag” for kayak fishing too; the belt can be detached and the bag stows in a small space well. It doesn’t clutter the deck.
While I would recommend this bag to any angler who risks getting dunked, I’d be prepared to make some modifications to the belt to accommodate belt gear such as a wading staff, water bottle and pliers. In fact, the recommendation I’d make to LL Bean, would be to offer an improved belt designed for the usual wading gadgets; the little mesh pockets are pretty worthless. Everything else seems perfect with this bag. Though dunk-able, I will still put my smartphone, wallet and the remote entry for my car in a secondary waterproof bag.
Also, check out the Lifeproof case for the iPhone. I’ve used it now for a few days and have successfully taken still photos and video underwater. I may not need a new waterproof camera after all.