The quest for big fish on the fly can find anglers pushing through areas overgrown with brambles, trees, vines, and briars. Knowing a river or creek will eventually dump into a small bay or pocket that will hold their target pushes them deeper on pathless journeys. Wading across switchbacks is almost a necessity which makes waterproof gear a necessity.
Cell phones, truck keys, dry clothes, food for the day and more all have to be protected from the elements on these adventures and that’s exactly what YETI says the Panga Waterproof Backpack was built for.
My fly fishing fever had reached its apex about the time the Panga Backpack hit my doorstep. After a few minutes of loading it full of gear and essentials I left for a day of field testing and chasing carp on the fly.
About the YETI Panga Waterproof Backpack
The Panga Waterproof Backpack takes all of the things people raved about in the Panga Duffel from last year and put them into a more angler friendly backpack. The Hydrolock Zipper makes sure water stays out so your gear stays bone-dry, no matter how torrential it gets. The Thickskin Shell uses high-density nylon and thick TPU lamination to be puncture- and abrasion-resistant. Quickgrab Lash Points and the Dry Haul Straps make multiple points of grab and go a possibility with a durable build that won’t give out in the field.
The YETI Panga Waterproof Backpack is 7” × 20” × 12 1/2” and has an empty weight of 3.9 pounds. It retails for $299.99
Panga Backpack: The Good
When I’m deep in the trees chasing carp with my fly rod, I need a bag that can work through the rough terrain without compromising its shell. I’ve owned a lot of waterproof backpacks and duffels from other companies and most of them fail fairly quickly. A rogue broken branch or a patch of thorns almost always seems to catch the fabric and tear a hole. Once that happens, the bag becomes useless. The Panga designers knew that a highly durable shell was big on the must-haves list and built in the nylon with TPU lamination to make sure punctures don’t happen. Every time I felt the bag tug away from me, catching the random branch, I’d stop and investigate. No holes, no tears. It was very impressive.
I found myself stopping to drop a fly to carp cruising by and then needing to move to pursue them fairly quickly. In Texas when it’s 110 degrees out, I’m not wearing the backpack the whole day. I tend to just move it from spot to spot via one of the many grab handles and then put it right back down on the ground next to me. The side and top handles are great for grab and go fishing, especially for carp chasers like myself.
In the world of pics or it didn’t happen, having a phone on me is pretty important for documenting my catches, especially when I’m alone. The internal mesh pocket is perfect to keep my phone easily accessible instead of just at the bottom of a crowded bag where it might also get broken. I appreciate that addition to the Panga. The designers didn’t stop there, however. The YETI team also built in a large fly drying patch on the inside of the bag. Great forethought.
Panga Backpack: The Improvement Recommendations
While the molded backplate adds rigidity, it also adds heat. If YETI were able to design more of a rigid exo shell and not make the whole back pan a solid form, they could add some spacing for ventilation. As it is now, your back is going to sweat pretty heavy if you are south of say, Minnesota in the summer.
I’d also like to see a lighter version. The durability of the Panga Waterproof Backpack is awesome but the weight can improve in future models. At just about four pounds empty, I was toting 17 pounds total in gear and supplies on my excursion. I think if some of the metal was replaced with high-density nylon components you could drop several ounces. The exo shell back plate could also shed some weight. I feel pretty confident YETI could get a durable, breathable pack that is still waterproof near the two-pound mark.
YETI Panga Waterproof Backpack Final Thoughts
If you make a living on the water or you are a buy it once type of angler, this pack checks off a lot of boxes on the wish list. At $300 it isn’t “price approachable” by many folks but for those who are lucky enough to experience it, they will have it for a long, long time.