While preparing for my once in a lifetime trip to India, I decided to “treat” myself with a new chest pack for the journey.
I have used William Joseph's Current and Surge packs (both from the Mag Series) for several years now. While preparing for my once in a lifetime trip to India, I decided to "treat" myself with a new chest pack for the journey. I subscribe to the adage, Men and their toys..... and for me the "toys" mainly consist of something to do with fly fishing or photography!
When I was given the opportunity to fish for the mighty golden Mahseer in the most North-Easr part of India, I jumped at the chance. It is not unusual for me to buy something new for an upcoming trip that I never embarked on before. Because I envision this first trip to be somewhat "experimental" and in a region of intense heat and high humidity, I thought I should try a new chest pack; maybe one chosen from another series as well.
Since I feel at ease and much more comfortable in the water or on the river bank wearing chest packs instead of my old stand-by fly fishing vest, I was immediately drawn to William Joseph's latest version of the Access Pack. I will need to pack light because I expect a good deal of walking. My schedule will only allow me to fish for one species. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to select the most essential items and tools and to only bring those with me to the river.
After conducting a little web research and studying some product photographs and specifications, I think the Access and Confluence Packs from the Tech series will be ideal for what I am planning on. I ordered one of each to test. I have chosen to only carry the Access Pack because I will be very limited in my baggage weight restriction on one of the inland flights. I will test the Confluence pack on another trip and I will review my impressions later this year.
A closer look at the Access pack ...
The Access Pack is lightweight, very compact, has an exclusive and clever design, and yet still offers an abundant amount of storage space. It is the perfect size to carry just the essentials and in reality a bit more! It has a built-in retractor and a unique tippet control system (TCS). Also unique to the Access Pack is the ability to dock it onto the Drifter backpack or it can be clipped onto the front of the Exodus backpack as well. The front has three zip locked pockets or compartments. The center one, once zipped down, can be used as a handy workstation shelf. The first pocket contains the TCS. In the third pocket is a field repair buckle for the waist strap and several additional pockets, dividers and compartments. The second compartment comes with a removable foam fly patch to hold a very nice collection of fly patterns for changing flies rapidly eliminating the need for a fly box. I have observed the fly patch is much larger than the previous ones that I used in the original Mag series. The entire front selection (with all 3 pockets) is expandable into a very large fourth non-zip compartment where I will be able to store my thermometer, knife and hook sharpener and one of my largest fly boxes. Between the back surface and the AirTrackTM suspension I carry my fishing license and required papers in a waterproof plastic container.
For comfort, an anatomically contoured padded neck strap suspends The Access pack. The neck strap also has an extra strong attachment point for a landing net when preferred. (I never use one myself) The additional waist strap makes the pack fit more snugly to your waist. The padded neck strap is fully adjustable and can be sized from kid, women, to large adult male. I can personally attest the pack will fit around quite nicely around an extra large big belly also!
The dimensions are: 12" x 8" x 8" (30,5 x 20,3 x 20,3 cm). The Access pack has a total weight of: 1,2 lb (0,54 kg) and is available in colors blue and sage.
Although the Access Chest Pack is light in weight, you can see and feel that everything is manufactured extremely solid. The grips to open the zippers have the perfect size and are moving smooth and nicely. All the stitch work is absolutely high quality as we are used from William Joseph.
Compared with the Current pack, which I used for years, I believe the Access Pack is even quite more efficient. The workstation is more solid and the Tippet Control system is indeed a great new feature. I liked it very much. The built-in retractor in left side of the pack is awesome but I have no idea why William Joseph didn't built-in another one on the right side as well. The Access pack offers lots of room to carry several fly boxes, fishing tools and necessary equipment.
In several other reviews I read that some people didn't like the mesh separator that is inside the second compartment to separate a fly box from foam fly patch. These people claim that flies on the foam get off and get stuck in the mesh separator. Although I think those people might be correct for the Confluence Pack because there is even a double mesh separator in the fly-foam patch compartment, but I didn't have that experience with the Access Pack so far.
Pro's and Con's
Pro's: Comfort, durability and convenience
Con's: Only one built-in retractor, should be two and not much info about how to pack the Access pack
Because there are not many samples about how to pack the Access are available, I made some extra pictures just, to give you any idea how I pack my Access in the field and what I have inside.
Here my list of items and tools as I had packed them in my Access pack in India:
- Three fly boxes
- Leader building and repair package (includes scissor, leader making tool, leader material, super glue, bobbin with tying thread
- Own attached retractor with Dilly wax and holder (special designed floatant for poly yarn)
- Tippet material
- Flies to use on the fly patch
- Landing glove for holding fish when making pictures
- Gerber Multi tool
- Lip Balm
- Special Cleaning paper for glasses
- Polaroid sunglasses
- Bite indicators
- Lead shots for deep nymphing
- Stripping glove or fingers
- Sun protecting gloves
- William Jospeh Thermometer
- Hook sharpener
- Kershaw Knife
- Tippet cutter (attached to the built-in retractor)
- Toilet paper and Lightload towels (2)
- Sun protection gel
- Fishing license
- Lighter (sealed in plastic to make fire when get soaking wet)
- Emergency whistle
- Mini measuring tape
A few years ago William & Joseph designed and developed a digital thermometer which took an accurate reading within a couple of seconds. Now William & Joseph has developed the industry's first "Point and Shoot" thermometer.
My personal experiences so far:
Simply incredible! Ideal for people like me with serious back problems. No more bending over but just point the thermometer directly at the water, punch the button and you get the surface temperature in less than a second. About the accuracy I was completely amazed: compare to a high quality medical thermometer the differences only reached between 0.3 and 0.7 degrees Celsius.
Powered by 2 standard tiny 1.5 volt batteries and only 3 1/4" (4,5cm) long.