Filson’s Tin Cloth Fishing Pack checks all the boxes that hip packs are meant to check these days. Its main compartment provides ample room for a couple of average-sized fly boxes, some granola bars, and maybe even a sandwich or rain shell; there are plenty of pockets in a variety of configurations for spare leaders, tippet spools and any of the other myriad knick-knacks anglers have loved hauling around rivers since the dawn of time. It has the standard fold-out, foam compartment-lined platform that makes fly changes quick and efficient. There are bottle/can pockets that do a good job of holding sunglass cases, as well. Basically, if it’s a standard feature of hip packs, Filson’s Tin Cloth Fishing Pack has it.
What sets the Tin Cloth Fishing Pack apart is its presence, the way it feels in the hand or being loaded up on the tailgate for a day of fishing. Waxed canvas has a life to it that synthetics don’t, and that life makes it a pleasure to use. And why shouldn’t it? We take pleasure in casting rods and admire well-tied flies—why not take pleasure in a fishing pack. It’s not often that the more tangential objects we use to pursue fish contain, in and of themselves, a sense of permanence. Ironically, sometimes the more high-tech an object gets, the less feeling it has.
The Tin Cloth Pack is solid, though. It feels like shutting the door on grandpa’s ’84 Chevy; like a well-worn pair of leather boots that mold to your feet; like that old, dog-eared, hardcover book, the one you return to year after year, with stories you can recall just by smelling the weathered pages. Something is lost in the age of “the next best thing,” in the rush to always have “new, new, new.” Whatever happened to buying something new because you want to have it when it’s old? Of all the features one might look for in a piece of fishing gear, that might be the most important one.
There are a couple of additional details that, in their uniquely Filson way, also set the pack apart. The outer pocket’s snap closures include handy little canvas loops that make one-handed snapping simple—a real advantage when your other hand is occupied by a rod, or beer, or fish. There is, as well, a sort of simplicity to the overall design; a cleanliness of layout, if you will. Rather than the confusing overabundance of bells and whistles—loops and lanyards and pockets and pouches that leave you scratching your head and wondering, “What’s that for?”—the Tin Cloth Pack seems to have been designed with Goldilocks in mind. It’s just right, with nothing more or less than what you’d need.
Filson’s Tin Cloth Fishing Pack checks all the boxes. It’ll hold your gear and keep it organized, with enough space left over for a sandwich and a couple of beverages. The best part, though, is that it’ll be checking all those boxes for years to come, a piece of gear you’ll enjoy bringing along again, and again, and again—until you’ve gotten what use you can out of it, and it’s time for the pack to start anew with someone else. Don’t get it because it’s the hot new thing; get it because, years from now, it’s going to be the hot old thing, like the trusted friend you bring along on a day astream.