A fly fishing vest and a Tenzing 720 “Manny Pack” is the perfect combo for the mobile mountain angler.
by: Mike Stevens 7/14/2012
When I started fishing the Sierras over 20 years ago at about 13-years-old, I carried around a two-tray Plano tackle box everywhere I went. Of course, it didn’t take long for me to realize that to fish the area effectively, you need to be mobile and have both hands free, and this isn’t the way to go.
My next move was to ditch the tackle box for a simple Orvis fly-fishing vest. The ease of getting around with that instead of a tackle box was night and day, and I did it this way for a few years. But then another problem popped up. I started getting into the backcountry, and I needed to carry more stuff that I couldn’t exactly cram into the vest. Things like bigger water bottles, a jacket, food, and a camera (and I’m talking a decent-sized camera here. Not that $100 point and shoot you pull out of your pocket) started becoming necessity, so I ditched the vest for a backpack, and I had once again adapted.
That worked great, but I didn’t like having to take off the pack to get to my tackle, or water, or camera, and when I wasn’t hiking to far away spots, it was a little too big. So guess what, I went back to the vest (but I bought a sweet one from Simms that carries EVERYTHING) and I mixed in a little waist pack (I told myself I wouldn’t use the word “fanny”) that I could keep food and stuff in on hikes, but I could leave it at camp and just rock the vest if I was staying close to home. This combo felt like I was ALMOST there in terms of the ultimate way to carry gear on my Sierra trips, but the waist pack just wasn’t big enough.
Well, as of the trip I just got back from, I think I have found the holy grail of fanny, you know what? Let’s call it a MANny pack. The manny pack that I test drove this year was a Tenzing 720 — Which is actually made for hunters — which comes from a new player in the hunting pack game (Tenzing has nine larger models from day packs all the way up to multi-day monsters complete with expandable “meat compartments”) that are already proving to be worthy competition to the top-shelf hunting packs already on the market.
I was able to carry a 32-ounce water bottle in a secured holster on the exterior of the pack (and on longer trips, another 32-ouncer on the inside), a mid-sized camera, food, a fly box, fly reel, first aid kit, knife, emergency gear, one of those jackets that stuffs into its own pocket, a walkie talkie, and cell phone all spread across the nine total compartments and pockets. The compression straps on the bottom of the pack snugly held my fly-rod case diagonally while I tossed jigs on spinning gear. When I was using my fly rod, I would break down my two-piece spinning rod, and secure it to the top of the pack with the upper compression straps. Thanks to the padded hip support and specially-designed foam back pad, this stuff all rested behind me on my waist like it wasn’t even there, and since my Simms vest is shorter (designed for wading), they worked in perfect conjunction with one another. I should note that I had some room to spare even when all this gear was stuffed in there.
I was now carrying everything I usually carried in a backpack but now in a more compact manner that was easier to take off and put on as needed, and I still had the ability to easily get to my fishing tackle stored in the vest.
Some other strong points (that I wouldn’t really think about before noticing while in use) of the Tenzing 720 were as follows:
- The main compartment is easily identified by large yellow zipper pulls. While I knew where everything was, it made it easy to tell my fishing partner where my camera was when I was fighting a fish and I needed him to get it out. “Camera! Yellow Zippers! Now!”
- The water-bottle holster has an adjustable strap on it that secures around the neck of your bottle. There were many times where I took the pack off and it would be upside down momentarily, and the bottle never fell out. I actually really loved that feature after a while.
- If you wanted to get into it without taking it off (for something you can’t reach if it’s behind you) it’s easy and comfortable to spin it around and wear it on the front of your waist for as long as you need it there.
The Tenzing TZ-720 retails at around $99.99 and has a lifetime warranty.