Review from a VERY long time user
Ive been using this vest for almost 30 years. Im an avid Alaska fisherman and spend 45-60 days per year on the water. I first purchased one in the late 90s. I lost it to the river when a sweeper snatched it from my cataraft. Unfortunately this was during the time when Patagonia had stopped making it. I scoured the internet and was able to find a ne... Read Morew one, albeit at a marked up price from a sporting goods site. I was more than happy to pay the premium . Ive worn other vests, from other big names and nothing compares. I will not even consider another vest, or system for fly fishing. Period. Pros: Vertical fly box pouches- for easier access, with matching zip pockets behind them for bead boxes and pouches in front for necessary items, specifically split shot (yes, split shot for AK fly fishing) and indicators on the other side. The two chest pockets are perfect for 3 rolls of leader in each side. My version has the inside pockets where I keep my license, and a lighter. Plenty of D loops for nippers, foreceps, etc. It will be necessary to counter weight the back with some gear. A small bottle of water is sufficient....but you can also fit and entire 6 pack if you want to push it. Mine came with the foam fly patch which I replaced with wool for the streamers and leeches we generally fish. Its light, drys quick and obviously breathable, being mesh. Its also completely bombproof. Cons? The mesh is prone to holding onto the wayward barbed hook. I guess that the only real con for me, but no biggy. There cant be too many people who have put this to the test like I have or for as long. It Is far and away my single favorite, indispensable piece of fly fishing gear. Im very happy to see that Patagonia brought it back.
Bought this in late October and have not tried it out yet. But my first impression is positive This is much shorter than a conventional vest, but the design is very well thought out so it holds all the gear .I had in my conventional vest. The designers seem to have put a lot of thought into minimizing places where your line can hang up. And it is i... Read Morencredibly light weight, with a very solid shoulder weight distribution system. I will report back once .I get it out on the river
OK lightweight vest, but....
The previous version was nicer. It had 2 inside chest pockets. Was very disappointed when Patagonia decided to eliminate them. Also fleece fly patch is on top left outside pocket. Much too high and fleece patch is dumb. How can you hold a small fly in it? Also previous size was "2XL" which has been eliminated. The largest size "L&quo... Read Moret; abailable is a bit too tight for me.
Back to basics
I love hip pack s and sling packs for certain aspects of fishing. However when I'm fishing techincal trout waters,spend so much time changing flies/tippets etc that the constant swinging around of the pack to my front to access items really begins to bug me. I used this vest for 4 long days on the Fryingpan and have to say I'm really happ... Read Morey with it. It's lighter than it's predecessor and the pockets are made from a lighter,softer material that has a nice feel. The big upgrade for me is the quality of the loop and hook closure on the pockets. On the old Mesh Master I found the hook and loop to be very strong,so opening a pocket single handed was not easy. This new version strikes a perfect balance,the pockets stay closed when not in use and when you need to open them they are easy to do so,access what you need and then get back to fishing quickly. The upgrades on this model are subtle - but oh so good,they do make a real difference and I do appreciate them.
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