Across the Fishpond, Westwater Rolling Carry-On

Fishpond Westwater
Fishpond Westwater

The Westwater rolling carry-on by Fishpond is the newest addition to my luggage collection. Fishpond started making a splash in the industry by offering quality fishing accessories, but have since expanded their line to lifestyle apparel and luggage.

Fishpond is a Denver, CO based company that has been known for their durable gear for almost 15 years. The company was started by Johnny Land Le Coq, whose vision was to create products that pushed the envelope in product design and functionality. He is still the active lead designer, concept guru, and photographer responsible for the incredible pictures on their website.

The Westwater rolling carry-on was provided by Fishpond to try out on some upcoming international travel. Needless to say, I was excited to put it to the test on the various planes, trains, autos, and boats I would encounter on my journey.

When I started to pack the bag for my trip I was curious how it would be to pack a duffel vs a traditional carry-on or backpack. It weighs in at 5.75lbs and has a capacity of 3,235cu in. The bag measures 21in x 12.75in x 11.25in (LxHxW) . It fits in most overhead bins fully loaded, or under the seat if not so full.  Seeing the bag empty out of the box it looked a little small and I began to wonder if I would really be able to fit two weeks worth of travel needs, both professional and recreational, into the space.

The backside of the bag is a traditional rolling bag with telescoping luggage handle for easy wheeling on two urethane wheels. Fully packed, the bag rolls extremely smoothly across most surfaces like carpet, concrete, and tile. Sharp cornering proved a little challenging at times, but that may have been due to the weight distribution inside the bag.

Fishpond Westwater
Fishpond Westwater

The top side of the bag is constructed like a traditional duffel. Thus, the exterior is soft and expandable, not rigid. A unique feature of this bag is the integrated backpack straps affixed to the outside. The straps allow for easy carrying if you would rather not roll your bag everywhere. They are partially detachable and fully adjustable with a chest strap. For storage or checking the bag, you can protect the straps by unbuckling them and running them through three low profile loops on the topside of the bag so they stay tangle free during transport.

I found this backpack feature particularly useful while wandering around the city between destinations or when sidewalks were not present. I far prefer the backpack option to the hand carry alternative. When worn on as a backpack, it does pitch back a little since the hard side is actually facing out and the duffle section is against your back. This unbalance takes a little getting used to, but I didn‘t find it to be too big an issue.

In addition, the strap stow system worked really well to keep the straps from getting mangled. I did find myself wishing the straps could detach completely for some of the more rough travel to keep them a little cleaner. It is possible to take them off completely, but it is not as easy as using the integrated stow system.

On the inside there are two zippered pockets for small accessories. One, in the top, which is clear and fully waterproofed, and the other on the interior wall of the base of the bag provides storage for items such as toiletries, sunglasses, snacks, or anything you‘d like to keep contained.

Fishpond Westwater
Fishpond Westwater

Through my packing and traveling it became clear that despite my initial reaction that the bag would be too small, I actually had room to spare. With that said, it would be nice if there was some sort of interior tie down strap or optional netting to keep the contents in place if the bag is not fully loaded, or even an exterior strap to cinch down the duffle top.

The Westwater is made with TPU welded fabric, and the YKK water resistant zippers essentially make this bag waterproof. As these bags are made with fishing and outdoor recreation in mind. I found this to be a fabulous feature. You never know when you will get caught in the rain, slush through puddles, or subject your bag to an unexpected river bath. I found a lot of comfort in knowing my clothes and gear were safely dry inside when the conditions got messy.

Finally, Fishpond hand-picks ambassadors who embody the core values of the company. These individuals range from fly-fishing guides, to authors and photographers.  They serve as brand extensions that test the products in the field. Their continual feedback allows provides insight for improvements that keep Fishpond leading the way in functionality and design.

The 2015 models will come in a mossy green color and will be slightly more waterproof than the blue 2014 model I was given to test. With an MSRP of $279.95 and a lifetime guarantee, the quality is unparalleled

Overall, the Westwater rolling carry-on has proven to be a fabulous travel companion. I would highly recommend this bag. It would make a great gift to any avid fishermen or world wanderer.

– Carley


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