clc_nomadbagI have been using an Albackore backpack tackle bag for awhile.  Its definitely seen better days.  I’d long since stopped using it in backpack mode because the seam where the straps attach to the bag is badly ripped.  Because of this fact, it was really unwieldy to carry around…especially when boarding for an overnight or longer trip when I also needed to bring an overnight bag and rods.  There was a lot to like about the bag though, and I persisted using it.

Then I was contacted by a company called Wild River.  Hmmm…why is a company with “river” in their name contacting me?  “We’d like you to review one of our bags.  Please take a look and take your pick.”  Hmmm…Albie old buddy, you may be getting put out to pasture.

I did a little research on Wild River.  It’s a brand owned by Custom Leathercraft or CLC.  CLC is a company that’s been around for 30 years.  They’ve been making tool belts and various gear totes for tradesmen…construction people and the like.  Heavy duty stuff that’s designed for tough environments.  They’re based in South Gate, CA, so they are SoCals.  I try to support local companies when making my gear choices.  OK, I’m down.

I like the idea of a tackle backpack, especially for the overnight or longer scenario I described above.  I picked out their Tackle Tek Nomad.  The first thing I noticed about the Nomad was the shape.  The Albackore is essentially a big box with straps on it.  The Nomad is wider at the bottom and tapers to a smaller area on top.  The shape of the Albackore is why I think it ripped at the top…too much weight pulling away from your body at the critical connection point.  The smarter design of the Nomad was definitely a good start.

The bag features a main compartment at the bottom that stores 4 – 3600 size tackle trays.  There is an upper compartment that stores 2 of the smaller width 3500 size trays.  The 2 compartments are separated inside by a removable, padded velcro shelf.  The lower compartment is accessed by a zip closure that opens fully for easy access.  There is a velcro’d strap that holds the trays securely in place when open.  The top area is accessed via a zippered opening from the top.  The interior of the opening has a clear plastic zippered pocket which is the perfect place to store your license or maps.  The top has a hard molded enclosure to store your sunglasses.

IMG_0941On either side of the bag are large zippered pockets with smaller ones above it.  In front, above the opening for the main compartment is a slim zippered pocket with a side covering…perfect for storing small items for quick access like the hooks you’ll be using for that day.  The side covering is helpful in keeping that stuff there if it’s windy.  Above this opening there is a fold out LED lamp system with 3 settings.  There are little elastic straps on either side of this pocket that you could attach things to, and the bag comes with a pliers holder that has a belt clip on it.  Working together, these features formed a nice little work area that I’ve found really useful when rigging up the night before on an overnight, or during a twilight ride.  When the lighting system isn’t flipped out, it can illuminate the interior of the bag, which is a nice feature.  The lighting system is powered by easy to find AAA batteries.

Rear view with bag cover out

Rear view with bag cover out

On the back of the bag, heavy duty, padded straps are attached, and there is even a “belt” with a clip on it that can secure the 2 straps together.  The back of the bag itself has padding too.  Once the bag was fully loaded with all my tackle, I found it really easy to take off and put on.  It was also very comfortable wearing the fully loaded bag.  Everything is adjustable so you can adapt it to your body and secure it in place.   When you are waiting to board your overnight boat, and you have rods in one hand, and an overnight bag in the other, it’s really nice to know your tackle is securely attached and isn’t going anywhere.

Above the straps, there is a hidden pocket that holds a covering for the bag.  Perfect for protecting the bag from getting wet when in transit to the fishing grounds.  Next to it is a heavy duty handle as a second option to carry the bag.

My overall impression of the bag is that I really like it.  It’s well designed and very ergonomic.  It holds everything I need for the length of trips I typically go on.  I adjust what 4 trays go inside the main compartment based on the trip, and then I put a 5th in the top compartment that is my “toy box”…different lures I may want to try on that particular trip.  In the remaining upper portion, there is enough room on the bottom to carry three 1/4 lb. spools of line, and then I put a zippered pouch on top of the spools where I store all my hooks.  I have all my fluorocarbon in one of the big side pockets, and then sunscreen and can coozies in the other.

My only nits to pick are slight.  The bottom of the bag has hard plastic footies which lift it off the surface it’s sitting on…a good feature to help keep the bag dry.  It’d be nicer though if the whole bottom was waterproofed.  The zippers on the bag aren’t meant for a saltwater environment.  They seem to collect salt residue on them.  Wild River warned me about this shortcoming (for us salties at least) upfront and it is one they have addressed in their saltwater bag coming to market next year.  It’s not terrible.  I easily remedied the issue by spraying it with Inox lubricant and a light brushing with an old toothbrush.  Still, if I were going to throw down the scratch for this bag, I’d rather not have to do this maintenance.  The only other thing that I would really like to see is some sort of shelf system inside the main compartment.  This feature is the only thing I miss about the Albackore bag.  Each tray had its own spot.  In this bag, the trays are stacked.  It’s not a huge deal, but I like to keep all my lead in the bottom tray, leadheads in the next one up etc.  If I have to remove trays to get to another one, where do you put them?  A lot of the time, storage space is at a premium on the boats.  What happens if we hit a wave and a tray hits the deck?  I didn’t necessarily like the padded velcro shelves in the Albie, but a plastic shelf insert would be a nice option that wouldn’t add much weight or bulk.

A lot of my fishing buddies, and deckhands have had really positive impressions of the bag.  I agree.  There is a lot to like about it.  If you bought it now, you would enjoy having it (especially if your primary fishery wasn’t the ocean).  If you are salty though and can wait, I’d hang out for the saltier version next year.  Tight lines!

 

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