Dec 12, 2015

Umpqua Introduces "Zero Sweep" Packs and Bags

The new, highly anticipated Umpqua Zero Sweep Packs are now in stock at the Gorge Fly Shop and

We have been looking forward to seeing these new packs since our illustrious Umpqua Sales Rep Eric brought them in last spring. Each of these packs are sleek, good looking and solidly built to perform well after taking all the abuse that we can throw at them.

Since they are new, we have not had a chance to put them through a season of rigorous field testing, which for us is the only way to form a solid opinion on them. These are our initial impressions, and they are definitely impressive at first glance.

Zero Sweep

Zero Sweep technology is what drives the lineup. All of these packs use a set of features that Umpqua is calling Zero Sweep. The basic idea is that there is little to nothing to tangle up your line on the outside of this pack, yet keeping tools easily accessible. Most tools fit snuggly within the recesses of the pack. With plenty of places to stash all of your tools without snagging your line, this system should equate to more fishing time and less time frustratingly untangling line from your pack. All of these packs have a foam fly patch or two to keep a few flies easily accessible without having to get into the pack.

All of these packs have good padding, strong straps and buckles as well as solid stitching and 420 Denier Cordura fabric, which is very strong and durable. Nothing flimsy about any of these packs; I would feel confident putting these through a season or two of Northwest Steelhead abuse (often considered in the industry as the worst type of gear abuse).

Rock Creek ZS Chest Pack
Rock Creek ZS

The smallest pack in the lineup at 200 cubic inches, it is perfect for the minimalist fisherman. It is just big enough to store a fly box, tippets, nippers, hook file, hemostats, a bottle of water and maybe a small camera or a granola bar, but not much else. As I spend years going back and forth between “take everything to the river” and “take nothing to the river”, this seems like a good solution for the guy that doesn’t want to be bogged down by unnecessary items in a pack.

The strap system is comfortable at first impression. I believe that I could easily fish all day without anything getting in my way as with some other packs. This pack is also modular with the ability to attach to the Surveyor Pack which adds extra utility.

Bandolier ZS Sling
Bandolier ZS

Another minimalist pack, this mini sling looks comfortable and functional. With 300 cubic inches, this has a little more room than the Rock Creek, and is my personal favorite in the smaller packs after looking over the lineup. There is one larger pocket that easily opens across the top, with the same Zero Sweep features that help minimalize line tangles while keeping tools easy to access. The main compartment holds two medium fly boxes just fine. The sling can be worn over either shoulder as well as on the waist without any major adjustments. I really like the easily adjustable straps, although they are not all that thick or padded. The minimal weight looks like it would be easy to wear day in and day out.

Ambi-Sling ZS
Ambi-Sling ZS

The Ambi-Sling is another sling pack in the lineup, and probably the most intriguing. Sling packs are making waves across the industry and Umpqua has three different sling packs that should make life easy for anglers everywhere.

One complaint about some slings is that they are built to go over one shoulder or the other. If you like to put any other sling pack over your left shoulder instead of your right, it was not plausible. This pack has fully adjustable, comfortably padded shoulder strap that can be easily flipped from right to left shoulder.

At 1100 cubic inches, this pack is much larger than the Bandolier and the Rock Creek, and there are more options for adding tools to the Zero Sweep recessed pockets. This pack also includes two foam fly patches, five tool pockets/retractors, two hemostat pockets, and quite a few big pockets to stash all of your gear.

I think you could stash a nice camera, rain jacket, food, water and all of your fishing gear in this pack and still have everything easily accessible. This would be a great pack for a long day of walking and fishing. I am thinking of the Salmonberry River, where a minimum of 8 miles of walking per day of fishing is the norm.

Steamboat Sling ZS
Steamboat Sling ZS

This is the new and improved version of the sling pack that started it all. This holds more gear in less compartments than the Ambi-Sling, and in a simpler layout. Designed to go over the right shoulder only, it easily swings around to the front of the angler where all of the pockets open across the top (as it sits sideways in front of you). You can easily stuff a rain jacket, camera, food/water and all of your fishing gear inside and still have access to your gear with minimal shuffling. At 1200 cubic inches, this holds enough for a full day of hiking and fishing while remaining comfortable on the shoulder.

Compared with the Ambi-Sling, the Steamboat is going to be easier to get into while standing in the river, as all of the pockets face up while it is in front of you. The Ambi-Sling has a bit tighter organization, so you can more easily divide and conquer the pockets that you need to get into and leave alone the stuff that you won’t need often. The biggest difference is that the Ambi-Sling has the adjustable shoulder strap for guys that want to put it on their left shoulder. Most people fish with the sling on the shoulder that they cast on, but not everyone dances to that drumbeat. The shoulder strap on the Ambi-Sling also has more padding and looks like it would be more comfortable over the long-run, but without rigorous field testing I am just speculating.

Ledges 500 ZS Waist Pack
Ledges 500 ZS

If I had to choose one adjective to describe the Ledges 500 ZS, it would be ‘beefy”. This thing has big, comfortable straps as well as a molded ABS frame that provides ridged structure plus ventilation. The frame helps keep it from collapsing on itself so that it remains easy to get into. There is one major compartment that has dividers and pockets, as well as a mini top pocket to stash a few small items like tippets or a small fly box. It features recessed ports and pockets like the other Zero Sweep packs. I could see this as more of a trout pack than a steelhead pack as the internally divided pocket would be more ideal for smaller fly boxes, but maybe not the big mamas that we like to use for steelheading.

This is not the lightest weight pack out there, but the weight has been sacrificed for comfort, and that is a good sacrifice to make. There is nothing worse than a pack with straps that dig into your waist or shoulders. The large, comfy padding should alleviate any concerns in that department.

Ledges 650 ZS
This pack does have a removable shoulder strap to help to keep it from slipping down on your waist. This is a recurring problem with waist packs, especially ones that are stuffed full, although it doesn’t look as if this shoulder strap is more comfortable than any other. There are two water bottle holders on the waist straps. At 500 cubic inches, this is a great little trout pack that is fairly minimalist, yet very comfortable. I would have a hard time stuffing a rain jacket and some food in there and still be able to find the gear I need, but a handful of trout boxes, tippet, floatant, indicators and all of the small stuff you need is easily organized in this pack.

Ledges 650 ZS Waist Pack

We have not seen any of these yet, but with an extra 150 cubic inches, this would allow you to throw in a bit of extra gear or maybe a light rain jacket.

Surveyor 2000 ZS Backpack
Surveyor 2000 ZS

This is the ultimate fishing backpack. Cold, wintry days hiking around on the Oregon coast are no longer a problem with this pack, as one could easily fit a spare jacket, thermos full of coffee and a flask full of whiskey inside and still have access to all of the necessary fishing gear.

I would fish with a backpack more if I could more easily get in and out of it without having to go to the shore, take it off, and then take everything out of it in order to get that one thing I needed at the bottom of the pack. This pack looks like it can help with that problem. It does not eliminate the issue, but makes it easier to deal with.

The Surveyor has a full “clamshell” type of opening on the main compartment, which makes it easier to get to any specific area in the pack as well as accessing/organizing the entire thing. The injection molded frame should make this very comfortable to wear all day, while the Zero Sweep features allow you to access tools while diminishing any excess corners or buckles to catch your line on. The external pockets are easy to access and look like they have good volume to stash your basic fishing gear.
The Surveyor is 2000 cubic inches, which is plenty of room to take everything you would need for a weekend or more of fishing. Another cool feature about this pack is that it is modular. The Overlook Chest Pack and the Rock Creek Chest Pack both strap right onto the front of the surveyor, meaning that you can stuff the backpack full of all that extra gear that you won’t need to get at regularly, like coffee, whiskey food, and extra clothes while keeping all of your fishing gear accessible in the front

Yet to arrive is the New Swiftwater Tech Pack and the Overlook 500 Chest Pack. Stay tuned!

Andrew Perrault
Gorge Fly Shop | Product Specialist

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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