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Gear Review: Umpqua Ledges 500 Waist Pack

July 1, 2013
Author: Will Rice

What we say

I began using/testing the Umpqua Ledges 500 Waist Pack in March of 2013.  For me, a waist pack needs to be all-purpose.  To that end, I first used the Ledges 500 for a week on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico – spending time walk/wading the flats and the beach looking for bonefish and permit.  Since then I’ve taken the pack to Montana and rivers closer to home here in Colorado.  The pack has gotten partially wet, snowed on, fully submerged, dirty, and spent quite a bit of time balled up in the back of my truck. 

First off, the entire pack and the zippers are completely corrosion free after being fully dunked in a salt-water environment.  After three months of use, the Ledges is nicely broken in, but still 100% functional without a single feature defect.  I can’t say this about many other products that I've used.

This is a feature rich pack.  The folks at Umpqua obviously spent quite a bit of time designing and re-designing this pack with angler feature/functionality top of mind. The features I really like include the rod tube holder on the bottom.  This has come in handy on a few occasions where I hiked and biked into fisheries and didn’t want to assemble my rod for the march in.  The built in sheath is also very functional for larger saltwater pliers as well as smaller hemostats. 

The Bighorn River - Fish On

Grabbing the hemostats to get after a small midge that was difficult to remove

Quick release

From a capacity standpoint I can easily fit three fly boxes into the Ledges 500.  I use one larger box that carries a variety of dry flies and larger nymphs.  I have one medium size box that usually carries streamers and mouse patterns of varied size.  After that, I carry one small box with smaller flies in the size 20-24 range.

On location in Mexico

In the smaller pocket, I store my leaders, tippet, split shot, strike indicators, Payette Paste and dry shake floatant

My initial thought around the aluminum stays that really set this pack apart from other waist packs was: “Hmmmm… not sure I like those aluminum bars.”

After using the Ledges 500 for three months I can report that this is probably the most comfortable pack I’ve used and also the easiest to access.  The aluminum stays help to keep the pack from collapsing around my fly boxes – this in conjunction with the waist straps and shoulder harness system really makes this pack easy to get in and out of while I’m on the water.

The pack also integrates with the Surveyor 1100 Backpack.  I haven’t used this feature so I can’t report on it – but it is worth a mention if you are looking for a full backcountry system that works together. 

Tools of the trade on the Roaring Fork River - Simms Rolltop Back Pack, Scott L2H Switch Fly Rod and the Umpqua Ledges 500

The only thing I’ve noted so far that I would put in the “con” category is the drain on the bottom of the main pocket compartment.  There are a number of packs on the market that have these drains – others do not.  I wade deep both in salt and freshwater environments.  A drain works both ways.  If you are going to be getting into deep water be prepared for your pack to take on water – and then drain out.  My preference would be to have a pack that was waterproof or resistant throughout the lower half. 

I made the move away from a fly fishing vest to an alternative pack system six or seven years ago.  I’m not going back.  With the Ledges 500 Waist Pack, I don’t see myself needing a new pack any time soon. 

Ledges 500 Stats

  • 11” wide x 8” inches tall x 8” deep
  • Volume: 500 cubic inches
  • Approximate weight: 25 oz.
  • Color: Moss Green or Slate Gray

Summary of Ledges 500 Waist Pack Technical Features:

  • Adjustable straps for weight distribution
  • Snag and corrosion resistant zippers
  • Foam platform suitable for barbless hooks (provides easy and quick access for flies while on the water)
  • Two mesh fabric pockets for your tippet Spools
  • Storage Sheath for tools like pliers or hemostats
  • Weatherproof zippered pocket to protect phone, digital camera, other electronic devices
  • D ring attachment points to clip on a net
  • Two mesh side pockets for your water bottles
  • Attachment straps on the bottom of pack for a fly rod tube

To see the Umpqua Ledges 500 in action, check out this video:

What they say

“The Ledges 500 is an essential fly-fishing pack. Its suspended back panel provides all-day comfort, support and ventilation, and makes it unlike any other waist pack on the market. This, combined with a unique, high-wear tool sheath, barbless fly rigging station, load adjusters, weather-proof pocket and much more, makes it the most functional and user-friendly waist-pack on the market. It also integrates with the Surveyor 1100 Backpack, making it ideal for any backcountry fishing adventures.”

- Umpqua

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