Xplorer 30L Waterproof Backpack Review & Some…

I just wanted to share some experiences we have had with Xplorer’s waterproof backpack over the last weeks fishing. Firstly here are the specifications and design highlights from the Xplorer website:

This new waterproof back pack is designed for long days on the Vaal or your favorite saltwater flats. It is made from a high quality water proof material with welded seams for maximum water resistance. It has a threefold closure system and a padded lumbar support and adjustable backpack straps. There is an exterior pocket for a hydration bottle, two side exterior mesh pocket and an adjustable, quick release rod holder straps. A great all-purpose dry bag.

• Molded carry handle
• Padded mesh back support
• Various D rings
• Padded, adjustable waist belt and shoulder straps. One size fit all
• Made from durably PTU material with welded water proof seams
• Roll down closure system with adjustable side clips
• Exterior quick release rod storage system for carrying an extra rod
• Exterior side mesh pockets
• Exterior pocket designed to carry hydration bladder

The bag is a great concept and I really liked the idea of fishing the surf and not having to worry about taking a tumble in the water as it seems to happen more often than not or being able to cross a river mouth or swim to a ledge a few meters off shore. I had considered a few alternatives before deciding to give Xplorer a chance but was sceptical about the quality; the fly fishing orientated features built into the backpack swayed my decision.

We had two of these backpacks in our group over the last week at Mabibi and used them as intended, loaded with spare rods, water bladders and filled with enough food to last a day. The bags handled being dunked rather well and I was actually pleasantly surprised how waterproof they were however these backpacks had the most uncomfortable shoulder and waist straps I have recently come across. It did not end there unfortunately.

After day two my mates backpack had its carry handle start delaminating and mine had too started delaminating where the shoulder straps were fastened to the backpack. We did notice that my back pack had the shoulder straps reinforced with stitching and his had not. His bag we know is probably an older version as it has been in the same shop for about the last 2 years before he bought it. Now this leads me to believe the gents at Xplorer had known there is a quality issue and tried to remedy it in later models however the fact that my bag was also suffering from delamination suggests there are still problems.

Xplorer Backpack 1 (Old Version) - Handle

Xplorer Backpack 1 (Old Version) - Shoulder Straps

Xplorer Backpack 2 - Shoulder Straps

Xplorer Backpack 2 - Shoulder Straps Reinforcement

Now for some more…

In the last week two Xplorer Guide II rods had there ferrules busted as the tips slipped, I can’t say with confidence that it’s due to poor quality blanks as it could happen to any rod. But I do feel that based on the way the male ferrules were worn (judged on the wear on the clear coat) that it’s most likely due to the poor tolerances in the blank manufacturing process.

Then there is the Xplorer Guide II 9/10 reels. My mate had one and I bought one to carry me through to till I have saved enough for something proper. His is not even 6 months old and the handle had come loose, luckily it was possible to fix with a pair of screwdrivers. The real problem with these reels is that there is basically no drag at all; consider it a scarborough and just wear gloves if you fear something big may come along. It’s not what you expect from a CNC machined reel intended to be used on 9/10wt outfits. But yet again it does not end there, try opening the drag to clean out the sand, salt and rust. All I can say is good luck to you! I noticed that Xplorer has announced a Guide III reel with a “better” drag system, only time will tell.

I feel that too little reviews and information from unbiased people is available on the net or in our local publications. So I end my rant with the hope that I saved someone a dollar or two and some frustrations.

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