What is the Airflo Covert Adventurer?
The Airflo Covert Adventurer includes a backpack, detachable chest pack and rod tube all in one integrated package. The backpack is big enough to carry everything you need for a day on the river (or lake or reservoir), including a spare rod, reels and spools, and the chest pack gives you easier access to essential kit, like flies, tippet and floatant, than a backpack alone. The removable rod tube lets you carry your rod in safety, or take a spare one with you.
The whole package is very similar in features and overall design to the Simms Headwaters Day Pack and Chest Pack I used for many years. Both include a chest pack that can either be used standalone or clipped to the front of the straps on the rucksack. However, the Simms one didn't come with a rod tube, and the Day Pack alone cost more than the whole Airflo kit, so was at the other end of the price spectrum. The Airflo Covert Adventurer makes a great value alternative.
What colour is it?
The Covert bit of the name comes from Airflo's use of a digital camouflage pattern, which it says breaks up the angler's silhouette making it harder for fish to spot them. The pattern is similar to the digital camo design used on the Orvis Sling Packs of a few years ago, though the Airflo one is a darker mixture of greens, rather than the more subdued shades of Orvis' pattern.
How big is the backpack?
The Airflo Covert Adventurer backpack is of a similar size to the Simms one, maybe a fraction smaller. I'm guessing it's in the 25-30 litre bracket. Airflo doesn't state the actual capacity, but it's easily big enough to take a Jetboil, 2 litres of water, a rain jacket, fleece, couple of reels, box full of lunch and some spare bits and pieces and extra boxes of flies.
What pockets does the backpack have?
There's a main compartment which opens with a double zip at the top of the bag. The inside, side panels and back front panel are all slightly padded with an internal foam material which protects the contents inside, but obviously adds a bit of weight to the pack.
The back panel of the bag includes a large elasticated pocket, like the Simms equivalent, into which you stuff a jacket or fleece or both with ease. There's also another zip pocket on the top half of the front of the bag, with an elasticated pocket on the front. This is a bit loose so I'd be inclined not to put anything of value in this, as things could easily fall out.
The bottom half of the front of the backpack includes another deeper zipped pocket, with another elasticated pocket on the front. This also has a padded front, so is the ideal place to store any spare fly boxes you're carrying with you.
There's a pocket on the side for the rod tube (see below) and another which will comfortably take a water bottle. This is quite well placed to allow easy access when you're walking too.
Like the Simms Day Pack, the waist straps have two pockets on them. The Simms ones were so small that I could never figure out what to store in them, but the Airflo's are just the right size for a fly reel and spare spool, so are much more practical. There's even a D-ring on the back for attaching your scoop net.
How comfortable is the backpack?
The inner section of the bag is padded to prevent you from getting prodded in the back by bulking objects, but there are also two large foam pads which lie either side of your spine to make it even more comfortable. It's obviously a far less expensive pack than the Simms Daypack, so the design is simpler. While the Simms pack features a lightweight frame and mesh back to keep all of the gear away from your back to aid cooling and comfort, the Airflo Covert one does not. It feels a little heavier, too.
Despite this, the Airflo Covert backpack is pretty comfy to wear and carry. There's a basic adjuster for the strap length and waistband, but there are no adjusters on the top of the bag to help adjust the height. Unless you pack your bag to the brim with heavy gear, the only basic adjustment features are unlikely to be much of an issue and are in line with most other basic backpacks.
What's the chest pack for?
The chest pack is designed to carry all of the essential bits you need while you're actually fishing. As the name suggests, it's worn on your chest and it can be positioned quite high, so you can wear it while wading and not dunk the contents in the water.
Can you use the chest pack on its own?
Yes. Although the front straps of the backpack have connectors to let you attach the chest pack to the front, allowing you to wear both bags at once, if you only want to wear the chest pack, you can unclip it and use the separate neck strap provided. While you could wear the backpack and chest pack while wading in a river, I'd be inclined not to - for both comfort and ease of swimming, should you fall in.
Is it easy to adjust the height of the chest pack?
The chest pack includes a strap to go around your middle and a padded neck strap to allow you to set the height. This means you can shorten the neck straps to lift the pack high up on your chest if you're wading deep, or lengthen them and have it at a lower level if you're just fishing from the bank.
What's the chest pack like?
Again, it's quite similar to the Simms Headwaters Chest Pack in overall design. The back panel is thickly padded so it's nice and comfy and there are an adjustable waistband and padded and adjustable neck strap to get it into position and stop it flapping around when you walk.
It's fairly comfy to wear. The neck strap isn't quite as soft as the Simms neoprene one, but again, this is a fraction of the price and still pretty decent, and is almost as good. As with any chest pack, if you overload it with fly boxes - as I have a tendency to do - it can give you a bit of neck ache by the end of a long day on the water. However, keep the gear in it to a reasonable minimum and it will be no problem.
What pockets does the chest pack have?
There are two main pockets - a large central pocket, and one on the front. The main pocket has a top-mounted zipper and is big enough to hold a couple of good-sized fly boxes. There's also an internal elasticated pocket on the back of this, which can hold tippet spools, tapered leaders, indicators and any other bits and pieces you're carrying.
The smaller front pocket includes a main compartment, plus two smaller elasticated pockets, which are ideal for things like dry fly desiccant and fly line cleaners or dressings. There really is ample room for everything you need, without the need to use the backpack section for much other than bulk storage of lunch, clothing and spare rods and reels.
Does it have a fly patch?
Yes, the inside of the front compartment includes a large foam fly patch so you can store any used flies. It's Velcro-backed, so you can remove the patch to put away used flies more easily after your trip. The whole front pocket also folds down to create a little flat workbench area which really makes changing flies and leaders a lot easier. This is one of the best things about chest packs and makes them so much better to use than a vest.
Where can I put my nippers and forceps?
One really nice touch is the incorporation of two coiled retractor cords into the sides of the bag. These stow away very neatly leaving only the strong and chunky clips sticking out. They're ideal for holding nippers and forceps and, being built-in, it means you'll save £10-20 on buying retractors separately.
There's nothing to stop the attached items jangling around as you walk, unlike the more expensive chest packs on the market, which use holsters or magnets, but you can tuck nippers and forceps into the elasticated pocket on the front to stop them flapping around.
How does the rod tube work?
The Airflo Covert Adventurer includes a Cordura style rod tube finished in the same digital camouflage material as the rest of the combination. The idea is that you can either take your rod with you to the bank in the tube, or you can carry a spare with you and keep it safe and secure on the side of the backpack.
The fairly weighty tube is very solid and should protect rods well if you take a tumble on the bank. The top of the tube is also fitted with a foam pad to protect the tips of the rod sections and it's big enough to take four piece fly rods up to 9' in length. You could, of course, just take this out and use your existing rod tube if you wanted to.
There's a pocket in the bottom left-hand side of the bag designed to take the base of the rod tube, as well as a strap halfway up to hold it in place. If you don't want to carry a rod with you, you can remove the tube and zip up the holder for the rod tube base so everything is stowed away neatly. The pocket for the base of the tube also keeps it from sticking up too high where it might interfere with casting more. It only goes on the left-hand side, so might get in the way if you're a left-handed fly caster.
What's the Airflo Covert Adventurer like to use?
The backpack is ideally sized for all the gear you need for a day on the river. There's plenty of room inside for all your food, water and cooking gear, plus spare clothing, extra reels a spare rod and all the fly boxes you'll need. It's comfortable to carry and lets you bring a spare rod and keep it safe.
The chest pack is particularly good to use. The folding workbench gives easy access to everything you need and it works well as a standalone pack when you don't want to carry the backpack with you. It performs really well for the money.
How much does the Airflo Covert Adventurer cost?
The Airflo Covert Adventurer comes as one big kit, comprising the backpack, chest pack and rod tube and sells for £79.99. While it's arguably not as trendy as the Simms labelled alternative, from a functional perspective, this is very similar indeed - better in places - and it costs a fraction of the price.
It's well stitched together, designed specifically for fly fishers and very good value for money. If you're looking for a combination backpack and chest pack, it's well worth considering this one. It does everything you'll need it to do and looks built to last.
Available from: Fishtec