Filson Dry Sling Pack Review
The Filson Dry Sling Pack is too bulky for some trips, but its durable and waterproof design is great for rugged adventurers looking for a carry on companion.
- External materials are completely waterproof
- Shoulder strap has ample padding and aeration to stay comfortable
- At 20 liters, it functions more like a daypack
- Main compartment zipper is hard to open and close
- No organization in the primary or secondary compartment
- The shoulder strap may be too wide for some users’ comfort level
1.8 lb (0.8 kg)
20 in x 9.5 in x 7.25 in (50.8 x 24.1 x 18.4 cm)
Nylon, Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), Polyethylene, TIZIP® Zippers, Woojin Hardware
In the past, we’ve tested other gear from Filson, like the Dryden Backpack, crafted from durable and highly water-resistant materials. Whereas we enjoyed trying that pack, we couldn’t help but be excited to get a hold of their Dry Sling Pack, which boasts an entirely waterproof shell. Will it actually work, and how will the materials affect usage? Let’s find out!
The primary pack material on this sling pack is 840D nylon with a clear ether TPU. The nylon is extraordinarily durable, and the thermoplastic polyurethane makes it waterproof. It isn’t the most professional-looking waterproof material we’ve seen; however, Filson’s color choice matches the rugged outdoorsy look we’re used to seeing from the company and is much tamer than the deeply-saturated colored packs you’ll see on Amazon.
Using waterproof materials is one thing, but keeping water out of the access points is another.
The exterior zipper is a TIZIP, the same kind used on diving suits. Looking at the teeth isolated from the track, you’d never guess they would be waterproof. However, once closed, neither air nor water can escape.
However, a zippered closure isn’t foolproof. If you don’t close the top all the way, don’t keep up with lubrication, or the materials degrade over time, the zipper may begin to leak or fail altogether. We’ve had neither issue, but it’s essential to consider these things before purchasing and using the pack.
You might have guessed that the zipper is hard to open. Considering its waterproof design, it can be challenging to get things moving. The zipper pull is similar to the pull cord on a push lawnmower—it’s a t-shape that’s easy to grasp. There are small loops near either end of the zipper track to hold onto, which help. However, if you struggle to manipulate things with your hands because of arthritis or another issue, this might not be the pack for you.
The other zippers on this pack are from YKK. They aren’t waterproof, but they’re highly water resistant. There’s just one on the exterior, capable of withstanding heavy rainfall and a quick drop in the river; however, during submersion, it will leak after a short period.
The harness system utilizes Woojin hardware, which works as expected. Filson opted for quality materials throughout this pack, and the rugged plastic buckles are no different; there’s nothing to complain about here. They work great.
You can use a D-ring on the front face of the pack to attach gear. A carabiner works well here, or you can tie a strap or secure a hook-and-loop fastener here. In testing, it proved to be an excellent spot to hang a fishing net with a stretchy cord. When stowed here, the net is behind you and out of your way to walk upstream but close by for when you reel in that monster trout you waited hours to catch.
Above the D-ring, there’s a fabric loop that doesn’t have as many uses yet is just as helpful. You can use this to attach a carabiner or other small attachment or to hang the pack. It’s small, so it’ll only work for little hooks, but it’s nice to have a way to hang the bag on the opposite side of the back panel in case it gets wet. Using the top handle will put a damp back panel against the wall, which will take longer to dry.
There’s a handle on the side of the pack that helps you grab it and go quickly instead of taking the time to put the sling on properly. It doesn’t take long to put on this bag; however, if a bear is chasing you, you’ll want to save all the time you can to plan your next move.
We’ve got a top handle, too, which is longer than we’re used to and has a buckle, making it easier to attach it to things like a fence. It makes it so you can attach gear to it, too. If your net has a longer cable, you should connect it here instead of onto that D-ring we mentioned earlier to keep it from dragging on the floor. You can also attach a net here without a carabiner, assuming your model has a loop cable, because you can put the buckle directly through the handle.
There are pig snouts on the side of the pack, which can hold even more gear. They’re mutant pig snouts, actually; there are two center loops rather than one.
The shoulder strap has attachment loops running from the top to the bottom to—you guessed it—attach extra gear for your journey. There’s a D-ring near the top for connecting different kinds of equipment, but most of these are simple webbing attachment loops. The D-ring can be used for sunglasses while crossing less rugged terrain. With the attachment loops, the world is your (modular) oyster. Not a bad band name, huh?
The back panel has ample padding covering the pack’s entire backside, which helps maintain a comfortable carry. The support has holes to boost airflow, and mesh covers it, so everything is breathable. If you’re carrying a lot of gear on a hot day, you’ll still sweat, but it’s much better than if Filson hadn’t thoughtfully made it more breathable.
The same thing is going on with the shoulder strap. It’s amply padded with mesh and holes for breathability. The strap is very wide, especially near the top, so smaller frames might feel overtaken by it. However, it’s helpful for comfort, especially considering this 20-liter sling is the size of a daypack.
There’s a side strap to help stabilize the pack while you’re wearing it, which is helpful when crossing precarious terrain. Typically, these straps only stop the pack from moving around; they don’t offer extra support. However, it acts more like a hip belt than a sternum strap in this case. You can shift the pack’s weight around, which is helpful if you’re hiking somewhere with the bag on.
The main and side strap both have a strap keeper. They utilize hook and loop fasteners, which work better than elastic or plastic ones because of the volume of material. Often, you’ll want to tighten this pack up to cross rugged terrain. Because there’s so much extra strap, most other adjustors couldn’t handle it. However, a hook-and-loop fastener does a super job of making it more manageable.
You can only attach it to one side of the pack—it isn’t ambidextrous. While wearing it, the strap will go from your right shoulder to above your left hip. Although large, this doesn’t affect your use of your arms much, especially if you have tight straps. It can feel semi-awkward scrambling up a rocky part of a trail or overarm casting far to try hitting a distant pool in the creek, but it isn’t annoying enough to gripe about it!
Inside The Sling Pack
We have just one secondary compartment to work with, and it’s on the front of the pack. This one is partially waterproof, as it only has a YKK AquaGuard zipper. However, it’s extremely water resistant. In most situations, this will suffice for keeping your gear safe. There’s no organization inside, but it’s large enough to stow your phone, wallet, and other small items. If you plan to get wet, throwing essential things you don’t want to store in the main compartment for extra protection is worthwhile.
Speaking of the main compartment, we must mention that it’s tricky to utilize properly. The zipper opens around the left and bottom sides of the pack, not the top. The zipper length is small, so reaching the far ends of the pack’s interior can be hard. However, on the positive side, the shorter the zipper track, the fewer places water can sneak in.
The back wall has a zippered mesh pocket, an ideal place for important gear like your phone, wallet, camping permit, or fishing license. Inside here, there is little chance of things getting wet. However, accessing this pocket en route is difficult because your gear will be on top. It’s a safe space for sensitive items but not a good spot for the equipment you need to access frequently. The mesh stretches, so you can shove more gear inside, which we dig.
The rest of the space is yours to play with. Because of the zipper design, you are loading the pack upside down. The things you pack on the bottom will be on the top and vice versa. We like to stow a rain jacket at the top of the pack, but it can be hard to access once you’ve loaded your other gear. It’s essential to think about weight distribution when packing to enable a comfortable carry. You may get uncomfortable more quickly if all the weight is at the top or the bottom.
The materials don’t stretch, so what you can fit inside is precisely that, no more. That’s one of the prices for getting a waterproof and rugged sling pack. Of course, since you read this review before buying it, you knew beforehand!
Jokes aside, this thing is hard to pack up. With organizers and pouches, this becomes easier. A small packing cube can help to bring extra clothing in case you spring a leak in your boots or waders, a tech pouch to store your phone and other pocketable items is handy for breaks on the riverbank, and ensuring specialty hiking and fishing items like a tackle box is small enough to fit inside is helpful to situate beforehand.
For most people, this is the worst travel sling imaginable. It’s heavy, cumbersome, and doesn’t pack down well. However, for those who enjoy getting outside into the nitty gritty of everything Mother Nature has to offer, this might be the best sling bag for you!
- The materials feel industrial—they’re durable and waterproof
- At 20 liters, it’s more backpack sized
- We’re curious how comfortable it is considering the materials on long adventures
- No issues with the waterproofness of the materials
- Hardware and attachment accessories work as expected
- Fabric has a few scuffs, but most clean relatively easily