January 18, 2014

Gear Review - The RIBZ Front Pack

I've reviewed a lot of fishing bags and packs on this blog over the years.  There are a lot of companies doing interesting things with bags and applying them to the fishing market.  The folks at RIBZ are no exception, with their very unique & multi-functional Front Pack.  When offered the opportunity to test this pack as a fishing solution, how could I refuse?

No, that ruggedly handsome man fly fishing is not me...pic lifted from ribzwear.com

So, what exactly is a RIBZ Front Pack?  Well, it's a little difficult to explain, but it's basically a four compartment pack that you wear on your body somewhat like a vest.  It's laid out so the 2 large main compartments fit conveniently on...where else...but your ribs.  The pack is held secure to your body by two harness straps that cross in the middle of your back, and a very beefy zipper seals the deal up the front.

Front view of the RIBZ Front Pack - large zipper, lots of convenient pockets 

From the RIBZ website:
"A front pack is a pack or bag that allows for access of equipment from the persons chest. Front packs first and foremost allow for easy access of gear without the removal of any equipment. In many adventure outdoor activities it can be critical to the sport to have the ability to reach essential gear fast without the removal of a backpack. Simplicity is the foremost purpose of the front pack but there are many additional benefits as well.
In all there are unlimited uses for the front pack. Front packs are the best compliment to any outdoorsman’s gear when accessibility, functionality, mobility and simplicity are required. From horseback riding, long distance biking, motorcycling and kayaking. All sports where fast and easy access of gear is essential, a front pack is your best solution."
As you can see from the description above, the RIBZ Front Pack really shines when it worn in tandem with a backpack or hydration pack.  However for the outings I was to test the front pack, I simply used it as-is, as a replacement for a conventional fishing vest or sling pack, and found both pros and cons to the design.


  • This pack is smartly put together.  It features two main compartments topped with two smaller compartments.  The main compartments also have some elastic-topped mesh dividers on the interior - great for holding car keys, cell phone, etc..  It really can handle quite a bit of gear.  The "Medium" version I tested has an 8 ounce capacity, more than enough for a few fly boxes, tools, tippet, you name it.
I crammed both fly & spinfishing gear in the RIBZ Front Pack - it all fit with room to spare!

  • It's light & comfortable.  Other than the weight of gear you've got on the inside, this Cordura fabric pack is hardly noticeable on your body at a mere 11 oz.  The fact that it sits on your ribs reduces back strain.  The shoulder straps feature some thin, but nice padding for additional comfort.  Finally, all zippers and strap buckles are of high quality and have extended "pulls" which makes opening the pockets or tightening strap length effortless.  A very nice, but often overlooked added detail.
  • It keeps its promises.  For fishing, it's really a great pack that doesn't encumber any of your upper body movement, especially while casting.  The shoulder straps keep it in place, unlike sling packs which tend to shift and slide around your torso.  It's simple & highly functional. 


  • It's not a "true" fishing pack.  Although well laid out and very capable, it's missing some of the components that most packs designed specifically for fishing include...such as a fly patch or fold down workshelf, specific attachment points for zingers & tools, or tippet holders.  Nor is it waterproof.  Somewhat water-resistant perhaps, waterproof, nope.
  • It's not easy to just toss to the side when done.  After you take it off, it is best to zip the front zipper back up.  If you don't, all of the shoulder strapping is susceptible to getting tangled.  It doesn't sound like a big deal, but believe me, when you're standing at your car untwisting nylon shoulder straps when you just want to go fishing, it can be very frustrating.  It's a lesson learned, and easily avoidable.

So with everything considered, would I recommend this pack to you, Mr. or Ms. Fisherman?

While it's not a fishing-specific pack and has a few minor flaws when looked at in that light, I can envision so many uses for the RIBZ Front Pack that the attractiveness grows three or four fold. If you like to go hiking or backpacking or biking, or even find yourself on occasion charged with holding all of your kids' odds and ends at an amusement park, it's a no-brainer, especially since you like to fish and it works for that too. (It makes for a pretty sweet tenkara bag BTW).  Quite simply, the all-around functionality of the very unique RIBZ Front Pack should make it a very attractive option to most anglers.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the RIBZ front pack for free from RIBZ as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations in consideration for review publication.  It carries a manufacturer's retail price of $64.95.

I currently hold no association with RIBZ or Deep Creek PR, but would be forever indebted if they decided to produce a fanny pack and branded the product in a similar fashion...think about it for a second... I should also disclose that I recently provided feedback in the design of a fishing pack with Vedavoo.

As with all independent gear reviews at Troutrageous! I try my best to keep my reviews honest and unbiased. If something is good, it deserves applause; if it sucks, I'll probably not write a post and tell the manufacturer my opinion of their hot mess directly outside of this blog. It ain't in my interest to steer you wrong, so why waste the time writing a post doing so?


  1. As always, Michael, great review! I really like this rib type set up. I have considered getting this bag for my efforts on the ponds near my home. Your review helps my consideration, and therefore, Ribz should be happy with that. Anyhow, just think that what fly fishing tidbits that it misses can quickly be solved by a little insight by the user.

  2. The RIBZ pack is a great choice for tenkara when you need to carry just a little more. I've used all the incarnations up to the most recent. Here's my video review