Saturday, 1 December 2018

Billabong Command Surf Pack Product Review

Its product review time, and I've been wanting to review this pack for a while now. A month or so back, I was at Cleanline Surf Shop in Seaside, Oregon on the way back from a weekend trip to Pac City. I usually stop at Cleanline on the way out of town for a hoody or t-shirt, fins, or just to see if they have any new gear. If you've never stopped in to Cleanline, check their Seaside or Canon Beach shops out; these guys are rad have some good gear and great service (Stefan).

Lately I've thought a lot about getting a dry bag or pack for when I go to the coast on day trips; a lot of the time at the end of the day I throw my wetsuit into a plastic garbage bag and into my wetsuit bin but being environmentally conscious I really don't like using plastic bags like that. I also wanted something for hiking down to beaches and something I could use for my corporate day job in Seattle.
Cleanline had several waterproof surf packs; one of them I kept looking at was the Billabong Command Surf pack; lets dive in shall we?

$74.95 online via Cleanline's website

Outer Shell
The outer shell reminds me of other dry bags I've seen or owned in the past for water sports like white water rafting and kayaking. Its a PVC or coated vinyl type of material with "ripstop" properties. It really is a waterproof shell, not a nylon shell with a waterproof liner or coating that can flake off with wear and age.

 The bottom of the pack is reinforced and durable so if its loaded down with gear and you store it on rocky coastlines or asphalt, its not going to get torn or ripped and start letting water in.

Side pockets are built in on both sides of the Command Surf pack for water bottles or keys, and you can see the waterproof shell and the padded back.

The back of the pack is pretty well padded; I've used it a few times at the coast with my gear and take it to work daily with my laptop, lunch, and shoes/clothes to go running at lunch. I can fit a few books in and other miscellaneous items without any problems and its more than comfortable against my back. It also has a chest strap to keep the shoulder straps secured against my chest.

I don't know why but I really dig these shoulder straps; the waterproof material is the same all over the pack and pretty rugged even on the shoulder straps.

Internal Compartments
The Billabong Command Surf pack has three main compartments inside; a laptop compartment, wetsuit compartment, and another 3rd compartment for other gear or items. On an average day during the week, I use it to bring my laptop, books, lunch, running clothes and shoes for lunch time, and miscellaneous items and have plenty of room. I don't use the wetsuit compartment for regular day use simply because I don't need to and don't want to add wear to it.

Directly below is the insulated cooler compartment for keeping cold items cold

Above the cooler compartment is a padded sunglasses/eyeglass compartment. Its fairly decent sized and easily holds a pair of glasses or sunglasses with case. It could also hold goggles for snowboarding with no problem.

 The main compartment which has the most volume is the outer compartment; I guess this is like the regular compartment in a backpack. I can put a hoodie, gym clothes, and lunch in it with no problem.

Of course the main attraction about the pack is the wetsuit compartment in the middle. Its a rubber or PVC liner attached to the outer shell with zipper access to it separate from the other compartments. Its also very easy to pull out and rinse, but not removable.

So how much can you fit in the wetsuit compartment?  Lets find out. I took a 4/3 Ripcurl back zip suit with booties and gloves (dry) and fit them in the wetsuit compartment easily. I could have fit more in but no need.

So this is your gear packed in a wetsuit compartment nice and neat, but at the end of the day its not going to look that way. In the Pacific Northwest where I surf, long drives of 2-3 hours are typical to get to the coast, followed by hikes to get down to the break. This means committing to an hour or more in the cold water. At the end of the day when that wetsuit goes in the pack, its going to get stuffed in there most likely.

With your wetsuit and gear, there is still plenty of room for wax and other items.

Finally the laptop compartment. I've got plenty of room in it for a book, laptop, and charging adapter.

So here's my final review of the Billabong Command Surf pack: I absolutely love it.
  • The outer shell is exactly what is needed for rugged, Pacific Northwest isolated environments that require hiking to get down to surf breaks. 
  • Its durable and I don't have any concerns of it breaking down rapidly or ripping.
  • The internal compartments have adequate room and there are plenty of options for where you want to store items. 

The only improvements I thought could be made were with the stitching of the wetsuit compartment with the outer shell. I would have rather seen reinforced seams where the stitching was, and shortly after I bought it a small fingertip size tear opened at one of these seams. But, I contacted Cleanline Surf via email and sent photos, which they forwarded to Billabong. No questions asked of me, Billabong offered to send me a replacement at no charge!

The price was less than what I would have expected to pay for comparable items at a comparable outdoor products retailer; would I recommend this pack? Heck yes.

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