The Best Fishing Packs

To conduct our latest fly fishing pack test, lead tester Kelly Bastone recruited a number of seasoned anglers who used these packs on multiple fishing trips in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The team compared them side by side rating them on our six main criteria—organization, comfort, adjustability, ventilation, water-resistance, and capacity.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Umpqua Rock Creek Chest Pack
90
Best in Class
2015
Organization 8
Comfort 10
Adjustability 10
Ventilation 9
Water-resistance 7
Capacity 6

Neck straps are comfortable

Holds a surprising amount of gear, given the small capacity

Great net carry

Tippet holder is inconveniently placed

MSRP
$60.00
BEST DEAL
$69.99
Patagonia Vest Front Sling
88
Organization 10
Comfort 9
Adjustability 8
Ventilation 8
Water-resistance 6
Capacity 7

Makes changing flies fast and easy

Optics pocket

Smart organization options

Light and well-ventilated

No good place for right-handers to attach a net

MSRP
$89.00
BEST DEAL
$89.00
Simms Headwaters Large Sling Pack
88
Organization 8
Comfort 9
Adjustability 8
Ventilation 7
Water-resistance 7
Capacity 9

Generous capacity easily fits three large fly boxes

Wide waist support creates all-day comfort

Lots of compartments keep you organized

Convenient, well-designed tippet holder

The zippers bind up if you overstuff the pack

No dedicated water bottle holder

No effective way to secure a long-handled guide net

MSRP
$120.00
BEST DEAL
$129.95
Fishpond Delta Sling Pack
87
Organization 10
Comfort 9
Adjustability 7
Ventilation 8
Water-resistance 9
Capacity 4

Large capacity

Comfortable carry

Smart, functional net storage

Rides low (at hip or upper thigh) - bad for wading in deep water

Tippet holder sold separately

MSRP
$150.00
BEST DEAL
$149.95
L.L. Bean Kennebec Switch Pack
87
Organization 9
Comfort 9
Adjustability 6
Ventilation 7
Water-resistance 7
Capacity 9

Can carry hiking and fishing gear

Ably supports a heavy load for on- and off-trail hiking

Creative conversion from hike mode to fishing mode

Not equipped to carry boots and waders

Net storage isn’t convenient

MSRP
$139.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Umpqua Tongass 650 Waterproof Waist Pack
87
Organization 6
Comfort 9
Adjustability 6
Ventilation 7
Water-resistance 10
Capacity 9

Waterproof gear protection

Generous capacity

Supports heavy loads

Few pockets and compartments

No net carry

MSRP
$170.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Orvis Safe Passage Sling Pack
86
Organization 10
Comfort 8
Adjustability 8
Ventilation 7
Water-resistance 7
Capacity 6

Compact size keeps users unencumbered and ventilated

Smart attachment system tucks retractable cables out of the way

Waterproof bottom protects gear when wading in deep water

Thoughtful organization keeps most tools convenient

No good place for right-handers to attach a net

MSRP
$89.00
BEST DEAL
$88.99
Fishpond Delta Sling Pack

The Fishpond Delta Sling Pack is a bicycle courier bag repurposed for fly-fishing, and it is also one of the smartest and handiest pack designs to come along in some time.

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