I’ve been fishing with a pack for as long as I can remember. Even before I picked up a fly rod about 15 years ago, I was spin fishing with these packs and love having the accessibility on my person while out on the water fishing.
Over the years, I’ve probably purchased nearly a dozen different packs and I probably have about 5 old ones collecting dust in my garage. I’ve done more research and had more fishing packs than the average guy, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what makes a good pack and which ones are the best on offer in 2023.
In this post, I’ll share with you my pick for the best fly fishing packs in 2023.
You’ve noticed your fly fishing gear and fly collection have grown. You’ve also noticed the pads in your straps are worn out, and with each step, your straps dig a little bit more into your collar bone.
This was me not too long ago. So, I decided it was time for an upgrade. After all, why shouldn’t we have nice things?
I did a ton of research when I was shopping for different fly fishing packs, and I’m going to save you a lot of trouble by sharing with you in this post what I learned.
So, below we’ll take a look at ten different types of the top fly fishing packs. First, here’s a quick look at some of the items I’ll talk about below.
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Best Fly Fishing Packs
Below I’ll go over my favorite fly fishing packs, sling packs, backpacks, hip packs, fanny packs, and any other type of pack you can think of. So, check out the list below and use it to help you make your decision on what type of fly fishing pack is best for you.
1. Best Fly Pack Overall – Fishpond Summit
- Pro: Plenty of space to clip on gear
- Con: Price
We’ve fished the Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Waist Pack extensively over the past 3 years and our anglers love them. Alex recently did a full review on his and he’s still going strong with it.
This is easily one of the best packs overall. It has all the right attachment features in all the right places.
You’ve got a spot to hang your tippet, hemostat, floatant, net, and anything else that you can dream of. It even has a tab where you can stick a fly rod tube. It’s ideal for the angler who has to take long hikes through thick country to get their favorite waters.
The zippers are strong and waterproof and they still haven’t failed us after 3 seasons (especially with the new versions of the pack that have a sealed zipper design).
The bag has four compartments that are big enough to haul whatever you might need, but small enough to keep it lightweight if that’s what you prefer.
The front of the pack has a nice waterproof zipper and some added loops to hand more extensions, add-ons or just your regular fishing tools.
We can say from experience that this is a great, durable and ergonomic pack.
- Pros: Versatile waist/chest pack, great build quality, removable foam fly holders
- Cons: Zippers can stick if fly holders aren’t correctly replaced
The Vixyn Fly Fishing Waist Pack definitely wins my vote for the best waist pack on this list. It’s super durable, lightweight, comfortable, and has all the features you could hope for from a good waist pack.
I love the storage and the small size of the pack. At first glance, you wouldn’t think it could hold very much, but looks are deceiving. This pack has incredible storage, and the removable foam fly holders are a real game-changer. They’ll make you wish every pack had them.
Your gear will be easily accessed through the main zipper pouch, which allows the bag to fold out, revealing everything you have inside. Plus there are also extra pockets in the hip and at the very front of the pack.
Don’t miss our full hands-on review of the Vixyn Fly Fishing Waist Pack.
3. Best Vest Pack – Snowbee Vest Backpack
- Pros: Size, breathable mesh back, highly adjustable
- Con: No middle-back hook for your net
I’ve been using the Snowbee Vest Backpack now for more than 2 years and it’s my favorite pack overall. If it wasn’t for Alex’s raving review of the Fishpond Thunderhead (above) we probably would’ve made this our number one pack on this list.
But we have compared them side-by-side and because not everyone wants a pack on hot days, the Fishpond won the spot.
That’s not to say this vest pack isn’t amazing. I love it. It has all of the storage I need, it’s durable, adjustable and super comfortable.
I’ve beat the crap out of this thing now for 2 seasons and it’s still going strong.
The only thing I wish Snowbee would add is a nice loop in the center of the backpack so that you could hang a net there. Maybe also a hole in the pack for a water bladder/camel pack. Other than that, this thing is ace.
- Pros: Tools included, functional design, very lightweight
- Con: A bit on the small side
Aventik had the fly angler in mind when they created the Aventik Fly Fishing Chest Pack Combo. It’s designed to meet just about every need you could have when you’re on the water.
It’s lighter than a typical fly fishing vest or pack, giving anglers increased endurance and stability along with the convenience of easily zippering pockets to reach all of their gear.
It’s not big enough to hold all of your larger accessories, but it’s perfect for the angler who wants to bring the bare essentials. It’s big enough to hold a fly box, leaders, tippet spare fly reel, and a few other small items.
The straps are all completely adjustable, making them able to fit just about any body type as well as fit on top of clothes. This is a great pack for any angler who wants to keep their gear lightweight while still having a very functional chest pack.
- Pros: Dual storage, very versatile, convertible design
- Con: Can become heavy
This one might not technically be a backpack. That’s only because it’s also a chest pack. You read that right, the Aventik Fly Fishing Backpack is a dual backpack chest pack. The backpack part of this piece of equipment can be used to haul much larger pieces of gear, such as water, maps, rain gear, and larger fly boxes.
The front chest pack can hold your tippet, nippers, flies, and anything else you deem necessary for fly fishing.
Now, the good news is that if you don’t want the chest pack, it can be completely detached, converting this set into just a backpack. This can be done if you don’t want to lug around any extra weight for long trips or days out on the river.
The backpack part is also easily accessed if you need to take the chest pack off, which saves time.
- Pros: Lots of space, comfortable, breathable
- Con: Zippers
I’m not sure why companies can’t seem to get zippers right, but for some reason, they seem to be a thorn in the side of producers. Regardless, the Piscifun Fishing Bag Portable is a solid fly fishing pack that would suit any angler out fishing.
It can hold quite a few small fly boxes or two 9 inch tackle boxes. It’s great for packing in and out everything you need for a fishing trip.
The backside of the pack is made of a padded cooling mesh. This is great for any angler who spends countless hours hiking, wading, and fishing. This will help reduce fatigue when you’re out fishing by stopping the uncomfortable rub of a pack on a waistline and also keeping you sweat-free.
The front pocket has a wide mouth for easy opening, so you can quickly grab your favorite fly or piece of gear without having to rummage around. It’s also equipped with a D ring, so you snap on a net, nippers, leader, or anything else you can think of.
- Pro: Water resistant
- Con: Not the most functional design
The durable Simms Freestone Tactical Hip Pack is designed to carry exactly what you need for a fishing trip. It has areas dedicated to holding your tippet and spots to hold fly boxes. Perfect for carrying exactly what you need and nothing more, this is a good pack for the minimalistic angler who only carries what they need.
It’s made to be worn as a fanny pack. It also comes with a strap that will allow you to wear it as a sling across your body. The bag is equipped with a front opening compartment that’s large enough to hold flies, hooks, and anything else you would want to have with you.
The pack is made of water-resistant nylon fabric. That way you know you can keep your valuables in your pack and have confidence that they’re going to stay dry, even if you happen to take a misstep.
- Pro: Padded straps
- Con: Zippers…again
The front of the Allen Bear Creek Micro Chest Vest Pack is a zip-down work station, meaning the front part of the pocket flips down and becomes a small table that you can use to set flies and tippets on while you get your leader ready for tying.
It also has a clip that holds your leader in place and is also a fly patch. It’s ideal for fishing in windy conditions so that your gear doesn’t fly away.
The neck strap is also padded. This will be more comfortable for the angler while they’re casting, hiking, and bending down to net fish. Speaking of netting fish, the pack also comes with a D ring that you can use to hook your net onto.
Since this is a smaller pack, it can’t carry a lot of gear. However, it can carry a medium-sized fly box in its biggest pocket, and then all the other essential items you can think of in the smaller exterior pockets.
- Pro: Large exterior pockets
- Con: Smaller interior pockets
Thanks to the waterproof zippers on the Orvis Safe Passage Sling Pack, you can have the confidence to carry anything you want without fear of it breaking and getting wet. It’s ideal for the angler who enjoys fishing the backcountry where you need something to protect your phone, keys, or GPS.
It will not only protect your gear against the rain, but also against any slips in the water.
The outside of the pack has a pouch for water. It also features a large exterior pocket that can be used to store extra rod tubes, reels, lunch, or anything else you could think of taking with you on a fishing trip.
The back of the pack doesn’t feature any cooling mesh. Keep in mind that your back will be sweaty in warm conditions. Otherwise, the pack is very well made. It should stand up to most of the abuse that a hardcore fly angler will put it through.
- Pro: Lightweight with large capacity
- Con: Can only carry essentials
The biggest con of the Simms Freestone Chest Pack is that it can only carry exactly what you need. Compared to how lightweight the pack is, it has a large carrying capacity.
It can hold floatant, tippet, leaders, two medium-sized fly boxes, and whatever else you need for a successful day out on the water.
This chest pack gives you everything you need right at your fingertips. Easy to open pockets and easily organized internal components mean it’s easier to find your flies or tippet for a quick change out. It features two external zippered pockets and two internal organization pockets.
The outside of the pack features a secured tippet caddy and loop velcros for wet fly storage. The outside also features exterior magnetic docking stations that are perfect for nippers or mitten clamps. The bag is also water-resistant, to keep all of your fishing gear dry in case of tumbles in the water.
If you’re looking for the a good pack or bag for fly fishing and you aren’t too worried about your budget, Simms makes some excellent top-end products.
What Makes the Best Fly Fishing Pack
Now that we’ve looked over some of the best packs for fly fishing on the market, let’s take a deeper dive into all of the fly fishing pack features that you can find on the market. Below I’ll talk about fly fishing pack pockets, durability, material, and much more.
Use the information below to help you decide what kind of fly fishing pack is the best or for you. Do you need something strong, something waterproof, or do you need large compartments for all of the gear you plan on bringing with you? Check out below to see what’s right for you.
Something that all fly anglers must think about when purchasing a new fly fishing pack is how much pocket space is available. This goes for the gear heads who spend their whole paycheck on the latest and greatest.
Or, even the experienced angler who enjoys walking into the woods with only some twine and a soda tab for a hook. Make sure you have enough space to be able to fit everything that you want to bring with you. This includes food, water, maps, and some of your larger fly boxes.
Having a pack that can adjust to your body type and the layers you put beneath it is crucial. If you enjoy fishing year-round in both the heat and cold then, this is something you need to take seriously when purchasing a fly fishing pack.
What hugs your chest in the summer will cause discomfort and irritation come the winter when you stack a flannel on top of fleece on top of your base layer. Find something that will fit you comfortably and can easily adjust based on what you’re wearing.
Having a water-resistant pack is great. It’s only needed for a select group of anglers, though. It’s great to know that your gear can survive a fall into the water. However, there are more important things that you should be worrying about.
You need water resistance if you plan on using it for long days, weekends, or weeks on the water. It’s also important when you’re camping and the potential for rain is there. That way your gear and your pack will be able to stay relatively dry while you’re out in the woods.
It’s something that the hardcore angler must have in a pack. Durability is key for a fly angler who enjoys spending every weekend, every weekday afternoon, or every waking second on the water. The outdoors can be a rough place for gear, and packs are no different.
You need something that you know will be just as tough as you are and hold up to rough conditions. So, if you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors and fishing, then durability is not an aspect that should be overlooked.
It’s always tough to see a hole in your pack and then find out your gear all washed away with the current.
Material and durability go hand in hand. You need a pack that’s strong. On top of that, you’ll also need something that’s lightweight.
These two elements are key when you’re picking out a pack that you plan on using.
If durability is not an issue for you, then the material should only be thought of as something that can keep your gear dry and you comfortable. This way you know that you can lug it around a lake all day without any issue.
Look for durable, waterproof TPU welded plastic or sturdy nylon DWR outer materials with strong, rugged zippers.
Comfort is key. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hardcore fly angler or someone who goes once a year. You want something that will fit you, as well as be comfortable. A nice padded strap can do wonders for a day out on the water.
The same goes for having adjustable neck, shoulder, chest, or torso straps. The last thing you want to be thinking about when you’re fishing is how uncomfortable a strap is.
Or, how hot the back of the pack is making your chest or back. Look for something with padded straps and a nice mesh backing. It will only improve your fishing.
Just like I spoke about above, breathability is another key aspect of making sure you’re comfortable. Anything that has nylon, plastic, polyester, or anything besides mesh will make you hot and sweaty.
Especially if you plan on fishing in warm weather. If this doesn’t bother you, then that’s great. Most people, though, want to make sure their torso is not covered in sweat by the end of the day.
That’s where a nice breathable pack comes into play, and it can do wonders for you by keeping you cool and comfortable on the water.
This is always a big issue when you’re purchasing any new gear. The price of your pack usually corresponds directly to comfort, durability, and every other category above. However, there’s usually a sweet spot where price fits your budget and you’re able to get just about every feature you want in a pack.
It usually takes a little bit of hunting around, but it can be done. Take some time to search through and find your price range and then exactly what you’re looking for in a pack. Finding the right pack in your price range will make the time you spent looking for it worth it.
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Table of Contents
- Fly Fishing Gear
- Best Fly Fishing Packs
- 1. Best Fly Pack Overall – Fishpond Summit
- 2. Best Waist Pack – Vixyn Pack
- 3. Best Vest Pack – Snowbee Vest Backpack
- 4. Best Chest Pack – Aventik Fly Fishing Chest Pack
- 5. Best Backpack – Aventik Fly Fishing Backpack
- 6. Piscifun Fishing Bag Portable
- 7. Best Fanny Pack – Simms Freestone Tactical Hip Pack
- 8. Best Lightweight Pack – Allen Bear Creek Micro Chest Vest
- 9. Orvis Safe Passage Sling
- 10. Simms Freestone Chest Pack
- What Makes the Best Fly Fishing Pack
- Water Resistance
Materials, durability, and water resistance are all important features when you’re picking out a pack. You need to see exactly what works best for you, though. Are you a hardcore fly angler and fish as much as possible? Well, you probably need a durable pack with lots of space for gear.
Or, are you someone who enjoys a few weekends a year for just a couple hours on the water? Then you most likely don’t need to break the bank on a pack.
All anglers are different, and all have different wants and needs for fishing. Figure out what you need and use the information above to guide you.
After going through and reading everything I went over, hopefully you now have a better understanding of what a fly fishing pack is and what you should be looking for. A proper fly pack can make the difference between a great day out on the water and a poor one.
Make sure you have figured out exactly what features you’re looking for as well as what your budget is, and then go out and get it.
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