If you are anything like me, you want to make sure that you are fully prepared for the day ahead.
Fishing vests are great, but sometimes you want more storage with just as much convenience.
If this sounds like a familiar story, look at my suggestions for the best fly fishing packs in 2021.
I will go through all of the key features, tell you why I think they are great, and you’ll even find a buying guide to help you choose.
All packed up? Let’s go!
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For the money, this fly fishing waist pack looks to be a great deal. Two things are really important, and this fly fishing pack has them both.
Capacity and comfort.
There’s plenty of storage hidden on this compact pack. You’ll find 10 roomy pockets, perfect for arranging your gear into well-organized sections.
You know me, I like extras…
One thing I find really great is the included retractable leash. If you have a nice pair of fly fishing nippers, you’ll be able to have them easily to hand without the worry of your latest gadget disappearing into the drink!
And there’s more.
The removable fly patch at the front of the waist pack folds down to make a mini table. Zip the front down, select your fly with ease, zip it back up. Simple!
I talked about comfort. This waist pack is made from super durable and lightweight ripstop fabric. It’s great because it keeps your gear secure and safe but isn’t so bulky as to cause a problem, especially considering that you’ll be wearing the pack all-day.
Plenty of pockets.
Included retractable leash.
I didn’t like the leather finish on the neck strap.
For a mid-priced fly fishing hip bag, this represents a solid option. It should last a few seasons and is light and compact enough to allow you to fish unhindered.
Sometimes you don’t want to take masses of gear and want to keep it simple. A fly box, a few spools of leader, and of course, your essential fly-fishing tools.
This chest pack ticks a lot of boxes.
Because it is compact, it won’t get in the way when you are casting and fishing. You’ll have a full range of movement in your arms.
The chest pack is fully adjustable too, so it can be custom fitted to suit your body shape, increasing your level of comfort. Speaking of comfort, the padded next strap ensures that any weight is evenly distributed, preventing fatigue.
The front panel of the pack folds down to reveal a sizeable fly bench.
One really neat feature is that you can accessorize this bag.
What do I mean?
There are plenty of loops (both on the interior and exterior) that will allow you to clip and stow various items.
Great value and low cost.
A simple pack perfect for essentials.
If you are looking for masses of features, then you may want something more advanced.
For the beginner or those who don’t have masses of gear, the simplest solutions are the best. This neat little chest pack would be a great supplement to a sling pack or backpack. Want to see what I mean. Check out the best fishing backpacks right here.
You’ll already know that I am a huge fan of Simms. They create premium standard products (without the premium price tag).
Do you know what I love most?
They make gear that is durable and built to last. Granted, these aren’t budget hip packs, but you should get years of use for an initial outlay.
Here’s what’s great about it…
First off, it is supremely comfortable. The waistband is one large compression strap. This is basically padding, with a mesh interior, keeping you cool while also offering generous support.
When it comes to fishing, you want to access your gear easily. The ultra-wide mouth of this hip pack is unbeatable. By opening the dual zips, you can basically remove the entire top of the bag to peer inside.
There’s plenty of thought gone into this hip pack. You’ll find a dedicated pocket for a drinks bottle, a dedicated pass-through loop for your landing net, and a magnetic tool docking station.
A huge name in fly fishing.
Great quality and finish.
It isn’t a budget hip pack. This might be prohibitive for some anglers.
For one of the best fly fishing hip packs, this offering from Simms is worth a look. There’s a good chance that you wouldn’t need another if you opted to invest in this.
Let’s face it, when you are wading, there is a good chance the contents of your bag might get wet, especially if you happen to slip!
This fly fishing pack represents the ideal solution. It is constructed of entirely waterproof 300-‘denier’ material. If this wasn’t enough, then the TruZip waterproof zippers will prevent any and all water from soaking your possessions. You could literally submerge it, and your gear inside would still stay dry!
And get this…
It has plenty of storage too. There are exterior lash points, stretchy interior mesh pockets, and a compartmentalized tool organizing pocket.
When it comes to keeping comfy, this is second to none. The cushioned waistband is both waterproof and breathable. No chafing here, thanks!
As a final flourish, it includes a strap keeper, which will stop excess from catching and snagging your line.
Superb waterproof qualities.
Plenty of options regarding storage.
The only thing I didn’t like was the bright blue color. But that’s just personal preference, I guess?
This could be the best fly fishing waist pack if you are looking to keep your things dry at least. Ok, the color won’t be to everyone’s taste. But when you’ve got lots of gear, and it’s dry, you wouldn’t regret choosing this.
So you don’t want to break the bank and want a quick and easy storage solution for your fly fishing?
This waist pack is great value. It is also superbly lightweight and pretty durable.
For the money, you’ll get 5 outer pockets, complete with two hook and loop fasteners, and even room to store a water bottle!
The strong and durable quick-release buckles should ensure that it stays in place. Premium SBS zippers will keep your fishing gear tucked away and nice and secure.
The lightweight nylon is strong, relatively light, and also easy to clean.
When it comes to comfort, this is adequate. The strap seems pretty wide. If you have used a more premium bag before, you would probably notice the difference.
This waist pack would be ideal for a beginner or an infrequent angler.
The cheapest waist pack for fishing on our list.
Lots of storage options.
Modular Molle additions available.
The main downside is that the straps aren’t padded. This could get uncomfortable with continued use.
If you are bringing a buddy for a one-off trip, this will make the ideal gift. There is a decent amount of storage, and it seems pretty durable. It’s a shame about the strap padding, but you are still getting a lot for the price.
The military that’s who and this pack is designed to emulate that technology.
What makes it great for fishing?
I really liked that it was constructed from high-density 1000D nylon. This is tough stuff, and it doesn’t let in water either. The front of the pack features a soft Velcro patch, perfect for fly holders.
The top of the pack has elasticated loops. These are ideal for clipping on zingers, or if you are feeling particularly brave, you could just tuck your gear underneath and rely on friction.
If it doesn’t offer quite enough storage, there is the option to increase it by adding other attachments with a Molle storage system. These accessories are not provided with the bag, however, and would need to be purchased separately.
Strong, sturdy, and really durable.
I didn’t like how the side pocket zips went all the way down to vertical. One moment of inattention and your fly box is off downstream.
For occasional use, or if you already have a great fly fishing vest and just want a bit more storage, this hip pack would be great. You can always add to it at a later date too!
Having a chest pack resting only on your neck can grow tiring (and may even lead to injury).
So, what’s the answer?
This chest pack, right here.
Imagine a fishing backpack, but designed so that you wear it on your front. The bulk of the weight is spread over your shoulders and further supported by a large back mesh.
It’s so supportive you won’t even notice the weight. I really love the breathable mesh shoulder straps. This is one of the most comfortable fly fishing chest packs I have tried.
But what’s it like for storage?
In a word? Excellent. You get two super stretchy mesh pockets at the front, along with a webbing ‘sling’ to stuff thinner items. The top of the pack has a substantial rubberized handle and super chunky zips, which give way to two cavernous interior storage compartments.
As with the above budget option, this fly fishing chest pack is Molle compatible, so you can add even more to it if you feel that you are struggling for space (hint, you won’t be).
The interior compartments are specifically designed for fly fishing. You’ll find little pouches perfectly sized for a bottle of floatant, a foam patch station, a cord tipper holder, and a net holder.
Superb comfort with the webbing strap system.
Is it possible to love a fishing chest pack too much? Is that a ‘bad’ thing?
Perhaps the best fly fishing chest pack on my list. It has everything. It’s comfortable, with plenty of storage, and is purpose-built for fishing. What more could you want?
As budget fly fishing chest packs go, this offers a lot.
You’ll be able to take all of your essentials but still feel that you are traveling ‘light’. This rugged polyester chest pack has a big main compartment complete with two interior zippered pockets.
The padded over the head strap is thick. When combined with the fully adjustable waist strap, you should get a really decent level of comfort.
For those items that you’ll need more often, the chest pack also comes with an exterior mesh pocket, great for easy access.
The finishing touch to this affordable chest pack is 2 Hypalon tool stations. This may sound fancy, but they are, in fact, two reinforced rings, upon which you can attach often used items such as forceps, fishing scissors, or line nippers.
I wish that the front mesh pocket was zipped. If I’m using things often, then I don’t want them to fall out.
Looking at the price, you are getting a lot of bang for your buck. This competes with some of the best fly fishing chest packs on the market, at a fraction of the cost.
As the name suggests, the fly fishing pack is for those who are serious about their fly fishing. Amongst my picks, this is one of the best for storage. You’ll fit a whole 10 liters in this easy to carry and comfortable chest pack.
How much room is there?
Well, you should be able to fit food, a water bottle, and a large fly box at the very least. There is a main compartment and a forward compartment, which folds down to present a spacious fly bench.
Other dividers in this front pocket will allow you to stay really organized.
The Hypalon pull tabs ensure that everything is held tight, so no chance of your items ‘wandering off’ down the river.
Everything about this pack screams ‘strength’ from the chunky zips to the reinforced loops and substantial clips. Once it’s done up, it won’t be coming undone.
A huge amount of room. A worthy replacement for a fishing bag.
The spacious fly bench is the biggest on my list.
For some, this might be a little too large and could hinder your fishing.
One of the best fly fishing hip packs on the market, especially if you have a fair amount of gear. It’s heavy-duty, hard-wearing, and is full of good things.
We’ve already seen a Simms hip pack. If you liked the look of that, why not also consider a Simms fly fishing chest pack?
This is moderately priced, but you’ll understand why when you see the well thought out add-ons.
This neck and waist-mounted chest pack features a chunky D ring, super handy for keeping your landing net out of the way. It also has a novel ‘tippet caddy’. This durable cord stretches across the front of the bag and makes the ideal place to hold a row of spools of leader.
The construction is worth the cost. The bag is made from a hard-wearing fabric that is also water-resistant, keeping your gear nice and dry.
The bag also offers ample storage. Two large zippered pockets give way to a roomy interior subdivided, allowing you to make separate sections depending on your preferences.
The thing that stands out to me is how light this bag is. Without gear, it weighs a mere 0.08lbs. That’s about as lightweight as it gets!
The lightest chest pack I have seen for fly fishing.
Lots of little extras.
I would have like to have seen a couple of easy access front pockets for my regularly used equipment.
This is another solid offering that is mid-priced. It shares many great features with the Simms Freestone, which I consider one of the best fishing waist packs around, except this one is cheaper!
Fly Fishing Packs – What You Need to Know
Fly fishing packs aren’t new, but they aren’t exactly traditional either, and this might be the first time you’ve seen them.
Do you know how to choose a good fly fishing pack?
Joking aside, I’ve assembled a quick bit of guidance to help you. Here are some important things to consider when buying a fly fishing pack…
Hip packs and chest packs perform a very similar role, but what makes the difference is how you like to fish.
If you like to wade into fairly deep water, you are going to need two things. A really great pair of fly fishing waders and a chest pack. This will keep your gear well above water. Nobody wants a box of dry flies to become saturated while you stand with your best hip pack submerged.
If you fish in shallow waters, you can consider either a waist pack or a chest pack. Try holding your rod and see where it naturally rests when you are fishing.
Some guys like to hold the butt of the rod up, and some hold it lower. Where you position the rod will make a lot of difference.
You’ll have seen from my suggestions above that fly fishing packs come in a range of sizes. You are looking for the ‘goldilocks’ zone.
That’s right, not too big and not too small. Having space is nice, but if the pack is so big that it impedes your fishing, it is no good.
Conversely, remember a good fly fishing pack should make things easier. If you have to fight to shoehorn everything in, think how inconvenient it will be on the river.
Think about what gear you have, what space you need, and choose a size that will work for you.
Again, this is a personal preference. I’m methodical in my approach to fly fishing. Everything, and I mean everything, has its own little place. I really like many compartments and places I can tuck away my things in an organized way.
But that said…
Some guys like to just throw and go. In that case, you might not need as many ways to organize your pack.
Think about which style suits you best.
If you haven’t organized a fly fishing pack before, here’s a quick video showing you how to do it.
This one is a biggie.
The best packs for fly fishing need to be durable as a minimum. If you think about how much you are using them, opening them, closing them, and moving them around, choose something light and cheap, and you’ll find it’s compromised in no time.
I always try and choose materials that are thick, rugged, and I can clean easily. I consider it a massive bonus if those materials happen to be waterproof too. Remember, you may be storing items such as your phone and wallet in your hip pack, so you’ll want to keep them dry.
This is a defining factor for me. You could give me the most spacious fly fishing pack, with all of the bells and whistles attached, but if it isn’t comfortable, forget it. If you are uncomfortable, you are going to be distracted.
Do you know what happens when you get distracted?
You lose fish. Not good!
To ensure your comfort, look for two things.
The first is an adjustable fly fishing pack. By being able to tighten and loosen straps and get it sitting perfectly, you’ll be much more comfortable.
Second, look for thick padding in areas that you’ll be touching all day.
I’m talking hip, neck, and shoulder contact points. The thicker and wider the straps, the better. For added bonus points, look for breathable fabrics and mesh, transforming a good fly fishing pack into a great one.
I’m not going to lecture you on what you should spend…
But I’ll say this…
You will notice the difference between a high-quality fly fishing pack and a cheaper version.
If you fish a lot or intend to use it often, go for the best that you can afford. You’ll find the packs with the higher price will last longer and will tick all of the criteria I’ve laid out above.
If you are only going to use it now and again, why not go for a mid-range or budget option and upgrade later?
When looking at the best fly fishing packs of 2021, it is important to ask yourself what you are trying to achieve.
Do you want to be more organized, just get a little more space, or maybe you are trying fly fishing for the first time?
Whatever your situation, you should find something that works.