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fly fishing chest pack

Best Fly Fishing Chest Pack Reviews (Updated 2020 Models!)

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When you’re heading out for a day of fly fishing, you want to remain as nimble as possible to hop the rocks and work your way up stream. Backpacks limit access till you’re able to put it down and search through it. Having everything laid out in front of you in a chest pack is a more enjoyable fishing experience.

In this article, we’ll discuss how chest packs compare to other types of storage. We’ll also explain exactly why a chest pack is the perfect storage solution (for some people). Plus, you’ll find our reviews of the best options on the market.

Check out the products below! You can click on our menu to jump to a specific section of the reviews, or read the whole article for all the info on fly fishing chest packs.

Top Pick
UMPQUA OVERLOOK KIT ZS CHEST GRANITE
Eco-friendly
Fishpond Medicine Bow Chest Pack, Cutthroat Green
Adaptable
fishpond Thunderhead Chest Pack, Shale
UMPQUA OVERLOOK KIT ZS CHEST GRANITE
Fishpond Medicine Bow Chest Pack, Cutthroat Green
fishpond Thunderhead Chest Pack, Shale
Zero sweep
Constructed with Cyclepond recycled fabrics
Built out of TPU coated recycled Cyclepond nylon
Two internal retractor
Molded work station with a stash pocket
Removable front straps
Full shoulder straps
Aquaguard zippers
Can be integrated into backpacks
Top Pick
UMPQUA OVERLOOK KIT ZS CHEST GRANITE
UMPQUA OVERLOOK KIT ZS CHEST GRANITE
Zero sweep
Two internal retractor
Full shoulder straps
Eco-friendly
Fishpond Medicine Bow Chest Pack, Cutthroat Green
Fishpond Medicine Bow Chest Pack, Cutthroat Green
Constructed with Cyclepond recycled fabrics
Molded work station with a stash pocket
Aquaguard zippers
Adaptable
fishpond Thunderhead Chest Pack, Shale
fishpond Thunderhead Chest Pack, Shale
Built out of TPU coated recycled Cyclepond nylon
Removable front straps
Can be integrated into backpacks

The Benefits

Chest packs were additionally used as add-ons to vests to provide an additional storage area [1]. Modern ones are lightweight, easy to access, and have lots of storage space for all your fly fishing essentials. They offers all these advantages while being comfortable to wear.

They typically aren’t too bulky, and they shouldn’t get in the way of casting, but still allow you to store everything you need. You won’t have to worry about a hip or waist pack getting soaking when you wade deep out in the river.

It’s quick and easy to get your hands on any fly gear you need – a great advantage when you’re already holding your fly rod, wading staff, and/or net in deep, flowing water.

Chest Pack Vs Fishing Vest

“But vests keep everything easily accessible and in front of me?” I hear you saying. “Why don’t I just get a vest?” Vests have traditionally been used for fly fishing, but can feel bulky and cumbersome, particularly over thick winter layers or waterproofs. You may feel sweaty and can start overheating before long plus the big pockets on your chest can get in your way when you’re trying to cast your fly. When you’re fly fishing, you want to feel free to move however you like. You don’t want to have your mobility restricted or you won’t be able to adapt your cast to hit those tiny pockets of backwater. [2]
The chest packs we’ve selected below are all light, breathable and comfortable while giving you full freedom of movement.

Things To Consider Before Purchase

While you’re shopping for options, there are a few different factors to keep in mind so you have the best experience. These are as follows:

Storage Space:

How much gear do you tend to carry with you when you’re fly fishing? Do you carry the bare minimum, just your flies and a handful of other necessary items? Or do you like to pack for every eventuality, store all the gear,  and take a hearty lunch with you too?

These are things you’ll need to consider when deciding what will be the best  chest pack for you. They come in a range of sizes, from tiny, minimalist packs right up to sizable packs to store everything but the kitchen sink. Some chest packs can even store a good deal more than traditional fishing vests offer. 

A good tip is to get everything you normally carry on a fly fishing trip to see how much space you’ll need.

Comfort

Chest packs are often worn for long periods of time, so comfort is a necessity. Look for padded straps that share the weight ergonomically and equally across your body, to avoid an achy back or neck at the end of the day.

A good chest pack will be made from breathable fabrics or even have mesh areas, to help you stay cool on the hottest days. That’s one of the main reasons anglers go for them over traditional vests.

best fly fishing chest packs

Durability

They should stand up to frequent use and last years, so you can enjoy your fly fishing trip without worries. It should be made from strong, durable fabric, with sturdy zips, buckles, etc to keep your equipment safe.

The last thing you want is for your fly pack to rip or a zip to break while you’re in the water, emptying your supplies out into the river.

Adaptability

Some chest packs can be worn either on the chest or threaded through a waist belt for greater versatility. If you use a boat, see if your chosen fly chest pack can be secured safely to your boat. In this way they offer a lot more adaptability than fishing vests.

Waterproofing

It goes without saying that they should be waterproof, to keep your gear dry all day. This is especially important if you like to carry your smartphone or camera with you. But take care, as some fly packs may be just water-resistant rather than waterproof – make sure you note the difference.

Price

Of course, price will always be a factor any time you’re shopping for something. Are you an avid fly fisher who gets out on the water every weekend for most of the year, and you’re happy to splurge on a more expensive chest bag that will last you a long time? Then you’ll be happy to pay that higher price for a durable, premium product.

Or are you searching for functional at an affordable price that will do the job? There are some great budget chest packs out there. Low price doesn’t have to mean low quality, either. 

chestpack for fly fishing

Fly Fishing Chest Pack Reviews

With all our reviews, we aim to sum up the product quickly while providing you with all the important info, so you can make your decision quickly and ultimately be happy with your decision.

Fishpond Cross-Current

This handy little chest pack by Fishpond looks small, but looks can be deceptive. You’ll be amazed at how much you can fit into it. Strap it on, and you’ll easily be able to store enough for a full day of fly fishing, whilst feeling free and unrestricted by a hefty backpack or awkward sling pack.

With comfortable, padded straps, you’ll be able to wear it all day without feeling those aches and pains. It is really adaptable and so it’s suitable for almost anyone to wear, no matter their shape or size. It’s quick and easy to adjust the strap, too. The Fishpond Chest Packs looks great and are waterproof too.

Even the zips on these chest packs are water-resistant, so even if you’re wading in deep water, you don’t have to worry about your phone, camera or other gadgets.

Fishpond Cross Current Chest Pack

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The Good

  • Made from fully recycled materials, this innovative chest pack is environmentally friendly.
  • Plenty of storage to accomodate your fly box and other items
  • Comfortable padded straps for more support on those long days out on the water 
  • Reasonable price

The Bad

  • If you're not a minimalist or you prefer to store a lot of gear (or snacks!) you might struggle to fit it all in these fishing packs. 
  • If you don't tighten the waist straps enough, you could risk some neck strain after a full day of use.

Umpqua Rock Creek

The Umpqua Rock Creek ZS chest packs were designed with comfort and simplicity in mind, and they could run for the title of the best fly-fishing packs around. They’ve foregone the potentially tricky neck strap, which can become uncomfortable. Instead, this pack has been designed with a supportive back panel and mesh straps, which hit the balance perfectly between support and ventilation. You can wear the Umpqua Rock Creek ZS chest pack all day on the river without suffering with aches and pains, but you won’t risk overheating either.  It’s compact in size, similar to fishing vests, but you can still store all your essentials if you pack carefully. Team it with a backpack for a full day of hiking to mountain rivers or lakes if you need to carry a ton of supplies.

Umpqua Rock Creek ZS chest pack

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The Good

  • The clever back panel makes this a joy to carry
  • Lots of pockets on the inside and the outside for simple organisation of all your fishing supplies
  • Abundant storage space
  • Keep all your tippet spools handy and neat with the cord tippet holder
  • Adjustable for the perfect fit
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Good price and value for money
  • Mesh straps to keep you cool

The Bad

  • The zips are water-resistant rather than waterproof, so take care if you don't want your gear or phone to get wet
  • On the smaller size

Allen Boulder Creek Fishing

In our opinion the Allen Boulder Creek fly-fishing pack is one of the best on the market now (especially if you’re on a budget). This bag has an attractive design in olive green shades which will blend in on the river, and even more importantly, it’s durable, hard-wearing and strong.

It’s a good size and is designed to stand up to loads of heavy us. Plus, it’s got all the pockets and attachments you could ever need to store all your flies and other gear.

We’d recommend this for anyone, but it’s especially appealing if you don’t want to break the bank; it comes in at an impressive price for everything you get.

Allen Boulder Creek fishing pack

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The Good

  • Affordable price - great if you're on a budget
  • Have an amazing capacity - you can carry anything up to 6 fly boxes easily!
  • Strong, durable zippers that can even withstand corrosive saltwater
  • Several internal pockets make organisation easy - you'll always be able to find what you need in no time at all
  • Ample space to store gear without being bulky or getting in the way

The Bad

  • The shoulder straps can get diggy if you load up the fishing pack with lots of heavy gear
  • The zippers can be stiff to open and close
  • It can be tricky to get the fly fishing pack to sit comfortably on your torso

Umpqua Overlook

The Umpqua Overlook pack is a top pack from the medium price range for chest-packs. It looks stylish and cool, with tons of handy features like tippet and accessory pockets, plus loops and D-rings to store  your net and other items.

You’ll feel cool all day on the river thanks to the mesh fabric on the straps and on the panel that sits on your front and back. Compared to fishing vests, you’ll definitely notice the difference. It even comes with a small backpack that you can clip onto the back panel for extra options to store tools on those long days out.

The Umpqua Overlook fishing offers more than your average basic pack without breaking the bank. It does have a higher price point than other models on this list, but the premium features for fly fishing make it worth the spend.

Umpqua Overlook pack

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The Good

  • Attractive but simple design
  • Impressive capacity
  • You can attach a net with the d-rings and web loops

The Bad

  • Higher price
  • As it's more expensive, this might not be the best choice for occasional use

Fishpond Thunderhead

The Fishpond Thunderhead is ideal for those who are passionate about fly fishing and like to have all their gear handy, without it weighing them down.

It’s adaptable – you can wear it together with any of the Fishpond backpacks for long days out when you need extra storage space. Or attach it to your boat to keep it secure out on the river, no matter what the water conditions are or what’s on the menu. You can even mount it on a wading belt, so versatility is a huge plus with this fly fishing pack. You can see that these chest packs beat fishing vests, hands down.

It’s on the higher end of the price scale, but it’s excellent quality and does the job well. All your supplies and gadgets can stay safe and dry within the fully waterproof main pocket – perfect if you like to carry your camera with you to snap some shots of the gorgeous scenery or your whopping catches!

Fishpond Thunderhead chest pack

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The Good

  • One main pocket is completely waterproof, so you can carry your smartphone or camera without worrying about a splashes or even submerging your bag
  • The integrated net slot makes it easy to carry your net around without it getting in the way when you're casting
  • Helpful interior pockets include a pocket with a zipper closure and a clear pocket for small items, making them quick and easy to find

The Bad

  • You'll need to splash out a little on this kit.
  • Most expensive price on our list
  • The front zipper pouch is not very deep
  • You need to use both hands to open the main pocket
  • The buckles are stiff and sometimes difficult to open 

Aventik Fishing

If you’re on a budget, consider getting the Aventik fly-fishing chest pack. It’s a steal, coming in at a jaw-droppingly low price and it will get the job done.

Sure, it may not look or feel as luxurious as some of the more expensive brands. But if you’re all about getting the most out of your fly fishing hobby without breaking the bank, who cares? The fish certainly don’t!

Fishpond Thunderhead chest pack

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The Good

  • Bargain price
  • The cheapest option on our list - great for beginner fly fishers or those shopping on a tight budget
  • Large zippered main pocket has plenty of space for fly boxes and other items
  • You can adjust the neck and waist strap for a personalized fit

The Bad

  • A large fly box might not fit in this chestvest pack, as the capacity is lower than some larger chest-packs 
  • A small fishing chest bag compared to other brands
  • Not waterproof, so you'll need to take other protective measures if you want to carry a phone, camera or other devices

Wrap Up

Our chest pack has become an essential accessory on our fly fishing trips. Especially in summer when you want to be as light and free as possible. They make it easy to carry and access all your tools and necessary items without having to lug around a heavy backpack or sling bag.

Remember to look for something lightweight, waterproof, and comfortable, with plenty of pockets and attachments for all your supplies. You’ll be all set with any of the recommended chest packs from our list. 

So all you need to do is think through exactly what your own individual requirements are, such as when, where and for how long you’ll be wearing your chest pack, to find the perfect pick for you. With a range of price points, you’ll find something to fit your budget. We always aim to provide reviews for the best products while offering you some variety to choose from!

Related Articles

Best Fly Fishing Sling Packs Reviewed

Best Fishing Backpacks Reviewed

Best Fly Fishing Vests Reviewed

References

[1] https://archive.nytimes.com/query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage-9C0CE2D71E38F935A3575AC0A9619C8B63.html

[2] https://news.orvis.com/fly-fishing/vest-vs-sling-pack-vs-hip-pack-vs-backpack-and-more

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