If you like to fly fish a lot, it might be time to consider a chest pack specifically designed for fly fishing needs. You’ll make it easier on yourself to transport your gear and keep your hands free. Plus, they can look quite stylish.
It’s tough to find the best fly fishing chest pack, especially with so many options available. We took the time to consider five different products to check their features and let you know which one we liked the most. You’ll also find a buyer’s guide and a FAQs section to help you become more informed.
Best Fly Fishing Chest Pack Reviews
1. Allen Fall River Fishing Chest Pack
The Allen Company was founded in 1970 to ensure that people could buy the best gun cases possible. To do this, the owner chose to sleep on a table most nights so he could process orders and ensure that people got their products quickly.
While there are a variety of employees that work there now, this little story helps you see that the owners care about you and your needs. Now, the business offers many products in a variety of categories, including tactical gear and hunting essentials. It primarily sells its products online, through its e-commerce sites and third-party sites.
The Allen Fall River Fishing Chest Pack comes in olive-green and is 33 inches long. Its back (the part that sits on the chest) is black in color. This pack is equipped with a variety of loops and buckles, allowing you to fit it to your body securely.
This product features a zip-down workstation with a fly patch and a tippet tender. Therefore, you can open this part and let it hold your gear while you work. The larger zippered space includes many interior pockets and holds a fly-box.
You’ll find that the padded neck strap is quite comfortable to wear for long periods. It features a D-ring in the middle, and the pack includes multiple D-rings all over, as well. Thanks to these, you can clip on whatever accessories you require.
Though the pack is small, it is designed that way. You won’t have to worry about your equipment getting disorganized, as it can all have its own storage. Because of this, you can get the items you need quickly to continue the fun of the sport.
What We Like
We were impressed by this chest pack’s hi-viz color interior. It allows you to quickly identify your flies without having to take them out of the pack first.
What We Don’t Like
While the pack is designed to be a one-size-fits-all product, it isn’t ideal for larger fishermen. Sure, you might be well within your weight limit for health. However, if you have a barrel chest, the lower strap, which goes around the waist, might be a little tight, even when let out completely.
- Compact but balanced
- Won’t feel overloaded with gear or unbalanced when fishing
- Waist belt prevents shifting of the pack
- Fits a large fly box
- Velcro fly patch gets shredded from hooks
- Work platform doesn’t open to a 90-degree angle
- Not ideal for longer trips or for hiking
2. FishPond Thunderhead Chest Pack
FishPond is primarily an e-commerce company that focuses on creating products that are innovative and set a new standard for functionality. Its roots are planted in the fishing market, though it has expanded its product lineup to include a variety of other things. While you may have come across this brand today to find a chest pack, you might also want to consider luggage, stickers, coolers, and other items.
This family-owned company is based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It is a rugged backdrop for a business that tests its product designs thoroughly. These items are sold from a variety of dealers.
The FishPond Thunderhead Chest Pack comes in shale green and is nine inches long by seven inches wide. It will sit on the chest and come out almost four inches.
This product is made using 1680D TPU coated nylon that has been recycled. That TPU coating allows this pack to be waterproof. Sometimes called ballistic nylon, the 1680D means that it is woven using a basketweave of the heaviest fabric on the market.
While many fly fishing packs are designed only to be used on the chest, this one has a unique feature. You can fully remove the front straps, and this means that you can attach it to a boat or a wading belt if you don’t feel like wearing it around your chest.
Primarily, you can use this item by itself, but if you already have a FishPond backpack, it’s designed to integrate with it, allowing you to hold all of your gear. The built-in net holster can hold short- and long-handled nets perfectly.
What We Like
Of course, the inside has a variety of pockets that can hold many things. Most people don’t like carrying their phones for fear of them falling or getting soaked in the pack. However, the bag is waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about this issue.
What We Don’t Like
There weren’t any significant concerns with this pack, but there were a few minor issues. For example, the front pouch only fits slimmer fly boxes. We wished it had a bit more depth.
Along with such, the TIZIP zipping system requires the use of two hands. While this is true for all such options, it would have been nice if the front held more.
- Can be worn in three different ways
- Excellent quality materials and construction
- Only fits slim fly boxes
- Stiff buckle releases (especially during winter)
3. FishPond San Juan Vertical Chest Pack
As mentioned earlier, FishPond is an e-commerce company. Primarily, it aims to create an authentic connection for those who want to explore and fish and need the right gear.
The owners value the journey of getting to the destination and being on the water. Therefore, you’ll find that the products it produces are creative, innovative, and full of excitement. They boast 20 years of experience in the business and has earned the trust of many fly fishing enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for something that looks similar to tactical gear, the FishPond San Juan Vertical Chest Pack is ideal. Just looking at the product makes you want to put it on and go somewhere. It comes in three colors, too, which are blue, orange, and brown.
This product is five inches long by four inches wide and is about 8.5 inches high. It features a padded neck strap and a waist strap, allowing you to hook it to your chest so that it can’t move around. Plus, the vertical design works well so that you can stack things as you’ll need them.
Primarily, the goal of this pack is to wear it around the chest. However, you may not want to do so for long periods or when you’re hiking to your location.
This product features a belt loop attachment, so you can take it off of your chest easily. The main compartment can hold a fly box and keep it secure while you’re walking or fishing. Along with such, it has an interior pocket with a zipper. You can store a phone or other essential items without fear that they will drop when the pack is opened.
What We Like
We like that this pack is so compact but can still hold everything we need. Of course, it isn’t designed for extended trips or days of fly fishing. Nevertheless, it allows you to have what you need, making it a dream for minimalists.
What We Don’t Like
This product’s picture does make it appear that the item is bigger than what it actually is. We suggest you take the measurements and draw on a piece of paper to get a better and more accurate idea of the size. Our review features a few larger packs, so you can still get something adequate.
- Great design
- Multiple colors
- Belt loop attachment
- Secure storage for a fly box
- Holes for carabiner or tippets
- Smaller than expected
- Must replace fly bench foam frequently
- Water-resistant instead of waterproof
4. Umpqua Rock Creek ZS Chest Pack
Umpqua was founded in 1972 by Dennis Black. He was a fly-tying professional who was known for his speed and skill. Black produced thousands of flies every year and sold them to mail-order houses, though he soon realized that the demand for flies would soon overtake what he could do.
As such, he created this company with the help of other tying experts and opened multiple factories. From there, he distributed his products across the globe, opening up to accessories and packs. Now, you can shop online at third-party e-commerce sites to find just what fishing product you need.
If you want something simple without sacrificing comfort or functionality, the Umpqua Rock Creek ZS Chest Pack is right for you. Most packs aren’t comfortable because the neck strap is a single loop. It just digs into the skin and makes it difficult to wear for long periods.
This product has a four-point back panel that connects over the sides and both shoulders. Therefore, with it one, you will experience all-day comfort. Plus, it features a D-ring net attachment.
The Zero Sweep design is helpful because the imbedded functionality uses less space. It features two retractor stations, a tool sheath, and a foam fly patch with a cord tippet holder. If you already have the Surveyor 2000 ZS Backpack or the Overlook ZS, it will integrate with them.
You’ll find that the main compartment can hold two good-sized fly boxes. As such, there are two overlay pockets in the front to house your flat leaders. The mesh pockets on the sides are ideal for accessories, food, and other necessities.
What We Like
We like that the fabric is made of 420 denier nylon. It’s not as durable as some of the other products, but the price also reflects that. While it might not be fully waterproof, it is water-resistant.
What We Don’t Like
There wasn’t much to dislike about this product. The only thing we can mention here is that it’s smaller than what it appears. At 3.5 by five by nine inches, you may want to measure this out to ensure that it will meet your needs on the water.
- Uses shoulder and waist straps instead of a neck strap
- Large enough for two fly boxes
- Internal key clip
- Equipped with YKK zippers
- Made using 420 Denier nylon fabric
- Water-resistant, not waterproof
- Overlap with backpack might be noticed
- Smaller than you think but is still good-sized
5. Umpqua Overlook 500 ZS Chest Pack Kit
In 1972, Dennis Black enlisted the help of professional tyers to create new patterns for flies. He set up factories to produce them using the best materials. The quantity produced was always second to the quality of each product.
With time, he started Umpqua and started offering other products, including accessories, packs, and more. Now, you can find these items at many retailers. These are available from third-party e-commerce sites.
The Umpqua Overlook 500 ZS Chest Pack Kit comes with everything you need to house all of your items. Instead of a neck strap that digs into your muscles and causes discomfort, you’ve got shoulder straps and a full back panel. These help to give you support and comfort throughout your day.
You’ll instantly notice the tapered main compartment, which is unique to the brand. This offers outstanding visibility so that you can rock hop or cast your line without being hindered. Primarily, you can hold up to four large fly boxes, as well as tool sheaths, and much more in this pack.
This product features two internal retractor holders, nipper ports, and many other items. Also, you can carry it on your chest in two different ways: vertical or sideways. In turn, you get the option to choose the best one for your particular needs.
If that weren’t enough, the back portion also features a compartment to hold a variety of things. This is one of the bigger packs we’ve reviewed, as it is almost 16 inches long and 12 inches wide, which just means that you’ll definitely be able to fit all of the items you need.
What We Like
The one thing that impressed us the most was that a lot of thought went into designing this product. It is definitely well made and will last a long time.
What We Don’t Like
While we liked that the straps were unique, we weren’t too happy that we needed to practice using them. It’s important to read the directions. Therefore, you’ll need the time to work out how to use it before going on your trip.
- Stylish design
- Two ways of wearing
- Optional backpack on the back
- Fits up to four fly boxes
- Top handle for carrying by hand
- Larger than most chest packs
- Not waterproof
- Not very many pockets
If you are one of those people who like to fly fish, it’s time that you choose the best fly fishing chest pack. We reviewed five products, but we understand that it’s a challenge to pick just the one. Therefore, you’ll find this helpful buyer’s guide to be just what you need to make the decision.
Below, you’ll learn the benefits of a chest pack, what makes it different from a vest, and much more. In that way, you’ll understand why they’re needed, and you’d be able to make the right buying decision.
1. Advantages of a Chest Pack
Most chest packs aren’t bulky and won’t get in the way of your casting. As such, you can carry everything you need without worrying about getting it wet. Many waist or hip packs do get wet, but you’re less likely to wade in over your waist, so a chest pack is better.
A chest pack sits higher on the chest compared to a fanny pack, so the gear stays dry. Plus, it’s much easier and faster to get what you need because you don’t have to remove it like you would a backpack.
2. Storage Space
Do you carry a lot of gear when you’re fishing, or do you like to take the bare minimum? With a chest pack, you can do all of those things. You can prepare for any situation or be a minimalist; it just depends on the type you purchase.
You’ll find many sizes available, including those that are quite expansive. Typically, you should gather together what you use on a regular day of fly fishing and see how much you have. Then, you can determine the right pack size for you.
Your chest pack is probably going to be worn for a longer period. Therefore, you want something very comfortable. Padded straps are ideal because they share the weight equally and ergonomically across the body.
With padded straps, you can prevent pain in your back and neck at the end of the day. Also, you’d want something made of breathable fabrics so that you don’t sweat a lot or feel hot.
A good fly fishing chest pack has to stand up to many years of use. You would probably use it every weekend, so you want something that will work for many years to come. Look for strong and durable fabrics.
Also, consider the buckles and zippers and ensure that they are sturdy, as well. The worst thing that could happen is to have the zippers break or the pack rip while you’re in the water. This will allow your supplies to get lost in the river.
Primarily, the goal of a chest pack is to be worn around the chest. However, many manufacturers realize that people want flexibility. Therefore, some products can be worn around the waist, carried via a handle, or strapped to a boat.
Whether you’re a professional or beginner, price is likely to be a concern here. You may be happy to splurge on a more expensive product if you like to fly fish many times a year. However, you also have to consider value for the money.
Some packs are unnecessarily expensive, but they don’t give you extra perks. For example, smaller chest packs are likely to cost less than larger ones. The bigger container allows you to hold more stuff.
Regardless of your preferences, the price should reflect the material, design, and features of the bag. Therefore, if it is versatile, convenient, and allows you to hold many things, the price you pay is likely to be well worth it.
1. How to choose a chest pack?
Choosing a chest pack depends on your budget and particular needs. If you will be spending many days on the water, it might be a good idea to go with a bigger pack. However, it can weigh you down if you have to walk far to the wading area.
The best thing to do is think about everything that you normally take with you on your fly fishing trip. Then, organize it all in a way that it would fit into a pack. This gives you a better idea of the size you need and how much it is all likely to weigh.
2. What is a chest pack for fly fishing?
A fly fishing chest pack is similar to a backpack, but it sits across the chest rather than at the back. It usually has a variety of zippered compartments that allows you to store and organize all of the items you will need.
3. Do you have to use a backpack with the chest pack?
No, you don’t have to use a backpack if you already have a chest pack. However, many people do like to have more space to carry more items. Some also feel that a bag on their back helps to balance everything, as you distribute the weight more evenly.
4. What is the difference between water-resistant and waterproof?
Most chest packs are water-resistant because they feature nylon, which is naturally resistant to water. Some products can be called waterproof if they use a TPU coating on the fabric. Just remember that the pack itself might be waterproof, but the zippers can still allow water to seep inside.
There were things to like about each product, and it was hard to find one winner. However, we feel that the right option and the best fly fishing chest pack is the FishPond Thunderhead Chest Pack. We liked the innovative design and the fact that it looked like a tactical bag.
Of course, we also liked that the nylon was TPU-coated and recycled. This means that it is eco-friendly and that the pack itself is waterproof. However, the zipper areas are not, so you should still exercise caution when bringing your cell phone and other electronics.