Fishing vests can be unbearable during summer, but backpacks offer no flexibility or versatility either: enter fly fishing chest packs.When you’re going out for a nice day of fly fishing, you need to be able to stay swift and frosty, carefully walking upstream. Do backpacks help? Well, not really – until you find a place where you can put it down and take out stuff. Fly fish chest packs offer more flexibility as you can quickly lay everything out in front, giving you quick access to your equipment, making the experience more enjoyable.
But before you make plans to trek through the river, you’ll first have to sift through a myriad of fly fishing chest packs. But that’s exactly what this buying guide is for! We’re going to help you make a quick and informed decision.?
Important Factors to Look for in the Best Fly Fishing Chest Packs
The chest pack should be waterproof, with DWR treatment and waterproof zips
Should have docking stations for various items and tools
Accessory loops for additional items such as lash points and/or d-rings
Extra straps for putting on rain gear or similar equipmentP
ockets to hold water bottles, food, fly patches, and similar items
Adequate amount of storage in line with your needs
Notice: We take part in so-called affiliate programs. If you click on one of the links in the text and end up purchasing a product we earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. We only recommend products we would use ourselves.
Best Fly Fishing Chest Packs Quick Answer List
1. Simms Freestone
2. Umpqua Overlook
3. Orvis Chest Pack
6. Kylebooker Lightweight
8. FishPond San Juan Vertical
Best Mid-Range Fly Fish Chest Packs
In this next section we want to take a look at a few fly fishing chest packs that are a little more advanced than the ones we just reviewed.
1.Simms Freestone Fly Fishing Chest Pack
Simms is a popular company, renowned for manufacturing reliable and durable waders. However, the company also makes great fly fishing chest packs. The Simms Freestone weighs 8-lbs with and has a 3-liter holding capacity, it’s considerably lighter than most entry level chest packs on this list and makes for a great pack for users looking for something convenient, flexible, and portable.
Sure, the fly fishing chest pack is a bit smaller than most products by it’s also true that many anglers and avid fishing enthusiasts prefer wearing something that gives them more versatility with the added advantage of carrying a lot more accessories. The lightweight Simms Freestone provides adequate storage for a couple of fly boxes, fishing indicators, weights, tools, and a score of other smaller fishing items – basically everything you would need to make your fishing trip enjoyable.
The Simms Freestone is designed with waterproof, DWR material – which means you won’t have to worry about water splashing on your chest or standing in waist deep water. Moreover, the pack also comes with a tippet holder and there are magnetised exterior hooks and compartment to attach your flies, hooks, and lures. There are two main zippered compartments with interior dividers and smaller pockets to keep everything organised.
Amazon top review:
This is a perfect minimalist pack that’s low profile and holds just the right amount of gear for a day on the water
Magnetized exterior loops and compartments
3-liter holding capacity
Carrying your personal items, snacks and water bottles can make the pack bulkier
Non-adjustable shoulder strap
Not ideal if you want to carry more accessories like spools of leaders, etc
2.Umpqua Overlook Fly Fishing Chest Pack
The Umpqua Overlook 500 ZS2 is designed for added comfortability and versatility. The pack consists of a four-point harness structure with a streamlined front pack system to help increase your visibility while decreasing muscular tension and strain on your shoulders, neck, and back. The chest pack is made of soft and durable ballistic nylon.
The Umpqua Overlook 500 ZS2 features an adjustable and wider shoulder strap to help you comfortably move around, adequately distributing the weight of the pack. Both shoulder and waist straps have adjustment buckles you can use to tighten the pack, allowing for easier adjustments and snag-free movement.
The Umpqua Overlook 500 ZS2 also features a larger front compartment that has two different pockets big enough to store essential fishing gear and accessories to make your fishing experience all the more enjoyable. The fly fish chest pack also comes with two interchangeable add-ons for the rear. You can go for the soft mesh or attach another compartment that’s going to act as a holster to carry additional items.
The Umpqua Overlook 500 ZS2 also comes with some excellent add-on features such as two retractor (ZeroSweep) systems to attach more tools, fishing flies, and hooks. You can even attach your floatant, water bottle, or a hemostat station.
Amazon top review:
Bought this setup to replace my previous vest-pack. When I fish, I tend to be out on the river most of the day. I need space for all of my gear as well as water, rain jacket, lunch, etc. I’m pleased to say this pack fulfils these requirements and then some. It’s a solid piece of kit, feels like it should hold up for a while.
There’s plenty of room in the chest pack for 3-4 large fly boxes and all the fixins, tippet, leaders, flotant, etc. The tippet holder at the bottom seems a little wonky though. You can’t really see it while wearing the pack. The removable back pack has a nice hanging point and hose slot for a water bladder and can fit a few more items besides.
The one thing I can’t seem to figure out is the net slot on the back pack. I have a “traditional” short handled net, and although it sits in the slot fine I just can’t seem to grab it easily when I need it. I feel like a long handled guide-style net might be better suited for this pack. This could be a me problem though, with some adjustments and practice I might be able to figure it out.
Overall great product, I hope this is the last pack I buy for a while.
Hypalon internal retractors attachments
Comes with foam fly patch system
4-point harness structure with full shoulder straps
Two additional mesh-based accessory pockets
Web loop and D-ring attachments
A bit on the expensive side
3.Orvis Chest Pack
The Orvis Chest Pack is ideal for anglers that want to pack all the right accessories and essentials while trekking upstream or standing in waist deep water. The chest pack only weighs 12-oz and has a 5 liter holding capacity. However, the only potential problem with the pack is the fact that it isn’t waterproof, but water-resistant, and there’s a difference. While this can be undesirable for some fishers, for most anglers, this isn’t going to be much of a problem.
For example, waterproof zippers are a bit stubborn to open and close, and this could be an irritatingly frustrating problem for anglers that want quick access. The Orvis Chest Pack doesn’t have this problem. Similarly, even if the compartment gets wet, they will dry out quickly compared to a waterproof pack.
Moreover, there are also some pretty neat design features on the pack. For example, the Orvis Chest Pack has a drying patch located at the top and the zipper at the front, along with the gusset, can be completely opened, transforming into a flexible rigging station.
Amazon top review:
A quality Orvis product. Orvis is always a bit pricy but you know what your getting will be good.
Added neck strap
Can be worn on the waist
Comfortable shoulder strap
5 liter holding capacity
Premium Fly Fishing Chest Packs
Now that you have a good overview of a wide range of fly fishing chest packs, we want to present you two high end products to wrap up this review. If you are looking for the ultimate in fishing chest packs, this is for you.
4.FishPond Cross-Current Chest Pack
The FishPond Cross-Current is designed for anglers to store even more equipment and accessories. You can easily keep your steelhead fly equipment more organized and easy to reach. But perhaps the best thing about the Cross-Current packs is the fact that it features a magnetic rigging station. It’s a drop down system that comes with a foam patch, fly box, etc. allowing you to set up and use all your items quickly and seamlessly. The chest pack also comes with a built-in net holder at the back. There’s a dedicated slot at the rear so that you won’t have to carry the net in your hand.
The FishPond Cross-Current is designed to be worn high up on the body, which means it’s not going to get easily wet and will keep all your equipment nice and dry. And with a snag-free shoulder strap, the pack brilliantly shift all its weight evenly across your body when you’re trekking through water.
Amazon top review:
Loved all the pocket room and also the magnetized pocket. That is a solid addition.
The only thing I feel could make this product any better would be if it had more outside connection parts. (Places to hook on additional pieces) I lost a knife out of the front pocket on the first day of use. But I chalked that up as a learning experience. Now I use a Bungie cord type thing to secure on outside tools. (line snippers, and plyers). But I wish I had a little more room for more things to hook onto.
It has held up through multiple uses so far. In fact, I think it is getting more comfortable the more I “break it in”. I love this thing and will be using it for the foreseeable future. Fishpond makes a great product.
Magnetic drop-down workstation
Lightweight nylon fabric
Magnetic front compartment to store fly boxes and pucks
Zippered front main compartment
A bit pricey
5.FishPond Thunderhead Chest Pack
The FishPond Thunderhead is designed with durable and strong nylon, coated with waterproof TPU technology. What’s even more impressive is that it is made with recycled nylon, making the product more environment-friendly. The pack weighs 5-lbs and has a 5 liter holding capacity. It safe to say that the Thunderhead is an ideal fly fishing chest pack that can help boost your fishing experience no matter what the situation is. With the perfect size, the chest pack can hold essential fishing gear and accessories along with storing your personal items.
The FishPond Thunderhead Chest also features a variety of connection compartments and tabs, helping hold your tippets, floatants, pliers, etc. Moreover, the pack also comes with a built-in net holder slot at the back. Overall, the chest pack is perfect for experienced and beginner anglers alike.
Amazon top review:
Allows me to take a real camera along without worrying about getting it wet. Also has a nice slot inside for my phone. I like the ability to wear it three ways: as a standalone pack with the included harness, attached to a Fishpond backpack, or mounted to a wading belt. Construction and material quality are excellent.
Nitpicks: The front zipper pouch will fit slim fly boxes, but I wish it had more depth. The TIZIP zipper on the main compartment requires two hands to operate (this is true of all TIZIP systems), so it would be nice if the front could hold more stuff for quick access. The buckles releases can be a little stiff, particularly when it’s cold out. None of these are showstoppers.
TPU coated waterproof technology
Zippers are waterproof
Lightweight with 5 liter holding capacity
Net holder at the rear
Best Entry Level Fly Fishing Chest Packs Under $100
In line with the above-mentioned factors, we’ve done some critical research in bringing you 8 of the best fly fishing chest packs in terms of quality, durability, a great design, and price. So, without further ado, let’s dive in shall we.
6.Kylebooker Lightweight Fly Fishing Chest Bag
There are times when you just don’t want to pack a ton of stuff for the trip. You want to keep things nice and simple, pack a fly box, carry a couple spools of fishing lines, and your typical fly fishing equipment. The Kylebooker Fly Fishing Chest Bag is ideal for that purpose.
The fishing pack is designed with comfort and functionality in mind and allows the person to wear it across one shoulder. The pack has an unobstructed design, which means it won’t block your view or come in your way. You’ll have quick access to all your accessories and equipment. Plus, the Kylebooker Fly Fishing Chest Bag has a padded shoulder strap, guaranteeing round the clock comfort.
The pack offers streamline ergonomics and is lightweight. Made with topnotch polyester, the pack just weighs 12-oz. You can carry the Kylebooker Fly Fishing Chest Bag in saltwater or freshwater and it’s big enough to store all the essential equipment. The pack has one big compartment along with four smaller exterior compartments. All pockets are zipper closures and can store multiple items such as your wallet, a tackle box, your smartphone, pliers, fly lure, etc. In all, an excellent and affordable fly fish chest pack for occasional fishing.
Amazon top review:
Okay so I just received my bag and upon opening I was really surprised to see how small it is, however now that I look at it and open it and play around with it there’s a lot of room in this bag and it’s actually kind of cool that it’s a little bit smaller.. I love backpacks I have many 51124, SOG, OAKLEY DA KINE, MILWAUKEE,SWISS ARMY, you won’t mind it at all …you’ll see it at first and it will surprise you but once you start messing around that youll see that its pretty useful. there I’m not going to talk bad about it cuz I don’t really see nothing bad for the money for the money you’re getting a good price all these people saying that it’s too tall you just have to adjust the straps it’s not too tall it’s fine 100% fine here’s some pictures have fun
Lightweight and simple pack for a variety of items
Comfortable shoulder strap
If you’re in the market for something that’s designed with a multitude of features and bigger pocket sizes, this product isn’t for you.
7.Maximumcatch Fly Fishing Vest Pack
A versatile, comfortable, and lightweight fishing chest pack – the Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest Pack guarantees flexibility and ease of movement, especially if you don’t want to pack a lot of fishing gear. The fly fishing chest pack is made with lightweight, breathable fabric that’s going to help keep the air circulating throughout the bag and your chest, which means you won’t be sweating as much. The chest pack just weighs 24.5-oz, which means you could stand and fish for hours and you won’t even feel as if you’re wearing anything.
The Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest Pack helps pack all the essentials. You can pack a variety of different fly boxes, spools of leader, and lures in the two big and zipped pockets at the front. The fly benches are easy to access and consist of a mesh expansion to help store tippet spools. The mesh pockets are impressively big and are also designed with additional zipped compartment to store more gear.
The shoulder strap is made with soft polyester for added ergonomics and flexibility and the strap is adjustable with a suspension style. The Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest Pack is designed for comfort, flexibility, and durability – just grab the bag and head out to fish without needing to pack a lot of items. It’s great for habitual and frequent fishers.
Amazon top review:
This is a great chest pack. I was looking for something small and lightweight. This fit perfectly. I have used this 4 weekends now and It is about 90% of what I wanted.
Inside pocket is large enough for both my fly boxes (in their own mesh pockets) and a few extra things.
Fold down pocket is nice with the removable foam.
Neck strap padding makes a huge difference.
Straps sizes are a little odd (I’m 5’7″ and 175lbs and the one that goes around my chest is a little snug.)
The neck strap is slightly long.
The anchor points for hanging tippet and nippers is a bit odd but not in the way
Two large pockets to store essentials
Ladders for attaching additional accessories
External coil retractors
Soft shoulder padding
Won’t help you if you want to pack more equipment and accessories
Only two pockets
8.FishPond San Juan Vertical Chest Pack
The FishPond San Juan Vertical Chest Pack is a bit different than the other two products in the list because it has a convertible, vertical strap structure, which means you can wear it on either shoulder. Moreover, for added convenience and ergonomics, the chest pack can also be converted into a belt pack. You can easily detach the strap and wear it like a fanny pack.
But it’s not recommended if you’re standing in waist deep water. However, if you don’t want to wear it on the waist or the shoulders, you can easily add a clip to the FishPond San Juan Vertical Chest Pack and wear it around your neck. However, keep in mind that it may strain your neck if you’ve packed a lot of items.
One of the most durable fly fishing chest packs, the FishPond San Juan has two main compartments – one pocket’s large and can hold a variety of different fishing accessories and your personal items. The other pocket’s smaller and has a sit-flat design. However, the smaller pocket has a detachable foam that you can use to dry or store your flies. The main compartment has a soft divider to help keep all your items divided and flexible to use.
Amazon top review:
This is a great little chest pack. Sure, there could be a few more things on it, like pockets, bigger overall and such. However, it’s small enough, that fully loaded, it fits in the outside pouch of my Osprey 32L hiking pack. So I don’t have to wear this while I’m hiking, which indeed makes you hotter. It has plenty of space on the fly tray for all the flies (20 or so) I will need for the specific are I’m hiking to. The main pouch has plenty of room for the majority of necessities, like hemostat, nippers, extra tippet, a float spray, readers, etc. I will say I only dry fly fish. It may be cramped if you’re taking all the stuff for Nymphing, but for my purposes, it has filled the need nicely.
Vertical design to wear on either shoulder, your waist, and neck
Two zippered compartments
Made with classic FishPond webbing and cord loop to help attach additional accessories
Small chest pack
Doesn’t hold a lot of items like a water bottle or snacks
Bottom Line on the Best Fly Fishing Chest Packs
While we’ve helped you narrow down the list of the top fly fishing chest pack, featuring products in different price ranges, it’s important to know that the final buying decision will always be based on your preference.
While affordable chest packs provide flexibility and convenience, you may find that they won’t adequately hold all your items. However, going for a pricey option is a permanent and long-term solution. For example, our top pick is the Thunderhead by FishPond – purely because of the range of features it comes with along with the convenience it offers.
Best Fly Fishing Chest Pack: Frequently Asked Questions
What should I look for in a quality fishing chest pack?
A topnotch fly fishing chest pack should have waterproof compartments and zippers along with comfortable and adjustable shoulder straps. It should also have universal design to fit all body types. Moreover, it’s important to look for a chest pack that’s designed with breathable mesh for adequate airflow. Finally, the chest pack should, at minimum, have 3 pockets.
Should I consider how the chest pack fits me?
Yes. A good fishing chest pack has to easily yet snuggly fit on your body. Because you’re going to be moving in the water, it should be able to evenly distribute its weight, providing snag-free maneuverability.
What is a fishing chest pack?
A fly fishing chest pack is an important accessory that enables anglers to store all the necessary items and accessories they need for the trip. While they won’t store everything a traditional fishing vest would, chest packs are ideal for lightweight carrying. Other than that, chest packs allows users to carry fishing flies, leader spools, and all the other necessary essential in an organized manner. Plus, packs allow for quick equipment access.
Do I need a fly fishing pack?
If you’re a committed angler or enjoy a more adventurous type of fishing – such as fly fishing, then yes, a fishing chest pack can help make your experience all the more enjoyable. You see, fly fishing mainly involves trekking upstream in waist deep waters, which means you’ll need quick access to your fishing accessories while standing on the water. Backpacks can’t offer that luxury.
Notice: We take part in so-called affiliate programs such as Amazon Associates. If you click on one of the links in the text and end up purchasing a product we earn a small commission at no extra cost for you. We only recommend products we would use ourselves. All product photos courtesy of amazon. Learn more.
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