8 Best Fly Fishing Chest Packs – Buyers’ Guide

// By Leonard Schoenberger

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 a Quality Fly Fishing Pack

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 equipment

Pockets to hold water bottles, food, fly patches, and similar items

Adequate amount of storage in line with your needs

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Best Entry Level Fly Fish 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. 

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.

Pros

Lightweight and simple pack for a variety of items

Durable design

Great price

Comfortable shoulder strap

Cons

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. 

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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. 

Pros

Two large pockets to store essentials

Strong zippers

Ladders for attaching additional accessories

External coil retractors

Soft shoulder padding

Lightweight

Cons

Won’t help you if you want to pack more equipment and accessories

Only two pockets

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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. 

Pros

Lightweight design 

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

Cons

Small chest pack 

Doesn’t hold a lot of items like a water bottle or snacks

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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.

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. 

Pros

Magnetized exterior loops and compartments

3-liter holding capacity

Waterproof

Lightweight pack 

Trippet holder

Cons

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

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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. 

Pros

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 

Cons

A bit on the expensive side

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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. 

Pros

Water-resistant

Added neck strap 

Can be worn on the waist

Lightweight

Comfortable shoulder strap

5 liter holding capacity

Cons

Expensive

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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.

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. 

Pros

Magnetic drop-down workstation

Lightweight nylon fabric

Magnetic front compartment to store fly boxes and pucks

Zippered front main compartment 

Cons

A bit pricey

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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. 

Pros

TPU coated waterproof technology

Zippers are waterproof

Lightweight with 5 liter holding capacity

Net holder at the rear

Removeable straps

Cons

It’s expensive

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Bottom Line

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. 

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.