Choosing Your Wingman: Fly Fishing Backpack vs Sling Pack vs Hip Pack

Leonard Schoenberger

This debate has been going on for a long time:

The question of choosing a fly fishing backpack, sling pack or hip pack has anglers pondering the best sidekick for their journey. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of each, helping you find the perfect companion for your angling escapades.

Fly Fishing Backpacks: Your Mobile Basecamp

Simms Dry Creek Rolltop Backpack P
A fly fishing backpack such as the Simms Rolltop can store the most gear. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

Advantages of Using a Fly Fishing Backpack

Capacity for Days: Backpacks offer ample space, perfect for carrying a day’s worth of gear, lunch, and maybe even a rain jacket for those unpredictable weather turns.

Even Weight Distribution: With both shoulder straps, the weight is evenly distributed on your back, minimizing strain during long treks to your favorite fishing spot.

Versatility: Many fly fishing backpacks come with various compartments, letting you organize your gear systematically. Some even have built-in hydration systems, keeping you refreshed on the go.

Disadvantages of Using a Fly Fishing Backpack

Accessibility Challenge: Getting to your gear while on the water can be a bit cumbersome, especially if you have to take the backpack off every time.

Bulk Factor: The larger capacity can be a double-edged sword. While it’s fantastic for packing essentials, it might feel a bit bulky and cumbersome in tight spaces.

Sling Packs: The Quick Draw Artists

Fishpond Thunderhead Sling review
A sling such as the Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible allows for quick and easy access without the need to take your pack off your back. Photo: Christian Anwander

Advantages of Using a Sling Pack

Swift Access: Sling packs excel in quick access to your gear. A swift swing to the front, and you have everything at your fingertips without the need to take off the pack.

Light and Nimble: Designed for mobility, sling packs are lightweight and don’t hinder your movement, making them ideal for those who prefer to stay nimble on the water.

Comfortable Wear: With a single strap across the chest, sling packs provide a comfortable wear, and they can be easily adjusted for a snug fit.

Disadvantages of Using a Sling Pack

Limited Storage: The downside of the nimble design is limited storage space. Sling packs might not be suitable for those who carry a lot of gear or plan for longer fishing trips.

Weight Distribution: The weight tends to be on one side, and for some anglers, this might lead to fatigue or discomfort during extended use.

Hip Packs: Streamlined and Efficient

Patagonia Guidewater Hip Pack with rod tube
Using a hip pack such as the Patagonia Guidewater can be a great way to bring a little extra gear without feeling bulky. Fly fishing backpack vs sling pack vs hip pack guide. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

Advantages of Using a Hip Pack

Streamlined Design: Hip packs keep your essentials close, providing a streamlined and efficient way to carry gear without the bulk of a backpack.

Freedom of Movement: With the weight centered on your hips, these packs allow for excellent freedom of movement, crucial for navigating tricky terrains.

Easy On and Off: Quick to put on and take off, hip packs are perfect for those who value simplicity and want to focus more on the fishing than the gear.

Disadvantages of Using a Hip Pack

Limited Capacity: Similar to sling packs, hip packs may lack the space for those who like to be fully prepared for any scenario, limiting their suitability for longer excursions.

Potential Waist Strain: Carrying too much weight on your hips for extended periods can potentially strain your lower back or hips, making them less suitable for all-day wear.

Choosing Your Adventure Sidekick

Fishpond Thunderhead Fly Fishing Hip Bag and Cabelas Rod Combo: Fly fishing Backpack vs Sling Pack vs Hip pack Guide
Fly fishing backpack vs sling pack vs hip pack: each one of these options has its pros and cons. Photo: Leonard Schoenberger

In the end, the choice between a fly fishing backpack, sling pack, or hip pack boils down to your personal preferences and the type of adventures you seek. Whether you prioritize storage space, quick access, or streamlined efficiency, there’s a perfect companion waiting to join you on the water.

FAQs: Fly fishing Backpack vs Sling Pack vs Hip pack

Can I use a fly fishing backpack for short trips?

Absolutely! Fly fishing backpacks offer versatility, making them suitable for short trips and longer excursions alike.

Are sling packs comfortable for all-day wear?

While sling packs are designed for mobility, prolonged use may lead to discomfort for some anglers. It’s essential to find the right fit and balance.

Can a hip pack hold a fly rod?

It depends on the design. Some hip packs come with straps or attachments for a fly rod, but not all of them are equipped for this purpose.

How do I choose the right size for a hip pack?

Consider the essentials you want to carry. If you prefer a minimalist approach, a smaller hip pack might suffice. For more gear, opt for a larger size.

Can I wear a backpack with a chest pack or sling pack?

While it might be possible, it can get a bit cumbersome and defeat the purpose of the streamlined design of chest packs or slings.