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> > Vests vs. Chest packs

DanoOctober 25th, 2007, 11:45 am
Vanderbilt, Michigan

Posts: 101
DaveZ's comment over in the "KIS(S) in fly selection" discussion on the transition from vest to chest pack in reducing the number of flies one carries reminded me that I am considering just such a transition...

The vest I wear is well over 25 years old (Columbia "Deschutes") and is still in excellent shape; no tears, holes, fraying, etc. And since I'm tighter than bark on a tree (not to mention somewhat "auld school"; I still wear 3ply canvas waders), I'm somewhat hesitant on retiring the ol' girl.

Lately, I've been looking into chest packs and have pretty much narrowed my choices down to Fishpond's "Double Haul" or their "Windwalker". When fishing for trout it generally ends up being an all day afair, hence I do quite a bit of hiking. I don't carry alot with me; 3 fly boxes, a streamer wallet, a leader wallet, 2 extra spools for the reel, spooled tippet material, nippers, forceps, and of course, a net.

Any who, I'd be interested in hearing opinions specific to the above mentioned packs or thoughts in general on vests vs. packs.


Eventually, all things merge into one...and a river runs through it.
IEatimagoOctober 25th, 2007, 2:03 pm
Spring Mills, PA

Posts: 97
ill never use a vest again, specialy if its kahki,
i love my chest pack but even more now the weather is cooler my sims jacket really makes things simple.
FalsiflyOctober 25th, 2007, 2:19 pm
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 661
I'm sorry I can't offer an opinion on packs as I've never had one. About the vests I do have an opinion. My fishing excursion begins in late February thru the first week of April. I fish every day normally beginning at about 0900 and finish about 1600. I would fish later but I can't recall ever seeing an evening hatch this time of year HaHa. I concentrate on Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. As most people are aware morning temperatures can start out well below freezing. However, as strange as it may seem, day time highs can become quite warm. I start out with long underwear, a heavy shirt and my vest lightly loaded with my essential fly fishing paraphernalia over which is fit a light weight breathable wading jacket. Include fingerless wool gloves, wool stocking cap, bottle of water, and a good sandwich and I am ready to go. As some days go I need storage room for this cold weather gear when the heet turns on. I prefer the vest because it is relatively inexpensive, light, non balky can be loaded in various ways and offers room for expansion when needed. In warmer climes I use a mesh vest, light, cool and still with enough room for water, lunch, rain gear and whatever my trip my trigger for the day. In the past I have succumb to the temptation of trying this and trying that. As I am much older now I stick with what works for me. If you are young and have the money go for the pack I would. Only then will you know the answer.
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
McjamesOctober 25th, 2007, 2:22 pm
Cortland Manor, NY

Posts: 139
This summer I bought a used camelbak backpack w/ 3L water bladder, and a used Orvis "safe passage" vest/pack... the one that has 2 front nylon pockets. took the 2 front pockets off the Orvis pack and put them on the camelback shoulder straps (gave the useless, tiny Orvis backpack to may 4 yr old daughter). I love it. I also do alot of hiking to get to less crowded spots and the hydration pack is key (hiked 5 miles into the Ventana Wilderness to fish the Big Sur river in California, and it was 1000X better having the hydration pack vs. lugging water bottles). Plus can throw a sandwich and jacket, or extra fly boxes, in the pack. I bought everything on eBay and all in cost me around $100. Off the rack hydration fishing vests start at $150 I think. I can put up pics if you want.
I am haunted by waters
DanoOctober 25th, 2007, 3:48 pm
Vanderbilt, Michigan

Posts: 101

Well, I'm closer to 60 than 50 so I'm not inclined to make a change just for the sake of it. And it does get pretty nipply out here in my neck o' the woods. In fact on the 16th of September, the air temp was 25F when I got streamside at 0630...

Any who, I was thinking there might be some compelling reason to step up to the counter. I really like the idea of the water system that Fishpond has but hey, $119 seems a bit much for something to hold my fly boxes and what not. Think I only paid around $25 for that Deschutes. Seems to me all that "stuff" protruding from one's chest would kinda get in the way strippin' off line when casting...

James, thanks for the offer. Funny you mention Orvis; back in the day my fishin' buddies called me "Orvis Man Dan" and were surprised when I got the "Deschutes". I did check out their vests/packs but Orvis is kinda on my chit list; mainly for gettin' in bed with Wally World and for discontinuing the "Super Strong" leader kits...

At this point I "need" a lot of convincing from folks who've used both. The salesclerks I talk to are more hype than help...


Eventually, all things merge into one...and a river runs through it.
FlybinderOctober 27th, 2007, 1:28 am
Oregon Coast

Posts: 60
Gesus!! After reading about all you "old boys" that are about ready to "Go and grab a good position on the "General Store porch", before all the rockers are taken"......... I feel pretty darn good,for being 58 years old, in 2 months and having the onset of Parkinson's, plus already having an advancing bone disease and STILL, love, "buying new gear" and "trying out new gizmos"!?!
Even though, I'd have to borrow $10.00 just to be considered "poor", the last thing I skimp on is my fly fishing.
As to the "post", however.............. I've fished both, the chest packs and the vests, ever since the packs came popular years ago. For a long, long, time I used only the basic "single pocket style", until the newer ones, with the drop down "table" came along. Then,I wore an L.L.Bean's for several years, until I bought Fish Pond's "Water Dance", model pack and LOVE IT.
With the Parkinson's, I naturally "shake a bit" at times, now, so the fold down table/fly patch of the chest pack, has not only made tying on flies a lot easier, but also kept a lot of my flies and fly boxes, from floating off down river if I let go of one, accidently.
All my "tools" are also, right there, lined up along the back of the table,ready and very easy to get to. No retractors to fool with, either, since everything has its own "pocket" it fits into!
The Water Dance, has dual water bottle holders, one, on each side of the wide and comfortable, waist belt. If I want/need/or care to... carry even MORE stuff along, there's loops, eyelets, etc, on the pack to add thing and far more, than even I'LL ever use.
As for "hanging out, in front to get tangled up with",when I'm not, getting into it for something, it simply slides around out of the way, either to my side, or clear to the rear, out of the way.
I wear my Fish Pond mesh vest, when it's called for, but mainly when I'm dressed for cold water and cold weather, i.e. steelhead fishing one of Oregon's cold rivers.I bought it large large enough, to wear over the top of my layered clothing and wading jacket. That's about the ONLY time, I've found, that I do prefer my vest, over my chest pack.... when I have to wear a lot of layered clothing, my rain/wading jacket and then, the chest pack is just to far "out there in front" for my liking and with so many layers on, it's hard to sling it around and out of the way, usually.
So, I use both, LOVE both and BOTH have a real use and place, in my every day fishing set up!
"You should'a been here, NEXT week,the fishing's great!"
DanoOctober 27th, 2007, 8:34 am
Vanderbilt, Michigan

Posts: 101
Thanks for the input, Flybinder...I will say, though, I'm far from looking for a rockin' chair...You do have my sincere condolences for your afflictions and your post makes much sense to me.

Currently the shops "near" me (Medford and Bend) that carry Fishpond products don't have any "Waterdances" in stock so I wasn't able to try one on. It was one that I considered, though. Perhaps I should reconsider, eh?


Eventually, all things merge into one...and a river runs through it.
JADOctober 27th, 2007, 10:08 am
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362

Hello everyone
Ok I'm hooked I have to respond, Here goes---I wear a full vest in the early part of the season, (a Fish Pond $139.00)
When it starts to get warm I switch to a Williams Joseph mini chest pack $39.00 small light and only holds nymph supplies (all nymphs) the pack stands alone for nymph fishing. In my shirt pocket I carry a midge box and one Dry fly of the season with one emerger or an ant and a beetle. But----ready for this if I'm fishing Penns or unfamiliar water systems I also wear a fish pond fanny pack that will hold the kitchen sink if I want to carry it.
I hope this helps ,if I had to count my words I would have to say I like the chest pack the most, not being influenced the warm pleasant days and evenings of summer.

Another john

They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cocks wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
TroutnutOctober 27th, 2007, 12:08 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2737
Since moving to Alaska I've switched to wearing one of those inflatable PFD vests. I spend too much time on fast, cold rivers with no help for miles, so even though I rarely fall in a river I don't want to take any chances. It offers about the same amount of storage as a chest pack and in the same size as a vest, but the potential-life-saving-ness counts for something. :) Also, I don't need that many flies up here.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
CaseyPOctober 27th, 2007, 3:21 pm
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
any woman will tell you that the hardest thing in the world to buy is a purse. getting one just right is an art stands to reason that fly fishing gear is the same! i started out with a kid's vest that was cheap and light and amazingly durable (Rio Grande?) and i still use it in the spring when i have to carry pruners and gloves to teach the trees some manners and restrain the millefleur. however, mostly i wear a small pocket on a lanyard. it's about 4"x6"x2. there's a soft foam cover on the adjustable lanyard, lots of loops and d-rings and so on on the pocket to attach tools, along with a velcro panel to attach a foam fly garage. inside, there's room for a C+F Designs flybox on one side of the pocket, and two or three tippet spools, thermometer, spare leader, bug repellent sachet, Toobie weight system, etc, etc, etc, on the other side of the pocket. net and license holder hang off the lanyard in back. there's even a clip at the bottom to hitch to your belt so the whole thing doesn't get dunked when you lean over to net that magnificent fish. it's too small to be in the way, or to ever get too heavy!
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
JADOctober 27th, 2007, 3:33 pm
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362

Instead of carrying bug spray. take a couple paper towels and spray the towels with bug repelant and put in small plastic bag and keep in back.


They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cocks wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
CaseyPOctober 28th, 2007, 6:58 am
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
JAD, the Cutter folk saw me coming, and now they make a bug repellent product that comes in a little package like a wet hand washer towelette. there's enough juice in the thing to cover a couple of people--just remember to carefully clean your hands after applying it so the DEET won't get on the fly line. someone, i think on this forum, let out the secret that bug repellent was originally formulated as a vinyl solvent. usually we use something more herbal and much less lethal, but there are times when only the big guns will work.
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
FlybinderOctober 28th, 2007, 9:38 pm
Oregon Coast

Posts: 60
Or, you can forgo the paper soaked w/repellent, the cans of spray, etc. and wear just a "Bug-Off" shirt and hat!
When this new line of clothing came out, I imagine like a lot of folks I thought, "yeah.... RIGHT!Like how well does THIS stuff, work?"
Well, after not being able to resist any longer, I bought one shirt.
To make a long story, even longer.... after trying it stream side, washing it and wearing and washing it four more times, I gagged down the crow I had to eat, by putting catsup on it! (or, did I put ketchup on it?)
"You should'a been here, NEXT week,the fishing's great!"
DavezNovember 2nd, 2007, 9:14 am

Posts: 59
My wife continually laughs at me and my fishin bros about our purses.

whenever a new catalog arrives, she says "oo, what are the new purse designs this year?"

it is pretty hilarious!

I have alot of opinions on the chest packs, as I went through what you were going through now, Dano...

All I can say, is try them out- and you will probably end up with one or two that cover your bases. I have one of those fishpond Double hauls- with the water bladder and full backpack. I used it on one trip to CO. Ill use it again this year in montana. But in PA (home) it sits in the closet. I really never use it. it is like brand new. it balances very nicely when loaded down, however you will sweat your back off with one of these.

Avoid the ones that zip or snap up the middle, and have a front pack on each side- it feels as if you have boobs, and it is really annoying. I like the ones that are small up front but have a sizable backpack for the long trips. My still, all time fave is the old columbia fleece lined one that is like 6x7 inches. its tiny, light and if you cut out the fleece it has tons more room. you can't find them anymore. bummer.

Seirra trading post had the green Sage hip pack- and that thing rocks. i bought one for 24 bucks and find it has more room than you could imagine. two cans of beer, camera and fishing stuff fit nicely. it works great wet wading and when doing general torut fishing- not going too deep.

good luck.

DanoNovember 3rd, 2007, 4:15 am
Vanderbilt, Michigan

Posts: 101
Thanks for the input, Dave.

I guess what appealed to me about the Double Haul is that it's a "two in one" deal. For the shorter outings go with the chest pack only; for the longer ones dock the chest pack to the back pack...

The regular season closed on the 31st, so I'm pretty much done for the year. I'll mull it over during the off season...


Eventually, all things merge into one...and a river runs through it.
SlateDrake9November 4th, 2007, 9:35 am
Potter County, PA

Posts: 144
I've gone through vests, chest packs, chest packs with backpacks, chest boxes, using my wading jacket as a vest (I loved this option for winter fishing) and the like.

I've always returned to the vest, until this summer. I purchased a Chapman Artist's bag (it's a traditional fishing bag). I don't think I will ever go back to a vest or pack again. I can carry everything I did in a vest, just as well organized, but no back ache. It's super easy to take off and set on the bank if I want to and has been great on hike in trips. I can't say enough about a good fishing bag. It took me back to my early days of fishing that I used a canvas creel, but with internal pockets, much better organized.

Just my two cents.
Fishing with bait is like swearing in church.
-- Slate Drake
FlybinderNovember 5th, 2007, 6:25 am
Oregon Coast

Posts: 60
My fishing fool, errrr, "Partner" sorry, of some 30 plus years, went to the EXACT SAME bag that you write about and he LOVES IT! "Bishop", (his nickname, not his profession), and I have probably used every means ever devised, to carry our portable fly shops with us when out foaming up the water over the years.
I've loved chest packs, but currently wear a Fish Pond Tech Vest, for winter fishing. Bishop, was using a "Field Master" fish bag, which is nylon-multi-compartments- with stiff divider inserts, so it always is more or less, in a "box like construction mode". Stiff and bulky.
When he ran across the Chapman at a garage sale this summer, he thought he'd give it a shot since he only paid $3.00 for it, tags still attached. He, now, won't even consider any other means when on the water.
I was glad to see your post, on this bag. Being made on the other side of The Pond, neither of us had ever heard of them before! (or, since!)
"You should'a been here, NEXT week,the fishing's great!"
SlateDrake9November 5th, 2007, 4:38 pm
Potter County, PA

Posts: 144

$3 Wow. They go for about $200 American new, plus shipping. He got a great deal. Is his the artist's bag or another type. There are several different fishing bags in their catalog.

Slate Drake
Fishing with bait is like swearing in church.
-- Slate Drake
IrishanglerNovember 6th, 2007, 12:56 pm
Posts: 12I'm into traveling as lightly as possible and have tried traditional vests, chest packs, fanny packs, etc. While shopping for school supplies for my kids I noticed a bandoleer-style backpack and thought this might work for trout fishing. I have to tell you that it's been a surprisingly worthwhile purchase. It has a nicely padded shoulder strap over my right shoulder and hangs comfortably under my left arm. It's not quite as big as a standard backpack, but easily holds three large fly boxes, camera, packable rain jacket, and a bottle of water in the main compartment. It also has a smaller compartment outside where I keep leaders, tippet, etc. Both compartments have dual zippers that can be unzipped from the bottom without any risk of spilling things. There's also a heavy-duty bungee loop on the back of the the shoulder strap where I've attached my magnetic net holder. I've seen similar styles in fishing catalogs (I believe Orvis makes one) but they come at a price that made me think twice. I paid $16.00. It should be noted that I happened to find one in dark green and tan. I might not be as elated with the other choices that were hot pink and blue. With this and my trusty lanyard I'm set.
By the way, this is my first post. I recently discovered this site and am impressed with the abundance of knowledge and tips being readily shared. Thanks.

FlybinderNovember 6th, 2007, 1:45 pm
Oregon Coast

Posts: 60
Slate Drake;
Bishop scored "The Artist's" model, we looked it up, on Chapman's web site!! Yes, he certainly "scored well" on this one!! But, he and I, love hitting the junk stores, etc. as often as we can. Few junk store owners, really don't have a clue as to items of our sport and that makes for some GREAT buys!

Last year, at a place that sells "donated goods,to help support animal neutering and spaying", in their "garden section" was what THEY THOUGHT was a "weed eater spool" for grass trimming. Turns out, I got a "Hardy Gem", for FIFTY CENTS. Next to this "Hardy weed eater part", was a brand new, still in the box..... "AirFlo WF-5-F line, which I paid .25 cents for! They thought it was the "string", that went with the weed eater spool"!

WELCOME!!! Yes, this is a great site, and there's lots and lots of very knowledgeable fly fishers here. We may not, any of us, KNOW all that much, beyond our own trials and tribulations from years on the water, but at LEAST we have a lot of fun whining, complaining, sharing, swapping and over all spouting off, about, what we HAVE learned!
And, of course, the nice part being........ everyone's willing to share that information freely. Glad you're here, enjoy and jump right in!
"You should'a been here, NEXT week,the fishing's great!"

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