Best Fly Fishing Sling Packs: Top 9 Reviewed (2020)

Published September 22, 2020

Introduction

If you’re in search of the perfect new sling pack, you’ve come to the place. Not all sling packs are the same—different sizes, styles, extra features, and price make choosing a sling pack a difficult task. Hopefully with our help this review can help narrow down your search so you can spend less time shopping and more time on the water. 

In this guide we’ll cover

  • What is a sling pack?
  • Why sling packs over other packs and vests?
  • What to look for?
  • Best overall fly fishing sling packs
  • Superior lightweight packs
  • Best sling pack for the money // Budget
  • Best sling pack for under $100.00
  • And much more!

Let’s get started

Fishpond Flathead Sling Pack

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What Is a Sling Pack?

Sling packs have found their way into fly fishing, and many anglers have embraced this style of pack. A sling pack is a type of bag that fits on your back with the use of one shoulder strap that crosses your chest, along with a smaller strap that goes around your waist keeping everything in place.

Sling packs generally range in size from 1-2 pounds and can hold 10 to 20 liters.

Key point: Most sling packs are meant to be carried over your right shoulder, but several newer models have been introduced that offer ambidextrous options allowing the pack to be carried on either right or left side.

Why Sling Packs Over Other Packs or Vests?

Simms-g3-stocking-foot-waders-camoThere’s a reason why sling packs are so popular with anglers. For starters, they are generally lightweight and easy to pack. Secondly, they offer comfort and added mobility–something that larger backpacks, chest packs, and vests might not support. Next, sling packs can carry more than a traditional vest and even most chest or waist packs. And lastly, sling packs offer ease of use on the water. With just a flip of the pack you have all of your essentials items right in front of you. 

What To Look For In a Sling Pack?

  • Space – This goes without saying. The amount of space is one of the most important features to be aware of when looking for a sling pack. Looks can be deceiving and it’s hard to know how much space a bag actually holds. We’ve included how much each pack can hold in liters. A 10 liter bag will hold about 4 large fly boxes with room to spare for strike indicators, weight, floatant, leaders, ect. 18 liters and up will hold 6 large fly boxes, all the necessary gear , and will have room left over for food and a light jacket. 
Orvis Safe Passage Sling Pack
  • Organization – I wanted to highlight organization because it is often overlooked, and an issue that can cause a lot of frustration on the water (speaking from personal experience). Because the sling pack will move around a lot from normal travel and swinging from your back to chest, having multiple internal pockets and dividers will help keep your fly boxes and other gear in place. I have used a well known sling pack that did not have any dividers and my bag was a constant mess, making it hard to find what I needed. 
  • Size and shape – Some sling packs are fat and oval shaped which allow for bulkier gear; while others are rectangular and elongated—lying flat against your back.  It is important to find the right size and shape to fit your needs. I generally prefer a longer and slimmer sling pack because I do a lot of bushwhacking through thick trees. A larger pack that protrudes further will get stuck and snagged on passing branches.  
  • Comfort and adjustability – Comfort goes along with size. The larger the sling pack the heavier and less mobile you will be. All sling packs will have adjustable straps, but making sure they can adjust easily while on the water is a must. 
  • Ambidextrous – As mentioned earlier, many sling packs are being designed to be worn over the right or left shoulder. This might be an important feature for a left handed caster or someone that wants the option to change shoulders for whatever reason—ie. muscle soreness or convenience. 
  • Extra features you may want? – Different packs will come equipped with special features and perks. Because of the diversity among packs it’s easy to find one that fits your unique needs—such as a net slot, built in zingers, fly drying patch, water bottle holder, ect.
fly-fishing-gear

Best Fly Fishing Sling Packs (Overall)

While these sling packs may be on the more expensive side, they feature all of the new and unique features you could want in a pack—with a few extras that will make your time on the water more enjoyable. 

1. Fishpond Flathead Sling Pack

Fishpond are such an authority with fly fishing packs—this guide would not be complete without them.

The Fishpond Flathead is clean, slick, incredibly functional and lightweight. It features an adjustable ambidextrous shoulder strap offering versatility and convenience. There is a quick-access magnetic front pocket that is a unique and helpful feature. The clam shell opening doubles as a workstation while on the water, with 2 removable dividers to stay organized.

The pack also includes a molded back panel with a net slot, which is awesome and saves you cash on a net release. 

Features//Specs:

  • 10 liters
  • 1.5 pounds
  • Ambidextrous design
  • Fold down workbench
  • Large clam shell opening
  • External magnetic pocket for easy access
  • Removable foam fly patch
  • Net slot
  • Tool attachment on top, bottom, and sides
  • Two water bottle holders

2. Simms Freestone Ambidexterous Tactical Sling Pack

The Simms Freestone sling is one of a kind. It features some of the most superior components in pack design, allowing for optimal use.

My favorite thing about this pack is how slim it is. It’s not as large as other packs but sometimes that extra bulk can be more annoying than beneficial.

At 15 liters it still has plenty of room for all your necessary gear. It has tons of external tools ports and daisy chains for your nippers, tippet ring, floatant, and hemostats. 

Features//Specs:

  • 15 liters
  • 1 pound
  • Slim design that lays flat
  • Ambidextrous design can be carried on right or left shoulder
  • Magnetic docking station for tools
  • 4-way zipper allows entry from top, bottom, and sides
  • Wide strap to hold additional with accessory ports and nippers
  • Dedicated tippet ring and floatant holder
  • Net holder 
  • Compression straps for rod storage
  • External daisy chains for additional tools

3. Orvis Safe Passage Guide Sling Pack

If we were rating sling packs solely on aesthetics the Safe Passage one would win.

Orvis’ safe passage guide sling pack has approximately 22 liters of space divided between the main compartment and large external pocket. With this much space you’ll have room for everything you want, and then some.

The shoulder strap can only be worn over the right shoulder but has been reinforced with extra cushion. The thick nylon material is strong enough when moving through trees and branches, but won’t weigh you down.

It also features foam fly drying patch, hemostat sheath with magnetic docking for added security, a hidden zinger port, and much more. This is a great pack at a great price. 

Features//Specs:

  • 22 liters
  • 1.5 pounds
  • Thick nylon material with water resistant coating
  • Cushioned shoulder strap
  • Water bottle holder
  • Foam fly drying patch
  • Hemostat sheath 
  • Zinger port and tools attachment system
  • Internal pockets and dividers
  • Velcro pouch for waterproof pocket (sold separately)
  • Cord loops and daisy chains

4. Umpqua Ambi Sling ZS Pack 

The Umpqua Ambi sling pack is perfect for those longer fly trips. It has ample storage holding 18 liters–enough for a few large fly boxes, leaders, other gear, and food.

This sling pack is ambidextrous and can be worn on either shoulder depending on the needs of the angler.

The main compartment features two zippered locations for easy access to flies. There are also plenty of external accessory ports for all of your tools. 

Features//Specs:

  • 18 Liters
  • 1.9 pounds
  • Adjustable and padded shoulder strap
  • Can be worn on left or right shoulder
  • 5 accessory ports for nippers and other tools
  • 2 tool sheaths 
  • External foam fly holder
  • Main compartment has room for several large fly boxes
  • Separate water bottle compartment
  • External pocket for smaller gear

Best Lightweight Sling Packs

We wanted to include some smaller sling packs for anglers wanting to take a quick trip to the river without the hassle of lugging out all your gear. These packs still offer many of the necessary components, but at the same time, a smaller and lighter design. 

5. TFO Hybrid Backpack/Chest Pack 

This is one of the coolest sling packs we have featured and is also the lightest—weighing in at only 10 ounces. Although it is described as a backpack/chestpack, this useful device sits and feels like a sling pack. 

Despite its small size, this lightweight pack can still hold a lot of gear with 12 liters of storage space. The pack features a large backpack compartment along with a small zippered chest pocket big enough for a fly box, leaders, and small tools.

This is a great little pack at an even better price.

Features//Specs:

  • 12 liters
  • 10 ounces
  • Comfortable 3 strap system that helps keep pack in place
  • Large main back compartment
  • Small front chest pocket
  • Two zingers on front pocket
  • Foam fly drying patch
  • Tippet holder
  • Two side zippers on rear compartment
  • External mesh stash pockets
  • Various O-rings and other tool ports

6. Umpqua Switch Sling Pack

The Umpqua Switch pack is another smaller lightweight pack designed to hold only the essential flies and gear.

At 10 liters and about a pound, it’s not too much to handle when out on the water. This slick little pack features a unique long design that allows for better distribution of weight and does not bulge out like other packs.

The pack is ambidextrous and can be worn comfortably on either shoulder. The added padding makes it hard to notice you’re carrying anything at all. 

Features//Specs:

  • 10 liters
  • 1 pound
  • Ambidextrous design
  • Multiple internal pockets
  • Internal divider for organization
  • Flat external pocket for leaders
  • 2 external tool sheaths
  • Tippet cord
  • Nipper holder/tool port
  • Foam fly patch
  • D-ring for net attachment

Best Fly Fishing Sling Pack For the Money

We wanted to highlight one sling pack that we feel encapsulates the perfect combination of quality, versatility, and price.

7. Fishpond Summit Sling Pack 

The Fishpond Summit sling pack is on the smaller end of what you’re able to hold, but we felt they nailed it with their accessory ports and tool holder locations.

A really cool feature is the material is made from recycled fabric, just one of the many ways fishpond is working to reduce our carbon footprint.

There is a large main compartment with some extra pockets inside to stay organized. The molded external pocket is works well as a workstation changing out flies or trying on tippet.

There is also a net sleeve on the back, and side straps to carry a rod case. 

Currently at $99—this is our pick for “Best Fly Fishing Sling Pack For the Money!”

Features//Specs:

  • 9 liters
  • 2 pounds
  • Made from recycled fabric
  • Large main compartment
  • Molded exterior pocket that doubles as workstation when open
  • External velcro for foam fly patch
  • Multiple tools holders and accessory ports
  • Net sleeve
  • Flexible side straps for rod case

Best Sling Packs Under $100

Sling packs can get expensive and we wanted to share a few packs for anglers on a budget. These are great sling packs and are all under 100.00 dollars!

8. Orvis Safe Passage Sling Pack 

The Orvis Safe Passage sling pack is the smaller version of the guide series. Besides the size, the two packs are virtually identical.

The Safe Passage sling features the same durable nylon material with a comfortable molded back panel, tool ports, zinger attachment, and water bottle holder.

At only 1 pound and holding 10 liters this little pack is perfect for those quick trips to the creek. 

Best Sling Pack Under $100!

Features//Specs:

  • 10 liters
  • 1 pound
  • Durable nylon material with water resistant coating
  • Cushioned shoulder strap
  • Molded back panel
  • Bright interior for spotting stray flies
  • Hemostat sheath
  • Water bottle holder
  • Zinger port and tool holders
  • Internal pockets and dividers

9. Allen Cedar Creek Sling Pack

Allen company has come out with the Cedar Creek sling pack.

This awesome little pack comes equipped with all of the specialties those higher-end brands possess. With all of these great features it’s a mystery how they keep their prices so low.

The main compartment features a large opening for easy access with multiple pockets for added organization. There is a decent size external pocket that folds down creating a workstation and reveals a tippet holder and small fly patch. The outside also includes a ton of small tool ports. 

Features//Specs:

  • 10 liters
  • 1 pound
  • Large main compartment for several fly boxes
  • Many internal pockets and compartments
  • External pocket that doubles as a workstation
  • Zippered shoulder strap pocket
  • Tippet holder
  • Fly patch
  • Tool ports 
  • D-rings for extra tool attachments

Conclusion

It is our hope that this article helps you acquire the best fly fishing sling pack for the money! Please leave a comment and let us know what you liked or needs improvement. If you’d like to see more articles like this one, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter.

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