View Full Version : Vest or Chest Pack

01-18-2010, 12:20 PM
Which do you prefer a vest or chest pack? What brand is your preference?

01-18-2010, 12:41 PM
I prefer a simple chestpack. You should get one without zippers and that folds out flat so that you can look through the pack with ease.

My favorites are made by William Joseph.

-Zippers are bad (line gets caught in them, they have to be relatively straight to zip, ice up, time to zip, accidents = dropping gear, etc...

01-18-2010, 12:48 PM
I'm a gear junkie. Definitely a large vest.

01-18-2010, 01:26 PM
I'm kind of a minimalist most of time and primarily just wear a lanyard and carry a small fanny pack or 1 flybox in a fishing shirt pocket but I did find a vest I like for long wade trips. Its a Patagonia Riverwalker vest. I like the large vertical pockets for my bugger barn streamer flyboxes and the mesh is cool if wearing during the summer. It holds everything flat and your elbows aren't banging against flybox pockets when stripping line like so many of the horizontal pocket vest do. I've tried several chestpacks but did not like something hanging in front of me pulling on my neck.

Jim Casada
01-18-2010, 01:56 PM
Which do you prefer a vest or chest pack? What brand is your preference?
Donwinn--It's a vest for me, and here are the reasons why:
1. Back pounch is a convenient place for a camera, Epi-pen, space blanket if I'm venturing back of beyond, rain jacket, emergency rations, cigarette lighter (I don't smoke but this is a predictable fire starter), toilet tissue, small first-aid kit, etc.
2. I carry far too much stuff not to have a vest
3. I like the options to compartmentalize a lot of items--hook hone, extra leaders, tippet material, stream thermometer, hook remover, floatant, split shot, etc.--beyond far too many flies.
4. A vest offers a convenient hook for a net cord
5. I'm a traditionalist (I carry a wicker creek as well)
All of the above also makes abundantly clear I'm not a minimalist.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

01-18-2010, 02:53 PM
If I don't just throw a flybox in a shirt pocket, I either use a chest pack of fanny pack. I find that vest's are just too hot, and when loaded, I don't like the excess weight on my shoulders. I use the chest pack if I know I'll be taking lots of pictures and I can clip my camera strap to the chest pack and have it handy for use. But, in general, I use a lanyard for my tools and the chest pack interfers with it.

01-18-2010, 03:59 PM
Chest Pack if I am taking everything (nymphs, dries, buggers, etc). I need a place for the camera too. If its a cold mountain stream on a warm day and I know its a dry fly day, I will put the camera in a pocket and one fly box (maybe even just throw some bugs in a small altoids tin or something) and one spool of tippet in my pocket and head out. It isn't that I am a minimalist as much as I just dont like the bulk and heat of a vest...plus, being the gear hog that I am, I will fill up every bit of empty space I have available, so I just give myself less storage space and still end up with everything I need. Funny how that works.

01-18-2010, 04:09 PM
Google "Richardson Chest Fly-Box" or "Downs Fly Box".
These are the fastest most efficient systems I know of.


01-18-2010, 07:11 PM
I think the question "vest or pack" is kind of like which is best blondes or brunettes. They're all great.:smile:

With that said, 27 years ago, I married a fine brunette so I better say brunettes are best.

As for vests or packs, I'm a vest guy. I like lots of pockets and room to put stuff. Nothing frustrates me more while out fishing than to have to stuff a bunch of stuff in one area and then have to sort through it all knowing something is in there. With a vest, I have different types of stuff in each pocket. Leader / tippet in a pocket, my fly boxes in a pocket, nippers on a zinger, etc. I'm kind of of the mind I'd rather have a couple empty pockets than have stuff crammed in too few pockets.

Where I live in Kentucky, our summers are hot (like Tennessee) and I wear a mesh vest.

Here's the one I own and have really liked it. I've had this Fishpond mesh vest going on 3 seasons now and it has held up really well.



01-18-2010, 10:30 PM
I started with a vest, then a chest pack. I now have a Fishpond Waterdance Guide Pack. I like the lumbar pack best because it is out of the way when not needed.

01-18-2010, 11:52 PM
Chest pack. I like to have a streamer box, dropper box and midge and dry boxes with me. Also, extra tippet and leaders. A first aid kit. An emergency blanket and lighter. Extra food and a rain jacket. I just don't take chances when it comes to being out in the elements. Not to mention that I love my snacks.:biggrin:

01-19-2010, 12:55 AM
...waist pack during the summer due to it's ease of use when getting in and out of the car and the stream, being so compact. I also use a Fishpond Goretex which is kind of a cross between a vest and a check pack. It has some mesh, so it's is a bit cooler temp wise than a standard vest and it will haul more than i could use in a lifetime.

I did have one problem and complaint about thje Fishpond as others also mentioned about having with their packs. The abundance of zipper pulls seemed like they were almost magnectic, pulling the tippet on my line into the small gap the oulls were tied through. I modified this by using some "Loon Knot Sense" and put a dab of it over the gap in the zipper then activated it with a UV light. It seems to have eliminated the problem with snags on my chest pack.


01-19-2010, 09:48 AM
When I started seriously pursuing fly fishing, I wanted to look serious. So I got a vest. It looks cool (and dare I say stereotypical). I found that I got it wet cuz it hung too low. It was hot and I didn't have enough gear to warrant using it. It does have advantages....like sticking fish in the pockets!:smile:
I have a chest pack that I use troutin' down in TN and warmwater fishing for bluegill and bass back home. I've also found the pack can be awkward fitting and still too hot when it gets warmer. However it has become my main "tacklebox" now adays.
A fanny pack is great. Just enough room, out of the way, and not hot or incumbering (is that a word?). I modified a fanny pack to hang either chest high or waist high. It's kinda neat, but defineatly "rigged"!:biggrin:

01-19-2010, 11:22 AM
This is the chest pack I was alluding to earlier...

Great pack - no zippers! This is a huge benefit. Magnets baby Magnets...:biggrin:


Rog 1
01-19-2010, 12:43 PM
When I first fished I used an old wicker creel of my grandfather's...did not take long to discover why he gave it up...then went to a standard fly vest with so many pockets that I quickly forgot where everything was...**** thing got so heavy that my neck hurt for days after a long day on the water....for the past 10 years I have gone to a fanny pack from Orvis that holds almost all I need for a day trip.... since I do a lot of walking into the back country this saves my shoulders and is a whole lot cooler...if I am just fishing for the fun of it I have a lanyard at the ready with tippet, small fly box, nippers and forceps....lightest of all.

Tiger fly
01-19-2010, 12:59 PM
This is the chest pack I was alluding to earlier...

Great pack - no zippers! This is a huge benefit. Magnets baby Magnets...:biggrin:


2nd on the magnets!!

01-19-2010, 02:12 PM
Up here in PA I like a vest because I can never have enough fly boxes. there are a few small streams I fish locally where I know for sure what will work and what to expect so there I'll wear a chest pack- The pack is a Patagonia that I got cheap during one of their internet sales and it works ok. My complaint with chest packs is that I'm vertically challenged (5' 5.5") and a pack does not leave alot of gut space to ram the rod butt into if I need to.

01-19-2010, 08:29 PM
I wear a waist pack for raingear, lunch, water filter, etc. I carry my flies, tippet, nippers, floatant, etc. in shirt pockets.

01-19-2010, 10:57 PM
I keep all of my fishing stuff in a simple Orvis clearwater vest and if I'm fishing close to the car I just throw that on, but if I'm heading out for a day in the park, I keep all my non fishing stuff (rain gear, knife, maps, compass, lighter, first aid kit, munchies and water) in a small back pack that i wear over the vest. Kinda feels like patrolling, and I don't care if it's hot cause after hour or so of humping mountain trails, I'm soaked with sweat anyhow. Guess I'd rather have it and not need it.

01-30-2010, 09:32 PM
I think all fly fisherman start out with the traditional fly vest.

I like to fish PA spring creeks, a good number of years
ago I was fishing the Yellow Breeches in August.


It was a very hot day in the low 90's, but near the
stream and 55 degree spring water is was cool.


Once away from the canopy it go hot wearing a

Yellow Breeches Orvis Shop I purchased a chest pack.
I liked it from the first time I wore it.


Couple of years later I purchased this Richardson Chest Box.


Bottom drawer is large enoough to just carry the minimal


I have the Joe Humphrieys model and wouldn't ever
go back to trout fishing with just a vest.

Mr. Humphreys' does at times wear a vest with his


Carry midges, nymphs on one tray


Dry flies on another


What I like most is that I travel from freestone stream
to a spring creek and able to just swap out cards.

02-01-2010, 04:20 PM
I have always used a vest,because they look cool!!! and as much as i try to keep it lite (everytime i pick it up I am amazed how heavy it is) I just have to have everything in there. I have tried on chest packs and just haven't found the right one but i see myself purchasing one this year.
Keep posting links to the packs you wear, I like what I see.

I have been looking at this one:


02-02-2010, 01:38 PM
A vest always makes me roast in teh summer time so I use a Fanny!

02-03-2010, 12:28 PM
I wore vests for many years, then got tired of the weight and the warmth. Switched to a FlyteDeck, which is based on an Okuma aluminum fly box, and a fishing shirt with two more Okumas in the pockets, along with some other stuff. After a few seasons decided I didn't have enough room for other necessities. Now I'm using a JW Outfitters Trout Plus chestpack with the Turtleback pack option. I can carry everything I need for fishing in the chestpack, and food and miscellaneous gear in the backpack. JW Outfitters doesn't exist any more. A similar product which is sold by our host, Little River Outfitters, is the William-Joseph Confluence pack.

02-03-2010, 09:52 PM
I spey fish for Salmon and Steelhead up until three years ago I would carry two fly boxes and extra tippet inside the top half of my waders. My wading belt kept the from slipping down.


That was fine if I was going to be in a area not too far from my vehicle.


As you can tell I was very limited to what I could carry with me to the river.


I purchased an LL Bean Rapid River Vest a few years ago and things changed. I started carrying more because I was moving around alot more.


Walk a few miles up or down river from where I parked became the norm.

Some of the very fine features of the Rapid River Vest aside from the amount of equipment you could stuff into it are the shoulder straps.


Adjustable, wide, and padded for comfort. Once on I very rarely ever have to shift it and after a while I hardly know I have it on regardless of the weight I am carrying.

Another feature that really mades a difference is the padded wasite belt and lumbar support. It also acts as a wading belt if you so choose to.

Even when climbing or casting the vest doesn't shift or waddle back and forth.

02-04-2010, 03:02 PM
It all depends upon the situation. If I am going to be within 1/2 mile of the Jeep and/or moving for most of the day, I wear a fishing shirt with box in one pocket and camera/tippet in the other. I used bead chain to connect my nippers to my forceps and pinch the forceps on my shirt.

If it is a long day or long walk out, I use the same setup but I add a camo Camelbak pack for water, first aid/survival gear, lunch, rain jacket and any extra boxes or gear. A net hooks on it well if I am targeting larger fish and it fits so tightly to my back, I don't even notice it.

Saltwater, I wear a fanny pack for the water bottle, mostly.

I don't like a pack hanging on my chest.

02-04-2010, 04:14 PM
I don't like a pack hanging on my chest.

You are not alone there; I know many who had trouble getting use to having a chest pack.

Trying to think back when I first wore one, I think it was more of a relief to get that hot and heavy vest off than anything else.

I have been wearing one for a while now I would be very hard pressed to go back to a vest. But you never know.

Last night I purchased an LL Bean lumbar pack; I will give it a try this year and see if it will be a good addition to my Richardson. Just leery that I might start carrying more stuff.

Anyway getting back to the chest pack I discovered to really make it comfortable and secure is the quality of the back strap. If it is wide, padded, and adjustable so much the better.

I scrapped my Richardson strap right off, and modified my Orvis chesk pack back strap to fit it. Hasn't been off since.

02-04-2010, 06:14 PM
One drawback to a waist or fanny pack is that it limits the depth of water in which you can wade, unless you've got one of the Simms packs that is waterproof. With my chest pack I can wade at least a little more than waist-deep without getting anything but my waders wet. There is just no perfect system for carrying all the gizmos, etc., we just have to have when we go flyfishing.

02-04-2010, 06:41 PM
Being a wilderness survivalist nut, when fishing before I had my amputation, I would sometimes disappear for days. I like getting on a lot of the small back streams to fish with no one else around. So I like to use a Molle Tactical Utility Shoulder Pack. It has tons of compartments for all of your gear. Has the Molle straps on it, so you can add on other pouches or a nice holster. Throw in my Molle Recon butt pack, and you may not see me for 2 weeks.


02-05-2010, 06:25 PM
After posting to this thread I go to thinking wiht my
Richardson I should give a limbar pack a try.


I receieved today my new LL Bean Lumbar Pack.

The wide straps and the firmness of the support looks
like it might do the trick.

Only time and on the stream will tell.

02-05-2010, 09:54 PM
I have tried them all, started with a vest, to hot and hard to get to water bottle in rear pouch. Tried an Orvis back pack. Again hot and to many dodads to catch fly line. Tried chest pack, a man with a beer gut the chest pack stuck out to far. Went to Fishpond fanny pack. Love it, except again beer gut with no bu_ _ lead to fanny pack around knees when hiking. I then got tired of messing with it on one trip, went for a day with just lanyard and fly box in pocket. Of course i didn't get real far from road, at most a mile. I found out that most of the stuff I carry is never used. On long trips I now use my Filson strap vest, the rear pouch is big enough to hold my jet boil and food and first aid kit.

02-05-2010, 11:12 PM
I use a fishing pack and a day pack on top of that if I go beyond a mile (which is rare). I refuse to get caught out in the elements without extra food, water and an emergency blanket. If I'm not in the park, I usually just go with the fishing pack.

02-09-2010, 04:21 PM
Wow, what a contentious question!

I carry a chest pack that I've rigged to pair up with a Camelbak. The backpack offsets the weight from the chest pack, making it much more comfortable (I hate having a chest pack hang on my neck all day) and I always have plenty of room for beverage, food, extra clothes in back and fishing gear up front.

In the end, it really doesn't matter. Catch fish. Have fun. Keep the river and the Park clean. Help other people. Those are the things that really matter!

02-11-2010, 12:41 AM
chest pack. when you're in deep water it's a pain getting the bottom of your vest wet. I have a waterproof pack i carry my phone in it has easily twice as much storage as most vests (i carry a hydration bladder--that is by far the best investment i've made!!) and WITH a zipper...plus you can adjust almost every strap on it, so it's never uncomfortable. you can fit everything you need in it even when going "back of beyond (haha)"

03-13-2010, 07:17 PM
I see some of you talking about your water bottles and even a hydration bladder. If you have never checked them out. I might suggest you do. I have a dozen of these around the house. The are the Sport Berkey water bottles. You can fill them up and drink nice filtered water from any water hole, no matter how nasty it is.


03-15-2010, 05:38 PM
I have a fishpond lumbar pack. I use it, but don't like a big growth on my chest while I'm trying to cast or land a fish. I've got a couple of Mayfly Lanyards that I prefer. One of these days I will eB*y the chest pack and go with the lanyards exclusively. I am a minimalist as well - rod, small box of flies, extra tippet, my forceps and I'm good to go.

03-16-2010, 02:38 PM
Call me a traditionalist, but I love the Brady fishing bags from England. I grew up fishing bait with my dad and he always carried a canvas creel. I found it worked great and was not very cumbersome or hot for the essentials. I used a vest for years but always longed for something like the old creel. The Brady bags are great. The one I use has a large interior pocket and two smaller pouches on the front. The most ingenious thing is the fasteners. They have leather straps but they latch over brass studs. This arrangement works great for one-hand operation! A sturdy ring is attached for the net and the large interior pocket has a rubber liner that comes out easily. I find this helps keep water out as well as it would keep fish slime and water in. I rarely keep fish, so this liner helps keep my fly boxes dry if I wade a bit deep.

03-24-2010, 09:05 PM
I have recently been having the same quandry it seems everyone else does. I keep going back and forth between a chest pack, vest, and fanny pack, trying to find the most comfortable. I think of myself as a minimalist, until I look at all the stuff I carry with me.

I've take two of my own steps to see how it works out.

First, I ordered a custom fanny pack from Recycled Waders, using my kids' old waders. I stacked up all of my stuff, figured out the volume I needed, asked them to make the fanny pack to my specs (they did), and placed the order. It's going to come back made out of Orvis Clearwaters and as soon as I get it, I'm going to seal the seams for a waterproof fanny pack. It should be the perfect size and waterproof for wading.

The other thing I did is get a heavily pocketed fishing shirt and took it to a tailor. She's hemming it short like a wading vest, and hemming in a bungee drawstring (like our rain gear has). I've often wondered why vests weren't made similarly lightweight. I hate to cut up an $80 shirt, but if it works, I've created the perfect lightweith wading vest. I'm just afraid I'm gonna look like April Vokey in the latest tailwater fashion.

One other option that a buddy of mine came up with. He bought four camera cases and threads his wader suspenders through the belt loops. he wears waders with two camera cases attached to the suspenders and a lanyard.

old east tn boy
03-24-2010, 09:47 PM
Filson mesh vest size large to fit over wading jacket in the winter and plenty of room in the summer. Mesh material is reasonably cool in the summer (what isn't hot?) and water proof. Vest pockets are cloth but dry fast. I am thinking of trying the Filson strap vest for summer. If you can't tell, I like Filson stuff! And now that my second pair of Orvis waders are failing I am about ready to order a replacement from Filson. Does anybody have Filson waders? Are they any good?

03-25-2010, 02:19 PM
It depends on the weather and where I am fishing. Hot weather gets the nod for the lanyard. Small fly box with enough flies selected for the day. If I'm fishing in cooler weather, I go with the vest. I don't own a chest pack. I find that I carry too much junk that I never use on the water.
The perfect example of a minimalist is a friend of mine. He fishes with a fanny pack with a bit of tippet and leader material and a couple of plastic snuff cans with some flies. And he catches trout!

03-28-2010, 09:20 PM
For multiple reasons, I was not able to get to the mountains for any fishing the entire winter, and since I couldn't fish, I compensated by buying myself a few new "toys".
Anyway, Saturday I got out and tried out my WJ Mag series Current chest pack, as well as my waist-high gortex waders I got on clearance from LL Bean. What a difference! Especially the chest pack - didn't miss at all the several pounds of gear I left at home in the old vest.:smile:

I think I gonna enjoy fishing a lot more this year, especially when it gets hot.