Shop By Category

Pack Vs. Vest: You Decide

March 21, 2013
Author: Will Rice

Vest or Waist Pack?  You decide – and tell us why.  We have this conversation just about everyday here in the shop with our customers.  Now we want to hear from you.  Up for grabs: a super-smokin’-hot-limited-edition-signature-Trout’s T.  Everyone who posts an answer and reasoning as to why they choose one piece of gear over the other here on our blog will get their name put in a hat.  We’ll draw a lucky winner tomorrow afternoon.   We’re very interested to see how our the Trout's contingent weighs in on this age-old debate.

Posted in Customer Events |   35 Comments


#1. Posted by John Montana on March 21, 2013

Sling pack or waist pack…no vest! I like to go as light as possible, and the vest makes me pack too much gear!

#2. Posted by Mark on March 21, 2013

I started out with vests but have really liked the freedom of the waist pack.

#3. Posted by Ryan Miller on March 21, 2013

I always preferred a vest over a waist pack. THe vest not only keeps me a little more warm in the winter steel-heading months, but i feel is more versatile to the conditions i face.

#4. Posted by Matt A on March 21, 2013

I use both. I am a fan of waist backs for backpacking and small stream fishing. I use my vest for deeper water rivers and lakes, it holds more and I’d rather have my vest on if I accidentally take a swim.

#5. Posted by Phil on March 21, 2013

used both, but now neither.

neither one can carry the couple extra tenkara rods I usually carry or the collapsible hiking pole for getting in and out of places like cheesman.

instead I use a sling pack specifically designed to carry these items. The only complaint I have about the sling is slight difficulty in carrying a net when hiking in\out, where a waist pack would be much better. The problem though, imo, isn’t the sling pack, but the total lack of intelligently designed large hoop’d nets with a slight offset handle.

vests are bulky and hot, provide for too many places to snag, and interfere with layering\delayering.

#6. Posted by Justin on March 21, 2013

I prefer the vest over the pack. It’s a more natural feeling in my opinion.

#7. Posted by Angelo Castro on March 21, 2013

I choose Waist pack. I don’t like the feeling of a vest. I feel that I am being weight down. I just having all my stuff in two pockets not in 7 or 8 pockets

#8. Posted by David on March 21, 2013

When it’s cooler out (Nov-May in CO), I wear a Rising Flask Chest Pack (perfect size for me, I highly recommend it) and a Camelbak.  When it’s warmer out, I wear a lanyard and an Umpqua Ledges 500 Waist Pack.

#9. Posted by Matt Doerfler on March 21, 2013

Waist packs = money.  You can hold so much more than a vest and keep it all out of the way.  I can put a water bottle in a side pocket, a rain coat, 2 beers, my keys, phone, gloves and all my fishing supplies easily the fishpond guidepack.  I thought a big pack would awkward, but it’s not. I’ll often take off my shirt and soak up some rays in the summer time that you can’t do with a vest.  sun screen, of course.  Beautiful brown in one hand, brewski in another.  SWEET!

#10. Posted by Will Bentley on March 21, 2013

Waist pack. Has two bottle holders and more room for gear

#11. Posted by sam on March 21, 2013

vest over the preggo pouch. The breast pockets on most vests are very ideal for holding beer. Usually they have a back compartment for the rain gear and extra boxes. And you can wade deeper.  And its what I’m used to.

#12. Posted by Josh Filter on March 21, 2013

Sling pack is the way to go.  Left the vest behind several years ago and haven’t looked back.  Comfort, convenience, and capacity are the main reasons.

#13. Posted by Gary on March 21, 2013

Newbie error:  cost for vest lower (although I won’t regret it).  Need time now to save $$ for waistpack, then I can answer with more knowledge!  Or, should I buy another rod?  Or . . . .. ?

#14. Posted by Jessica Kubik on March 21, 2013

I love my waist pack.  Nice and cool in the summer, easy to hike with.  Holds everything I need and isn’t heavy.

#15. Posted by Daniel Campbell on March 21, 2013

Waist pack - I hate having any amount of extra weight on my shoulders when casting. Whenever I bring my vest it ends up sitting on the riverbank anyway.

#16. Posted by Dennis Durham on March 21, 2013

Vest. I feel like you can get to things easier in a vest, and you have the added bonus of keeping things DRY. For instance your Dry Flys, phone, license, anything you don’t really want to get wet. Especially when you are in water over your waist. Easier just to reach down and open a pocket to get what you need.

#17. Posted by Sean on March 21, 2013

I would say it has to do with how deep you wade.  Coming from the east coast, you had to wade tits deep on occasion to make some bomber casts across those wide eastern rivers to rising fish.  When you wade that deep you need a shorty vest.  Then around here in CO it seems like you don’t need to wade nearly as much and can get away with the fanny pack.

#18. Posted by Michael Lenetsky on March 21, 2013

Just stopped using a vest, after not being able to find a new vest that I liked.  I opted for a sling pack after trying one out, and listening to the recommendations of some of my friends.  So far, the advantages of the pack over the vest include:  much easier to carry around all day; holds more stuff - from fly boxes to snacks to drinks; much easier to get to what you are looking for quickly; fewer pockets to forget to zip/snap/velcro shut after getting something; nothing in the way for casting, walking, wading, etc; looks much better on my back, than an overstuffed vest on my entire body. 

One downside to the pack that I have noticed, is that carrying a net is a pain.

Overall, however, all the things listed above, will probably keep me from returning to a vest.

#19. Posted by Jay Park on March 21, 2013

Vest all the way!  Much more convenient to open pockets and zippers from a vest than a pouch where you often have to dig through stuff to get to what you’re looking for.

#20. Posted by ben on March 21, 2013

I prefer a sling pack that I can convert to a chest pack. I like going lite and not sweating under a vest in the summer.

#21. Posted by Lucas Deutsch on March 21, 2013

Waist pack, they hold more beer.

#22. Posted by Vegas Schaumburg on March 21, 2013

I have been guiding in CO for many years and have tons of vest and packs from different companies and have personally found that the best set up for me is a sling pack with a necklace….

#23. Posted by Bri Sturos on March 21, 2013

chest pack, if you can’t limit your gear to a chest pack, you are bringing to much to the river. I also like the fact you can easily stash a water bottle or a thermos in your chest pack vs a vest it gets clogged up. With a chest pack, it is also easier to find stuff, whereas with a vest you can spend half the day looking for your split shot.

#24. Posted by Will Rice on March 21, 2013

Whoa!  THE John Montana on the Trouts Blog!  If any of our readers out there are carp junkies you should check out John’s blog at: 

Great stuff!  Thanks for joining the fray John - we’ll put your name in the hat tomorrow.

#25. Posted by James Conover on March 21, 2013

As a new fly fisherman I may be the least qulified to answer this debate.  I don’t really liken it to a Ford vs Chevy rather a pickup vs a sedan.  I believe they are two different tools the use of which depends on the task at hand and the road or better, the water conditions.  I have not owned a pack but often had days in my short one year on the rivers where I thought a lanyard and a pack would sout me better than my vest.  Since i only have a vest I find it serves me very well with it’s many compartments but when then that sun starts cooking I find myself wanting one less layer.  I do have a lanyard but I find my arsenal lacking without a pack to store more goodies.  I believe both a vest and pack have a purpose they may be best suited for but it’s all up to the craftsman and how he/she uses their tools.  I’m pretty sure Eric Clapton can make an acoustic guitar sound pretty darn good if he didn’t have an electric but depending on the venue he might choose one over the other. 

The only other way for me to really decide and provide a better educated opinion would be for me to have a pack, I just don’t have one YET…

#26. Posted by Derron Fricke's on March 21, 2013

Have both and prefer the waist pack, too many zippers and compartments on th vest.  Especially the fishpond model that have the open zippers.  The Simms waist pack stays out of the way and carries all that I need.  Spent about a 100 days on the water with each.  I feel it’s easier to add a jacket with the waist pack as well.  Also rigging flies and stuff while riding up is much easier with the waist pack.

#27. Posted by Kristina Cazier on March 21, 2013

I like a fanny pack, easier to find things and move around in.

#28. Posted by JP on March 21, 2013

Chuck Norris would wear a vest…

#29. Posted by Leff on March 22, 2013

Vest ! feels more comfortable,natural.Everything up front where you want and can see it.No chance of strain on lower back.

#30. Posted by kent on March 22, 2013

the waist pack you can put all your flys and a little lunch and something to drink in it the vest gets too hot when it gets warmer out

#31. Posted by Max guetz on March 22, 2013

Waist pack, I can’t see what’s in the pockets on a vest and can’t remember where I put stuff.

#32. Posted by Anthony Vescovi on March 22, 2013

Waist of sling back, lighter and makes re-rigging easier when cradling rod in your arm since the pockets are out of the way.

#33. Posted by Scott Heemstra on March 22, 2013

For those in foul weather areas you can use over Rain Jacket, you don’t have to search through 8 million little pockets just a few big pockets (shit still seems to get lost though), you can quickly take it off, pull out some fly boxes and doubles as a multi beer coozie, you don’t feel like some elitest trying to dress the part, just makes more sense

#34. Posted by S DeMoss on March 22, 2013

I chose the sling/waist pack. Vest limits the ability to layer effectively and promotes over-packing. When you can only carry 2 fly boxes, you tend to focus more on presentation/depth/approach and get out of the “let me try 14 different patterns until I catch a fish”.

#35. Posted by RR on March 23, 2013

I wear my dad’s old vest. Someday my kid will wear it.
Would you say that about a fanny pack?

Page 1 of 1 pages





Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Enter this word:


Page 1 of 1