Best Fly Fishing Sling Packs 2021: A Detailed Review

Follow our breakdown of our most popular sling packs, learn about the pros and cons of each as well as why you may want to make the switch to a sling.

by Kyle Brown • August 23, 2021

Gear Reviews


 Sling Packs have become very popular in recent years with most major suppliers getting in on the action and offering multiple styles at different price points. The main feature of most slings packs is their ability to be used as a pseudo-workstation while wading, this makes sling packs a very attractive alternative to using a backpack or a hip pack system. Having the ability to use your pack as a table makes changing fly quickly much more easy than fumbling around in a backpack and potentially even moving to the bank to work on your gear. You will find that most sling packs come in a wide range of sizes as well as shapes. Depending on your scenario, you may wish to take a larger sling pack in lieu of a backpack because you will be changing flies often or if you're just working out of a smaller camp you may wish to take a light sling with only the essentials. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Sling Pack over a Backpack
Move to front to use as a workstation

Not as clunky as a full backpack

+ Sleek design of most slings works well

- Some anglers will find that slings feel unbalanced on their backs, especially if they are left-handed. 

Limited space

- Accessories and usable space can be hit or miss


*-denotes and included feature or accessory
#-denotes an accessory that must be purchased separately

Orvis 

Waterproof Sling Pack

Overview: An updated version of Orvis' previous model of the Waterproof Sling, the new model features a d-ring net attachment, an external hemo storage, plenty of places to attach your zingers, oversized waterproof zippers, and attachment points for a tippet bar. 

Orvis Waterproof Sling loaded with tippet

    Price: $249

    Capacity: 14 Liters

    Accessories/Amenities: Fly Patch*, Waterproof Zippers*, Tippet Holder#, External Water Bottle Holder*, Waterproof Pocket#

    Sling Pack

    Overview: One of the more popular slings on the market that won't break the bank. The Orvis Sling pack comes with a litany of features that are uncommon in similar sized slings. Comfortable to wear during longer days on the river due to the wide shoulder strap. Easy to access features like the external tippet bar holder, zinger pass-through, water bottle holder, as well as hemostat storage and fly patch on the front strap. The Orvis Sling pack combines all the most desirable features and necessary amenities in a smaller package perfect for those tight streams and shorter days. 

    Orvis Sling Pack with tippet flies and a waterbottle

      Price: $98

      Capacity: 11 Liters

      Amenities: Recessed tippet bar holder*, Water bottle holder*, fly patch*, zinger pass-through*, hemostat storage*, Waterproof Pocket#

      Guide Sling Pack

      Overview: Essentially a larger version of the of the Orvis Sling Pack, the Guide Sling is for those anglers that like to bring everything and a little bit more out on the water. Featuring all the same amenities as the Sling Pack like the tippet bar, water bottle holder, fly patch, zinger pass-through, and hemo storage; the Guide does it all and them some. With a storage pocket on the front sling, an extra large net holster, the Guide Sling is ready for a full day on the water with the extra 8 liters of storage over the Sling Pack. Feel at ease knowing that you will not have to sacrifice any of your gear like your wading jacket, a few beers, and your lunch in lieu of bringing your most important kit with the Guide Sling's extra storage capacity. 

      Angler wearing an Orvis Guide Sling loaded with Tippet, Flies, Waterbottle and Net

        Price: $149

        Capacity: 18 Liters

        Amenities: Recessed tippet holder*, water bottle holder*, zinger pass-through*, net holster*, internal storage pockets*, fly patch*, external sling pocket*, Waterproof Pocket#

        Mini Sling Pack

        Overview: New for 2021, the Orvis Mini Sling Pack features a minimalist pack for angler on the move. There are times when all it takes is a fly box, a couple of spools of tippet, and a couple of tools when you know where they are and exactly what they're eating—the 100% recycled Cordura Eco; Orvis Mini Sling Pack offers simple, intuitive accessibility while staying completely out of your way when fishing. Main body storage pocket with internal drop pockets and a zippered pocket. Smaller main body zippered pocket with organizational drop pockets for smaller items.

        An angler fishing with an Orvis Mini Sling settled on his back

        Price: $79

        Capacity: 5 Liters

        Amenities: Tippet Bar#

        Fishpond

        Thunderhead Submersible Sling

        Overview: A sling that we can hardly keep on our shelves, the Thunderhead Submersible comes with a sleek, clean design with most of the accessory space you will ever need. Made out of recycled material, this sling can do it all without sacrificing movement. The Thunderhead finds itself right in the middle of storage capacity among all of our slings which should make it attractive to many anglers looking to keep all of their daily essentials at hand without feeling too bulky on the water. Featuring Fishpond's Lariat Gear Straps, the Thunderhead is the perfect sling for those that like to hike out to their favorite isolated spots with their rod tube and gear in tow. 

        A Fishpond Thunderhead Sling loaded out with Tippet

          Price: $230

          Capacity: 13 liters

          Accessories: Waterproof body and zippers*, Lariat Gear Straps*, Integrated net slot*, fly patch*

          Summit Sling

          Overview: With a perfect 5/5 star rating among our customers, the Fishpond Summit Sling represents the perfect sling pack that has all of the space for your accessories in quick reach without all the fumbling around through a large internal storage pocket. The Summit Sling features a net pass-through, attachment points for a thermometer, hemostat pinch storage slots, a molded pocket to protect your fly box, a waterproof zipper on the main compartment, water bottle holder, and fly patch on the front sling. Despite the capacity of the Summit Sling, it will never leave you wanting for more because Fishpond has thought of everything when designing this sling pack. 

          Fishpond Summet Sling 2.0 with multiple accessories ready to fish

            Price: $100

            Capacity: 9 Liters

            Accessories: Lariat Gear Straps#, Water Bottle Holder*, Headgate Tippet Holder#, Swiftcurrent Thermometer#, Net Holster*, Fly Patch*

            Flathead Sling Pack

            An angler with the Fishpond Flathead Sling resting on his back while fishing

            Overview: An attractive option for left-handed caster, the Flathead Sling was made to be ambidextrous. A simple flip of the sling strap will swap the Flathead from left to right-handed. The sling also features a two-way net pass-through so you have multiple options to find that way that storing a net is most comfortable. The large clamshell opening and moveable interior dividers offer tremendous carrying capacity and an organized work station while wading. 

            Price: $150

            Capacity: 10 Liters

            Accessories: Lariat Gear Straps#, Two Water Bottle Holders*, Ambidextrous Net Pass-through*, External Fly Patch*, Foam Patch*

            Simms

            Freestone Ambidextrous Tactical Sling

            Overview: Quickly reversible between left- and right-handed casters, the Freestone Tactical Sling is a minimalist design but does not sacrifice storage solutions. The Tactical Sling features two net pass-throughs, one between the back and the bag as well as a pass-through on the outside of the bag. A four-way zipper allows access to the main pouch at any angle and no matter which way the pack is worn. This sling pack will prove to popular in the mid-sized category, especially anglers that are looking for comfort and maneuverability in a small package. 

            Simms Freestone Ambidextrous Tactical Sling in Tan

              Price: $120

              Capacity: 15 Liters

              Amenities: Multiple Net Holsters*, Mesh Pockets on Sling*, Fly Patch*, Removable internal storage panel*

              Freestone Ambidextrous Sling

              Overview: An extra large version of the Simms Tactical Sling Pack, the Ambidextrous Sling is ready for a full day on the water. With an impressive 18 Liters capacity, the Ambi Sling has space internally and externally for all the accessories and gear you will need. The comfortable sling and the ample storage space will keep you out on the water all day long without the needed to go back to your camp to restock on your kit. 

              Simms Freestone Ambidextrous Sling

                Price: $140 

                Capacity: 18 Liters

                Amenities:

                Dry Creek Z

                Overview: What you see is what you get with the Dry Creek Z, and what you get is an extremely durable, waterproof sling pack. While it may not look like it has much going on, the Simms Dry Creek Z will provide to you everything you need for an enjoyable day on the water. A net pass-through, external fly patch, riverside tools storage, and an impressively spacious internal storage space. This is an airtight sling without many frills but will be attractive to anglers that are looking for a great, durable, waterproof sling pack from a reputable brand. 

                Simms Dry Creek Z Backpack in pacific blue

                  Price: $230

                  Capacity: 15 Liters

                  Amenities: Net Pass-through, External Fly Patch, Internal Pockets, Waterproof Zippers

                  Tributary Sling Pack

                  Overview: New for Fall 2021, the Simms Tributary Sling Pack is a perfect price point sling pack for the angler that needs storage and easy accessibility to gear while on the water. Designed out of rugged 600D recycled polyester, this pack can take a beating each year. A large main compartment is capable of storing 10L of gear. The Tributary Sling Pack is the easy wearing, sized-right storage solution for productive days on the water. 

                  Angler searching through the Simms Tributary Sling pack filled with multiple fly boxes

                  Price: $80

                  Capacity: 10 Liters

                  Amenities: External Fly Patch*, Riverside Tools Attachment Points*, Rod Tube Straps*, Net Pass-through*, Water Bottle Holder*

                  Freestone Sling Pack

                  An Angler fishing while whereing the Simms Freestone Sling Pack

                  Overview: The Freestone Sling is new for Simms in their Fall 2021 lineup, this sling's most defining feature is the molded front pocket that will keep your more delicate gear and your fly boxes. This is the sling for you if you want to grab everything neccessary in one go. With a plethora of included accessories, the new Freestone Sling is not limited to one type of fishing. Enough space for all of your gear at hands reach makes this an attractive newcomers to the sling scene. 

                  Price: $140

                  Capacity: 12 Liters

                  Amenities: Floatant Holders (2)*, Tippet Holder*, Water Bottle Holder*, Net Pass-through*, Internal Velcro Fly Patch* 

                  Patagonia

                  Stealth Sling

                  Overview: With the first introduction of a fishing sling pack many years ago, Patagonia has been a leader on sling pack design and function within the fishing industry. New for the season, Patagonia has reintroduced the Stealth Sling 10L pack. Anglers who have never used a sling will find features including: ample storage of larger items, easier to access gear while on the water, and more internal organization than a vest, hip or chest pack. The Stealth Sling features new 100% recycled ripstop fabric for a more lightweight, durable, and environmental friendly design. A new water-resistant shoulder pad can be also adjusted for left or right hand casters on the fly. New integrated magnets on the front of and shoulder straps temporarily hold flies, nippers, or hemostats for quicker fly changes. The Stealth Sling also includes a larger dual entry pocket for water-bottle or jacket, while featuring a new sling pack integrated net sleeve holster.

                  Patagonia's Stealth Sling on an angler mid-cast

                  Price: $159

                  Capacity: 10 Liters

                  Amenities: Ambidextrous Sling*, Water Bottle Holder*, Net Pass-through*, 

                  Front Vest Sling

                  Overview: A spacious, comfortable sling pack with all the storage options that you will ever need. The Front Vest Sling will give all of your tools right at the tips of your fingers and without the need to unsling your pack. There is ample storage on the front sling for your hemos, flies, nippers, and thermometer. 

                  A Patagonia Vest Front Sling showing the larger pack to the left and the Vest style pockets to the right

                    Price: $99

                    Capacity: 8 Liters

                    Amenities: Waterproof Internal Pocket*, Water Bottle Holder*, Foam Fly Patch*, Two Pockets on Front Sling*

                    Stealth Atom Sling

                    Overview: With a sleek looking design, the Stealth Atom is the most popular sling from Patagonia. This is a serious contender for best sling in the moderate capacity level. A molded front pocket makes for the perfect workstation on the river, letting you sit your rod securely on the pocket while you tie on a new fly. With plenty of interior pockets, the Stealth Atom sling gets high marks for having a place to store all those riverside tools and knickknacks.

                      Price: $119

                      Capacity: 15 Liters

                      Amenities: Waterproof Internal Pocket, Front Sling Storage Pocket*, External Waterbottle Holder*, Internal Foam Fly Patch*, nipper/zinger attachment points*

                      Stormsurge Sling

                      Overview: This sling comes from Patagonia's waterproof line of duffels, backpacks and other gear bags. Coming in at 20 Liters, the Stormsurge is the largest of all waterproof sling packs. The waterproof, oversized zipper is also a heavy-duty plastic so this sling pack is good to go for the salty flats where you will not have to worry about corrosion. The Stormsurge also features two gear straps on the side for your rod/reel case in the event that you need to pack your gear out to your favorite spot on the water. 

                      The Patagonia Stormsurge Sling viewed from the front left side of the pack

                        Price: $229

                        Capacity: 20 Liters

                        Amenities: XL Saltwater-safe Zipper*, External Gear Straps*, Various External Attachment Points*

                        Umpqua

                        Steamboat 1200 ZS

                        Overview: A surprisingly slim design for a sling pack tied for the greatest capacity, Umpqua has not overlooked any details when designing this sling pack. While this sling pack has many features, more accessories are available to attach with the sling's MOLLE-style attachment system. With an insane internal capacity, this is the sling that you will want to bring when you may need to bring a wading/rain jacket and it is definitely the pack you want to bring when you need to pack a lunch. In terms of comfort, the Steamboat has to be right at the top of list, this is the sling that feels most akin to a backpack. 

                        Umpqua's Steamboat Sling

                          Price: $130 

                          Capacity: 20 Liters

                          Amenities: Zinger Pass-through*, Pass-through Net Storage*, External Fly Patch*, Hemostat Holders on Back and Front Sling*, Internal Storage Pockets*, MOLLE-style System*, Water Bottle Holder#, Tippet Holder#, Additional Fly Patch#, Floatant Holder#

                          Overview

                          Capacity

                          1. Umpqua Steamboat 1200 ZS2 / Patagonia Stormsurge Waterproof - 20 Liters
                          2. Simms Freestone Ambidextrous / Orvis Guide Sling - 18 Liters
                          3. Patagonia Stealth Atom / Simms Dry Creek Z / Simms Ambi Tactical Sling - 15 Liters
                          4. Orvis Waterproof Sling - 14 Liters
                          5. Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Sling - 13 Liters
                          6. Orvis Sling Pack - 11 Liters
                          7. Fishpond Flathead Sling Pack, Patagonia Stealth Sling - 10 Liters
                          8. Fishpond Summit Sling - 9 Liters
                          9. Patagonia Front Vest Sling - 8 Liters
                          10. Umpqua ZS2 Bandolier Sling - 3 Liters

                          Superlatives

                          Most Comfortable - Umpqua Steamboat 1200 ZS2

                          Best Included Accessories - Simms Freestone Sling Pack

                          Most Durable - Patagonia Stormsurge Sling

                          Best Water Resistance - Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Sling

                          Most Organized - Orvis Guide Sling






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