It’s review time again. This time we’re Geeking Out on the Orvis Guide Sling Pack. This is a larger pack than their previously released Safe Passage Sling Pack. The “Guide” designation being the differentiator. Since the original sling pack came out about a year ago I had my eye on the concept. I have had backpack/chestpack combos in the past but they have left me lacking in overall function.
Case in point I had a pack that had a backpack section with two chest pockets that made up the shoulder straps. The first thing was it looked ridiculous, it was dubbed by my friends as the “maternity pack” because , when fully loaded, it gave you a nice pair of man-boobs.
The second thing was you had to completely remove the pack to get anything out of the main pack compartment. I don’t usually pack a ton, but everything I put my pack for a day on the water is usually all I take with me. It’s important to fit a lot of gear and be able to get at it when you need to.
Orvis obviously figured this out when they brought out the sling pack concept. The only thing about the Safe Passage Sling Pack was its size. While some minimalist anglers may like the smaller pack, those die hard, “I want to have all my gear” type of anglers will love the comfort and space. The Guide Sling Pack amplifies the space while giving you complete access to everything you put into the pack. Not only that but it gives you full mobility. There is nothing in front of you to get in the way of your hands, rod or line while casting… especially spey casting.
Guide Sling Pack ($139)
Safe Passage Sling Pack ($79)
I also gave this pack to a friend to test and get his opinion. James has been fishing for 26 years and the guy who taught me to fly fish, so obviously I really value his opinion when it comes to gear. Once I showed him how it worked he turned from skeptical to a big believer! He said, “I’ve seen these types of packs before and always thought they were more of a gimmick. Now I can see this being my go to bag.” He went on to be amazed by the range of motion he had when everything was on his back as well as the comfort of the straps.
This pack is for anyone who spends a lot of time on the water, or rather in the water. I am the type that doesn’t take many breaks and wants to maximize my time fishing. With this pack I don’t have to wade to shore for anything because it’s all with me. Not only that but the slinging motion to get to the main compartments is a relative breeze. The only thing I foresee being bothersome is the sternum strap that keeps the pack on your back while casting. You have to unclip it to sling your pack around and with a rod in your hand you will need to master the one-handed clip/unclip motion.
The Bottom Line:
All things considered this pack gets a 5-Star review from me. At $139 it’s a value when you consider that 100% of that money is going towards a pack you can 100% utilize. You can pack it for a 2 hour outing or a full day on the water while being well equipped and comfortable. Being able to pack light or heavy makes this the crossover pack for minimalist and gear geeks alike.