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The Best Fly Fishing CHEST PACK (Review Of The Top 3 Fly Fishing Packs)

“Bring along what you need, not what you have.” This should be the mantra of the fly-fishing chest pack. A small and convenient way to carry the minimum amount of gear required for a quick fishing stint or even a full day out on the water. The fly-fishing chest pack is a hot piece of gear in the fly-fishing industry as of late. Here are what I’ve found to be 3 of the best fly fishing chest packs.

(Top Pick) Umpqua Overlook 500 ZS Fly Fishing Chest Pack

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A prime example of cutting edge innovation and comfort for gear junkie anglers like us. To stay high and dry, this pack sits in a more horizontal orientation, rather than a vertical position as most fly fishing chest packs are designed. This increases your visibility near your feet. This chest pack also features dual load-bearing shoulder straps and a padded panel on your back for support and all-day comfort making it my top choice as the best chest pack for fly fishing.

The Best Fly Fishing Chest Packs (Stay Organized Out On The Water)

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1. Umpqua Overlook 500 ZS Fly Fishing Chest Pack  (Top Pick)

The Overlook 500 ZS Chest Pack by Umpqua is a prime example of cutting edge innovation and comfort for gear junkie anglers. 

Many anglers utilizing a chest pack are practiced in making sacrifices in certain things such as wading deep, sacrificing pack comfort and using cumbersome packs that inhibit vision of where they are about to put their foot.

Umpqua made it their mission to eliminate these types of problems with their newest fly-fishing chest pack. 

In order to stay high and dry, this fishing pack sits in a more horizontal orientation, rather than vertical as most fly fishing chest packs are designed. Even in this horizontal orientation, it maintains a sleek and low profile.

And perhaps best of all, this chest pack features dual load-bearing shoulder straps, which are similar to backpack straps. Except these also feature a padded panel on your back for added support and all-day comfort. The pack then clips around your sides to help ensure to stays put, all while staying comfortable and unnoticed. 

Another great feature is that these shoulder straps are removable. What good does this do? Well, you can actually combine this chest-pack with other backpacks to increase your carrying capacity without sacrificing too much in comfort and convenience. 

So what else makes this pack so great, convenient, and innovative? Umpqua has loaded this pack full of features with the fly fisherman in mind. Lets touch on some of the things that make this chest-pack so great for fly fishing.

Features Of The Umqua Overlook 500 ZS Chest Pack:

  • Two Large Zippered Pouches with enough room for a few boxes

  • Two Front stretch pouches

  • Mesh Pocket on back panel to store stuff such as layers or rain jackets

  • Net attachment points

  • Foam Fly-Patch

  • Fold-down work station

Not only is this pack loaded with functional features, but it’s also designed to be sleek and comfortable.

This new chest-pack by Umpqua has taken the considerations of what anglers want in a chest pack and put their own flare on a tested configuration.

Think optimal comfort, convenience, and low-profile design with this one. Great as a stand alone piece or combine it with other packs by Umpqua to make a complete modular fishing pack system. 

2. Allen Bear Creek Micro Fishing Chest Vest (Best Budget Chest Pack)

Looking for a good budget-friendly chest pack option for fly fishing? Look no further than the Bear Creek Micro Fishing Chest Pack by Allen. 

Allen is a big producer in the outdoor recreation industry and continues to make a name for themselves in the form of affordable yet functional gear for outdoor enthusiasts.

This fly-fishing chest pack is no exception. The Micro Fishing Chest Pack is a simple no-frills option for storing a subset of your fly fishing gear stash. For a quick day on the water, or simply a “bug-out” bag stored in your car, ready for fishing at a moments notice, this is an excellent low-capacity and convenient option. 

What this pack may lack for in size, it makes up for in affordable features. While you’re not going to be able to load this little pack full of fly-boxes for any occasion that may arise, you’ll have ample room to store a select collection of flies and gear.

Expect to fit 1 or 2 small to medium sized boxes of flies in the main zippered pocket, which offers split organizational partitions within and extra zippered storage. 

In front of the main storage pouch is a smaller zippered pouch which folds down and serves as a small flat work station. This flap also includes a foam fly-patch for quick and easy fly storage and a tippet tender to keep a selection of tippet close at hand.

With multiple attachment points and a D-ring for your net, you’ll be able to carry just a few more “must-have” accessories and tools. While this chest pack doesn’t feature full backpack style straps, it’s designed with a single padded neck strap and waist strap. This is certainly enough comfort for a small amount of belongings.

For an affordable and simple fly-fishing chest pack option, this pack by Allen is hard to beat. Even if you don’t need a whole new fly-fishing chest pack, at this price, it would be a great thing to have to stock up and throw in the car for the next time a quick fishing session arises.

2. Fishpond Thunderhead Chest Pack  (Best Waterproof Fly Fishing Chest Pack)

Lately, it seems that though FishPond has been on the cutting edge of innovation in constructing utilitarian and convenient fly-fishing gear. I would certainly consider this to be the case on their innovative Thunderhead Chest Pack for anglers. 

Being our only waterproof option on this list, the pack not only excels because of this feature, but also due to many other key features not found on other fly fishing chest packs.

The Thunderhead features a recycled nylon and waterproof outlayer with heavy duty fully-waterproof zippers to top it off. You could literally go swimming with this thing and the contents will stay dry. Also, The padded and dual backpack style straps are optimized for comfort and far exceed the strap systems on other similar chest packs.

The features on this one are numerous, but here’s a quick overview of what makes this chest pack top of the line.


  • Front stretch mesh pocket with zipper

  • Padded foam back panel and net storage slot

  • Several interior organization pockets

  • Padded and Adjustable dual backpack style straps

  • Handy and easy to use tippet carrier included

  • Exterior loops for tools and accessories

  • Likely the most comfortable on the list

While it’s a great standalone chest pack, a handy feature is that it also integrates into other backpacks and can be lashed to your boat providing quick secure storage for wet rides. The straps on this pack are quickly removable. The pack is also designed to integrate with a wading belt and keep it closely attached while reducing straps and attachment points.

With a total capacity of 5 liters and a weight of around 1 pound, you’ll be able to carry several fly boxes and enough gear to get you through a full day of fishing in comfort and convenience. 

Benefits Of Using A Fishing Chest Pack 

Fly-fishing chest packs are another piece of the evolution in fly-fishing vests and packs. These chest packs fit into their own little niche as they’re generally low in storage capacity.  But what they lack in storage, they more than make up for in convenience and comfort. And the hidden bonus is that the limited size of these fishing packs means you won’t be tempted to over pack and needlessly lug around heavy gear all day.

About My Personal Fly Fishing Chest Pack

I really like fly-fishing chest packs for their small compact size. Personally, I have a fly-fishing chest pack loaded up as my sort of “bug-out-bag” to quickly grab for a variety of fishing that may pop up on a minutes notice. Loaded up with a selection of tippet, a few tools, and a diverse fly box; and you’ll be able to seize any quick fishing opportunity that may arise. 

While the fly-fishing vest was the staple of fly fishing anglers from days of yore, modern pack designs are quickly dominating the market. If you’re looking at different options for carrying your gear out fly-fishing, here are some great chest packs that will help you out.

Fly Fishing Chest Pack vs Vest (Pros and Cons)

Whether you decide to use a chest pack or a vest for fly-fishing is a matter of personal preference. Still, many people find themselves having one of each to use when certain scenarios call for one over the other.

Chest Pack Pros and Cons

A fly-fishing chest pack is a great compact and convenient “bag of tricks” to carry a few essential pieces of gear to get you in the water. Minimal is the name of the game and the limited size will make you picky about what you bring out on the water with you.


  • Easily Accessible

  • Zippered Pouch usually serves as a work surface


  • Small Capacity

  • Can make you sweat underneath on hot days

Fishing Vest Pros and Cons

A fly fishing vest is another more traditional option people used to carry their fly-fishing gear. Vests offer more storage options while still being easily accessible and convenient. However, many people have moved away from vests towards more modern pack options. The fly fishing vest still serves as a great tool for some, though.


  • Lots of Storage and Capacity

  • Easily Accessible


  • Can get tight over multiple layers of clothing

  • Doesn’t store big and bulky items well.

What To Look For In A Good Fly Fishing Chest Pack (Buyers Guide)

If you have made it this far you are likely thinking a fly fishing chest pack is the option for you. Welcome to the club. I enjoy the compact convenience of chest and waist style packs. I like to have a few different ones and one chest pack rigged as my “ready for anything” pack that I can quickly grab or just leave in the car for random opportunities. When I’m buying a chest style pack, there are some things that I tend to look for.

One complaint people often have with this style of pack is that they get in the way and they can’t see their feet. Therefore, I always looking for a chest pack that is somewhat sleek and compact. Big and bulky chest packs will inhibit vision of what’s in front of you and will just get in the way.  This lack in visibility can make it difficult to navigate the rocky bottoms of trout streams.

Storage capacity is the biggest sacrifice in choosing to go with a chest style pack. Therefore, you must select your size carefully. I caution against going to large, as the idea with a chest pack is the carry the minimum amount of gear required. Storage capacity will be a compromise between comfort and amount of stuff you carry. Personally, I like to have one good sized fly-box sized pocket, one additional pocket, and a few other attachment points or slide in pouches.

Features are the most fun part of fly-fishing chest packs. Each brand will have its own unique selling points and fun features. These will be different to each person’s taste. Personally, I like little things such as a tippet holder and attachment points for tools. I also like small slide-in pockets for quick access items. Another great feature not available on all chest packs is some sort of storage on the back panel. That is great for carrying an extra insulating or rain layer for the day.

Final Thoughts 

While the fly-fishing vest was the staple for fly anglers of previous decades, the new age has brought change. Many fly fishing anglers now choose to use different packs catered to the sport.

Fly-fishing chest packs offer a quick, convenient, and compact option for anglers to carry a small amount of gear out on to the water. They offer easily accessible storage, often a flat work surface, and make you think about what is actually necessary out on the water.

Whether or not you already have one in your gear stash, a fly-fishing chest pack has a purpose in nearly every anglers arsenal.

(Top Pick) Umpqua Overlook 500 ZS Fly Fishing Chest Pack

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3. The Best Fly Fishing Books (And Why To Read Them)

4. Best Fly Fishing Starter Kits (5 Fly Fishing Rod And Reel Combos)

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Written by Don

When I'm not bass fishing or looking for steelhead in my home state of Oregon I can be found working on house projects dreaming of my next fishing adventure.

I started this website to share just some of the things I've learned along my fishing journey, and the many things I'm still learning. Enjoy!

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