In the beginning I started out rocking the old fishing vest. The tan one with a bazillion pockets and that patch of fuzz on the left that you stuck flies in but could never get out unless you pulled real hard. The one in the picture is the last one in a long line of fishing vests. The cool thing about them was that they were cheap and you could carry a ton of crap.
The bad thing was they weighed a ton because of all the crap you had to put into each pocket just because they were there. Also they didn’t last too long because the seams would bust out because of all of the crap in the pockets and the weight of all that crap. See a pattern here.
Next came the tech pack. Cool idea that combined a fishing vest with a backpack. Mine was the Fishpond Wasatch Tech Pack. This thing had a ton of pockets, molded in fly box, adjustable straps, and a backpack. It was great for hiking into a spot and being able to carry all the gear you could possibly need that day. It was way better than that old tan fishing vest…it carried the load better.
The downside was that I ended up carrying more stuff than I ever needed on the water for the day. I ended up selling the pack after a season. Just wasn’t for me.
I finally ended up where I am today. It took a while to finally realize that I could get by with a lot less and still have all of my bases covered. It was after a long hike up and down the river, a stiff neck, and sore back and shoulders that I took inventory of the things I used throughout the day. It didn’t amount to much. A medium-sized fly box or two, leaders, tippet, mitten clamps, split shot, a drink, and some snacks.
Surprisingly that all fits into a hip pack. The one above is the Fishpond Blue River. It’s setup really nice because it has two main zippered compartments. You can easily tuck in everything you need for the day along with a small bottle of water, some jerky, sunflower seeds, and a Clif bar. The only downside of that pack is when it gets wet, so does everything inside.
So last year I added the Simms Dry Creek Hip Pack. Not waterproof but good enough I suppose to keep the stuff inside dry.
On those occasions I need to pack in a bit more gear I just grab the Osprey Exos 46. Empty that thing weighs a mere 2lbs 5oz, carries the load well, and sports some cool features.