As one who spends more than 90 percent of my time on the water on foot, a great pack is something I relish, especially for days that run up to 10 hours or more away from camp, the rig, or a drift boat. I need space for food, hydration, emergency items, rain gear, fly boxes, bear spray and more. And I need that space to balance well on my skinny frame, preferably keeping its extras out of the way when the hatch comes off and it’s business time.
Simms innovative, new G4 Pro “Shift” Fishing Backpack, a full-sized daypack aimed at adventurous anglers, is designed to deliver on space and do even more — by offering a unique, shape-shifting storage system that allows an otherwise fully independent waist/hip pack to slide around back and “park” itself in the bottom of the main pack.
Simms knows its audience as well as any gear maker in the business, and the new G4 Pro Shift Pack aims to delivers on everything a guide or soloist might need for a full day, on foot, far flung from the truck, lodge or anything else that might serve as home to the day’s needs.
The supporting elements
At last it looks like we’ve arrived at a point where backpacks designed for anglers carry most, if not all, of the best elements of packs intended for a more general backpacking market. The shoulder straps have solid ergonomics including shaping, padding and ventilation elements as does the hip belt / waist pack and back of the pack. More on that in a bit.
A bit more attention to detail: it looks like Simms has addressed those cheap rubber zipper pulls that split too easily and too often. The zipper pulls on this pack are full thread loops with a soft plastic coating around the base of the loop. Time will tell how well those stand up to wear, but they should be an improvement.
Stashing the waist pack keeps things clean
The full size waist pack (11” x 9” x 7”) easily slides into and out of its “garage” at the bottom of the main pack. Once you get used to the “unstow” and “secure” clip, it works beautifully providing access to flies, terminal tackle and whatever else you want in it when you want it, then disappears keeping your front side “clean” to do the balance of your work unimpeded.
It’s also a piece of cake to use the hip pack on its own if you’ve got time to give your back a break, or just happen to have a couple of hours to yourself for a quick flick.
Finally, a solution to the net problem
A secure, convenient way to carry and use a net has been a problem without a good solution forever. The magnets get separated all day long and next thing you know you’re getting yanked backwards when the emergency cable reaches its max stretch. At least you didn’t leave the net in the bushes, but man, we’ve needed something better. Simms nailed it.
The front panel, adjustable drop down flap has a pass through that can accommodate big nets typically found in pro guide’s drift boat. This is a thoughtful addition guides and their clients should appreciate, though the clients aren’t likely to notice or care how easily the big one found its way into the net.
At 35 liters capacity, it should hold everything you and your partner or client needs to support a full day mission on foot. With all of the compartments this pack sports, large and small, remembering where you put everything may be another story for the first few trips.
I’m also going to assume most clients will have a few pockets or a small pack of their own just to have hydration, small bites and a fly box on them effectively adding a bit of discreet capacity for the mission.
At $349, the Simms G4 Pro Shift Pack’s retail price may take some anglers out of the market, especially those with other packs already in their arsenal that, coupled together, approach the storage capacity and features of the Shift Pack. It’s doubtful they would provide the same elegant functionality, but will elegance serve as justification for the expense? Time will tell, but it’s easy to imagine the market for the Shift Pack being a lot bigger if Simms had introduced it at even a moderately lower price point.
No compression straps
This pack might support an overnight mission if it included compression straps on the bottom to carry a light tent. If you want it to support an overnight trip as-is with this pack, you’re looking at a super-minimalist tarp and poles tent set up unless you’ve got a partner shouldering their share of the load including the tent.
The Simms G4 Pro Shift Pack ticks all the boxes required for anglers and guides on a single, full-day mission as far away from your rig as you choose to get and its “shift” functionality is easy-to-use, functional and a boon for anglers that like to keep their front side clean when fishing. If you don’t own a pack in its class, or you’re looking to replace one that’s done its duty, it’s worth a serious look. Especially if you can find one on sale.