The majority of my missions are full on 8 hour days on foot often in challenging terrain. This typically necessitates a balanced, lightweight pack and storage configuration of more than 17 liters for the first aid kit, food, liquids, tackle and a rain jacket or insulated layer depending on conditions.
There are, however, enough occasions for which around 17 liters is ideal especially early or late in the season when the days are shorter. Simms has found a smart package for “slightly less than day long sessions” on foot in the Waypoints Sling Pack. Minimalists can opt for the “small” version: just 10 liters, though my guess would be most anglers would find themselves running out of capacity rather quickly.
The large version will hold everything you need for roughly six hours on the river depending on how much fluid you have to carry. This would be perfect for a 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. session trying to match the hatch out at Harriman. And if you’re using this while enjoying guided service, you should be good to go for the day.
The fit and sling
Putting this puppy on takes a bit of getting used to (especially if you order one without trying it out in person first). That’s because it’s designed to fit just right in its intended use. But once you realize it’s much easier when you unsnap the primary shoulder strap, put it around your shoulder and reconnect it, it’s no trouble. The side secure straps do a fine job of refining the fit and balancing the load for a wide range of frames and body types.
When you’re ready to access the main compartment or workbench, just reach around your waist, give the bottom a pull and there it is. When you’re ready for it to ride around back again, a gentle pull on the base and tug on the strap with the opposite hand sends it back home.
The external compression straps are perfect for holding a rain jacket (something I deem a requirement) saving valuable space in the main compartment. I’m always surprised when I find these compression straps absent on some packs. Simms gets it right by including them here. The tippet tender and floatant holders are appreciated and becoming must haves. The U-shaped zippered access to the main compartment works well ergonomically and the number, size and type of pockets indicate this pack is designed by anglers for anglers which, of course, it is.
It actually feels lighter than 31 ounces (empty). If you put it on empty, you’d hardly notice it. When fishing on foot for 4-6 hours on end, any weight I can eliminate from my shoulders or weight is welcome. Simms claims the “PU-coated 420D nylon Oxford and 210D nylon HT Dobby fabrics are tenacious through tough conditions.” Only time will tell on overall durability especially if you find yourself doing some bushwhacking in it. Which leads us to…
The ‘slip’ on the sling
Most of the shirts and jackets we’re wearing on the water these days are built to repel water, wick moisture away from the body and dry quickly. The materials required for this don’t have much friction. They’re pretty slick. The same is true for the packs. I found myself making more adjustments to the positioning of the pack on my shoulder as it slipped around riding atop my favorite Guide shirt than I would have liked. Finding a way to create a bit more friction where the shoulder strap meets the shoulder without impeding the easy sling functionality would be a welcome improvement.
It’s a one trick pony
The Waypoints Sling Pack is so well designed for its intended task that it’s quite awkward when slung over just one shoulder like a traditional backpack. I understand that is not what it is designed to do (which is what it does extremely well). But like Alton Brown I prefer most of my gear, especially packs, to perform multiple tasks, like carrying non-fishing related gear for the days I’m not on the water.
If you’re a fan of sling packs, you will want to give this a close look as an upgrade. It’s probably a lot lighter than the one you’re currently toting and has a ton of desirable features. If you’ve never owned one and your missions are commonly 4-6 hours between fuel ups for food and water, this deserves consideration. Combine it with the Simms Riffle Jacket, and you’ve got a great lightweight setup for late spring through early fall trout missions in a wide variety of locations.