Long before I started taking gear into the field with the intention of writing about it, I was pack obsessed. As manufacturers have refined their designs over the last decade or so, advancements in build, comfort, weight and features have often been hard to resist. 10 years or so later, and the packs we anglers get to choose from before we head out to to water are better than they’ve ever been.
Those improvements, however, haven’t come without a few pitfalls. One of those pitfalls is the rampant specialization and level of features present in some packs, some of which borders on silly.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a demanding pack owner and have been through more than a handful of slings looking for the right one. But give me everything I need and nothing I don’t in any element of my gear, particularly packs—and I’m going to be a happy user. Make it durable and capable of serving multiple mission types well—and I’m really in.
After several months of fishing Vedavoo’s Beast Sling Pack, it’s hard to imagine the folks designing their packs don’t subscribe to the same philosophy.
The sling—Finally, only one strap
True one-handed operation. It’s a sling pack, right? It should have always been this way on these types of packs, but Vedavoo is the first to get it right in my experience. Pull it around when you need to and then return in one-handed fashion. Stays put when bending over to land fish or flip over rocks. And, most importantly, it does all of this without a secondary strap that you have to fumble with and clasp to keep your pack in place while you’re fishing, or to drag in the water and get tangled in your net while you’ve unfastened it to your use your sling, well, as a sling. Excellent.
The Vedavoo design team has created a pack that rides absolutely flat against the back, stays put and is completely out of the way and free of entanglements when you’re fishing. You can hardly tell it’s there, particularly when it isn’t overloaded. The main internal compartment will hold everything you need it to (several fly boxes, a light jacket and other odds and ends are completely doable) within its 230-ish cubic inch limitations. And if you’re making use of the forty other pockets on your person—admit it, you’re wearing a guide shirt right now that has at least four of its own on it—put a fly box or two in those and make room for your lunch and first aid kit in the sling.
The details and necessities
A wallet, phone, key or ID security pocket is present, though I would really like for this to be plastic lined as an easy, protective addition. There are four loops for core gear and external riders like forceps and nippers. It’s got an external tippet toggle and cord, which shouldn’t be overlooked in any of these packs and it isn’t overlooked here. The stealthy leader pocket is welcome and well placed.
You won’t find a bunch of bells and whistles, because so many times they’re just not necessary. It’s minimalist yet fully functional. Don’t miss the hidden pocket between the main compartment and the back of the pack as a great place to hold soft goods like gloves and caps. The compression straps on the bottom of the pack will hold your rain jacket or other layers you need to shed without sucking up space inside. That’s a key inclusion I am constantly surprised other pack makers (and not just for sling packs) omit in too many products. Well done.
The water bottle pocket
Don’t expect to put a standard 32 oz. Gatorade bottle in there. It’s not going to happen. The pocket doesn’t ‘give’ at all. So be careful when grabbing the rest of your gear in order to make sure whatever you put liquid in fits. I’d love to see this pocket be made from something with some stretch to it to accommodate a wider variety of bottle types and sizes. That said, it’s worth noting that the Vedavoo team asserts this design is intentional in order to prevent overloading the pack and throwing off its balance and all the aforementioned benefits of a pack that rides right. Fair enough.
As mentioned, I’ve been through a bunch of sling packs. More often than not I’m surprised at how many iterations some "big" brands with substantial design teams and other resources have gone through, repeatedly making the same errors or omissions, over-featuring things, adding gimmicks or simply making gear that just doesn't work well.
Vedavoo Founder Scott Hunter and his team have created an immensely fishable, functional, and elegant pack. You can tell the Vedavoo Beast Sling pack was designed by experienced anglers looking for a better product. It’s got almost everything you need in a sling and nothing you don’t. If you’re a fan of sling packs, buy one. And if you’re not but have been thinking about giving one a shot, give it to this one.