From the river to the flats, we’ve long been fans of sling packs for toting around our gear, especially whenever fishing on foot. We think they’re a great cross between the versatility of a hip pack, with the high-riding comfort of a full back pack, and rarely hit the water these days without one.
However, for a long time, while most sling packs offered a more comfortable way to carry gear on the water, most consisted of a large open cavity, with only a few small pockets to organize small items like leaders, tippet spools, split shot, etc. Therefore, being more compartmentalized, hip packs remained a better option for those looking to organize a bunch of gear on their person.
Then, with their addition of their Waypoints series of sling packs, the good folks at Simms released a full sling pack, with the organizational options of a hip pack. We spent a year with it, in both the Bahamas and Alaska, and really loved the layout.. Our only quibble? Made to be light, thus not overly water resistant, we found it to be a bit soggy after a full season of wet Alaskan weather.. No surprise there.
So, we thought to ourselves, how great would it be if they made a similar pack that was more water resistant, perhaps a little larger, and while we’re dreaming, maybe in a really cool stealthy-black color (your fearless editors’ favorite)?
Well, they must have gotten into our heads, because that’s exactly what they did with their latest pack. It’s called the G4 Pro Sling Pack, it’s everything we wanted and then some, and here’s why.
While not considered fully submersible, the G4 Pro Sling is made of a durable TPU coated nylon with taped interior seams to keep contents dry during heavy rains, deep crossings, or the accidental dip in the river. Admittedly, we’ve tested it in all three scenarios, and our gear has remained dry throughout.
A water resistant, but not 100% waterproof, zipper opening into the main compartment limits the pack from being listed as ‘submersible.’ However, the ease of entry in comparison to the dry suit style zippers found on fully waterproof packs is a tradeoff we’ll gladly accept – especially on a pack we plan on working out of all day long.
Simply put, for a pack that we plan on opening and closing, dozens of times throughout a day, housing things like flies, tools, terminal tackle, etc., we think its as dry as it needs to be. If you’re looking to pack an extra pair of clothes, camera equipment, or anything else where bone-dry is an absolute must, even in the ugliest conditions, probably best going with a fully submersible bag.
The lack of welded seams and bulky dry-suit style zippers has allowed for a much more organized and customizable layout than any other sling pack we’ve used to date. So much so in fact, we’d go out on a limb to say its one of the most functional packs we’ve ever fished out of.
When set up correctly, the pack rides high on the back in the vertical carrying position (see photo above), out of the way of casting, stripping, rowing, etc., and then can easily be swept around to the chest where it is oriented horizontally offering easy access into the main compartments of the bag, at a comfortable height to work out of.
Once swept around in front of the body, compartments, pockets, dividers, etc., are oriented to be picked at from the horizontal position, keeping your gear organized just as you packed it, rather than jostling around in a big open cavity. It’s a system that we think works pretty slick, and is a real pleasure to fish out of.
We’ve packed the G4 Pro Sling with a lot of gear, probably more than the average angler, and despite the lack of frame or other support system, we were a bit surprised at our comfort level at the end of the day. A well designed shoulder strap, coupled with a sliding ‘cross-carry strap,’ keeps the pack from swinging around while casting, netting fish, hiking, etc., and seems to distribute weight across the back rather than directly on top of your shoulder for what we found to be a very comfortable carry.
One thing we also really appreciated about the G4 Pro Sling when we first laid eyes on it was its’ extremely simple, yet clean exterior to the bag. One quick glance and its easy to see Simms designed the pack to minimize frustrating catch points all the way around from a smooth outer face, to rounded buckles, to webbing straps designed to be able to be folded out of the way when not in use. There’s no exterior water bottle holders, clunky tippet retainers, bungees, zingers, and so on. Thus, it does a good job at shedding errant fly line, and is a detail that many anglers will appreciate.
Every so often a piece of gear comes along that appears to be tailored made to our desires. The G4 Pro Sling is one of those packs. We really, really dig it and would recommend it to anyone looking to replace their vest or hip pack while still staying organized on the water.
The G4 Pro Sling Pack retails for $179.95, and is available in both black and ‘boulder’ (best for tropical locations). For more information, check it out on Simms’ website, here, or visit your nearest Simms dealer.