The Simms Headwater Sling Pack

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Photo by Steven Brutger of Stalking the Seam

Photo by Steven Brutger of Stalking the Seam

This pack answers so many questions for me that I’m starting to think Simms has my phone tapped.

I am a creature of habit. When I find something that works for me, I’d rather fight than switch. That’s never more true than when it comes to my fishing pack. The ancient chest pack that I have worn for well over a decade has become a running joke among my fishing buddies. Although I have a box full of brand new fishing packs, I have refused to change, wearing the old and busted one like a penitent. Although I tried many, I just couldn’t find a pack that have the features, comfort and organization I need. Until now.

I fell I love with the Simms Headwaters Sling Pack the first time I used it. It not only had all of the features I wanted, it had a few I hadn’t thought of. Because of all of the photography gear I carry, fishing packs are a challenge. My fishing pack has to carry all of the flies and supplies I need, as well as work in conjunction with the waist pack I use for my cameras. I look a little like a soldier headed to Afghanistan when I get all of it on and, up until now, I felt like one too. The sling pack is liberating. I swing it around to my back and I can fish without all of that gear in my way. I love that feeling. It’s like fishing naked…Not that I do that.

Photo Steven Brutger

Photo Steven BrutgerFeatures


This pack holds a lot of gear. That’s important to me. Like most guys I carry way more than I really need. The Headwaters Sling Pack doesn’t force me to compromise on how many fly boxes I carry. The main interior of the pack is separated into six sections. The roomy main compartment, four easy-access elastic fly box pouches and a water bottle compartment with a mesh panel for quick drying. The layout is very nice and helps to keep the pack super organized. No digging around for missing items on the river. I love the dedicated space for the water bottle but it will holds a thousand other things if you like. I used it to carry my bug suit and insect repellant while in Alaska.

The front of the pack has three main storage and work areas. The hard molded front panel unzips and folds down into a handy work space with large gussets that catch flies or shot that might otherwise end up in the river. This really works and it’s one of my favorite things about the pack.

The hard lid is lined with Velcro and there is a Velcro patch on the outside. Both accept movable drying patches, floatant and tippet keepers or anything else you like. You can use adhesive Velcro to adapt anything to this system. There are three elastic pouches for organizing tools and supplies. This workstation feature is well designed and incredibly handy.

Next to the workstation is a tool dock. There are tabs to attach zingers or rings and two magnetic docks for hemostats or similar tools. The tools slide into a sheath with a strong magnet inside which keeps them in place. I was worried about this system at first but it has faithfully held onto my Rising Rancher as well as my hemostats. Both have curved points and I think that helps.

Next to the tool dock is a zippered pocket that’s handy for all sorts of stuff. I carry my sink tips, a notebook and sometimes a GPS or my cell phone in there. It would be great for a small camera too but it’s not big enough for a DSLR. It’s a decent spot for a sandwich or snacks as well.

There is padding inside the back of the pack which adds to the comfort and the strap is wide with ventilated egg-crate foam. The strap also has a magnetic tool dock, which I love. I keep a pair of hemostats there in case I need them to unhook a fish. This is a simple but awesome feature. There is a second strap which goes around your chest if you like. I don’t use it and it stores conveniently away. Nothing on this pack catches line. That’s one of the nicest things about it. There is also a D-ring for a net.

The materials and construction of the pack are outstanding. It feels like some kind of military issue equipment. It’s absolutely bulletproof which is great since, given my record, I will likely use it for the next fifteen or twenty years. It’s a nice stealthy green. You can get orange accents as an option but they are subtle.

The Headwaters Sling Pack has everything I look for in a pack. Organization, comfort, ease of use and durability. The features you need in abundance and nothing extraneous. It was obviously designed for the river, not the display rack. I’ll be sticking with it for years to come.

Get yours for $89 (HERE)

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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11 thoughts on “The Simms Headwater Sling Pack

  1. Looks like a great pack. How does the net holder work? Does it get caught when you move the pack to the front? That would be a deal breaker for me.

  2. I’ve been “thinking” about a sling pack recently, but like the comment above – I also wonder about how they work with a net. My fishing trips rarely allow me to go without a good net.

  3. It is a nice pack for sure… Owned the smaller version and the bigger version but always seem to go back to the trusty hip packs bc of the constant slinging it around if something is needed. If you like slings this is a great option.

  4. I’m glad you’ve had a great experience with the sling pack. I just ordered one from Simms last night and I’m excited about getting it and using it. I’ve needed to replace my old orvis sling pack for a while now. I mainly use it for bass fishing around the banks of local farm ponds and public lakes, so I use the hell out of it spring thru fall. It’s also easy to carry on a boat and have everything you need in one spot. This pack looks like it will wear much better and be more functional for me. They really put some thought into these sling packs. Just another reason why Simms stands in the forefront when it comes to producing functional, quality products! Great review Louis!

  5. My local fly shop thanks you for this post. I’ve been looking at buying a new sling pack and bought this exact one at my local shop today.

  6. I got one to replace my old Orvis slingpack. Needed more room and liked most of the same features you mentioned. One fault for me. The second strap comes from the pack corner and connects to the front of the main strap. When I bend over to net a fish, check rocks for bugs, etc., the pack flops up to my head. The Orvis pack had a second strap that went straight across your waist and secured the pack much better. I need the pack secured better when I’m scrambling a blueline or ducking tree limbs, for example. I’m modifying the pack with a waist type quick release strap. Then it will be five stars.

    • Hey thanks for that input. Mine is en route and I wondered if there would be any shifting issues with movement. Let me know how the retro fitting goes.

  7. I purchased my Sims sling pack last year. It has become more like that third and fourth arm I’ve always needed. My friends are shocked at what I can carry comfortably with me and just how accessible those things are to reach. I can’t remember what fishing was like before it. Truly, it is the most functional piece of gear I own.

  8. The small size is probably a good one to have, but I made the mistake of buying the large size. The quality and features are pure Sims – meaning the best. But it’s just way too big which enables one to carry way too much stuff. Even when I reduce the “stuff”, it is too heavy and after a full day’s worth of fishing, my right shoulder is very tired (it rests on the right shoulder and I’m right handed). The unsnapping of the waist strap and slinging it around is cumbersome, but you need the strap to keep it from moving overhead when you bend over. So, my advice is that if you want to go with a sling pack, get a Sims, but in the small size. Mine is for sale if you’re interested and it’s only been used 4 times.

  9. I have mixed emotions about this pack I have owned hip packs back packs and my next will probably be an umpqua chest pack. This thing on the shelf makes lots of sense. Off the shelf it’s flaws Apear. First the main strap is not comfortable, and the cool Color has a bright orange strap I like the look but spooky trout probably don’t. Then the extra strap is useless I think orvis beat them to the patent office I say this not truly knowing a lol if you will. I wouldn’t trust an expensive collection of tippet with that Velcro patch for one second. The work station is good for a small fly box but doesn’t hold other things well and tippet will get caught in the zippers. Then the lanyard attachment is in an abysmal place it’s hard to reach and is on the left instead of the right its a big deal if it doesn’t sound like it. The work station could have switched places with it grown and evicted the weird zipper pocket. The main compartment is solid I love the water slash beer separator, and unless you carry c and f or similar thickness boxes then it’s good for two boxes or more if your feeling crazy. I however have a tramp stamp tattoo of a c and f designe box so it’s a squeeze. There is no good way to carry a net on this thing which is agregious. If you tuck it in the back of your belt like me the pack plays hard and uncomfortable defense then if you attach it to the designated net spot it flops all around and adds weight in the wrong place. If you don’t have a net the other things may be overlooked. Overall it could have worked but didn’t, and I have a problem with that coming from a brand who’s waders cost more than my hardy zenith. I know this company has the money for r and d . Maybe they are to busy selling our brand to bass fishermam, although I have much respect for Kevin van dam a stone cold killer if there ever was one. Boom

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