Let’s talk about the Simms Waypoints sling pack. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that many anglers (both current and long gone) initially carried the all-too-familiar, drab-brown fishing vest. As a matter of fact, those quintessential vests are rather iconic in the fly fishing world, having been worn by countless anglers and depicted in paintings and pictures since their inception in what would seem like millenia ago. (After a grueling 5 minutes of research, I found that the famous fly fisherman, tier and writer Lee Wulff supposedly invented the vest in the winter of 1930-31.)
Like all gear with time, evolution takes charge and old forms are replaced with new. And although many alternatives to the fly fishing vest exist, the sling pack has proved time and time again to be a major competitor. Unobstructed mobility, convenient workbenches, and ergonomic construction are just a few of their beneficial features.
The Simms Waypoints sling pack is offered in two sizes and in various colors. For the minimalist, they created a small, 10 liter version. And for everyone else, a larger, 17 liter option was made. Both have all of the same features and accessories except the large is obviously more voluminous and it also sports some very useful compressions straps. There is a saying about Colorado weather, “if you don’t like it, wait 20 minutes.” A powerful burst of snowfall can quickly convert into brilliant sunshine. But before you can get your face smeared with sunscreen, the wind picks up and clouds materializing out of nowhere begin to blanket the area with a fine mist. Anyone who fishes in the
Colorado High Country can agree that being able to add or remove a rain jacket or extra layer to your pack without opening a pocket or taking the pack off is a major advantage. Inclement weather demands streamlined features.
I’ve been testing the large version of Waypoints sling pack for roughly 100 days of fishing thus far. And here’s what I’ve discovered…
The Main Attraction
At 17 liters of fillable space, the Waypoints large easily fits everything you’ll need for an extended day on the water. Size does matter and this pack proves it. But space without organization can create some unneeded chaos. That’s why Simms implemented a series of strategic pockets and compartments into the design of their pack. From slipping your extra leaders into their own stretchy mesh sleeve to finding the perfect home for your small/medium/large fly boxes, the Waypoints lets any angler indulge in their OCD tendencies. More of a stuff-and-go packer? No worries. The Waypoints’ U-shaped main compartment is cavernous. You can jam a multitude of fishing accessories in there without having to file them neatly.
It’s the Simple Things…
There is an abundance of features that I found very beneficial and at the same time, straightforward with this pack. First of all, Simms constructed the Waypoints with “ 420D nylon Oxford with PU coating & 210D nylon HT Dobby.” I’m no fabrics guru but I will say that this material has three major advantages. It’s ultra-lightweight (the whole pack weighs only 31 ounces, roughly equal to a pair of shoes). It’s very durable (100+ days of use and shows zero signs of wear). And it’s water resistant. The third point I tested thoroughly when I went for a little swim while fishing the Arkansas River. It was a brief but comprehensive dunk with only my head staying out of the water. I opened to Waypoints immediately, finding it 90% dry and just slightly damp in the bottom corner. I was quite surprised and very impressed.
In addition to the high quality construction, the Waypoints also incorporates an array of straps, clipping points, and sleeves to the exterior of the pack. These make finding a convenient spot for your forceps, tippet spool holder, floatant caddy or nippers easier than ever. Combine those simple yet necessary features with the user friendly, fold-down workbench and you just made any re-rigging or untangling process all the more efficient.
As for comfort and fit, the vertical carry on the bag disperses the weight much like a double strap backpack while still allowing the carry freedom of a sling pack. The duel clipping system (one chest/shoulder strap and one side secure strap) is easily mastered and quite comfortable. But, I will say that when packed with heavier loads, the shoulder strap can begin to rub on longer days. So maybe in lieu of a full 32 oz water bottle, opt for a portable water filter. Or skip the 4 beers and instead bring a Simms 7 oz hip flask full of your favorite bourbon.
Check it Out
Overall, I found the Waypoints sling pack practical yet fully accessorized and able to get the job done in all seasons and conditions. While my fishing buddy struggled to fit his extra layers in his hip pack during a winter fishing session on the Eagle River, I was warming up just thinking about the thermos full of hot coffee I had stored in the Waypoints. And during every midriver re-rigging, the fold-down workbench never fails me in providing a hands free shelf rather than attempting to clutch every piece of tackle at once.
Be sure to drop into Vail Valley Anglers and check out the pack in both sizes and various colors for yourself. Or you can order one at the online store right now. Either way, you will not be disappointed.
Seth Kulas, Vail Valley Anglers Content Writer, @sticks2snow