I posted this first in General Discussions, but I thought I should add it under gear reviews.
I tried out the Vedavoo Tightline Sling Pack on the river for the first time, this week. I was out for about six hours. So I thought I would write a brief review.
There are in-depth descriptions and videos on their website:
so I will just give you the nuts and bolts of my experience.
First of all, this is a pack for fairly light needs (a day on the water). To me, a minimalist fly fisherman uses a lanyard and his shirt pockets. The Vedavoo pack is capable of a much larger load than this, but it does not pretend to be the Patagonia Atom pack. You can carry a lot, but you can’t expect to carry extra reels or spools, or full rain gear, or every fly box you own. This is for light weight, unencumbered fishing.
I think it is important to point out that these packs are entirely made in the US with US made materials, and they are made in a small shop pretty much by hand. I’m a big Patagonia fan and have their wading boots and some fleece clothes, but the boots are made in Thailand and I did have an issue with the first set they sent me.
The Vedavoo pack is very well made and extremely tough. I tried to pierce the side in order to mount a heavy duty, screw-on zinger and I couldn’t do it, the fabric was too tough. They have not had a return in four years of business.
And when you call them, you talk to the owner, not a “customer service specialist”. He was perfectly happy to customize the sling for me. And it is available for left or right side use (I got the left side strap to keep my right casting arm free).
On the river I carried four Orvis ultra-thin fly boxes (which stack up to about 2” thick), a couple of granola bars, and a camera, and there was still room left in the main pack. I carried all the core tools, and all the basic small extras in zippered strap pockets, very easy to get to (extra tippet reels, extra leaders, pinch on weights, floatant, gink, strike indicators, leader dressing, toilet paper, and there were still some additional room for more smalls left over in additional zippered pockets (the pack was not jammed). I carried a water bottle and wading staff on my belt.
The main compartment on the pack is about 8” by 9” by 2” with a big Velcro flap to close, big enough for a couple of fairly large fly boxes (or four really thin ones). You could fold up and sandwich a light rain jacket or light fleece between strap and main pack if you wanted to.
What is unusual about the pack is its basic design and how it functions. There is a large rectangular main pack (which is removable) and then there is a row of loops on the strap for attaching core tools in a line with S carabineers (or however else you want to attach them). I put an Orvis double zinger on one of these loops because I wanted the range of movement on two of the tools.
What this means is that when the pack is pulled around to the front position on your chest, the main pack opens for easy access to fly boxes and all the tools are out and already hanging in a line, available as they would be on a lanyard. The tippet holder is also in front and right at hand, so rigging a new fly or leader is very simple.
And then, when the sling is returned to the fishing position (behind you) you are completely unencumbered with nothing to snag your line. Even with zingers on a vest or shirt, you have tools hanging in front of you, but with this system, every thing is immediately available in front of you and then immediately gone, behind you. There is no rooting around to find anything and there is no necklace of jangling tools in front of you all the time. This may be hard to visualize, but it is clear in their videos.
So that is the concept and it is very effective in practice. The entire process of rigging leaders or changing flies was very simple and fast. Since the whole deal is not very heavy, slipping it around to the front and back again involves very little friction. It’s very quick. And for the same reason, it is very light to carry, and quite comfortable.
So I am very happy with it. It is not for carrying a tremendous amount of stuff, but I have been going through a process trying to limit how much junk I carry and getting away from rooting around trying to find a tool or the floatant or whatever. Standing in the current all by itself can get pretty tiring and the more you haul with you, the less pleasant it is (at least for me).
So using a sling pack as an alternative to a vest, chest pack or butt pack seems like an idea that is growing increasingly popular, and this light-weight pack fits my own needs to a T.
The basic cost is $109, but I bought it with an upgraded main pouch (more little pockets). The one in the photograph is the basic model. This is more expensive than the Patagonia Atom sling pack, but that's what you get for buying American, I'm afraid. I knocked down my value grade for this reason, but it is really a different animal from the Patagonia pack, as well ( or any other pack for that matter). I chose this after looking at all the alternatives.
Finally, I like the design. There is nothing made out of formed plastic or rubber. It is very simple and rectilinear. It packs into a small rectangle itself, and fits into my back pack easily. It seems kind of modest and elegant. It is simple.