Expert Review: Simms Freestone Sling Pack

This review is my honest opinion of the sling pack, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2019.

Fishing supplies all laid out next to each other.

All photos courtesy of Marshall McDougal

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About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the sling pack, which I purchased with my own money in April of 2019.

My take

The Simms Freestone Sling Pack is my go-to pack for day trips on the river. It has enough storage for all my fly gear, as well as room for a water bottle, lunch, and a light rain jacket.

Fishing supplies laid out on the floor.

About the gear

  • Model: 2019 Simms Freestone Sling Pack
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Size: Small
  • Pack capacity: 18L
  • Pack type: Sling

About me

  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 165 lbs
  • Experience: 16 years of fly fishing

Test conditions

  • When I bought it: April 2019
  • Type of fishing trips: Day trips
  • What I carried:
    • Fly Box: Cliffs Bugger Barn and White River Fly Box
    • Accessories: Nippers, tippet spool, pliers, and Loon Top Ride
    • Rain Gear: Sitka Flash Point Jacket in Subalpine
    • Other: Fishpond Nomad Net
  • Total pack weight: 10lbs
  • Used for: Bank and wade fishing
  • Where I’ve used it: Rivers
  • Seasons I’ve used it in: Spring, summer, and fall

How it performs

Back Breathability

What I was looking for

I was transitioning from a backpack to a sling pack for day trip applications. I was looking for something that would be lighter in weight without sacrificing storage so that I could still carry a net.

Why I chose this gear

I decided on the Simms Freestone Sling pack over the Orvis Sling pack because of the storage options as well as the capacity. The Simms offered 18L of capacity, while the Orvis pack only offered 11L. On top of the extra storage, the innovative storage design was much more suited for my need on the water, offering slots for my fly boxes, extra pockets for leaders and a larger pouch for a lunch and water bottle, and vertical net storage on the back.

A fishing sling with some fishing accessories sticking out of it.

What I love about it

  • Durability: I really like the durability of this pack. It is water resistant, so it will shed water in light rain or splashes from wading. The zippers are heavy-duty, and the pack is constructed of 420D Oxford nylon, making it resistant to tears from tree branches or bushes in remote spots.
  • Ease of use: This pack is extremely easy to navigate storage and use. It has storage for accessories on the strap and well-built internal storage for fly boxes and gear.
  • Adjustability: The pack offers two ways to adjust. The first is on the main strap for the diagonal length from shoulder to hip as well as a secondary adjustment in a connecting strap from the strap to the lower back.
  • Capacity: This pack offers the perfect capacity for any day trip: 18L.
  • Weather Resistance: The DWR sheds light water and keeps the internals dry.
  • Features: The notable features on this pack are the net holder, amplitude fly box storage, and smaller pockets for leaders and my fishing license. I also like the storage on the strap that can hold a pair of nippers, pliers, and a dry fly applicant.
  • Organization and pockets: This pack is well organized and easy to access all pockets while on the river.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Weight: The overall pack weight is light, but if it is loaded with too much gear, I can feel the weight distributed to one shoulder, which will get uncomfortable if I have more than 15lbs of equipment in it.
  • Comfort and Accessibility: The shoulder strap can dig into your shoulder and be uncomfortable when loaded down with heavy gear. It is definitely not made to pack in for overnight trips.
A man holding two fishing rods wearing a fishing sling with teo fishing nets tucked into it.

Favorite moment with this gear

I have a ton of great memories with this pack, but the one that stands out was taking a day trip on the Piedra river and having to hike in a mile-and-a-half to untouched water where we caught fish all day long. This pack carried two nets, four fly boxes, a large Nalgene of water, a water filtration straw, bear spray, a med kit, two sack lunches, two raincoats, my fishing license as well as my nippers, pliers, dry fly flotant and extra leaders and tippet.

Value for the money vs. other options

For the money, this sling pack is one of the best on the market. It retails for $139.95 and is worth the extra forty bucks compared to similar packs priced around $100. The Orvis Sling pack is $40 cheaper but offers less storage, and I did not think the storage was as organized or as accessible as the Simms Freestone pack.

Final verdict

The Simms Freestone pack will continue to be my go-to day pack on the river. It offers superior storage and comfort for hiking into secluded spots or just pulling up to my favorite spot in town. Although it can feel more loaded on heavier trips, it is a must-have for anglers looking for something lightweight that won’t sacrifice capacity.

Selling Simms on
Simms Freestone Sling Pack
Meet the author
Fly Fishing Expert Marshall McDougal
Marshall McDougal
Fly Fishing Expert
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Written By
I picked up a fly rod at the age of 10 and have never been able to put it down. Fly tying started shortly after and I have been chasing fish all over the US and Mexico. I now own a small fly tying company as well as run guided trips. My favorite area to fish is the Bitteroot River in Missoula, MT an...

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