Expert Review: Orvis Guide SlingPublished on 01/06/2023 · 8 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the sling pack, which I purchased with my own money in December of 2020.
All photos courtesy of Baily Dent
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the sling pack, which I purchased with my own money in December of 2020.
The Orvis Guide Sling Pack is a great pack for someone making day trips hiking into a location to fish or someone who plans to be out on a body of water for half a day or more and needs to take some extra gear with them beyond just what they need to fish. This pack is super comfortable and versatile.
About the gear
- Model: 2020 Orvis Guide Sling Pack
- Gender: Unisex
- Size: Medium
- Pack capacity: 18 liters
- Pack type: Sling
- Height: 5’5”
- Weight: 165lbs
- Experience: 25 years of fly fishing
- When I bought it: December 2020
- Type of fishing trips: Day trip, boat, wading
- What I carried:
- Fly Box: 2021 Bugger Barn, 2020 Orvis Double Sided Floating Fly Box, Orvis small fly box
- Accessories: Orvis Comfort Grip Nippers and Hemostats, Orvis Floatant and Shake, 7’ Fast Sink Trout Polyleader, Several Packs of Leaders in various sizes and Brands, Orvis Tippet Rings, Orvis Fluorocarbon Tippet From 0x-6x, Orvis Split Shot Variety Pack, Orvis Wire Bite Guards, Spare Hydros Reel with full sink or floating line.
- Rain Gear: 2020 Women's Ultralight Wading Jacket
- Other: Small first aid kit, sandwich, one-liter water bottle, usually a couple of adult beverages
- Total pack weight: 7lbs
- Used for: Boat, wader fishing, bank fishing, and hiking
- Where I’ve used it: Lakes, rivers, small streams, drift, and flats boats
- Seasons I’ve used it in: All seasons
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was looking for something more comfortable than my old Ugly Stick sling pack and with a smarter design for storing things. Something that could hold all my essentials for a day up on a mountain stream comfortably and that I could access easily without having to stop or get out of the water to reach the gear I needed at that moment.
Why I chose this gear
The integrated tippet whippet makes getting to tippet when changing flies super easy and accessible without having to comb through my pack, and I don’t have to get out of the water to change things up. This pack also has far more room than my old one, and the outside water bottle holder is a great feature to have so that I don’t sacrifice interior storage space. The Orvis Guide Sling Pack was a better price point and was way easier to access as the zippers weren’t as stiff as my old pack.
What I love about it
- Durability: So far, I have owned this pack for two years, and I use it heavily. It is with me every time I fish, and there is minimal wear to it. There is a small snag on the elastic fabric that holds the water bottle, and there is fraying around the fly patch on the shoulder strap that I use heavily. Otherwise, the pack has been super tough. Zippers all still work smoothly.
- Comfort and Accessibility: The design of this pack is so well thought out. Orvis redesigned it so it goes over my left shoulder to keep my right free of an impediment as I cast. When I swing it around to access the tippet and gear, the top of the pack acts as a table for me to work and has a second fly patch to secure them while I rig up. The zippers are super smooth and stay put, so I don’t have to worry about them coming undone while fishing or hiking. If I carry too much liquid with me, my right shoulder will fatigue. I try to keep it to one liter of water and one other beverage.
- Capacity: This is the perfect capacity for a full day up in the mountains. I can get a rain jacket, lunch, a small first aid kit, multiple fly boxes, extra leaders, a split shot, and an end-of-day beverage comfortably in this pack. It would not have enough capacity if I were doing a multi-day or overnight trip.
- Weather Resistance: While this pack is not waterproof, it is surprisingly water resistant. It has not soaked through in a heavy downpour or a full day of fishing in a steady rain. It does hang down a little, and I’m short, so if I am standing in waist-deep water while wade fishing, it soaks through after an hour. Generally, though, it's just the front pocket, and everything in the main pocket has stayed dry.
- Features: Hooks for hemostats and nippers, floatant and dry shake, integrated fly patches on the side and across the chest, multiple interior zipper pockets, a key clip, Velcro patch inside to attach a waterproof dry bag, and a built-in tippet whippet. Also, the hidden scabbard and quick draw storage for my net are great. It means I don’t have to fool with a net retractor or have my net dangling behind me or getting snagged as easily.
- Organization and pockets: There are tons of storage options throughout the pack. There is a spot to store everything inside. My only wish is that there were some movable Velcro dividers inside the main pocket to separate and secure a spare reel or spool.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Weight: This is not a lightweight pack before I add gear. I had packed an extra can or two in there before and ended up experiencing some shoulder fatigue. Not having the option to change shoulders definitely increases that. Overall, it's fine to hike in the mountains for a day if someone keeps their gear to the essentials. However, it is also so big that it is easy to pack too much stuff.
- Adjustability: If I do not have the second strap closed across the chest, the pack will not stay in place and does swing around. It’s fine as long as it’s closed, but if I get in a hurry and forget to snap it back, the bag gets off balance. I am not a tiny person, but I have to have the main strap cinched all the way down for it to fit properly. Someone smaller might find it doesn’t fit them as well.
Favorite moment with this gear
This pack is so versatile I can’t say I have a favorite memory with it because it’s always with me for every adventure. Everything is right where I need it, and it makes my adventures better. Changing flies is easy because I’m not digging through a pack trying to get to my gear or worrying about dropping it, and it’s all right in front of me where I need it. I never get caught in a storm without a coat because I have enough room to bring it, or too hot on the hike because I have to wear it instead. And there's a little bit of extra room to pack a cold one to enjoy at the end of the day or in that perfect scenic spot on the river.
Value for the money vs. other options
This bag has so much value that it's well worth the price. I use it to store my gear between trips, and most things just stay in it no matter what because there are so many pockets for storing extra leader and gear. It’s water resistant enough that I have brought it with me on boat trips for my extra gear unless I was on a true backpacking trip and worried about not having time to dry gear. If it did get wet, I wouldn’t need more than this. It’s far tougher and more durable than other packs I have had before after the same amount of use, and it still looks brand new.
The Orvis Waterproof Sling Pack is fully waterproof, which is a nice feature, but for $100 more, it wasn’t really a feature that I needed for the price. The Ugly Stik Sling Pack was my old pack and lacked zipper pockets for stowing extra leaders and split shots and wasn’t all that much cheaper. The Fishpond Summit Sling Tortuga was about the same as the Ugly Stik Sling pack, and the features on the Orvis Sling Pack, like the tippet whippet and better storage compartments, ultimately led me to choose that product.
The Orvis Guide Sling Pack is perfect for any day trip while fishing or even just a day hike. Whether covering eight miles of brook trout fishing, chasing bass on my farm pond, or a float trip, I wouldn’t want to be without this pack. Everything is where I need it to be when I need it, and I have plenty of room for everything and don’t have to choose whether or not to bring something because of space.