: Chest Packs
The "arms free" design of the chest pack makes it best for lots of arm motion or warm weather. I got hooked on them when rowing my Buck's bronco raft out west on steelie rivers, and found they are cooler than vests for those long walks on hot days as well as the arm flailing involved with striper flyfishing. I've got the back compartment accessory that comes right off if you don't need it. My favorite feature is the lack of neck pressure, every vest I own ends up weighing more than any fish I am after by the time I enthusiastically load it up the night before.
For rowing, the bulk is centered on a chest pack to give more room for arms to stroke the oars. They are awesome on float tubes too, particularly those with the flip-out "work-table" feature.
On the downside, they can be pricey. I am waiting for the competition to bring the price down before I buy another one so I can keep each loaded for trout/striper, etc.
With today's nylon mesh vests, heat is not so much of a concern. Some have neoprene neck pads and other neat features. Still, I've come to like chest packs for the above reasons.
I switched to a chest pack last year. I have the large model from LL Bean. The design allows you to tailor the setup depending on fishing conditions (primarily water level) and also allows you to use a wide variety of clothing underneath - something a vest can limit you with.
There are two minor drawbacks to this particular model: 1) is the distance it sticks out from my chest - makes seeing the next step a little difficult - but coordinated people may not mind; 2) when you open the pack it does not lay perpendicular to the body - I have seen some that open right up and give you sort of a work station.
I have been to the Bucks Bag website and they have a nice little pack that is sweet looking and that would be just the ticket for saltwater fishing. Hunters sells them too and they are only $29. I know you are familiar w/Bucks Bags and that they produce quality stuff - so I am sure this pack is a winner.
For anyone thinking to buy one for saltwater I would suggest getting one that is not to big. I don't think you need to carry that much for stripers and you can get away with a regular sized model.
I've got one of the earlier Bucks Bags chestpacks (circa 1993?) and love it for striper fishing. Pete mentioned not being able to see your feet easily, and that is an issue for me too - the slight separation of the two front compartments allows you to do just that, as well as see the line in your stripping basket. You wouldn't think an inch between pockets would be enough, but it does the trick. I just looked at the new design though (www.bucksbags.com), and it looks like the distance has been reduced to maybe half an inch, so don't know about the new ones. They've also reduced the height of the pockets and i can't tell if they'll hold the super long fly boxes without a struggle.
I clearly remember someone at one of the boston area fly shows a couple years back selling a model very much like the one i have - i don't know if it was a Bucks knockoff, or if it was an original design that Bucks was copying for a while. If you can track down Chip Gouger (a ff guide on cape cod who used to own a fly shop there), he might know where one can still get them.
BTW, A couple of nylon webbing straps attached to the shoulder straps above the back pocket do a nice job of cinching on a rain shell / dry top, and the rear pocket is great for stuff you want to keep dry - i suggest a thin tupperware container for your wallet, cellphone, and anything you don't want to have to rinse the salt from. Hopefully the new design still positions the front pockets as high as reasonably possible, and they still drain well too - a definite plus in the surf.
As is often the case with well-made, "old faithful" gear items, i'm hoping to have mine forever in case the new & improved models have thrown the baby out with the bath water.
06-08-2000, 12:25 PM
I've got one of the Bean's chest pack harnesses with the rear bag when I need a bunch of stuff, but at least half the time my chest pack is a Walmart special that cost me <$10. Holds a large and a small fly box, extra shooting heads, leader spools, pliers, hook sharpener, line cleaner, compass, etc. I've gotten used to the limited frontal visibility, and just hang the bag over a shoulder while moving on rocks, etc.
LImited frontal visibility - reminds me of a joke I heard form an older gentleman / fisherman friend. While visiting the men's room, he said "being older, I've got a dickey-do". I asked "what's that?" and he replied "it's when your gut sticks out more than your dickey do".
<font size="1">What's that got to do with chest packs? Beats me!</font><!--1-->
06-14-2000, 06:57 AM
I have relegated my vests to my flyrod closet. I just use them for "picture purposes", they have all kinds of sew-on patches, every once in a while we need to make pictures at the club, the other members think it's fancy!! Otherwise do I use a Patagonia chestpack that holds pretty much everything I need when wading or float tubing: up to 5 maller fly boxes or 3 large streamer boxes, pliers, a knife, a mono dispenser, lead shot( I'm not a purist for sure!!), fly floatant, a pretty complete leader wallet and some room for my car keys as well. The pack is halfways water-proof in case I take an unvoluntary dive ( ask my salmon-fishing friends in Brittany, they couldn't keep me from scanning the bottom of the river "gros plan")! No way will I ever use vest again (while fishing)!