Jan 6, 2014

Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack - Product Review

Simms Headwaters Hip Pack
Product: Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack – Retail Cost $119.95

According to: Simms, in their words: No two fishing trips are ever alike. And whether from backyard to backcountry or cityscape to salty expanse your gear needs are never static. Now, thanks to Simms’s innovative new Headwaters Pack series, you can customize your pack for every new angling adventure. We provide the architecture-you adapt it to house your gear. Compression molded panels fold down to provide a customizable Work Bench at your fingertips. Interior and exterior loop Velcro Fabric allows you to patch on Simms accessories and to keep loose flies from getting lost. Magnetized exterior tool ports provide secure storage and ultrafast access. Like the best in architectural design, Simms Headwaters packs offer the form that allows you to create the function. Reinvent the interior workspace for specific expeditions. Whether you’re out on a quick mission or a multi-day adventure, Ripple Foam waistbands and back panels, bring the ultimate in fit and comfort.
"Pack Picky"

To say that I am Pack Picky would seriously be an understatement and In the ever changing world of fishing packs, I am truly excited to tell you about new Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack or the "Lunch Box", as I dubbed it the first time I saw it. There's no shortage of choices out there from companies vying to carry your necessary gear around on the water. You have hip packs, chest packs, back packs, sling packs in various sizes to meet various needs...one only needs to do a Google search or visit a local fly shop, like The Gorge Fly Shop to find out that there's too many choices...

In the steelhead fishing world I have watched the pack phenomenon "evolve" over the years, from pack to pack. Today's steelhead fisherman can carry more than enough paraphernalia in his Simms waders to satisfy a day’s outing. Not having a chest pack on is especially nice when your Spey fishing, last thing I want is a chest pack in the way when I'm dancing with my Spey rod. So, we started using hip packs and sling packs, which carried all of the essential gear, but most came with a drawback.

This is the very reason I'm excited about this review! I've always loved the idea of a hip pack/sling pack or the right sized backpack, but I wasn't so impressed with them once I used them. Anybody who has ever used a "sling pack" knows that during the course of the day you’re gonna elbow that sling countless times to keep it where you want it, which ultimately becomes annoying. With the hip pack you’re regularly pulling it back up where it's supposed to be because you've got enough stuff in there that the sheer weight makes it sag down.

Well, Simms has taken these issues and addressed them very smartly! The first time Eric Nuefeld showed me the new Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack, I immediately thought "lunch box", and Eric confirmed I wasn't the first to call it that. As Eric began to give us at the Gorge Fly Shop the lowdown on this pack, I found myself focusing on the “Lunch Box” and not the other stuff he went on to show us. I was very intrigued! So I got my hands on the "Lunch Box" pack and started using it...you could say it was love at first sight, but after using it on the first outing I knew this wouldn't be a one night stand! I now have a pack that I can't and don't want to live without. All of the negatives of the past packs washed away downstream as I use the "Lunch Box" more and more.

For interior storage there is a ton of spaces in the Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack to store more than you could ever use in a day trip. Your reels, heads, tips, tippet, hooks, fly boxes, will fit nicely in the lunch box. There are enough compartments to allow you to keep organized and efficient without the burden of an oversized pack. You can even insert a Simms Boat Fly Patch on the front inside panel to store your used flies while they dry out.

Another sweet idea was the Magnetized Tool Ports on each side of the pack. No longer do your forceps just dangle and get in the way. Simply attach your forceps to a Simms Retractor and then slide the jaws of the forceps up into the port and they are secure until you need them by the magnet embedded behind the material. Very cool! Another thing I love about the Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack is the “Workbench”. When you open the front compartment, it’s rigged and creates a stable working area. So much so that you can literally lay your rod across it and safely work with two hands while you rig up or tie on a new fly. The main attraction for me was the ability, after using it, to simply slide the pack back around my body out of the way and it would stay put. I have never had to pull it up because it was sagging and I have never had to elbow it to push it back because it was sliding around. When I needed to get something out of it, it was very easy to just reach around and slide it to my side or in front of me and easily access what I needed. Another cool idea is the compartment on the bottom to hold your water bottle, easy to access and much needed when fishing a full day on the water.

All in all, this is by far my favorite pack that I have ever used. I would hands down grab this pack to show a customer. If you’re pack picky like I am, I’m telling you, the Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack could change your mind. It did mine! Oh, and yes, there’s room for a little lunch/snacks in there...

Techie Stuff:

Simms Headwaters Guide Hip Pack Key Features:

  • Ergonomic molded front panel keeps gear secure * creates a large workspace when opened 
  • Main zippered storage compartment has internal divider with 2 pockets in 1 with stretch mesh organizational pockets in each 
  • Fully contoured, cushioned waistband with zippered pockets 
  • Stretch mesh water bottle pocket at the bottom of the pack for balance weight and easy access

Fabric Tech: 420 Denier Abrasion resistant fabric with DWR
Approx. Weight: 32 ounces
Capacity: 8 Liters, 488.19 cubic in.
Dimensions: 9” X 11” X 5.5”
Colors: Lead, Fury Orange
Stock Size: One Size (00)

John Garrett
Gorge Fly Shop

Greg Darling and Mike Prine at the 2013 I-Cast / IFTD Show in Las Vegas at the Simms booth.

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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