The search for the perfect wading pack seems to be an ongoing challenge for the flats fisherman. More often than not, hip packs are either too big, too small, not waterproof, impractical, uncomfortable, and the list goes on...
I acknowledge that pack choice is a very personal thing, and we each have unique preferences, or even quirks in regards to gear. This must be a hell of a challenge for manufacturers, and is where I dip my lid to Simms, as each year their gear just keeps getting better and better.
I was fortunate to have received a pre release Simms Dry Creek Zip Flats Pack to take on my last trip to Christmas Island for evaluation, and I was absolutely stoked with how it performed. So much so, I've purchased it, even though it was a loaner for the trip.
It has a fully padded hip belt that is best described a luxurious in comparison to anything else I've tried. It incorporates adjustable side-hip compression straps to enable fine tuning, as well as a great place for attaching accessories that can be clipped over them. This was the perfect place to attach my Hatch Pliers, as they were out of the way when not required, and easily accessible when I did need them. Combine this with the fully cushioned breathable foam back panel, and the adjustable shoulder strap (that is also removable), and you have a very comfortable day's fishing in front of you.
Simms have also incorporated roll-up strap retainers to reduce line catching points on all excess adjustment straps. These are a very clever addition, and work they extremely well.
The pack is a little over ½ kg in weight (24oz), and has an 11lt capacity. I found this to be the perfect size/volume for everything I need for a day on the flats. I typically carry 2 large, and 1 medium C&F fly box, an insulated water bottle, pliers, camera, spare sunnies, glasses cleaning kit, eye drops, spare reel, leaders, finger tape, snacks, and a few other bits and pieces. I attached a Fishpond Headgate Tippet Holder to the outside of the pack for quick access to my tippet material, as well as a Simms retractor to the magnetic tool port on the side for my nippers. The magnetic tool port also has a place for my Dr Slick Scissor Clamps.
The front faced zipper pocket may not be waterproof, but it is the perfect spot to store a couple of leaders for quick access.
The pack also has a generous field loop patch on the top. You can use this area to store used flies as is, but I added a Simms Super Fly Patch and it worked really well. It will also be a great place to attach a velcro floatant holder for the freshwater flyfisher. There is also an integrated net scabbard in the rear.
The pack has fully welded seams, and a semi rigid construction. It's 840D TPU fabric feels more like stiff wader material to the touch, which is quite different to the heavy and rubbery waterproof pack materials of the past. Along with its obvious waterproof properties, it is very light, highly resistant to abrasion and punctures, and is a great step forward in waterproof pack materials.
The zip used is a submersible #6 TIZIP® zipper, and it provides the optimal balance between waterproof protection, and ease of opening/closing. I found the zip easy to use, particularly in comparison to earlier models, and it opens the pack up wide for complete access.
Quality waterproof zips are what you pay the big bucks for, as they add a very large cost to the packs manufacture. If you like the look of this pack but its above your budget, it is also available as a roll top at a much lower price point. More information is available on the roll top here: Simms Dry Creek Roll Top Hip Pack
If I want to access something in my hip pack, I want almost instant access, so for me, the ease of use that the zip offers far outweighs the extra cost over the roll top. Once fully zipped up, you can not squeeze any air out of the pack, demonstrating how waterproof these things really are.
I will finish this review by simply saying that I will be taking the exact same pack with me to Christmas Island in 2018.
Feel free to click on the link below if you'd like more information, or would like to purchase a pack of your own: