I had started my bag career with a waist pack actually. It was a budget pack from a big box retailer, but it got the job done. As I started to get out on the water more and more it was time for a more serious bag. My research had shown that sling bags were all the rage and honestly they made a lot of sense to me. You could carry a decent amount of gear, keep it off your front half and still have it easily accessible for when you wanted to get at something. I ran a sling bag for around a season, but in the end it just wasn’t for me. I found that having all the gear on one shoulder, my casting shoulder at that, just caused me too much discomfort after a long day of fishing. Now mind you, this probably has a lot to do with me as I am a tall, pretty skinny guy. I had to have all the straps cranked to even get it to hug me enough so it wasn’t sliding around everywhere. Needless to say, I had to find something else. I ended up choosing the Simms G4 Pro Hip Pack and I am very glad I did. I am not going to say it’s the perfect bag, but the few down sides I find it to have are worth it for all the parts I love!
I was looking for a couple key features for this bag purchase. Number one was not a sling pack. I went back and forth on a hip pack or full on back pack, but in the end the hip pack won due to the ability to access gear without having to take off the bag. Number two was the ability to carry all the stuff I wanted to bring with me. I won’t lie, I carry too much stuff, but I have to carry it so its allowed. I am usually carrying 3-4 larger fly boxes, my camera, my Fishpond Sushi Roll, my Fishpond Nomad Emerger Net and some food and water. The only thing I have had issues with is carrying water. The water bottle holder in my opinion is lacking, but I’ll get into that later. The last major feature I was looking for was the bag had to be water resistant. Since I carry my camera in this bag I wanted it to at least stand a chance out there on the water. The Simms G4 Pro Hip Pack met most my criteria on paper, so I pulled the trigger.
The storage options are plentiful and for me that’s a very good thing. The main compartment opens with a large handle that draws back dual zippers. This dual zipper design creates a very large opening to the main compartment and ensures you have the room to get your gear in and out. There are various full width and half width stretchy pockets on the interior of the main compartment which I find are great for storing various leaders and sink tips. The front compartment is shrouded in a hardened shell which helps keeps things from getting crushed when you slip or fall on the water. The inside of this shell is lined with velcro to which you can attach anything your heart desires. The same little storage pocket appears in this section of the bag, same as the main large compartment. There is even a nice little loop for attaching your keys. Next you will find some nifty little pockets on each side of the waist belt. I like to keep one full of Air-Lock indicators and I honestly haven’t found a use for the other one. On the bottom there is a mesh pocket for a water bottle, which I personally find lacking in size. I am unable to fit my Sushi Roll in it or a reasonable sized water bottle like my Swell bottle. Underneath that are adjustable straps with clips. I usually have my Sushi Roll strapped in here. Finally, there is a pocket right where the small of your back sits. I am a little stumped at this pockets intended purpose given where it is located, but I have jammed latex gloves in there for the cold winter mornings.
Wearability and Function:
I have found that the adjustability on the waist strap is awesome. Even for a skinny dude like myself you can get the waist band small enough that you aren’t wearing the thing around your ankles. Now normally if you have to adjust straps that much you are going to have a ton of slack to deal with. Simms thought of this and there is space to tuck all that extra webbing back into the waist belt and out of the way. Honestly, I think that is pretty genius as one of the huge benefits to a hip pack and keeping it on your back is not having all that stuff up front. These little spaces to tuck extra webbing away are found other places on the bag as well. Pretty much anywhere there is the possibility of some webbing to be dangling, there is a convenient place to tuck it out of the way. The next feature that I have enjoyed is one that probably gets over looked a lot by most people. There are compression straps that run between the main bag and the waist straps. When you play with these and get them dialled in the load of the bag almost feels like it goes away. The goal is to get the bag to sit even across your back and hips, not favouring the lower section of the waist bands. If you want to further take the load off your hips there is a shoulder strap that can be used as well. The strap is completely removable and it’s connection points have those nice little spots to tuck them away.
The built in magnetic hemostat holder and zinger attachment point is in the perfect spot. I fastened a curly cord to my hemostats as I have been known to donate a few pairs to the river every season. I also have my clippers on a zinger attached at the same spot. Having your basic tools in the same spot and very accessible is extremely handy.
As I mention early I find the water bottle sleeve to be lacking. The opening is quite small and thus a decent bottle will not actually fit into the sleeve. Water has been an issue for me in the past so I have moved on to a Sawyer Squeeze, but it would have been nice to be able to fit my Sushi Roll in the that sleeve. The straps that are available under the water bottle sleeve are super useful. This is where I primarily keep my Sushi Roll, but on days when I am not hucking meat I have used it to carry a jacket or a spare rod in a tube.
Things I Would Change:
At first I thought my biggest issue with this bag was going to be no dedicated place to put your net. I toyed with a few different ways of carrying it on this bag, but in the end I went with just tucking it in between me and the bag. I can honestly say I don’t mind that at all. So, that isn’t something I would change, just thought it should be pointed out. Something I would change as you probably have guessed is the water bottle sleeve. I would increase the mouth of the sleeve without a doubt. The next thing I would change is the tippet holding solution or lack there of in my opinion. On the front of the bag there are two velcro strips about 4-5cm across and 15cm high. Simms includes a tippet holder that can attach to one of these velcro points. I used it for a total of one outing as I had the tippet holder fall off 3 times in that one outing. I remedied the problem buy purchasing a Fishpond Headgate Tippet holder and attaching it to the compression straps I spoke about earlier. On the subject of the velcro attachments Simms also included a carrier for bottles of floatant or whatever other voodoo juice you carry. This holder should be vastly improved or not included as bottles just tend to fall out. I still use both these attachments, but only on the inside of the front compartment so if something does fall out or off it’s still in my bag. Lastly I would have liked to see a fly drying patch included as one of the velcro attachments.
- Water resistant
- Large, very usable main compartment
- Well thought out supporting storage options
- Comfortable to wear all day and then some
- Fit various sized anglers
- Multiple ways to wear
- Easy access to key tools such as nippers and hemostats
- Water bottle holder / sleeve is too small
- Lack of a decent tippet holder
- No dedicated net storage (not really a big deal though)
Overall I am extremely happy with this bag. It’s short comings are very few overall and it’s strengths are many. I don’t see myself even trying out another bag in the near future less Simms releases an upgraded version of this exact bag. So if you are a skinny guy or gal like myself, don’t wade up to your arm pits frequently and want that all day comfort, I highly suggest you try out the Simms G4 Pro Hip Pack.