Justifying the purchase of new fly gear is not normally an issue I get hung-up on (or not as much as my wife anyway), but chest packs have been an exception because, as much as I regularly think I need one, they’re not very practical when there’s one or even two cameras hanging around my neck every time I hit the stream.
Recently though, and with winter fast approaching, I found myself wanting one for fishing out of my kick-boat and managed the perfect excuse in that I store my camera gear in a waterproof bag behind the seat so would need something new for tackle. Clever huh ?
After a bit of research, I settled on the Orvis Safe Passage ‘CHIP’ pack (Chest-Hip get it?) thanks to it’s size and the fact that I could also wear it on stream as a small hip pack while still choking myself with a Fuji.
In size the CHIP is more than minimalist, but not full tackle tart and perfect for travelling light and fast. It holds a couple trout sized fly boxes, all my tools and a knife, Gink, sink, indicators, phone and several spools of tippet and doesn’t stick out far enough to obscure forward vision.
As long as lunch is just a muesli bar, you can probably squeeze that in as well.
There’s 2 main zippered pockets on the CHIP and one outside stuff pocket with a simple well secured flap to keep everything in the hand size compartment it covers. The main pockets each have two internal dividers with one being zippered for added security and are large enough for most trout size fly boxes, but probably just short of the big stuff.
There’s also gussets in the bottom of the pockets to stop things falling out when they’re wide open – and they do open wide to give you that work-bench thing.
On top of the pack is a covered Nipper compartment that opens through to the interior where a zinger can be secured to a tab built for that purpose. As I’m not a real fan of stuff dangling off a pack or vest I found this one of the best design features of the CHIP.
Externally, the CHIP is made of fairly heavy material, has long adjustable straps, a removable neck/shoulder pad and a thick formed padded backing that will keep the pack from sticking to you in the heat and will ensure it holds it’s shape even when full to overflowing.
Down each side there’s s a couple stretch cord loop attachment points and large zipper pulls that will be easier to use in gloves.
On top there’s a velcro type material patch for sticking flies in to dry and a small grab handle that could also double as an attachment point for forceps or the like.
While all that is good, what’s really great about the chest pack – and lightening up enough to carry one – is the complete freedom of movement in your arms. Compared to my full camera pack/vest, it’s downright liberating.
Need more stuff on the water or doing an epic day trip ? The CHIP attaches to the front of the Safe Passage Day Pack to make a complete system.
- 9½”H x 6″W x 5″D; 312 cu. in. Weight: 12 oz.
Mayfly Tackle Australia – Orvis packs and bags page: