Why use a hip pack?
If you suffer from the back pain caused by wearing a sling pack, rucksack or heavily laden fly vest, you might prefer a hip pack or waist pack instead. With a hip pack, the weight is held lower down so it doesn't put strain on your shoulder or back and its location means it won't impede casting.
What is the Simms Waypoints Hip Pack like?
The Simms Waypoints Hip Pack is their entry-level model. They also make a more expensive G4 Hip Pack and a fully waterproof model you can wear while wading. However, compared to rivals' hip and waist packs, the Waypoints is actually much better than the norm and probably sits towards the top end of the market.
How do you use it?
When you're fishing, you rotate the back section of the bag around your body so it sits in the small of your back. This keeps it out of the way and you'll forget you're wearing it.
When you need to get something out of the bag, you lift it up slightly and rotate the pack around so it's at the front of your body and then unzip the main storage compartment. This folds down flat to create a "workbench" area where you change leaders or swop flies.
How big is Simms Waypoints Hip Pack?
Mine is the "small" model and it holds 4 litres. Their larger model holds 6.5 litres (and costs an extra £40). Four litres of space is a bit hard to visualise, but for contrast, there's less room in this than my previous pack of choice - the Orvis Sling Pack. I'm not sure why you'd want the Large model, as the Small one is plenty big enough and not really that small at all.
The only real difference, apart from the extra space inside and a taller main compartment, is an additional compartment on the bottom of the bag to hold a bottle of water. I guess that's an American market they're aiming for. If they made one to hold a flask of Yorkshire Tea I'm sure they'd sell a lot more of the large packs over here.
Does it come with attachments for forceps?
Yes, there are two slots on each side of the pack into which you can slot your forceps. Each one has a thick rubberised flap on it into which you can attach a zinger or Simms Retractor, allowing you to keep your forceps or nippers safe from falling out. Cleverly, the insides of the holder are also magnetic so the forceps don't flap around or fall out, even if you insert them upside down.
Where can I put my tippet and floatant?
The Simms Waypoints Waist packs come with what Simms call a "tool docking system" which includes both a tippet holder and a floatant holder. These have Velcro style hooks on the bottoms so they can be stuck to the looped interior of the bag, or attached to the outside of the bag.
However, the attachment isn't particularly strong. With tippet costing £5-10 a spool and floatant about £5 a pot, that's a lot to lose if it falls off, so I'd be inclined to leave them inside.
Do large fly boxes fit into the pockets?
Yes, the internal pockets are surprisingly capacious. Even a large, double-sided fly box like the Airflo Grippa Silicone fly box will fit inside, and you can put two of them side by side. I can (just) fit four of the Fulling Mill Silicone fly boxes and Original Tacky Fly Boxes into mine, which is more than you'll ever need. You're much better off with smaller boxes though - I've recently got a few of the Fulling Mill Tactical Slimline fly boxes and they're ideal as you can fit several inside and still not add too much weight.
Is there a fly patch?
Older Simms packs, like the Headwaters Chest Pack, used to come with a ripple foam patch which attached to the inside of the pack. However, this is missing from the Waypoints Waist Packs. There's a textured surface to the inside of the workbench tray into which you could stick flies, and there's also a looped patch on the front into which you can do the same. I'm not convinced you're supposed to use it for that though, so I tend to keep my flies inside the bag instead.
Is it waterproof?
No, it's not the sort of bag you'd wear when wading deep. There's only minor water repellency on this bag and some of the fabrics actually seem to soak up water, however, the contents within do stay dry. If you wade, you'd be better off with a chest pack or one of Simms' waterproof hip packs instead. It's also not very breathable, so I'd recommend leaving it open after your trip otherwise you may find the contents still damp when you use it the following week.
How is the build quality?
The pack itself, which is made in Vietnam, seems well made. Everything is neatly stitched, the materials feel good quality and it looks really good. However, the tippet holder and the floatant holder are both of much lower quality with pretty poor quality stitching. Not sure how they got through Simms' quality control...
Where can I keep my car keys?
There are a couple of small pockets hidden in the straps into which your car keys can be safely tucked away but the pockets are mesh lined and aren't waterproof. If you've got electronic car keys, you'd be better off keeping them in an AquaPac or similar, just in case you fall in.
Can you use it easily with cold hands?
Yes, the zips are very good quality and open easily and smoothly. They're also fitted with large ergonomically shaped pull loops through which you can put your fingers to pull the zips open, even when you've lost the ability to feel your fingertips from the extreme cold.
What's it like to use?
It's a very comfortable pack. The back panel is very well padded so you can't really feel anything digging into you and the broad strap is comfortable and easy to adjust. You do forget you're wearing it after a while. It's much more comfortable than my old Orvis Sling Pack and my shoulder no longer aches at the end of a long day of fishing.
There are some minor annoyances. It tends to slip down a bit when you walk, so you either need to tighten the belt every few hundred metres or wear the optional neck strap. I've gone for the tighter belt option, since neck and back ache is what I'm trying to avoid. It also tends to push your jacket up a bit when you rotate it, which is slightly annoying especially in cold weather.
What size waist will it fit?
I've got a 36" waist and it fits me fine, even with a few layers on. The waist strap is adjustable on both sides and goes from very rotund to very tiny. It even fits George's slender 10-year old frame without falling off. It should fit you, no matter what size you are.
Does it give you backache?
No, it's better than both a chest pack or a sling pack if you suffer from back pain. The pack sits very close to your lower back and the weight is spread vertically, which is supposed to help make it feel less cumbersome. It also stays well out of the way when you're casting, so won't impede your casting stroke as other packs can.
How much are they?
The Simms Waypoints Hip Pack Small costs £89.99 and holds four litres. The Large model holds 6.5 litres and costs £129.99. That's not bad value for money.
Available from: Amazon