Sunday, May 27, 2012

Gear I Love: Vedavoo chest pack

Editor's Note: This is the second installment in a series of gear reviews focusing on quality fly fishing equipment made by small manufacturers that offer quality equipment at fair prices. No money changed hands--the manufacturers simply supplied each piece of equipment reviewed. Periodically, the manufacturer and Eat More Brook Trout will hold contests, and readers will have a chance to win gear of their own.

Vedavoo chest pack
My recent interview with Daniel Galhardo, the founder of Tenkara USA and the guy who's become the most evangelical advocate of tenkara, likely in the world, got me thinking about the ancient craft and how, in just a couple short years, it's transformed the way approach fly fishing.

Tenkara is what some of the more pure fly fishers these days would call "minimalist," and I can appreciate that without some of the negative undertones that word seems to inspire in some of the more mainstream fly fishing circles. In my mind, the tenkara craft is a way to shrug off the sometimes oppressive belief that more gear is better. And, frankly, it has helped me evolve a bit from a hopeless gearhead to someone who is a bit more thoughtful before each fishing trip.

I've taken to asking myself, "What do you really need for this trip?" before I head out to the water. Increasingly, the list of vital gear is getting smaller, less obtrusive. Over the last couple of years, I've taken to smaller fly boxes, a little floatant, some tippet, a pair of nippers, a pair of hemostats, maybe a small camera ... and that's just about it.

As a result, I've gone from a full-on fishing vest to something quite a bit smaller. Thankfully, there's a relatively new manufacturer out there that seems to get that, in many cases, less is more. Vedavoo, an American company that hand-crafts its equipment, might be the most progressive outfit out there when it comes to catering to the fly fisher who, above all else, wants to fish. In recent weeks, I've taken to coupling a small, unobtrusive Vedavoo chest pack with my tenkara rod--they go together quite nicely, and, while I have room for everything I need, I don't feel as though I'm encumbered by a hip pack or bulging chest pack that, for me anyway, always seems to foil a cast at the least opportune moment.

Minimalist? You bet ;-)
You'll recall my review of the Vedavoo Tight Lines shoulder pack, and how I sung its praises for its portable nature and its ability to tote around quite a bit of stuff without getting in the way of my fishing. I put it to use on the flats of the Bahamas, the sand flats of South Padre Island and here at home on the carp flats of the Snake River.

The chest pack is the shoulder pack's spunky little brother. It won't hold the amount the gear the shoulder pack will, but then, it's not supposed to. The chest pack simply drapes over your neck, like a lanyard would, but it's able to conveniently cary a few more items than a standard lanyard would (and I love a good lanyard, truth be told).

The chest pack comes with three pockets--one on the the front, and two in the back. The zipper pack in the back is ideal for your car keys, your wallet--maybe even a small camera. A second, larger pocket on the back would be great for extra leaders and your "I might need this" fly box.

The front pocket is made from expandable material that could hold "I will need this" fly box and maybe a bottle of gink. The front also comes equipped with a toggled loop that can hold four spools of tippet.

Throw in the 10 different connection point for things like nippers and 'stats--adding a Zinger or two for these tools would be a great idea--and you've got yourself the ideal "minimalist" carrying case that, truth be told, doesn't have to be all that minimalist.

Another thing I appreciate about Vedavoo's equipment. It wears very nicely. The neck strap for the chest pack is adjustable for comfort and it drapes appropriately without getting in the way of a cast or getting hung up on a pesky branch. It's a great little pack, and at $49, it's very nicely priced.

If you're looking for a pack with a decent amount of carrying capacity, but something that doesn't feel awkward or get in the way of the reason you're on the water in the first place, consider the Vedavoo chest pack. It's ideal for the minimalist in all of us.


  1. I’m not a gear head by any stretch of the imagination, but I do test a fair amount of fly fishing equipment. In my opinion, the hardest thing to find is the perfect way to carry your stuff. Back when I was guiding, I wore one version or another of a guide vest, especially if my clients were wading rather than floating. There are few things worse for a guide than saying to your sport, “Sorry, but I don’t have what we need.”

    Over the last 7 or 8 years, I’ve tried smaller vests, sling packs, chest packs, fanny packs and back packs. The most versatile combination is probably a sling pack for your flies and tippets - they’re nice, because they’re typically the least cumbersome - with a waterproof backpack for your rain jacket, water, lunch, extra fly boxes, etc. The problem is that I don’t like fishing with a backpack, and I don’t like having to backtrack if I leave my pack laying on the bank. And switching back and forth between systems is a pain. I always leave something behind that I need once I’m on the water.

    So I’ve actually been thinking about going back to a big vest again. I’m getting tired of realizing that I’ve left the flies, or tippets, or whatever else I need, back in the truck. Of course, I have 2 midge boxes, a mayfly spinner box, a caddis box, a BWO box, a PMD box, 2 terrestrial boxes, a box of generic attractor dries, a box of larger mayflies, 2 boxes of stoneflies, a couple of streamer boxes and a little box of nymphs and traditional wets. If I didn’t have so many flies, it probably wouldn’t be such a major issue.

    It’s funny, because I’m perfectly happy to do 95% of my fishing with a 9’ 5-wt and a WF-5-F line. And I don’t mind carrying less stuff - it’s actually a blessing. But it’s incredibly aggravating to know that you have the perfect fly for the situation, but you left that fly box back in the rig because you didn’t have room in your chest pack.

  2. Todd... I'm totally with you. I've been searching for the right carrying "mechanism" for a long time, and, because I don't guide, I only have to worry about me. Also, because, when I begin to fish in earnest, I'm often in the backcountry, I don't have to worry too much about the right fly pattern--often, in the summer, I won't bother with streamers or nymphs, knowing that some big, dumb cutty that sees maybe a half-dozen flies all year will hit an Adams or a Royal Coachman.

    But... when I started fishing big water for carp and salty critters, I realized I needed something that could hold more stuff, from pliers, to nippers, to sink putty ... and at least a couple of fly boxes. The old vest would be great, but I got really hot and found that, even though I thought I needed all the stuff I had, I usually only used a bit of it.

    You might be interested in the Vedavoo Tight Lines shoulder pack--not pimping for Vedavoo. As the disclaimer says, I only want to look at the gear that I think will be functional, and this sucker is functional. ( You'll find that this thing will hold everything you need--I did the Bahamas with two fly boxes, tippets, leaders, pliers, nippers, an extra reel spool and two cameras (albeit one was a GoPro that I had on my chest). It is now my most-used piece of gear... it's not even close.

    Good luck with the search... talk soon.


    I discovered Vedavoo last summer in New Orleans and the gear looked perfect for my kind of fishing.

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