Lets start off by addressing the obvious – if you’re the type of person who likes to pack everything but the kitchen sink when you go fishing then this is probably not the pack for you. However, if you prefer to pack light and prefer a streamlined backpack than look no further.
I had a need for a backpack that was light, comfortable, and had the extra pockets and tool sleeves tailored to fly fishing. I considered a larger backpack but to be honest with you, wanting to pack light and packing light are two very different things, and the best way to over pack is to have a larger space to put things in. This holds true for fishing as much as it does for traveling. With this logic in mind I can say that the ‘Half Day’ title of this backpack is a bit of a misnomer as I have used it on multiple full day trips through Cheeseman Canyon on the South Platte River and never found it wanting.
The pack has a main compartment that will store a jacket, lunch, and a respectable amount of camera gear. The main compartment has smaller mesh pockets positioned at the top of the pack for easier access to readily used fishing gear. It also has a built in sleeve for a hydration bladder but it is not sold with one.
The backpack has a front compartment with a large mesh organizer for fly boxes and includes two tiny pockets which are laughably small but come in very handy for stashing small items like indicators and weights.
The highlight of this backpack are the magnetized tool ports on the front of the shoulder straps, these are invaluable for spot and stalk fishing as it allows you to access hemostats, nippers, scissors without getting into the pack and since they are magnetized sheaths your tools stay put instead of bouncing every which way while you climb over boulders and try to cast.
Another surprisingly handy feature is the thin waist strap which if used around the waist provides very little support but if reversed around the back of the pack makes for a GREAT net holder.
I had the good fortune to be able to fish this backpack with the Headwaters Chest Pack which thanks to Simms’ patented Catch and Release system attaches seamlessly on the front straps of the backpack. This Catch and Release attachment allows you to magnetically attach other Simms bags to one another. Admittedly I originally thought this to be a little gimmicky but after using it I found the Catch and Release attachments to be very useful.
There are a few things that the Headwaters Half Day Hydration Backpack is lacking. It could really use some mesh pockets on the sides of the bag, and I wish it had a few more D rings on the outside of the pack for a tippet spool. That being said it does seem like the Headwaters line is designed to be more streamlined, and the more stuff you have hanging off a pack usually means the more stuff you loose.
All in all the Headwaters Half Day Backpack is well made and comfortable and has most of the essential components that you would expect from a fishing backpack along with some useful additions. The Simms Headwaters Half Day Hydration Backpack can be purchased at Minturn Anglers fly shops.
Minturn Anglers Fly Fishing Guide