The Umpqua Steamboat Sling Pack. Business in the Front, Party in the Back.

Updated January 13, 2023

Has your fishing vest gotten so big that it gets to the river before you do? Is it busting at the seams with every fly box, spool, tool, floatant, indicator and accessory it can hold? If you can’t see your boots anymore it’s time to try a sling pack and get all that stuff off your chest and out of sight. Not just any pack will do, you need one with lots of space and a comfortable, lightweight design, you need to try the Umpqua Steamboat Sling Pack.

umpqua steamboat sling pack on the river

I purchased the Steamboat 1200 ZS (Zero Sweep) a few months ago and will never go back to a traditional fishing vest or chest pack…

  • It Has Room For Everything
  • Zero Sweep = Fewer Snags
  • It’s Built To Last
  • Business in the Front, Party in the Back
  • Comfortable, All Day

Room For Everything

The massive holding capacity of the Umpqua Steamboat Sling Pack is a combination of huge open pockets and smaller, more specialized spaces. Mesh holding areas inside and out give you so you a place for everything.

The outer pocket is the smallest of the three and considered the main accessory pocket. You can pack the four zippered, mesh pockets with smaller gear like tippet, small fly boxes, a leader wallet and other accessories. On top of that its equipped with two more small pockets and two elastic floatant straps.

outer pocket umpqua steamboat sling pack

The middle pocket is even bigger. It’s considered the main fly box pocket with a center partition and a large mesh, zippered pocket. Using both sides it easily holds 4 medium fly boxes and the zippered pocket can hold a small box.

umpqua steamboat sling pack middle pocket

The inner pocket is bigger yet! Measuring 15″ by 12″ by 3″, it is massive! You could store a boat box or a small coffee table in this thing. I pack it with a rain shell, gloves, a small tripod for my smartphone and an empty water bottle that I fill with a Sawyer Water Filter.

inner large pocket of the umpqua steamboat sling pack

Tucked in behind that pocket is yet another, small pocket for keys, phones and the like. It’s technically on the back of the pack and easy to access when the pack is slung in front of you.

umpqua steamboat sling pack phone pocket

All in all you have a gear shed on your back with easy accessibility and well thought out placement of nooks and crannies to stash your gear.

Zero Sweep = Fewer Snags

Zero Sweep is a concept built into their line of packs to streamline your gear and make it as snag proof as possible. The Umpqua Steamboat Sling Pack is loaded with recessed ports for zingers, hemostats and pliers, a low profile fly patch mount and other snag free attachment points for your gear. Here are some of the best Zero Sweep features…

There are five recessed tool sheaths on the pack, 2 on the front strap and 3 on the main pack.

Hemostat Holders. The sling strap itself has 2 recessed hemostat holders that hide everything but the finger rings. Push your hemostat in and clamp it to the holder inside and it’s locked and loaded.

front hemostat holder umpqua steamboat
umpqua steamboat sling pack front sling pic

Sling the pack around in front of your and there’s another hemostat holder/zinger port next to the recessed fly patch, one on the front pocket and another on the right side. You can attach your hemostat the same way or…

hemostat holder umpqua steamboat sling pack 1
hemostat holder umpqua steamboat sling pack 2

Use the Recessed Zinger Attachment…  Pin a zinger to the hidden port on the inside of the pack and thread it through the front..  

There’s a second one hidden in the front sling strap. It can be set up and accessed by loosening the top strap, pinning your favorite zinger in and then threading it through to the other side. It’s pretty slick and keeps the whole set up very low profile.

Low Profile Fly Patch. The sides of the top patch are tucked under two flaps so there’s little for your line to snag on. You can also buy replacement patches which is nice since they do wear out.

top fly patch

Bandolier Style Floatant Holders. This is a great idea, hard sided ports that will easily hold your gel and powder floatant containers. Normally they hang off the front of your vest swinging from a holder just waiting to get in the way. This keeps them right in front of you but out of the way. Brilliant. You can experiment and set up the front strap however you want with whatever you need.

umpqua steamboat sling pack front sling pic

Built To Last

The main fabric is a 420 Denier which is pretty tough and in the heavy wear areas they use ballistic cordura. Heavy seams and smooth YKK zippers mean you won’t have to worry about this ever coming apart.

Business in the Front, Party in the Back

The tag line for this pack goes something like “Carry the kitchen sink with a pack that’s out of the way” and that is absolutely true. You can fit an insane amount of gear in the Umpqua Steamboat Sling Pack, sling it out of the way and still have all your necessities right in front of you. Business in the front, party in the back. Plus you’ll be able to see your boots and all those rocks and roots you were tripping over when you wore your old chest pack.

loaded steamboat sling pack

Comfortable, All Day

The breathable padded strap is covered with a vented mesh, the type you would find on a hardcore backpack. It makes this fully loaded sling pack feel lighter than it actually is.

umpqua steamboat sling pack padded strap and back

As you can see I loaded my pack to the gills and it rides comfortable all day. (the top buckle you see is for the hidden zinger port on the front of the vest)

umpqua steamboat sling pack shoulder strap 1

Where back meets pack Umpqua used the same padding and mesh combination. This is one of the most important contact point which is well made.

padded back material umpqua steamboat sling pack

What’s Not So Great About the Umpqua Steamboat Sling Pack?

I haven’t found much to complain about, but I do have a small beef with the landing net attachment. It seems a bit lightweight, and maybe it’s normal for sling packs (this is my first), but when the pack is on your back the net pulls the top of pack down and back making it less comfortable.

net attached to the umpqua steamboat 2

The landing net hangs at your side when the pack is pulled in front of you and stays out of the way. I will probably start hanging my net off my wading belt to get around this issue.

net attached to the umpqua steamboat 3

Also, there are two small, mesh pockets on the front of the pack which aren’t very useful.  With no zipper or velcro to keep them closed (just a weak elastic band) I wouldn’t trust them to hold anything.

bad front pockets umpqua steamboat sling pack

Wrap Up

I didn’t realize how clumsy and annoying my chest pack was until I tried a sling pack. Getting all that gear off my chest so I could focus on fishing has made such a difference. Umpqua loaded the Steamboat Sling Pack with pockets and spaces to pack everything you need. Hiking into the river just got a lot easier and safer now that nothing blocks my view of the trail.

Umpqua has done a great job designing this pack to maximize space and comfort while also adding some these Zero Sweep features which are quite innovative.

As I mentioned before, I don’t ever see myself going back to a chest pack and the way the Steamboat is built I’ll have this pack for a long time.

Other Zero Sweep Options From Umpqua

If the Zero Sweep idea sounds interesting and you want to check out more of the Umpqua line up, here are a few more models to choose from.

Written by Hutch


Hutch is the founder of Hiking.Earth. He comes from an outdoors and environmental background and helps people love and enjoy the outdoors and protect the planet.