Seven years with the same “carrying lures and having them close to hand while I am fishing” system and I still can’t find a better alternative - the HPA Chest Pack
I went back through this blog to see when I first mentioned the HPA Chest Pack, and it was in July 2012, which means that I have been using this thing for just over seven years now. During that time I have seen any number of anglers using any number of different ways to transport and perhaps have their lures to hand while they are fishing, and I have also tried a fair few of them as well - but nothing yet has changed my opinion that the HPA Chest Pack is (for me) the best and easiest way to carry my lures and be able to very easily get at them when I am out on the rocks or wading or in the surf and so on………….
Okay, so the name “HPA Chest Pack” doesn’t really make sense for a product that from day one I have worn around my waist, but HPA is a French company and I guess something got a little bit lost in translation along the way. I can fit two medium sized washable lure boxes in my HPA bag and if I can’t get the lures I need for a session in those two boxes then they don’t come with me. I have tried a few times to get various UK shops and businesses to carry the HPA brand - and the HPA waterproof rucksacks are excellent as well - but I have failed on that front. I either get my HPA products directly from the French HPA website which is also available in English, but I did see a post on Facebook the other day from LureHub here in the UK saying they have got a bunch of these HPA Chest Packs coming into stock this week - check here.
And they are dirt cheap really - £28.99 plus whatever postage charges LureHub go with, or go to the HPA France website here. I have used this HPA Chest Pack for so long now that I know every single thing about it and how it works so well for me and also where it’s going to fail on me. I always use a shoulder strap with it (a cheap and simple neoprene camera strap, the one that comes with the bag is too short for me and I bin it), and set up like this you simply don’t feel any extra weight when you “wear” the bag around your waist. I happen to “wear” mine on my left hand side, and when I come to change a lure I will put the rod under my right armpit, and because it’s second nature with this bag, I don’t even think about then undoing the main zip, lifting a lure box out, changing lures, putting the lure box back (one sits horizontally, the other sits vertically, this way two medium washable lure boxes fit perfectly), and then zipping it back up. My hands know where to go and I don’t even need to look down. I do tend to throw the belt away that comes with the bag and instead I use a good quality neoprene belt which I can easily tighten right up for surf fishing especially, and on that belt sits my Van Staal titanium pliers. I clip a small fish-grip to my HPA bag via a lanyard and a couple of stainless steel carabiner type clips.
I will get about a year to a year and a half out of an HPA Chest Pack before certain parts of it will fail. I don’t religiously wash it down when I have been in the surf and so on, but from time to time it gets a proper wash in freshwater and the zips last really well even if they do end up looking a bit knackered. The part that ends up failing is the stitching to the straps on the bag where you attach a shoulder strap (as per above), but with how cheap the bag is and how much I use mine, a year+ at the price sits just fine with me. If you don’t use a shoulder strap then that part won’t fail, but when the shoulder lugs start to really come apart is usually when the zips look just about on their last legs as well. There are a few other pockets on this HPA Chest Pack that I don’t really use save for a measuring tape in the front one that has hardly been used.
For sure you find some snazzier and far more expensive “bags” for carrying your lures in, and some of the Japanese stuff especially looks really smart - but I am sticking with my HPA Chest Pack because I haven’t tried anything yet that works better for me. Bear in mind that I am always carrying an HPA waterproof rucksack with camera gear in, so a sling-type bag for putting my lures in doesn’t work for me anyway, plus I want my lures at my side and to hand, but because of where this HPA Chest Pack sits it is also out of the way for me and never, ever annoys me with getting in the way.
Surf fishing is actually changing things up for me a bit as regards camera gear especially - more to come on this - but it still doesn’t change how I carry my lures. I want them at my side and easily accessible, and very importantly I also need my lure bag thing to drain quickly - and this HPA Chest Pack does just that. I can’t see the point of waterproof lure bags when you’re taking lures out and putting wet ones back in, and I’d rather have my bag fill up and drain as I move in and out of the water, rather than something which doesn’t drain and helps to destabilise you if you are wading and so on. I then wash my lures when I get home.
So there you go - seven years with the same lure carrying system and I am yet to find a better way. Please note as always that what I use may not work so well for you, but I am so used to this HPA Chest Pack that I don’t even know it’s there until I go to change lures. I guess if it was 100% perfect then it would not fail after a year+, but with how much of a hammering my HPA Chest Packs get and at the minimal price they are, you will not find me complaining. If you need to carry more lures with you then I guess you could put extra lure boxes in a rucksack, but that then defeats the object of having the lures you need there and to hand but also out of the way as you move around. This HPA Chest Pack in many respects is such a simple product, but it’s as close to perfection as an item of fishing tackle has ever been for me and I can’t be without mine. Could I improve on it though? Yes, I reckon I could, but for the price and how well it works? Mmmm………...