Best Fishing Backpacks for 2018 – Gear Storage

Gone are the days of large bulky backpacks with one large unorganized compartment packed full of various fishing gear. Fishing backpacks are an incredible improvement on the standard backpack in that they create an organized system for all your fishing gear. This guide breaks down these packs, what questions to consider when buying a bag and the top 5 fishing backpacks.

Fishing Backpack Components

Fishing Backpacks Are Very Different Than Standard Backpacks

Fishing backpacks are fairly new addition to the fishing industry as we’re seeing new manufacturers entering into the market each year. A fishing backpack from the outside may have a similar look as a standard pack, but inside is completely different. Here are some of the best features or differences between them:

Plastic lure / bait trays (or boxes)

Most often in the base section of these backpacks there will be an area that holds 2 to 4 large plastic lure/bait trays. These plastic boxes (e.g. Plano storage boxes) are the best way to store and protect fishing baits and lures. This is where the majority of the fishing tackle is kept.

Fishing Rod Holders

Fishing backpacks will often have at least two rod holders located on each side of the bag. Rod holders are a great feature to free up your hands when your hiking to your fishing location or rigging tackle. Additionally, it provides a holder for extra rods, so if you’re often fishing with multiple poles having a backpack with rod holders is great. These rod holders are typically made from strong mesh material.

Workspace Areas

Many of these bags have a foldable pouch that will extend out and create a small workspace or table for you. These small work spaces are very helpful when you’re working with a number of small tackle items together. In some bags they’ll include a LED light option on these workspace areas which is very helpful when rigging up in those low light or night times. The workspace feature really is a game changer.

Phone & Fishing License pocket

Usually near the top of the pack there is a clear waterproof section for quick visual and access to your phone (for those hero pics), wallet or fishing license.

Multi-Usage Storage Pouches

Fishing backpacks are known for additional pouches in and around the pack. With endless types of gear these packs have a variety of pouches with different sizes and materials that are incredibly helpful. For example, a pouch with a foam wall to hold your malibu flies or jigs. You’ll never find these on a standard backpack.

Retracting Lanyard Clip

Attach your fishing pliers or line clippers to this lanyard for quick access.

Sunglasses Holder

A hard cover protected sunglasses holding area is very helpful on top for the prescription or polarized glasses we anglers need.

Waterproof and Structure

A waterproof bag is mandatory for the most part. Fishing tackle like reels, hooks, etc may rust when wet so you’ll always want to keep this gear dry. This feature is also important for the bottom of the bag as it’s often going to be sitting next (or in) some form of water. So I’d recommend looking for a reinforced bottom. Additionally, having sturdy feet and structure starting from the bottom of the bag is important so that it stays upright.

Others?

Yes! I haven’t outlined every single unique feature about these fishing backpacks in regards to the standard backpack. Other features like coolers to keep food/drinks or even better yet caught fish fresh. Manufacturers are getting very clever to continue to incorporate more and more features specific fishing styles, water applications and species. These above are the typical features to consider when buying a fishing bag.

Questions to Consider with Weight, Storage & Comfort

These all work interchangeably in outlining a backpack. Increasing storage will often mean more weight and less comfort, and vice versa. This said, you should consider how you’ll be using the backpack when fishing.

Here are some questions to consider to better think through the features you’ll need:

  • Will you be wearing the backpack most of the day?
  • Will you be walking or hiking a lot?
  • Do you need a cooler in the backpack?
  • How many rods will you be bringing?
  • Will you need a lot of different types of tackle?
  • How long are you fishing for?

These are a few starting point questions to consider when looking at how much storage space you’ll need vs. weight and comfort for your fishing adventures.

Top 5 Fishing Backpack Reviews

This backpack not only stores your gear securely but has the pouches positioned in ways that are easy to access on a fly. It can hold up to six medium number 3600 tackle trays in the bottom compartment and four additional number 3400 tackle trays within the outer pockets, giving you plenty of storage for soft plastics or crankbaits. An LED light system is built into the bag and inner pouches, allowing you to find all your gear in the dark. Other features you may appreciate for any type of situation include a hard-shell sunglasses case, removable outer pliers holder, bottom scrape protectors, and a rain-fly which covers the entire bag during heavy bouts of precipitation.

There is a removable divider in the main compartment of the backpack which opens up the entire height portion of the bag, so you may put larger items inside. The frame of the backpack doesn’t have any type of support, so you may want to fully pack this bag up to keep it from collapsing. Overall, this is a very nice, all-in-one backpack that is designed with care for the needs of any fisherman that prefers bringing all of their gear with on fishing trips.

Pros

  • Excellent lure box and tool space
  • Easy access to gear
  • Wide and comfortable straps
  • Highly versatile and interchangeable
  • Full rain protection
  • LED lighting for night fishing

Cons

  • No frame support

If you’re looking for a lightweight fishing bag with great organization and decent storage capacity, this backpack could be just your style. The main storage area has three adjustable compartments with the top storing personal items, a middle cooler compartment for keeping food, drinks or bait cold ,and a lower compartment that holds utility boxes securely. In addition to the main pockets, it has two pockets on the side with a pliers holder and a hard-shell for sunglasses.

If you want to keep your hands free while hiking through rough terrain, there are double-clip rod holders positioned on both sides of the backpack, allowing up to two rods to be carried. Overall, this is a decent-capacity backpack that allows you to go fishing without needing to carry a cooler or even your fishing rods in your hands.

Pros

  • Well organized and sorted compartments
  • Decent storage capacity
  • Comfortable straps and harness
  • Built-in cooler
  • Full hands-free design

Cons

  • Low storage capacity

Here we have an extremely lightweight and simple fishing pack that carries a minimal amount of tackle for out-the-door and ready-to-go fishing. The deep main compartment holds four small utility boxes, giving you just enough storage for your favorite lures. Within the same compartment there is a small, removable, insulated cooler which allows you to keep a couple sandwiches or bait containers cool during hot days. The top compartment has three adjustable organizers and additional tool pouches for quick and easy access to spare sinkers, hooks, bobbers, pliers or even your cell phone.

If you ever need to tie on or bring other items along like a water bottle, there are five smaller pouches and a loop on the outside of the pack. On-the-go anglers may really appreciate this lightweight fishing pack since they could bring all their gear and keep bait cool with one small bag.

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Water resistant design and coating
  • Removable insulated cooler
  • Quick and easy access

Cons

  • Low storage capacity

The durability and quality in the design of the Shimano Blackmoon fishing backpack make it a practical choice for anglers searching for a pack that lasts. A heavy duty material shell provides excellent protection from damage or moisture to the four medium-sized boxes of lures it holds inside. It has multiple side pockets and elastic hoops on both sides to hold leader winders and accessories, which gives you quick access to your gear.

To top it off, it has a full rain-fly for occasional rain which folds out easily from an internal pouch. If you need a backpack that can withstand the rough treatment of the backwoods walk to a watering hole, yet provide you exceptional comfort, then you may really enjoy what this pack has to offer.

Pros

  • Quality design and materials
  • Comfortable shoulder straps
  • Good storage capacity
  • Rain protection

Cons

  • No cooler for bait or food

Although it is not specifically designed for fishing, the complete versatility of this outdoors backpack can make it a great option for fishermen, especially those that really enjoy the full experience of the outdoors. The complete outer shell is made of a 1000D water-repellent nylon that may protect any expensive gear you have within from rain or brush. It comes complete with several large interior and exterior pockets, which may hold around 6 different sized utility boxes. Located around the entirety of the backpack are small reinforced loops which allow you to tie almost anything imaginable to the outside of the pack or add more pouches.

Additional features include a fleece-lined pocket for sunglasses and a rear hydration routing if you need to quench your thirst throughout the day. If you need to bring a tarp, blanket or raincoat along there is a special area located between the main compartment and the front of the bag. Anglers that like to pitch a small tent in the woods while fishing on the nearest bank may absolutely love this backpack since it has so much storage capacity and potential.

Pros

  • Exceptionally versatile and durable
  • Amazing storage capacity
  • Water-repellent material
  • Sturdy design

Cons

  • May be difficult to access gear
  • Large and bulky

Fishing Fanny Packs Are Still Cool

Who said fanny packs aren’t cool?! I’ll be honest, when I’m fishing on a river I’m almost always wearing my fishing fanny pack. It is incredibly helpful to access all my tackle within arms reach especially when I’m wading in the water and don’t want to walk back to the shore for every little adjustment.

Fishing fanny packs are also very helpful when you’re on the move. Again when I’m walking a river or creek the quick access to my gear is incredible. I also like to use the top of my fanny pack as a work table. When I’m changing lures or baits, I’ll often balance tools, tackle on the top.

Light weight multi-pocket pack for plenty of fishing tackle storage. Comes in different colors and camo.

If you’re looking for something a little larger than the waist pack but not as large as the backpack the Sling bags are ideal! Think of them like a half backpack. These come in a number of colors and options.

And Yes, this photo is of me with a fishing fanny pack and 2 Chum Salmon.

Fishing Trip Checklist

Before heading out here are some items to ensure you don’t forget. I’ve included both the obvious and less obvious.

  1. Fishing License (make sure you’re aware of the Regulations where you’re fishing)
  2. Fishing Backpack or Sling to carry your gear
  3. Fishing Pliers & Knife
  4. Polarized Sunglasses
  5. Hat
  6. Bottle of Water to keep hydrated (will keep you fishing longer)
  7. Bait / Lures for the fishing scenario (water, species, etc)
  8. Phone or Camera (for those hero shots)
  9. Fishing Rod & Reel. Duh.
  10. Rain Jacket, Boots and/or Waders

Additional Fishing Items (not mandatory)

  • Fishing Net
  • Fish Scale
  • Head Lamp
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Repellent
  • Extra Hooks and Terminal tackle (swivels, beads, etc)
  • Thermometer (check and record water temperature)
  • Scents (a little extra to add to lures/baits)
  • Additional fishing and Leader lines
  • Extra fishing Reel and Rod
  • Small First Aid kit
  • Lighter
  • GPS

Final Verdict on Fishing Backpacks

With a growing set of fishing gear, a storage system that’s mobile saves me so much time. In between trips, I leave my most used and important tackle in my backpack. These bags are great for protecting and storing gear when you’re not fishing! As part of this, my recommendation for a fishing backpack is the Wild River Tackle Tek Nomad. Wild River makes a number of different quality fishing backpacks that have more features than most of the manufacturers out there. They continue to put out backpacks that have some of the highest angler reviews.

 

If you have any questions in regards to the fishing backpacks above, please don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Tight Lines! Jesse

About the Author

My name is Jesse, I’ve been obsessed about fishing since I was a toddler trying to catch fish with my minnow net in any type of water. Today I have a passion to promote fishing in an educational, fun and respectful format.

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