Updated Aug 12, 2022 2:45 PM
The best fishing backpacks keep everything organized, are built to last, and stay out of the way when it’s time to fish. During college, I had one fishing backpack. It came with me whether I was swinging flies for steelhead or throwing frogs for bass. It was versatile, waterproof, and durable. I can’t think of any other way I’d rather carry my flies, tackle, lunch, and camera.
Since my college days, I’ve gone through several backpacks for all different uses and know what works and what doesn’t. Like any other kind of fishing equipment, you need to tailor your backpack selection to your style of fishing. This means considering size, fit, durability, and other factors to make sure you choose the best fishing backpack for you.
The backpacks I selected are designed to enhance your time on the water with plenty of storage, reliable designs, and a few extra features. No matter the style of fishing you do there’s a backpack for everyone. It’s time to say goodbye to grandpa’s old-school tackle box and find the best fishing backpacks for your style of fishing.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Fishing Backpack
Finding the best fishing backpack can be tricky if you aren’t sure what to look for. Choosing the best backpack can be a personal experience because every pack fits differently and everyone has their style of fishing. To get the most out of your investment, consider how you fish and what features will help you on the water.
If you’re constantly wading in rivers, a waterproof pack to protect your belongings is essential. On the other hand, bass anglers might prefer a pack with tackle trays to keep their lures organized and accessible. Once you know what style pack is best for you, simple things like size, durability, and accessibility are good starting points to help you find the perfect pack.
If you are constantly on the move or walking miles to get to your spot, small packs are perfect. They are lightweight, hold enough for a day’s fishing, and are comfortable enough to be worn all day. If you plan on bringing plenty of tackle, a lunch, or some camera gear, you’ll want to look for larger packs. A good large pack should be able to hold all the gear you need and still be worn all day without any back pain.
The best fishing backpack should last a long time. Some packs can be expensive and it’s not worth it if you’re buying a new one in a year’s time. I have found a couple of key considerations when it comes to durability. Look closely at certain aspects like the fabric used, the quality of the zippers, and the stitching throughout the pack. These are very important details when it comes to the longevity of a fishing backpack. Most quality packs are made of thicker or waterproof fabrics, have heavy-duty zippers, and either welded seams or solid stitching.
This one sounds self-explanatory but can easily be overlooked. Some packs have awesome features that draw you in, but when it comes time to use them, they don’t do the job. For instance, if you are a bass angler, some waterproof packs might seem appealing if you fish in the rain. However, certain waterproof packs tend to be limited to a single main pocket which can make it tough to keep all your tackle and lures separated and organized. Think carefully about how you plan to use the pack you choose and find one that will keep all your gear safe, organized, and ready to go.
Out of all the things to consider when buying a fishing backpack, proper fit is the most important. If a backpack is not comfortable enough to be worn all day, then there is no point in using it. All backpacks come standard with adjustable shoulder straps, but not all straps are created equal. Wide and padded shoulder straps offer a bigger surface area which helps disperse the load and will feel lighter. In addition, some packs offer chest and waist straps. These are a must if you plan to walk a lot or pack heavy loads. When adjusted properly they take the weight off your shoulders and disperse it across your hips for a more enjoyable day.
Why it Made the Cut: A versatile pack with plenty of pockets to hold all your gear and lights to see it no matter the conditions.
- Weight: 4.75 lbs
- Colors: Khaki, Mossy Oak Break-Up
- Pockets: Front tackle box pocket, sunglass holder, top and side pockets, and plyer holder
- Plenty of pockets for storage
- Comes with four 3600 sized boxes
- Rain Cover
- Can be heavy when fully loaded
- No waist straps
Fishing as a mobile angler means being adaptable; you never really know what conditions you’ll be facing. To make the most out of your time on the water, having a backpack that is ready for everything you throw at it is a must. The Wild River Tackle Tek Nomad Lighted Backpack does anything an angler can think of. I target a wide variety of fish, from bass to trout. Every species comes with its challenges and having one pack to do it all keeps everything simple and organized.
The pack has enough room for four 3600 size boxes and several smaller 3500 boxes. With this amount of storage, I can keep my bass tackle separate from my trout tackle and still have everything in one place. Aside from tackle storage, several side pockets allow me to keep extra spools of line and leader ready in case I have to switch something out mid-trip. Perhaps the best part of this pack is the integrated light. Fishing through the night for a trophy trout or rigging up a spook at first light can be tricky without light. This bag takes care of that issue with an LED system that illuminates the pack so you know you can trust the knot you tied.
Why it Made the Cut: A durable and water-resistant tackle backpack with plenty of storage space and no zippers for added longevity.
- Weight: 3lbs
- Colors: Gray/Blue, Green
- Pockets: 30L main pocket, one large front, and side pocket
- Plenty of storage space for tackle trays
- Cinch closures and buckle straps
- Water-resistant fabric
- Limited external storage
If you are a diehard bass angler, chances are you have a tackle obsession like me. It may not be great on the wallet but some lures are just too good to pass up. When it comes time to fish, selecting what to bring can be an impossible task, but with the right backpack, you don’t have to choose. The Lunkerhunt LTS Tackle Backpack is a great fishing tackle box backpack with more space than you can imagine for tackle. It’s designed with a 30L main compartment that allows you to load several boxes in from the top with plenty of room. I regularly pack three to four trays of tackle easily into this backpack. While simplistic in design, this pack performs flawlessly on the water. Lunkerhunt even went as far as eliminating all zippers in favor of buckles and cinch closures to ensure longevity.
Best Fly Fishing Backpack
Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack fishpond
Why it Made the Cut: The best fly fishing backpack to keep your belongings protected while wading through the river.
- Weight: 3.05 lbs
- Colors: Yucca, Cutthroat Orange, Riverbed Camo
- Pockets: One waterproof main pocket
- Fully Waterproof
- Compatible with several chest packs
- Chest and waist straps for extra support
- The zipper is slightly stiff
Any fly angler knows how gear-intensive fly fishing can be—from fly boxes and tippet to extra reels and camera gear. I’ve always been guilty of bringing too much on the water. Having the ability to keep my gear organized and safe is crucial to enjoying my time fishing. I am constantly wading through rivers searching for the next wary brown trout. Unfortunately, fishing in the water means you’ll inevitably fall into it. A good waterproof pack like the Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack keeps all my gear dry. Designed with a 900D TPU fabric and a waterproof zipper everything stays dry even if it’s completely submerged.
What makes this pack perfect for fly fishing is its ability to store my camera gear and a jacket in the pack while using a chest pack for all my fly boxes and tackle. The backpack is compatible with several chest packs that clip right to the shoulder straps. I can easily change flies, add tippet, or sharpen a hook without reaching over my back. This dramatically improves efficiency and keeps you fishing rather than digging for gear. Several other attachments such as net holsters, gear straps, or a water bottle holder are also available, offering a highly customizable solution to whatever style of fly fishing you do.
Best Surf Fishing Backpack
Yeti Panga 28L Backpack YETI
Why it Made the Cut: The Yeti Panga Backpack is built to withstand the roughest surf while keeping your belongings bone dry.
- Weight: 3.9 lbs
- Colors: Storm Gray
- Pockets: Single main waterproof pocket with dividers and a zipper pouch
- Fully Waterproof
- The pack is rigid, comfortable even with a light load
- Waist straps for support
- Welded seams
- The zipper can be stiff at first
Many of us have the illusion that surf fishing is walking up and down a warm beach with a drink in one hand and a rod in the other. Sadly, the die-hard anglers know it is far from the case. Here in the Northeast, waves are pounding, winds are whipping, and striped bass are running during late fall when temperatures can dip well below freezing. I’ve come to realize how valuable a good waterproof backpack is in this situation and the Yeti Panga 28L Backpack is the best fit I’ve found.
This pack has a rigid back keeping it upright and supported, unlike several other packs I’ve used in the past. As a result, no matter how I load it I don’t have to worry about it resting any differently on my back. When walking miles down the beach searching for the next blitz this is crucial. What sets this pack apart from others is the true waterproof design and amount of space. No matter how expensive your camera gear is, you can throw it in the Panga knowing it will be ready to capture memories along the way.
Samurai Tactical Seigyo Slim Tackle Backpack Dicks Sporting Goods
- Weight: 2 lbs
- Colors: Green/Black, Grey, Green
- Pockets: 2 large main pockets, 2 external pockets, and loops for holding two rods
- Plenty of storage space
- Built-in rod holders to bring multiple rods on a trip
Every angler dreams of hiking to a remote pond or stream only to find it filled with giant fish eager to play and not another soul in sight. Having a backpack that is lightweight and easy to pack is crucial for these types of adventures. The Samurai Tactical Seigyo Slim Tackle Backpack is the perfect solution when you’re wondering what might be around the next turn. The pack itself is well constructed and lightweight so hiking long distances with plenty of tackle is easily doable.
Having built-in rod holders saves you from making tough decisions at the truck. Do you have a few different rods? Bring them all. I typically carry a spinning rod and a baitcasting rod to cover every base. The two Hypalon loops allow you to carry a rod on each side of the pack to fish and hike hands-free. The loops make fishing much more efficient. Always having two rods ready to go without leaving one on the bank to get stepped on.
The key to catching trophy fish is getting to areas others can’t, and a good fishing backpack makes this easier. You can hike into remote locations with all your gear and be ready for whatever you may come across. I have used every kind of fishing backpack imaginable in different situations and know what makes a usable pack. A good fishing pack should enhance your experience, not hinder it. So when it came down to testing the best fishing backpacks on the market, I knew what to look for. I’ve tested each backpack to make sure they were ready for every fishing scenario and with features to improve your time on the water. I based my selections on the following criteria:
- Durability: Is the backpack constructed in a way that it will hold up against the elements?
- Weight: How heavy is the backpack and how does it affect fishing?
- Size: Does the size of the backpack match the purpose it is designed for?
- Materials: What fabrics are used and are they waterproof or not?
- Features: Does the backpack include any unique features that set it apart?
- Value: Is the pack priced fairly for what it offers?
Q: What makes a fishing backpack better than a regular one?
A fishing backpack is fine-tuned to enhance your time on the water compared to a regular backpack. Sure, you can use a regular backpack in a pinch to carry things. But fishing backpacks are designed with special features such as rod holders, tackle tray storage, and plier holders to keep everything organized and ready to go. This improves efficiency on the water and keeps you fishing.
Q: Who should buy a fishing backpack?
A fishing backpack is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t have access to a boat or likes to get off the beaten path. They keep everything organized and give you the ability to bring all the tackle you need wherever you go. Certain packs—like waterproof ones—are also great at protecting gear. If you enjoy taking pictures of your catches with a nice camera a waterproof pack will keep it dry and safe.
Q: Which fishing backpack type should I get?
The fishing backpack style depends entirely on the kind of fishing you plan to do. Tackle tray boxes are great for bass anglers who like to keep their baits separated. If you fish near the ocean or are constantly wading in rivers, a waterproof backpack might be better to keep your gear dry. For others, a light and mobile backpack is the perfect choice to hike away from crowds in search of secluded spots.
The best fishing backpack is a crucial piece of gear when it comes to being a productive angler. The perfect fishing backpack should match up with the kind of fishing you do and make your job as an angler easier. My top picks cover a wide variety of fishing styles and angler demands. There is truly a backpack for any situation you may come across, it’s just about finding the right one for you. Do some research, think about how you fish, and consider what you fish for, and you’ll be happy with the backpack you choose.