Fishing is an excellent way to spend time. It’s exciting and relaxing at the same time and enormously rewarding when things go well. There’s nothing like bringing home delicious, fresh fish for the dinner table.
It’s a very useful survival skill to have as well. There may come a time when the only way to get food on the table is to catch your own. As such, it’s a skill well worth learning.
As with anything in survival, being prepared is of the utmost importance. Organization and being preparedgo hand in hand. A well-organized angler is more likely to bring home supper.
The angler who knows exactly where each piece of kit or tackle is will be able to grab what they need in an instance. This can be the difference between making the catch and losing it.
A fishing backpack can improve organization tenfold and as such, can improve results. There is a lot to consider when looking for the best fishing backpack. The the type of pack and specific features are important. Below we will discuss these points, before having a look at seven of the most popular fishing backpacks on the market.
Why use a fishing backpack?
First of all, it’s useful to see how using a fishing backpack when out and about can help. Of course, for a long time, people fished without using one and it’s not strictly necessary. The same can be said about cars. They are however comfortable and convenient and are a big help when fishing.
This is down to the way they are designed, with several pockets to hold every bit of kit you need, as well as space for tackle boxes and trays. They will normally feature loops and straps that can be used to attach frequently used tools and items. Rods can be stored in most packs. Do check out our reviews of the best fishing backpacks with rods to help you.
A big bonus for many anglers is that using a backpack keeps their hands empty and free. This is useful when hiking for example. With hands empty, it’s easier to negotiate tougher terrain or to use a stick to aid with walking. Without a pack, you’d have your hands full of gear.
No more returning to get the rest of the kit
Many great fishing spots require a bit of a trek – some a very long trek – to reach. To be able to carry all your gear in a comfortable and convenient bag is essential. Without having to return to the car for kit, there is more time for fishing.
Types of fishing backpacks
Fishing backpacks range in size, shape, and design. There are many types of packs to choose from. To an extent, the choice depends on the circumstances and the requirements you will have of the pack. A certain amount of personal preference plays a part as well. There are three main styles of fishing packs;
This is the obvious starting point when discussing fishing backpacks. As you can probably guess, this looks and functions as a normal backpack. The differences are in the storage compartments. There will normally be space for at least one tackle box or tray to slot in effortlessly.
A number of smaller pockets are typical for stowing spare line, reels, and tools among other things. A larger, central compartment can be used for spare clothes, larger items and lunch. There will typically be rod holder straps on the sides or bottom of the pack.
Other features may include a clear pocket for paperwork, a wader compartment or a live bait pocket. Different packs vary as to the exact features. Worn over the shoulders, normally with a waist and chest strap for additional support, backpacks are easy to carry, comfortable and can generally fit a lot in them.
Shoulder and hip bags are also available. They generally have a smaller capacity, but are more lightweight and are ideal for long hikes.
A fishing vest is basically a smaller version of the backpack and is typically used alongside a larger storage device. Featuring several small pockets for quick and easy reach, they are a popular choice. They are lighter than backpacks but cannot carry so much. They can also get a bit hot in warm weather.
These will typically wrap around a five gallon bucket commonly used for fishing. They’re similar to the vest in that the small pockets help keep things neat and tidy. While not so much gear can be stowed in them, the larger items will normally fit in the bucket itself while being transported. The downside is that they must be carried by hand. However, anyone who is using a bucket would need to carry the bucket regardless of which type of pack they have.
Features and considerations
When choosing the perfect fishing backpack it’s good to look at some of the features available. It is also worth considering which options are useful for you and your style of fishing.
First of all, it is worth considering how much storage space you will require. Knowing what gear you will need to pack away will help you to decide. The largest backpacks have compartments that are big enough to fit in a pair of waders and boots, with room to spare for a large amount of other gear.
There are of course smaller options if you do not need to take so much equipment. Vests or shoulder slung bags are great for carrying smaller amounts of gear comfortably.
Some packs are completely waterproof, others are water resistant or have a rain cover. Some do not have any waterproofing at all. If you plan to be out at sea, or fishing in the rain, waterproofing is important to consider.
The ability to adjust the straps ensures that a good pack can be worn by anyone, regardless of shape or size. Easy adjustment is also useful when out hiking, as one can adjust on the go. Comfort is important and well-padded materials are excellent for packs.
The best packs will have several compartments so that different equipment can be easily organized. An easy reach pocket is great for all the tools you need most often.
There are many other small features that are worth looking out for. These are not normally essential things to consider, but they can make things far easier.
- LED lights – for easy visibility in low light times
- Retractable lanyard – used to clip the most important tools onto, for quick and easy reach
- Separate waterproof compartments – these are great for keeping your dry stuff dry
Now that you know the more common useful features to look out for, there’s nothing much to do but look at some of the best fishing backpacks on the market.
A review of seven great backpacks
Glacier Glove All-in-one River Pack
Type: Backpack with metal frame
Specific Features: Wading boot holder, attached changing mat, space to hold two rods, separate waterproof compartments
Best use: An excellent backpack for day trips and hiking to fly fishing spots
This innovative Glacier Glove All-in-one pack, though not perfect, enjoys mostly positive feedback from the fishing community. It’s a heavy duty pack with lots of space for gear.
One can comfortably pack away two rods, waders and boots, tackle boxes, landing net, rain jacket and a fishing vest, with space to fit lunch. This is fantastic for day trips off the beaten path, but is a bit too specialized for multiday trips.
The pack has two separate waterproof compartments for waders and boots. This design ensures that the rest of the contents remain dry on the way home. A small, roll out changing mat is included to aid with changing footwear while out and about. While many appreciate this design, others comment that it is a little bulky and would be better if it was removable.
The build quality is reasonably good and several fly fishers have commented on its durability. In some cases, the seams have begun to split, though this is not a common occurrence. Some users have complained the pack is not very comfortable to wear. The main criticism comes from the waist strap, which is too short and very difficult to adjust quickly.
Others have remarked on the weight of the pack. With the metal frame and changing mat, the pack is rather heavy from the beginning, making for discomfort. All in all, the pack is used and enjoyed by many fly fishers who would recommend it to a friend.
Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest Pack
Type: Backpack and vest
Specific Features: Water resistant, adjustable size, breathable mesh back
Best use: A great pack for a long day spent fly fishing
The Maxcatch vest pack combines the comfort of a vest, with the practicality of a backpack. It’s a very spacious pack and has a lot of useful pockets for your gear. Two rods, flies, tackle and a landing net can easily be stowed away, as well as lunch and extra clothes.
The pack is easily adjusted to fit any size or body shape comfortably and easily. Indeed, fly fishers large and small, wide or thin will be able to wear the vest comfortably. The shoulder straps are well padded ensuring comfort in hot weather and both backpack and vest are breathable.
This is also quite a light pack, particularly when taking its capacity into consideration. While the pack is water resistant it is not waterproof and care should be taken. If submerged the pack will let in water. The quality is high, with strong buckles and stitching that is capable of standing the test of time. Most appealing is the price. For the quality, comfort, and practicality of this pack, the price tag is very low, especially when compared with competing products.
Related products: Maxcatch V-comf sling pack – a single strap fishing pack offering much of the same features
Airflex Waterproof Fishing Bag
Size: 19″X 9.5″X 7.5″
Specific Features: Waterproof, easy to reach accessory pocket, removable shoulder strap
Best use: Wet weather fishing trips
If keeping your gear bone dry is a concern, Airflex Waterproof Fishing bag is the pack for you. Boasting 100% water proofing, even if you drop your kit in the river, if it’s in this pack it’ll remain dry. It’s a great pack for wet weather fishing or fishing from a boat. While the waterproofing is effective, it is by no means perfect. The zips are only water resistant and water will soak in if submerged for a period of time.
For keeping the rain off, even if it’s heavy, this pack works well. It features many pockets for stashing away various items, including two useful easy to reach accessory pouches, for frequently used items. It is a well-made pack and incorporates radio frequency weld technology to bind the fabric securely.
This creates highly durable and waterproof seams that should last for years. Its 30l volume ensures that you will be able to fit all of your fishing gear comfortably inside, with room for lunch and spare clothes. It can be a bit bulky for some people. However, overall, this is a practical and useful pack that is built to last.
Wild River WL3506 Bucket Organizer
Type: Bucket organizer
Volume: To fit a 5gal bucket
Specific Features: Removable LED light system, bait aerator pocket, space for two trays
Best use: Excellent for ice fishing
Wild River bucket organizer is fantastic for those who like to know exactly where things are. There are several features that help with this. A great many pockets ensure that most of your kit has its own compartment. There is a clear, internal pocket to keep paperwork in, keeping it both visible and dry. A special pocket for your bait ensures it remains lively, and two larger pockets are ideal for fitting tackle trays in.
The organizer has two rod holders and other gear can be stored in the bucket. Other features can be added in the other two combo packs (see related products below), but the WL3506 contains the bucket organizer only. While this organizer enjoys excellent reviews there are some things to consider. Some users have remarked that the rod holders are not large enough for most rods and stretch at the seams.
If the LED is provided, it is not of the highest quality and will not last for very long, although it is a very useful feature that can be easily replaced. The construction is high quality and strong, durable materials are used. This is an organizer that is built to last and does exactly what it claims to.
Related products: WN3506 – the same organizer but with LED light, plier holder and retractable lanyard included
WT3507 – the same organizer but with bucket, seat, two trays, LED light, plier holder and retractable lanyard included.
AntWalking Multi-functional Nylon Fishing Bag
Type: Shoulder/waist bag
Specific Features: Reflective strips, luminous inside for improved visibility, tray included
Best use: A great pack for short fishing trips or to take hiking
The AntWalking pack is perfect for those short, spur of the moment fishing trips. It’s small and lightweight and as such it doesn’t hinder hiking at all. While small, it can comfortably carry two sectioned tackle trays or boxes, a rod, a landing net, various tools, spare clothes and some food. One tray is included and is brightly colored, ensuring it is visible in low light conditions. Ergonomic, easy to reach pockets can be found on the sides, so you can be sure that the items most regularly used are close at hand.
The pack can be worn either across the body or on the hip. Support straps for the shoulder, waist, and thigh are fully adjustable to fit any build. Anglers are pleased with the comfort offered, with the pack sitting comfortably against the body without hindering movement at all. The quality is fairly good and should last several years if well looked after.
All in all, it’s a fantastic pack as long as the smaller than usual size is taken into consideration. It may not be suited to every type of fishing trip, but for those small trips, it works wonders.
Superfisher Waterproof XXL Duffle Bag Backpack
Size: 22” x 7” x 15”
Specific Features: Waterproof, folding work surface, easy access mesh front pocket
Best use: Useful for hiking and sea fishing trips
Superfisher Waterproof pack receives mixed reviews from the fishing community. It seems to be a love it or hate it pack. First of all, it’s very big, so fitting large amounts of equipment in is very do-able. Having this one pack will prevent the need for several trips back to the car without a doubt. The criticism with the size is that it is not very well organized.
The main space is one large, cavernous compartment with access only from the top. This makes any kind of organization difficult as most fishing backpacks will separate trays and have different pockets for all of your gear. Of course, this is not of the utmost importance for everyone. There are several smaller pockets for various tools and bits of kit, with an easy access mesh pocket on the front for the most useful tools.
The pack claims to be waterproof, but in reality, most users agree that it’s more water resistant than proof. It will keep your gear dry in wet weather but will soak through if submerged. Opinion is divided on the build quality and durability. Several happy users have commented that it is sturdy and well made, though an almost equal amount has reported poor stitching. Some reviewers claim that the shoulder straps and pack material tear easily.
The zippers are not the best quality and are prone to sticking, though they can be improved easily enough. For the low price, it’s a useful bag to have and will carry a huge volume of kit.
Shimano Blackmoon Fishing Backpack
Size: 16″ x 17″ x 8.5″
Specific Features: Four utility boxes included, front loading tackle box storage, tool storage, zip out rain cover
Best use: General fishing trips, hiking
The Blackmoon pack enjoys mostly excellent reviews from the fishing community. It’s a well made, comfortable and practical fishing backpack. There is a lot of space for storage and many pockets to help keep kit organized. Tools can easily be attached to the many loops found on the side of the pack for easy access.
The pack comes with four tackle trays included, all of which fit snugly into the front of the pack. Above this, there is a general storage compartment which is excellent for larger items, such as spare clothes. For those that like to know exactly where everything is, this is an almost perfect pack. It is not without its critics, however, and there are a few criticisms.
First of all the pack is heavier than most users expected it to be and as such, it can become a bit of a burden on longer hikes. This is countered by the fact that thick, padded shoulder straps are used. The chest strap can be a little low and uncomfortable for some users, though this is generally down to the individual. On the whole, the quality and durability is impressive, with strong buckles, solid stitching and custom zip pulls.
This looks to be a pack that will last, although there have been a few isolated problems with stitches coming undone easily and the shoulder strap being broken from the box. This is not a common occurrence however and most people have been very impressed by the quality of the pack.
Having looked over some fantastic fishing backpacks the only thing left to do is to choose the one for you. Keep in mind the intended use and buy accordingly. It’s no use buying the biggest pack out there if you need only carry a small amount.
Comfort is as important as how well organized the pack is. You could have the most organized pack in the world, but it’s almost useless if it’s breaking your back, or digging into your hip.
Having a fishing backpack certainly helps, especially when hiking out to a great fishing spot, so what are you waiting for? Happy fishing!
Check our reviews of the different types of backpacks for your reference. Definitely a must-read for all.