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Published Nov. 24, 2020

Is fishing the most stress-relieving outdoor activity there is? It’s possible. If you aren’t hung up on winning tournaments or upstaging your buddies, drowning worms can be downright zen. One thing that’s not relaxing is schlepping your cooler, bait, rod, and a bunch of tackle boxes out to your favorite fishing hole. Sure, you could use your everyday backpack if you don’t mind it smelling like stink bait for the rest of time, but there’s a better way. By investing in a dedicated fishing backpack, you’ll keep your gear better organized, easier to carry, and ready to go at a moment’s notice. There are plenty to choose from. Pick a small over-the-shoulder bag for quick trips to the local pond, or get a larger pack for weekend trips and vacations.

These are a few of the best fishing backpacks on the market. Pick one so you can spend less time carrying gear and more time thinking up excuses for why the big one got away.

Fishing can involve travel through rough country; when it does, you can rely on this rugged Piscifun fishing backpack to get your gear there and back in one piece. The thick nylon and heavy-duty stitching makes this more durable than many alternatives, and it’s up to 20% more water-resistant. Store your equipment in the 11 separate compartments. Adjustable dividers can expand this to 18 separate compartments, letting you customize the load to fit your needs. Like many other bags, the main compartment fits four 3600-series tackle trays. All this storage space can result in significant weight, so ample padding in the back and shoulder straps reduces wear and tear on your body. The price might deter casual anglers but, if you want a serious fishing companion, this one is worth a look.

If high-speed, low-drag is your style, you’ll love the Blisswill tackle bag. This single-strap bag is noticeably smaller than the competition, but for those who only bring the essentials, it’s perfect. External MOLLE panels provide attachment points for gear and an opportunity to customize your loadout. Heavy-duty nylon makes this bag water-resistant and extremely durable. The main compartment provides enough space for tackle boxes, and smaller compartments offer secure storage for valuables. Outside, you’ll find a pouch for a water bottle and tie-downs for your rod. The adjustable strap attaches with an oversized buckle for durability and can be configured in four positions. Choose to wear this bag cross-body, over one shoulder, as a chest rig, or carry it by hand.

The KastKing Day Tripper uses lightweight materials to provide a fishing backpack that you can wear for hours. Durable, rip-resistant nylon provides water-resistant protection with an outer treatment and PVC lining. The bag’s large bottom compartment holds four standard divider bins to keep things like lures, bobbers, and sinkers organized. The top pouch has dividers for small tools and even a fleece-lined pouch for your sunglasses. There are even hidden compartments that are perfect for your wallet and keys. Carry your rod on the outside with a pocket and bungee system. Mesh pouches in the padded hip belt let you keep small, frequently used items handy. If your favorite fishing hole requires significant walking, this bag makes light work of the trip.

Plano cases are known for their bang-for-the-buck factor, and this tackle backpack upholds that reputation. A tough but lightweight exterior protects your gear from hikes through the brush. It’s also water-resistant enough to keep your belongings dry. The storage compartment fits three storage bins and, unlike some alternatives, they’re actually included with this bag. The main compartment has a divider so you can still fit extra gear or layers of clothing above your tackle. An outer pouch with buckes secures items you need to keep handy. The shoulder straps are ventilated to keep you cool on the go, and the back area is padded for comfort. As an all-round package, it doesn’t get much more convenient than this.

If organization is your priority, take a look at this tidy fishing backpack from Rodeel. The designers seem to have identified all the key items anglers care about, and given each of them a dedicated space on this bag. External mounting points secure the tools you need most often, like your rod, scale, pliers, sunglasses, and water bottle. Internal dividers separate your tackle boxes from other belongings. The nylon exterior is water-resistant and features rubber feet to protect the base when you set it on the ground. Tackle boxes aren’t included, but they can be purchased separately. They are designed to fit and feature drainage holes to let your gear dry to prevent rust. This is one of the larger bags available, so it’s a great option for longer trips.

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Types of fishing backpacks

There are a few styles of fishing bags, and the plastic sack from the bait shop doesn’t count. Take your pick from tactical-style bags with heavy-duty materials, MOLLE, and camouflage, or put speed first with an option designed to save weight to make room for more gear. In addition to several sizes, fishing backpacks offer different approaches to organizing your gear and keeping you comfortable while getting from point A to point B. There are also options that come in a range of colors, so you can match your boat if that’s something you’re into.

Key features of fishing backpacks

  • Size: If you’re going to put money into a specialized fishing backpack, it needs to fit everything you want to bring. Still, it’s possible to overdo it. Consider your typical gear list before purchasing a bag that’s either too small, or leaves everything rattling around inside.
  • Storage: The amount of space in a fishing bag is important, but you should also consider how it organizes your gear. Some provide large compartments for coolers and tackle boxes, while others use dividers to let you separate individual items.
  • Fit: Do you prefer a traditional backpack or a cross-body design? How much gear do you have to carry? How far will you be walking with it? Answer these questions before picking out a fishing bag to make sure you can wear it comfortably and keep your focus on the fish.
  • Features: Today’s anglers are spoiled for choice. Do your homework to find a bag that offers everything that’s important to you. Some things to consider are places to store your rod, waterproofing, padding, ventilation, and adjustable storage configurations.

Benefits of fishing backpacks

First of all, having a dedicated fishing backpack is essential to not smelling like fish every time you need to carry something besides fishing gear. They also have purpose-built features that accommodate tackle boxes, bait, and tools. When you don’t have to worry about packing for a day on the water, you can get down to business faster and more with less stress.

Fishing backpack pricing

We found great fishing backpacks for everywhere from $35 to $100. At the lower end of the price range, expect smaller bags and fewer features. Don’t settle for substandard built quality, because there are plenty of great bags to be had for a bargain. More expensive options will be loaded with customizable storage compartments, rain protection, and features like padding and ventilation to keep you comfortable.

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