What Is the Best Backpack for Fishing? 

 July 15, 2023

By  Diane Wuthrich

Many anglers are abandoning the classic-style tackle boxes that were popular in the past. As well as being big and bulky, tackle boxes are inconvenient for modern bank fishermen or tournament co-anglers. There is a lot of wasted space, and the box holds little gear but still weighs a lot. Plus, nobody wants to lug around a tackle box, bumping and banging their way into every rock and tree in their path. Fishing backpacks are the solution.

Fishing backpacks let you store all of your fishing gear and tackle while keeping your hands free for a long fishing session. A backpack will make it easier to traverse rough terrain and reach your fishing spots. Having a good fishing backpack makes it easy to grab your tackle and get into a boat easily when you need to.

Anglers can choose among different types of fishing backpacks, each with its own design, size, and quality. There are plenty of options out there, but you need to determine which one is best for you.

How to Choose the Best Fishing Backpack

Fishing trips are always fun adventures to look forward to. If you want your trip to go smoothly and to be as enjoyable as possible, it’s important to bring the essentials along with you - all stored securely in a backpack with proper organization. Aside from your fishing equipment, a backpack will also keep your other things safe. 

Additionally, a fishing backpack is a convenient and easy way to carry all your fishing gear, tackle trays, tools, supplies, and additionally, clothes or snacks. This is why every angler needs a fishing backpack that holds plenty of tackle, is waterproof, spacious, can be carried comfortably, and is easy to handle.  

Here's what to look for when choosing yours.


You'll want to be as comfortable as possible when you're heading out to fish. Ideally, the best backpack for fishing is easy to carry and lightweight. There are other factors to consider when looking for a comfortable fishing backpack. 

For one, make sure the padding on the shoulder straps and back panel is adequate. In terms of both length and shoulder width, your bag needs to be fitted properly to your body. Many fishing backpacks have adjustable shoulder straps. If you plan to wear the bag for prolonged periods, you will want to avoid narrow straps that dig into the skin or restrict your movements. Carrying your fishing equipment to your favorite fishing spot is much easier when you have comfortable shoulder straps.

Second, consider backpacks that include top-of-the-line suspension systems which help spread the load evenly across your shoulders and your back. Other fishing backpacks have spine support channels for additional support and load distribution.

Furthermore, a waistband or chest strap can be useful for distributing weight evenly. A chest strap can often be adjusted according to your body shape. Make sure your bag is ergonomic if you plan on spending long periods in the water. With an even weight distribution and adequate back support, you can enjoy your fishing session without worrying about straining your back.


Choosing a backpack big enough to suit your needs is extremely important. Consider what you will need to bring in your backpack before you buy it. You'll need different tools depending on what kind of fish you want to catch. Thus, when choosing your bag, take the time to select one that has ample room. Additionally, the most useful bags will have convenient pockets and compartments so that you can easily access tools and other gear while casting. Just take note that bigger fishing backpacks will weigh more because of the presence of pockets.

A large fishing backpack is obviously necessary if you plan on going on a multi-day fishing expedition. On the other hand, you'll need a more compact backpack day trips. 

In most fishing backpacks, the main compartment should have enough room for you to fit your fishing gear, clothing, and food. If you plan to go fishing for several days, you might consider that you will need extra room in the main compartment for everything else you'll need. Having easy access to a front organizer compartment or side pockets can be useful for small items, such as sunscreen or sunglasses. A removable tool holder would be more convenient than a permanent attachment.

Waterproof Feature

The fact that your fishing backpack needs to be waterproof seems obvious, but many treat it as an afterthought. It's far too easy for bags to get wet while in your kayak, or while you are jigging and you don't even notice it. Even if you are fishing in calm waters such as a pond or stream, waterproof fishing bags are always recommended. 

There are many different types of waterproof fabrics used in the best fishing backpacks on the market, while others are treated with a DWR or durable water-repellency coating to prevent water from seeping into the material. In addition to keeping your tools and gear clean, waterproof bags prevent them from getting damaged or protect your spare clothes from getting wet.

Also, consider how useful it is to store all your gadgets safely in a waterproof bag. Any device you pack into a waterproof compartment - including your smartphone, GPS, and keys-will be protected from the elements. In most fishing backpacks, there are waterproof pockets that are designed to hold valuables and cell phones. 

The best fishing backpacks will be able to withstand the wear and tear of the outdoors and are made of materials that are water-resistant and mudproof, so they won't need to be cleaned as often. There are even some with nylon fabrics that are water-resistant and durable. The price of waterproof fishing backpacks runs across the spectrum; some more affordable models may not be waterproof, though they may have waterproof pouches or pockets for your most valuable items. Some models may also lack waterproofing, but come with an optional rain cover which you can use to secure over the bag to make it even more durable.


You'll find that many fishing backpacks have lots of compartments so that you can conveniently organize your fishing essentials and personal items. Typically, fishing backpacks come with strategically designed compartments for your fishing tackle boxes in addition to their main compartments. It allows you to keep your gear separate, enabling you to access the boxes easily and without having to unpack the whole bag. 

Also, you need to ensure that the outside compartments are large enough for storing your tools and extra fishing line. These compartments should have smaller openings so that you don't have to dig around. There should also be room for a fishing rod in your tackle backpack. You can secure other items to your pack with loops and hooks, which means that they do not take up additional space within the bag. In some cases, rod holders and belts will also be provided.

Look for backpacks that have organizational features for everything you specifically need for fishing, whether it's for your waders, LED light system, phone, and much more. 

Cooling compartments are just an optional feature to consider, though they may be useful for many anglers and fishing enthusiasts. They are convenient because they prevent you from having to carry around a separate cold storage container for your drinks and bait.

When choosing a bag, look for a design that has separate compartments or a divider to store your food, bait, and other products separately.


You don't want a backpack that will break while you're out on the ocean, so it's essential to choose a bag that is made from durable and strong materials. Make sure the seams are hard-wearing with fabrics like strong polyester and woven reinforced fabrics. In addition, you should ensure the bag has a durable lining because you'll be carrying sharp objects. Molded zippers or anticorrosive zippers are also excellent features to look for.

Our Recommendations For The Best Backpacks For Fishing

There are many backpack models out there designed to accommodate different kinds of fishing. No matter whether fishing is your job or a hobby, choosing the right kind of fishing backpack for your needs is essential to a comfortable and successful fishing expedition. Below is a list of popular fishing backpacks in various categories as well as an accompanying review so you can have a better understanding of the pros and cons of each. 

Best Backpack for Fly Fishing

The standard fly fishing chest or waist pack may not be up to the task when it comes to storing all your essential gear. A fly fishing backpack that can handle all your essentials is important when you're away from your vehicle or campsite for a full day.

In addition to your fishing gear, a fly fishing backpack can hold lunch, extra layers, a camera, and anything else you might need. When you trek to find fish over longer distances, you'll find it easier to carry your gear on your back in a supportive pack than to force the weight through your waist or chest.

Here are some of the most popular fly fishing backpacks which can be compared on our website:

FishPond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack: FishPond is an American brand that specializes in fly fishing equipment and bags. Their Thunderhead Submersible Backpack is the top choice for fly fishing simply because they have thought of everything you need in a bag for this type of sport. 

FishPond launched the original Thunderhead Submersible Backpack a few years ago, and it was well-received. Not surprising, considering its terrific quality and craftsmanship. They did, however, make a few adjustments, such as the self-sealing zippers which give peace of mind that you won't run into the problem of broken zippers while out in the wilderness.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned fly fisher, you'll appreciate how sturdy and tough this backpack is. In fact, FishPond rates it as among their toughest backpacks ever. As the name implies, it is completely submersible yet all your belongings are protected because of the recycled 900D TPU coated New Stream fabric construction.

The FishPond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack has 28L storage, which is perfect for all the supplies and equipment you need for a day out in the water. It weighs 3.05 lbs., and has dimensions of 21 x 12 x 9 inches. This pack is available in three gorgeous colors: a camo print, olive green, and tangerine orange. 

Organization is one of Thunderhead's key features. Given that you need an array of gear for fly fishing, especially small tools and accessories, this backpack has all the right pockets and compartments, so you waste no time searching for them. These include interior pockets with detachable zippered pockets, a front pocket with water-resistant closure that's perfect for small tools such as pliers and keys, plus several attachment points on the back panel for your other gear.

When we tested this backpack, we were delighted to discover how comfortable the shoulder straps were. These really make a difference when carrying your gear to the water. The shoulder straps were lightweight with some foam padding, while the adjustable and removable lumbar support strap added comfort too.

Overall, the FishPond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack is highly recommended for fly fishing. The list of benefits can go on, but you will understand once you try fly fishing with this backpack. 

Allen Gunnison Switch Pack: For a more budget-friendly fly fishing backpack, the Allen Gunnisson Switch Pack is a great, affordable option. Considering that it's priced at just $99.99, you get a ton of features in this lightweight pack. It weighs just 2.5 lbs., also making it a lighter choice than the FishPond Thunderhead.

The Allen Gunnison Switch Pack was designed to be versatile, enabling you to use it as a day pack as well as a sling pack. It isn't waterproof nor is it submersible, so be sure to avoid getting it soaked during your trip. However, it is helpful that the pack is designed with heavy-duty molded zippers for added protection.

There are ample storage compartments and holders, too: it can literally hold all the gear you need for fishing or trolling, including your spinning rod, fly fishing rod, waders, tackle, and even water in the hydration-compatible pocket. It's also equipped with water bottle pockets, while the interior water-resistant pocket is useful for storing valuable stuff. This is where you can store your sunglasses holder, wallet, vest, and other things. 

All that said, Allen Gunnison could make some improvements that serious fishers would find handy. These include the addition of molded padding, which would be effective in keeping the pack separated from the body while promoting air flow. Another is the inclusion of a proper padded waist belt, which is beneficial in redistributing weight. Last but not least, a hydration hose would have been nice too.

Despite those minor design flaws, the Allen Gunnison Switch Pack is still a versatile and multipurpose choice for fly fishing and many other outdoor activities. 

Best Backpack for Ice Fishing

You don't have to stay indoors during the winter months just to dream about fishing. With the right tools and gear, you can have a lot of fun fishing on the ice. When winter seals off the lakes, ice fishing can be fast and furious. The best part is that there are no mosquitoes or flies to bother you.

An ice fishing backpack lets you take all your gear out on the ice with you. This backpack is a must-have for hole hoppers and anglers operating on the move. Its padded compartments will hold tackle, rods, your flasher, and any other small accessories you require on the ice. You can even wear some backpacks over your parka comfortably because they have extra-long straps.

Here are some of the most popular ice fishing backpacks which can also be compared on our website:

KastKing Karryall Fishing Tackle Backpack: KastKing has a great selection of specialty fishing backpacks with high reviews. The Karryall is one of the most popular, and it's excellent for ice fishing and many other outdoor situations involving the water. 

The pack is constructed from tough Oxford 600D fabric, which is high-density and ultra-protective for your gear. There is no problem laying the pack down on ice, because the bottom has been coated with water-resistant PVC, ensuring that no water seeps through. That's not all: two anti-skid pads on the bottom of the backpack ensure that it stays securely in place, even on slippery ice. 

The 40L capacity of this pack is adequate for ice fishing. One of the many useful features is that the main compartment even has a foldable partition inside, though perhaps two removable dividers may be even more convenient, depending on your preferences. 

When we tested the KastKing Karryall Fishing Tackle Backpack, we found that the number of pockets - 14 - is neither too little nor too much. This is actually perfect for ice fishing, given that anyone, fisherman or otherwise, needs to organize a lot of small gear. These multipurpose pockets have room for everything: a plier holder, sunglasses, various fishing tools and more - but, of course, you can supplement it with your own organizational pouch inside the bag if needed.

Additionally, the lower layer of the main compartment has been specially designed to accommodate four of KastKing's 3600 tackle boxes. If you use size 3700 Lure boxes, simply remove the divider in the lower storage area then pack the Lures vertically.

Meanwhile, each shoulder strap is made with foam padding for excellent comfort even when you are carrying heavy loads. The overall ergonomic design does a great job at reducing friction on the shoulders while increasing comfort.

The KastKing Karryall Fishing Tackle Backpack is a great all-around purchase for ice fishing, though it can also be used in other fishing sports. 

Best Backpack for Lure Fishing

Lure fishing is exhilarating. However, it's fast-paced and you need to cover large areas to catch fish. Having the right equipment, especially the right backpack is essential.

Lure fishing appeals to many because you can do it anywhere, whether it's in freshwater, rivers, offshore, on rocks, or in the surf. You can do it quite easily if you keep an arsenal of lures with you. Hence, you need a backpack that is spacious enough to store all your equipment while being convenient to lug around for your lure fishing experience to be worthwhile.

Piscifun Fishing Tackle Backpack: Piscifun has a fantastic range of well-designed tackle bags, backpacks, and fishing gear. They know the sport inside out, so you can rely on quality products at a price point that won't break the bank. Piscifun was established in 2013, and today they are among the trusted names in fishing gear. 

The Piscifun Fishing Tackle Backpack is highly recommended for lure fishing, but it's so versatile that it can be used for a number of different fishing methods too. This pack is made from heavy-duty 1200D nylon fabric, which is water-resistant. Top-notch buckles and zippers are used as well as ultra-precise stitching techniques throughout the bag for maximum durability. 

World-class SBS zippers divide the pack's compartments into a total of 11 storage areas. These can further be broken down to create 18 separate compartments for all your gear, though you can keep these areas spacious for larger items thanks to the collapsible clapboard.

During our testing, we found that the Piscifun Fishing Tackle Backpack is loaded with useful features and handy details. These include a hard-molded sunglasses case, reflective strips for safety at night, and a rain cover. It's fairly lightweight, weighing in at just 56.4 oz. and measuring 12.6 x 7.9 x 17.7 inches. 

However, this pack can only hold smaller lure containers despite being able to fit lots of your stuff inside. It can only hold a limited amount of tackle in its trays, which is something to consider before you buy it.

Overall, the Piscifun Fishing Tackle Backpack is a great buy if it fits your fishing needs. 

Best Backpack for Surf Fishing

One of the most exciting ways to catch fish is surf fishing. It's scenic, allowing you to enjoy stunning sunsets paired with the adrenaline of reeling in large catches. 

All types of fishing rigs can be used for surf fishing, ranging from pompano rigs to giant circle hooks. Oftentimes, special equipment and rigs also help. Taking a wide variety of gear to the beach is always a good idea, since you never know what will show up on the beachfront. A reliable surf fishing backpack is necessary to ensure your success. 

Yeti Panga 28L Waterproof Backpack: Yeti is a famous American company that specializes in high-quality outdoor products such as stainless steel, vacuum-insulated drinkware as well as coolers. They have recently expanded into backpacks, and not surprisingly, make some of the very best waterproof backpacks there are. That said, if you are looking for the best waterproof backpacks for surf fishing, look no further than Yeti.

The Yeti Panga 28L Waterproof backpack is completely submersible, puncture-resistant, and airtight. So much so, that it acts like a tank - anything you put into it will be completely sealed off from water. This gives you peace of mind since the nature of surf fishing means that you and your valuables will be prone to water. 

This pack's dimensions are 12.5 x 7 x 20 inches. When empty, it weighs 3.9 lbs., so it is rather heavy for its size but one also has to consider the heavy-duty weight of the metal hardware and thick materials used. 

The backpack is constructed from super tough ThickSkin Shell material, which is made from high-density nylon coated with thick TPU lamination. It's equipped with a removable waist belt and chest straps, so you can adjust for comfort on the fly whenever needed. Whether you decide to leave it on the shore or bring it with you surf fishing, you won't be disappointed with the performance of this surf fishing backpack.

The Yeti Panga 28L Waterproof Backpack also has a Hydrolock zipper pocket, and all hardware is made from Metalock. The DryHaul shoulder straps are ergonomic and comfortable, making the pack feel like you're carrying close to nothing. It also has a convenient grab handle on one side.

Even the pack's EVA molded bottom is perfect for the outdoors. If you want to boost this bag's functionality, you can easily do so. Yeti designed it to be compatible with several of their accessories that are useful for surf fishing as well as many other outdoor activities, including the SideKick Dry Gear Case, MOLLE Bottle Opener, Rambler Bottle Slings, and others. 

The Yeti Panga 28L is pricey - though the brand is known for its high-end and long-lasting gear, but if you're looking to invest, you can't go wrong with this pack. 

Backpack Cooler for Fishing

Whether you're fishing in a river, lake, or on the beach, a backpack cooler is one thing that can make the experience much more enjoyable. The best backpack cooler for fishing will have enough space to insulate your food, drinks, and even your catch if you want to take it home. Some models may have adequate storage space for dry gear, or your co-angler can bring it along for you to supplement your main fishing backpack. 

Icemule Boss Backpack Cooler: The Icemule Boss Backpack Cooler is a spacious backpack sling that can fit a serious amount of drinks. You can also add ice to keep your catch fresh by the time you get home. 

This backpack cooler has a rugged construction, made from the brand's proprietary MuleSkin material and the revolutionary IM AirValve. In addition, the welded seams are effective in preventing leakage. These are all designed to keep the cooler's contents cold for at least 24 hours, which is perfect for long fishing trips - keeping your catch absolutely fresh from the moment you reel it in to when you fillet it for cooking.

The two padded airmesh backpack straps are comfortable to wear. It also comes with other adjustable features for the best fit possible, including a sternum strap and hip belt. These work well in ensuring your hands are free for more important tasks.

When closed, the cooler backpack has dimensions of 12.5 x 9 x 25 inches. The front pocket is 10 x 2 x 12 inches in size, and it also has side pockets that are 7.5 x 2 x 9.5 inches. 

During our testing, we found that the Icemule Boss Backpack Cooler was also efficiently buoyant, making it the ultimate fishing companion. The PakShield top zipper closure on the roll top opening helps it float, in case you drop it in the water. We also noticed that the roll top opening was extra wide, opening up to 20 inches, whereas other models on the market only provide a narrow opening. 

However, the Icemule Boss Backpack Cooler can be rather bulky because of its shape. Despite that, it's an excellent choice for all-around fishing. 


Finding the best fishing backpack for your needs will make a tremendous difference in your trip. With these guidelines and recommendations, you can easily find a pack suitable for your next fishing trip. 

About the author

Diane is our head writer and researcher for our backpack informational content. Her everyday carry is a Herschel.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}