Best Fishing Backpacks for 2023 Reviewed - Dry Storage and Tackle Organization

Written by: Pete D
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From essentials like tackle to a set of clean, dry clothes, tons of anglers rely on a backpack for easy-to-carry storage. And whether you fish the bank, paddle a ‘yak, or jet across the lake in a bass boat, a good backpack is a great addition to your storage options.

We’re not new to the water, and we’ve tried it all. What’s not going to work well is a typical school bag or hiking backpack. 

The school bags don’t offer the storage options you want or the waterproofing you need. The hiking bags are awesome for carrying heavy loads on or off trail, but they fall flat on the water.

Instead, you’ll want a fishing-specific bag that meets your needs just as perfectly as your tackle does.

Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorite fishing backpacks, as well as a buying guide to get you up to speed quickly.

Quick glance at the best fishing backpacks:

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Best Fishing Backpacks Reviewed

Grunden’s RumRunner - Best Dry Storage Fishing Backpack

Grundens Gage Tech Rum Runner Backpack - Black Large

Grundens | Amazon 

Capacity: 30L
Material: 500D PVC
Waterproof: Yes

If you’re looking for a bag you can depend on, look no further than Grunden’s RumRunner. Designed around the needs of commercial fishermen and deckhands on wet, fishy boats where nothing can stay dry and clean, it’s got what it takes to keep what you’re stowing in pristine condition.

Made from 500 Denier PVC, this bag is as tough as a salty captain, easy to clean, and thoughtfully designed. Don’t worry about rocky beaches, sand, sharp shells, or the hazards of a deck or dock: the RumRunner can take whatever you throw at it!

On the exterior, you’ll find mesh pockets, including a large front pocket over which a series of compression straps run. The top of the bag positively stops water penetration, and I don’t care how bad the weather is or what happens to this bag - the inside is staying dry and clean!

When the top of the RumRunner is properly sealed, it forms a handle that’s easy to grab and handy for moving the bag to a better spot. Two padded shoulder straps let you wear the RumRunner comfortably.

With 30 liters of storage, there’s space for a dry change of clothes, a phone, lunch and a thermos of hot coffee.

Priced at a point that’s almost unbelievable given its performance, this is the backpack I choose to keep my gear dry and safe.

Pros:

  • Very tough and durable
  • Very waterproof
  • Excellent capacity without being too big
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Real-world tested by deckhands and commercial fishermen
  • Excellent price!

Cons:

  • ???

FishPond Thunderhead - Best Fly Fishing Backpack

fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Waterproof Fly Fishing & Travel Backpack- Eco Yucca

Amazon 

Capacity: 28L
Material: 900D recycled nylon coated with TPU film
Waterproof: Yes

Fly anglers typically need pretty specialized gear, and that’s just as true for backpacks as it is for landing nets or fishing vests. FishPond’s Thunderhead offers a thoughtfully-designed pack that’s perfect for fly fishing, though as usual in this world, you pay a hefty “fly tax.”

FishPond constructs this backpack from recycled water bottles, using the received nylon to manufacture a tough, durable 900-denier fabric. A great waterproof coating is then applied, and details like self-healing zippers and excellent seams complete the package.

The result is a backpack that can be submerged, splashed, dropped, and rained on without any concern for its contents.

On the exterior, you’ll find two relocatable lariat straps designed to hold a rod or landing net, as well as plenty of points to attach your net and hemostats once you’re fishing. 

You’ll also have a small, zippered, waterproof pocket near the top that’s perfect for phones or wallets.

The shoulder straps are well-padded and comfortable, and the hip belt and molded back panel make long hikes to your favorite stream less of a chore. This is a comfortable pack to wear all day, as it should be.

Inside, you’ll find plenty of space for fly storage, extra line, leader, and tippet, and plenty of room for snacks, lunch, beverages, and a spare set of dry clothes.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed by this backpack, and if long hikes are a regular part of your fly angling, you're going to appreciate the design of this bag.

Pros:

  • Very waterproof - including a zippered, waterproof front pocket
  • Excellent capacity without being too big
  • Comfortable to wear and designed around long hikes
  • Excellent mounting options for fly tools like landing nets and hemostats

Cons:

  • No external storage for wet or dirty items
  • Very expensive!

Piscifun Fishing Tackle Backpack - Best Tackle Organizer Fishing Backpack

Piscifun Fishing Tackle Backpack with 4 Tackle Boxes, Waterproof Large Tackle Gear Bag Storage with Protective Rain Cover Khaki

Amazon 

Capacity: ?
Material: 1200D nylon
Waterproof: no

Piscifun’s fishing tackle backpack is a great choice for anglers who need tackle storage more than a clean, dry change of clothes or protection for delicate gear. Priced right, it offers plenty of room for your lures, line, spools, and tools, and for anglers on the go, it’s hard to beat.

Piscifun manufactures this backpack from 1200-Denier nylon. That’s a remarkably tough grade of fabric, making this a very durable choice for fishermen who can be tough on their gear. The zippers and seams are top-notch, and you expect season after season of no-hassle use from this bag.

While Piscifun doesn’t tell us its capacity in liters, there’s plenty of room. The main compartment, accessible from the front, can accommodate four Plano 3600s, and Piscifun delivers four of its own design with the bag. You can slide an additional 3600 in the top, for a total of five storage boxes.

That’s more tackle than most anglers need!

You’ll find four large exterior pockets that can accommodate worm bags, your phone, your wallet, and tons of accessories like pliers, hemostats, sunscreen, and sunglasses. These storage options are easy to access and offer plenty of space for the gear hounds reading this.

Piscifun includes a rain fly for this pack, making it an excellent choice despite not being waterproof. If tackle storage is your primary concern, it’s hard to go wrong with this backpack.

Pros:

  • Excellent materials
  • Excellent workmanship
  • Tons of space
  • Lots of places for tools and accessories
  • Awesome rain fly

Cons:

  • ???

Yeti Panga

YETI Panga 28 Airtight Waterproof Submersible Backpack

Amazon 

Capacity: 28L
Material: proprietary ThickSkin
Waterproof: Yes, IPX7

Yeti is well-known for its high-quality cooler tech, and its Panga fishing backpacks continue that trend of unrelenting quality.

The Panga is constructed from a proprietary material - we’re guessing a PVC - with waterproof zippers and excellent seams. These design features don’t come cheap, but they do allow very easy access to the Panga’s contents without worrying about compromising waterproofness.

Yeti has definitely done the hard work of ensuring that this bag keeps whatever you stow in it bone dry. That IPX7 rating means that you can submerge the Panga to about three feet for 30 minutes without risking water intrusion, and if you need to protect expensive camera gear or a laptop from the elements, there may not be a better choice for you.

The Panga sheds exterior storage for a clean look, and if that’s what you like, great! But the downside of this approach is that there’s nowhere to store wet or dirty items, decreasing the overall utility of this bag in our eyes.

Inside, you’ll find a mesh pocket and a standard pocket, as well as plenty of space for items that must be kept dry and clean.

Overall, we like Yeti’s Panga a lot as a laptop or smartphone fortress, but the Grunden’s provides the same practical level of waterproof protection - minus submersion - better external storage, and a price tag that’s just 30% of the Yeti. I’d also bet on the Grundens backpack being tougher in both the short and long term.

Pros:

  • Extremely waterproof - rated for submersibility
  • Excellent capacity without being too big
  • Comfortable to wear

Cons:

  • No external storage for wet or dirty items
  • Very expensive!

Skog Å Kust BackSåk Pro

Skog Å Kust BackSåk Pro Waterproof Floating Backpack with Exterior Airtight Zippered Pocket | Grey, 35L

Amazon 

Capacity: 25L and 35L
Material: 420D Ripstop Nylon coated with TPU
Waterproof: Yes

Skog’s BackSak may have a funny name, but its performance is nothing to laugh at. Trusted by adventurers and explorers wherever water is a hazard for their gear, this bag has been there and done that time and time again.

Made from 420 Denier nylon coated with a waterproof treatment, as long as you maintain the front zipper with the supplied water repellant, this bag will keep your expensive gear, change of clothes, or lunch dry and clean.

Speaking of that front pocket, it’s a very nice touch that allows you to slip a wallet or phone inside while still providing IPX7 protection. You’ll find two small mesh pockets on either side of the bag, but beyond that, it’s the inside that provides storage.

There, you’ll find a laptop sleeve and strikingly white interior that lets you see what you’re doing with only minimal light. That’s a nice touch.

The shoulder straps are comfortable, and the BackSak’s two size options provide plenty of usable interior storage.

So how does it stack up against the Yeti and Grundens?

As a fishing-specific bag, I’d have to give the nod to the Grundens overall. The absence of an exterior pocket for wet or dirty items, as well as a potentially finicky front pocket, make this bag less practical for anglers and commercial deckhands. 

It’s about half the price of the Yeti, and its adventure-proven waterproofing has demonstrated that it can keep camera gear and laptops safe and sound no matter what you throw at it.

Overall, I’d rate the RumRunner as the backpack to have, but you’ll be well-served by the Skog BackSak without breaking the bank.

Pros:

  • Very waterproof - including a front pocket with an IPX7 rating
  • Excellent capacity without being too big; two sizes
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Real-world tested by adventurers and explorers

Cons:

  • No external storage for wet or dirty items
  • The front zipper can be finicky

Calissa Offshore Tackle Blackstar

CalissaOffshore® Fishing Tackle Backpack with 4 Tackle Boxes, Sunglass case, Waterproof Protective Rain Cover, Extra Large Tackle Gear Bag Storage Waterproof Tackle Boxes for Fishing, Camping, Hiking

Amazon 

Capacity: ?
Material: ?
Waterproof: no

Calissa’s Offshore Tackle Backpack is the option we’d choose if tackle storage is the priority. Designed around storage options and access to tackle and tools, this backpack is essentially a wearable tackle box with additional storage for lunch, sunglasses, and other must-haves.

Calissa doesn’t report the material they’ve made the Offshore from, and it’s certainly not the nylon their newer models sport. Instead, it’s thicker, tougher, and more durable, and careful attention has been paid to the details like seam quality, zipper quality, and overall construction. 

The materials used in the hardware are corrosion resistant, a huge plus for the salt.

On the bottom of this backpack, you'll find five plastic feet that keep it high, dry, and stable on deck. You’ll also find that the shoulder straps are quite comfortable, making this a great tackle storage option for angler fishing the bank.

The Offshore Tackle Backpack has plenty of well-organized storage, and it’s clearly designed by fishermen for fishermen.

At the bottom front, you’ll have access to a tackle compartment designed to accommodate four Plano 3650s (included), indeed any 3600 series boxes, as well as four massive zippered pockets on the sides, two with mesh exterior pockets. Extra line, a spare spool, pliers, sunscreen, sunglasses: everything has a place in or on this bag!

Thoughtful design means that tools are ready-to-hand: you’ll find two places to stow hemostats or pliers near the top of the bag, as well as a hard shell sunglasses case.

Inside at the top, Calissa has provided an internally divided design that allows you to carry a change of clothes, lunch, a few beverages, or pretty much anything else you’d like to bring with you to the water.

What this bag doesn’t offer, however, is dry storage, so it's not a good option for gear that must remain dry and clean no matter what.

Pros:

  • Excellent materials
  • Excellent workmanship
  • Tons of well-organized space for tackle
  • Lots of places for tools and accessories
  • Divided internal storage 

Cons:

  • ???

Buying Guide: How to Pick the Right Fishing Backpack

Dry storage vs. tackle organization

If you’re a commercial deckhand or charter captain, you need dry storage to keep a change of clothes, your phone, and other essentials clean and safe. That’s also not a bad idea for kayak and canoe anglers who have alternative tackle storage options but need dry storage for other things.

But if you’re fishing from the bank, tackle storage may be your primary need.

Pick a bag that reflects what you actually do on the water rather than fetishize waterproofing or storage options.

If you don’t need submersibility, don’t pay for it!

Durability

You want your fishing backpack to be tough, and that means surviving abrasion and sharp snags with little to no damage.

All the bags on our shortlist are made to be used, constructed from durable materials, and supplied with excellent hardware. But the gear that’s been trusted by professionals tends to get the nod from us, and Grundens and Skog have well-earned real-world reputations among people who make a living where it’s wet.

Design and waterproofing

Zippers are the enemy of waterproofing.

They offer gaps that invite water to seep through, and they need to be well-made, carefully designed, and flawlessly sealed to keep water out. They also tend to get finicky when dirty or - especially - sandy.

Overall, we prefer bags that don’t feature zippers to seal their main compartments. 

Yes, zippers make access faster, but they also offer a greater chance of leaking over the long term.

That said, Yeti, Skog, and FishPond have invested incredible time and money in getting their zippers right.

Comfort

Strangely enough, most fishing backpacks won’t be worn for long periods. Most will be carried briefly and then dropped on a deck or into a canoe or kayak.

But if you fish banks or wade streams, you’ll have your pack on quite a bit, and comfort matters.

Look for padded straps and hip belts to help distribute the load.

Final Thoughts

The best fishing backpack for you depends on exactly what you need.

If dry storage is your first concern, it’s very hard to beat the real-world-tested Grundens RumRunner. It offers plenty of storage, and it’ll keep gear like clothes and laptops clean and dry, come what may. The choice of plenty of commercial fishermen, it can take a beating like a champ without failing.

For fly anglers, a backpack like the FishPond Thunderhead is pretty much perfect. With comfy straps and an effective hip belt, this pack can ride on your back all day without a problem. It’s also been designed around the need to carry - and use - items like a landing net and hemostats while wading. And offering submersible waterproofing, there’s no need to worry should you slip and fall.

Finally, if tackle storage is your thing, look no further than Piscifun’s Fishing Tackle Backpack. Offering plenty of space to stow your lures and gear, you won’t feel undergunned on the water. It’s built tough and designed thoughtfully, and you’ll find great places for all your tools and extras.

We hope this article helped you make the right pick for your needs, and we’d love to hear from you if it has.

Please leave a comment below!

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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