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Kayak Crates for Fishing: The Best Options for Anglers in 2022

Written by: Pete D
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Kayak crates have come a long way since the humble plastic milk crate, and though that option works as well as it always has, the lack of pockets, rod holders, or a lid certainly isn’t ideal.

The good news is that kayak accessory manufacturers are listening, and from Wilderness Systems to Perception, they’re offering awesome crate options that simply bury the old milk crate in terms of user-friendly functionality.

If you’re in the market for a kayak fishing crate, we’ve got you covered.

Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorites, as well as a complete buying guide to get you up to speed quickly:

Related:

Best Kayak Fishing Crates Reviewed

Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate - Best Hard Crate for Kayak Fishing

Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate | 4 Rod Holders | Kayak Tackle Storage | Fits Most Kayaks, One Color

Amazon 

Size: 13 ¼” x 12 ¼” x 18”

Wilderness Systems is best known as a kayak company that delivers constant innovation, including modular storage and motor systems for its range of fishing kayaks. They’re more than aware of the needs of anglers, and it’s no surprise that they’ve developed a high-performance kayak crate packed with thoughtful details.

Measuring 13 ¼” x 12 ¼” x 18,” Wilderness Systems’ crate sports a footprint that’s a good bit larger than a standard milk crate. Most kayaks have stern wells that can accommodate this size in at least one dimension, but be sure to measure yours carefully before pulling the trigger.

On many crates with attached rod holders, you’re stuck with their default placement. Not only can that cause a headache for anglers who need a different orientation, but immovable rod holders also increase the space needed for a crate, exceeding its footprint by roughly 2 inches.

In the real world, that can mean the difference between a good fit and a complete waste of money.

Wilderness Systems has the experience on the water to know this, and the four included rod holders come with additional mounting brackets that give you plenty of options for raising, lowering, and angling them.

That’s a much bigger deal than it might seem, and this is an awesome solution that I’d like to see other companies adopt.

This crate’s storage is generous and well organized, too, including a locking storage compartment in the lid that’s great for organizing things you want to have ready to hand, like sunscreen, a knife, pliers, or fish grippers.

Below that storage lid, you’ll find space for as many as 10 Plano 3600s boxes or 5 Plano 3700s. That’s a ton of well-organized storage capacity, and few anglers will need more than that for items like lures, hooks, sinkers, floats, and beads.

Despite tight-closing lids, this crate is best described as “water resistant,” though splashes and spray shouldn't be an issue. Launching in the surf and taking a wave may well drench the contents, though, so if you really need dry storage, this isn’t the best option for you.

Hard points on the corners and side act like D-rings, allowing further organizing options and serving to make this crate very easy to lash down with bungees. Two strong carrying handles make it a snap to load and unload from your ‘yak, as well.

The only issue you might have with Wilderness Systems’ Kayak Crate is a bit of user error. Some anglers have had problems with the latches since the locking system uses a single latch for the lid-mounted storage bin. It’s pretty easy to leave that undone, and when opening the interior, you can dump all your tackle stored in the lid into the drink.

There’s a lot to like about this kayak crate, and it’s very easy to see why it’s a popular choice on the water.

Pros:

  • Customizable and versatile
  • Plenty of storage
  • Lid storage organizer is a good idea
  • Four included rod holders with multiple mounting options

Cons:

  • ???

Flambeau Outdoors 455TKP Tuff Krate

Flambeau Outdoors 455TKP Tuff Krate, Kayak Tackle Storage Solution, Fishing Organizer Crate, Premium, Gray

Amazon 

Size: 16 ¾” x 12 ⅘” x 15 ¼”

Flambeau Outdoors offers a Tuff Crate that’s an exceptional take on the old standard and a worthy competitor for Wilderness Systems.

At 16 ¾” x 12 ⅘” x 15 ¼”, the Tuff Krate is considerably longer and taller than a milk crate. As with the Wilderness Systems, many kayaks are equipped with stern wells that will fit the Tuff Krate, but you want to measure carefully before you order.

Its relationship to a plain plastic crate is clear, and that’s not a bad thing at all. You’ll find handles where you need them and plenty of openings to attach bungees. But given the more or less open sides, I’d like to see drain holes lower down so that there’s no chance it holds water in the bottom inch.

Storage is well thought out, departing from a simple box by offering a lid that includes an integrated storage area. That’s where I’d keep supplies that I use frequently, and it’s deep enough for pretty big replacement spools and other items that might not fit in the lid of the Wilderness Systems.

The top storage compartment latches firmly shut above a larger base that’s great for storage boxes. Together, both compartments can hold as many as 5 Flambeau 5000 series or 8 4000 series Tuff Tainers.

The Tuff Krate comes with two rod holders that snap onto one of two sides. They’re not adjustable and can affect fit, though they’re thoughtfully placed on the short sides of this crate.

Be aware that this crate sometimes ships with incomplete components. Amazon will make it right, of course, but that’s still a headache we’d hate to have.

Pros:

  • Plenty of storage
  • Lid storage organizer is a good idea
  • Two included rod holders

Cons:

  • Rod holders aren’t adjustable
  • Sometimes ships with incomplete components

Pelican Exocrate Fishing Bag

Pelican - Exocrate Fishing Bag - Large Saltwater Resistant Fishing Bag - Kayak Fishing Tackle Bag - 13' x 13'

Amazon 

Size: 15 ¼” x 14” x 12 ½”

Pelican takes a different approach to the hard crate by enclosing it in a tough bag surrounded by storage pockets and rod holders. Fitted with a carrying handle and removable shoulder strap, this is a fantastic, super-portable kayak crate innovation.

The Exocrate Fishing Bag measures 15 ¼” x 14” x 12 ½”, making it a bit bigger (obviously) than the standard-sized crate it contains. As with all the options on our shortlist, you’ll want to break out the tape measure and work carefully to ensure a good fit.

Keep in mind that the fabric rod holders on one side will be flat until you use them. When you do, they’ll need even more space.

Pelican arms this tackle bag with plenty of utility pockets for items like pliers, knives, and hemostats. Opposite those, you’ll find two fabric rod holders. To the rear, this crate bag is equipped with a large mesh pocket that’s perfect for spare odds and ends, and on the front, you’ll find a large Velcro-style storage compartment.

The top of the Exocrate is a zippered water-resistant flap that lets you access the included crate.

Those of you with experience with a standard milk crate know that you’ll have room for at least 5 Plano 3600s

Pelican’s clever design upgrades the old classic, creating lots of tackle management options. If you like the idea of portability, and a soft bag enclosing a hard crate sounds just right, look no further!

Pros:

  • Plenty of storage
  • Lots of exterior storage options
  • Two included rod holders
  • Very portable

Cons:

  • ???

Plano Kayak V-Crate

Plano PLAM80700 Kayak V-Crate Tackle Box and Bait Storage, Premium Tackle Storage, Grey/Red, One Size

Amazon 

Size: 25" x 16" x 18" (widest dimensions); 12.5” x 11” x 6” (base)

Plano is probably the top name in hard storage solutions, and now that they’ve turned their attention to kayak crates, it’s time to take notice!

Plano’s V-Crate is a stern-well storage solution that’s been carefully thought out. Larger than it may seem from the picture, the top portion offers innovative options, while the lower is sized to fit almost any kayak.

Let’s get into the details.

The 12.5” x 11” x 6” base will fit pretty much any kayak’s stern well, but you’ll want to measure just to be sure. It closes with a big, strong latch at the front, and a rear hinge lets you tilt the entire top assembly to the rear, accessing items you’ll only need once in a while.

As an added bonus, it’s water tight!

The top has two storage compartments arranged at an angle to allow access from your seat. Each side holds 2 3075 Plano Stowaways (included), giving you a fair amount of organized tackle storage.

They’re secured in place by a strap that won’t let them slide free but that still allows you to see them, so you could label each Stowaway if you wanted to tell them apart at a glance.

The top sports two shallow trays over the storage bins as well as a deep central area that can hold larger items just like a standard crate.

No rod holders are included, but they’re available as after-market add-ons, attaching the rear of the V-Crate to a rail running down each side of the unit.

I’m not sure I’m won over by this design, especially since it’s already expensive for what it is, and you’ll need to spend even more to equip the V-Crate with rod holders.

But that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, and plenty of anglers love Plano’s V-Crate.

Hard points on the front and rear provide easy places to attach bungees, and the handles are well-placed and easy to use. But unless you mount the V-Crate by its base, you won’t be able to open the storage bin. To me, that’s a strange and impractical design choice.

Overall, I think there are better tackle crates out there, but there's no questioning the innovation this product represents.

Pros:

  • Plenty of visible storage
  • Water-tight base storage
  • Fits even small stern wells

Cons:

  • No rod holders included
  • Some strange design choices

Propel Paddle Gear Ultimate Kayak Bag

Propel Paddle Gear Ultimate Kayak Bag | Durable Water Resistant 1200 Denier Material | 2 Fishing Rod Holders | Heavy Duty Zipper | Lined Accessory Storage Compartment

Amazon 

Size: ???

Like Pelican, Propel thought to design a soft storage bag that can contain a standard milk crate, surrounding the exterior of the bag with pockets and other organizing options.

So how does the Propel Paddle Gear Ultimate Kayak Bag stack up?

The footprint of Propel’s Paddle Gear Ultimate Kayak Bag should be roughly the same as a milk crate, plus an inch or two. But be aware that when you fill the pockets or load the rod holders, those dimensions will increase.

Measure your stern well carefully and look for something in the neighborhood of 14 to 15 inches of width.

Along the outside, you’ll find a large mesh pocket, a row of accessory slots with elastic retention straps, and two fabric rod holders. That provides plenty of space for gear, but I really like Pelican’s addition of a Velcro pocket. It’s something you’ll miss on Propel’s alternative.

That said, the retention straps for items like pliers, hemostats, or a knife are really nice.

The top is zippered and coated to provide at least some protection from water, and with or without a crate inside, you’ll have plenty of space to store Plano storage boxes.

At nearly identical price points, the Pelican and Propel are in direct competition, and to my mind, the Pelican’s big closable pocket allows it to pull ahead.

Pros:

  • Plenty of storage
  • Lots of exterior storage options
  • Two included rod holders

Cons:

  • No sealing pocket on the exterior

Perception Splash Kayak Crate - Best Waterproof Fishing Kayak Tackle Bag

Perception Splash Kayak Crate

Amazon 

Size: 13" x 17" x 12 ½”

Perception’s Splash Kayak Crate is a very clever option for anglers, offering lots of customizability for DIYers as well as well-designed dry storage.

With exterior dimensions of 13" x 17" x 12 ½”, most kayaks will be able to accommodate this soft-sided crate, but as with every product we reviewed today, check to be sure.

On the outside, you’ll find waterproof fabric, an ingenious lid design that’s easy to open and just as simple to seal, and lots and lots of fabric loops for attaching anything you can dream up - from rod holders to tools like pliers and knives.

You’ll also find a D-ring at each corner, ready to attach a bungee to strap this crate into place.

Inside, you’ll have space for as many as 7 3700 Plano boxes or 13 3600 Plano boxes. That’s generous, to say the least.

And since this space is going to stay dry unless you roll your ‘yak - and it might even then! - items that can’t get wet will be secure, whether that’s a sandwich or two, a cell, a GPS, or a spare shirt.

This tackle storage solution is made from durable, waterproof material that, in conjunction with a 

Perception sells its Splash Rod Holders, which are ready to go and easy to attach to the Splash Kayak Crate.

Overall, if you’re looking for a dry storage solution, this is the best option on the market.

Pros:

  • Plenty of storage
  • Lots of exterior storage possibilities
  • Waterproof

Cons:

  • Rod holders and other storage accessories are sold separately

How To Pick the Best Kayak Fishing Crate

Picking a kayak crate isn’t as simple as grabbing a popular storage solution and hitting the water. That’s because most tackle bags and boxes are designed around the needs of anglers who fish from the bank, the beach, or a boat.

Now, I’m not knocking these products, and I wholeheartedly recommend them for their intended purpose. But trying to retrieve a storage box from either of these popular tackle solutions is going to prove all but impossible in your ‘yak.

Instead, you need a tackle box that’s designed for kayak fishing.

Size

Most fishing kayaks are designed with a stern well that can accommodate a milk crate - think 13” x 13”. And since plastic crates have been a popular storage solution for years, those dimensions are more or less universally embraced by manufacturers.

Just be sure, though, you should measure your stern well carefully.

The products on our shortlist should fit most brands of kayak pretty well.

Ease of access

This is perhaps the biggest issue on a ‘yak.

Front-opening drawers, latches that can’t be reached from the seat, and tall, hard sides all cause more problems than they solve.

You just don’t have the space on a kayak for drawers, and since you’ll be twisting in your seat and reaching back, they’re a real hassle to open and access. Ditto for latches that would otherwise be a snap to open. And while deep interiors seem like a great idea, unless they're soft enough to fold or squish down, reaching the bottom can prove impossible.

For instance, I’m not really sure how you’d access the large central storage in Plano’s V-Crate from your seat. The high walls just aren’t going to let you get an arm inside unless your name is Shaquille O’Neal.

Even the standard milk crate size can be a stretch for some, so think through what you plan to store in these tall-sided containers. Storage boxes are a snap; pliers will be unreachable.

Storage options

In addition to a large space that can accommodate common tackle boxes like those from Plan or Flambeau, you want mesh, zippered, or Velcro-closure pockets and lots of spaces to store essentials in a way that makes sense to you.

D-rings are also really useful because they allow you an easy bungee solution to secure your tackle box, and they double as an attachment point for tools of all kinds.

I like to see lots of different storage possibilities, as this increases the utility of a crate quite a bit. You want a mix of large pockets, small pouches, D-rings, and holsters for tools.

Water resistance

One advantage of the milk crate is that for surf launching, it drains immediately.

But for water-sensitive items like sandwiches, that’s not so great!

There are other things that you might want to keep dry, too, but most kayak crates are water resistant rather than truly waterproof. And even the awesome Perception Splash Kayak Crate can be compromised if you get hit by a big enough wave.

Keep that in mind, and look for water-tight storage elsewhere on your kayak.

Rod holders

Most kayaks come with plenty of rod holders built-in, as well as numerous options for attaching more. But it’s almost never a bad idea to have a few rod holders on your kayak crate, too, especially if your kayak doesn’t feature behind-the-seat mounts.

On the products on our shortlist, the rod holders range from soft fabric pouches to the more stable hard plastic variety. In any case, I don’t recommend trolling from them as they're really not designed for that use.

Final Thoughts

Only you can pick the kayak fishing crate that’s right for you, but we’re confident that you won’t be disappointed by any of the products on our shortlist.

For our money, the best hard crate is the Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate. It offers plenty of hard-sided space for tackle storage boxes, and the lid storage option is really useful for your most commonly accessed items. The included rod holders are well-made and durable, and their adjustability can be game-changing for fit.

But for dry storage, our pick is the Perception Splash Kayak Crate. Big, easy to access, and as water-tight as a tackle storage solution can be, it’s a great pick for anglers who prioritize keeping their gear from getting wet.

As always, we hope that this article has helped you make the best choice for your needs and budget, and we’d love to hear from you!

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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