Classic style tackle boxes are a thing of the past for many anglers. Not only are they big and clunky, but they are not convenient at all for the modern bank fisherman or tournament co-angler. A box has lots of wasted space, does not hold much gear, yet somehow weighs a ton. Besides, nobody enjoys lugging a tackle box around bumping and banging into every rock and tree in your path.
The solution is a fishing backpack. The top backpacks today can hold all your tackle, tools, and gear while freeing your hands to hold your rod combos. Imagine how much easier it will be to negotiate your way through rough terrain to reach your fishing spots. Shore fishing becomes more enjoyable and makes it easy to grab your tackle and hop in a friend’s boat on a moment’s notice.
Top 5 Fishing Tackle Backpacks & Slings
Who Needs a Fishing Backpack?
Fishing backpacks are a relatively recent addition to the tackle storage space. They were introduced specifically with bank fishing in mind, whether ponds, streams, or rivers. Thanks to this there are some very specific advantages to tackle backpacks vs tackle boxes or tackle bags.
- Shore Fishermen – Bank anglers can perhaps benefit the most from a fishing backpack. A backpack allows you to walk hands free to all your favorite fishing holes. Your hands are free to carry a few rod and reel combos while maintaining balance on your feet. You can even fish while wearing it.
- Fly Fishermen – Fly fishing involves getting up close and personal with streams and rivers. That is no place to be fumbling with a tackle box. A small backpack or messenger bag can store all your flies and gear while you wade the waters.
- Backcountry Anglers – Serious anglers making canoe and kayak trips into the backcountry will love a fishing backpack. Whether worn on your back or lashed to the canoes, a backpack just for fishing gear makes portages and hikes much easier.
- Co-Anglers – Not much is more annoying for a boater in a tournament than a co-angler bringing a tackle bag that more resembles a piece of luggage. A backpack is far more convenient and efficient for the co-angler while keeping their boater draw happy.
Fishing Tackle Backpack Features
There are a handful of features to keep in mind when selecting a backpack for hauling tackle. Compare the bag features to how and where you fish most often.
- Tray Storage – The best tackle backpacks have large compartments perfectly sized for 2-4 utility tackle trays. This makes it easy for a fast change out tackle from your boat to your bank fishing setup.
- Gear Storage – On top of the tray storage some packs have an open gear storage compartment. Use your imagination for what can be used here, soft plastics, extra line, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- Cary Weight – All that storage is awesome but can you really carry all that tackle? Think about where you fish and if you need to haul that much gear. Smaller tackle slings are usually more than enough for day trip fishing outings.
- Build Quality – We took care to pick out only the top backpacks. Yes, they cost more than the knockoffs and imported junk, but that is because they are quality made by reputable brands.
- Special Features – We will cover this in depth in the reviews, but look for side pockets, fishing tool holders, built in lights, and hard-sided pouches to hold polarized sunglasses.
Plano Utility Box Size Chart
Here is a handy chart of common utility box dimensions for reference when you are checking out fishing backpacks.
|Tray Size:||Dimensions (LxWxH):||Compartments:|
|3700||14” x 9-1/8” x 2”||4 to 24|
|3750||14” x 9-1/8” x 2”||3 to 28|
|3600||11” x 7-1/4” x 1-3/4”||6 to 21|
|3650||11” x 7-1/4” x 1-3/4”||5 to 20|
|3500||9-1/8” x 5” x 1-1/4”||5 to 9|
1. Wild River Nomad Fishing Backpack
Pros: Huge storage capacity, unmatched materials, and build quality.
Cons: Premium-priced for a premium tackle backpack.
The Wild River Nomad is the king daddy of tackle backpacks. The Nomad is big, it’s versatile, and earns our top recommendation as the best fishing backpack for the money. The materials are top-notch, with heavy-duty nylon fabric, padded shoulder straps, and good rust proof zippers (even if they are plastic).
When empty, the Nomad weighs 4 ¾ pounds and can tip the scale over 20 pounds when fully loaded. With 5 side and back pouches, the capacity is unrivaled. With the pack being that heavy, it’s not great for fishing while wearing it, but it has a rigid base with rubber feet that can be safely set anywhere.
The Nomad includes 4 Plano 3600 utility boxes, which can be used to store crankbaits, jerkbaits, jigs, and soft plastics. There are even tool holders for fishing pliers and scissors, and a lanyard for attaching a line cutter. If you own a boat and use Plano trays, all you have to do to go mobile is grab 4 trays and slide them into the pack and you’re ready to hit the hot banks.
One minor omission is the lack of a hip strap, but there is at least a small chest strap to help secure the pack to your back and make it more comfortable to carry. A couple of features I love are the built in rain fly and the hard sided sunglasses holder perched at the very top of the pack.
The bottom line is if you are a serious bank fisherman and want the ultimate tackle backpack, look no further than the Wild River Nomad.
2. Bass Pro Shops Stalker Backpack
Pros: Sleek design, comfortable to carry, with plenty of storage for day fishing trips.
Cons: Light duty in comparison to the Wild River backpacks.
View at: Cabela’s
The newly redesigned Stalker Backpack is a wildly popular tackle pack from Cabela’s/Bass Pro. It looks much sleeker and urban than the outdoors styled packs from Wild River. Like most of Cabela’s/Bass Pro Shops branded products, the quality is very good, as proven by the high ratings by owners of the pack.
The sizing is 20”H x 12”W x 8.5”D, making it comparable to the Recon. The layout of the bag is interesting, as the three Pro-Latch 3650 size tackle trays slide out from a zippered side flap on the main compartment. The main compartment opens like a school bag, but you’ll find a half dozen lure pockets for organization.
It is nice to see a waist strap on this backpack, which really helps in the comfort over longer hikes. Another cool feature is the slot on the side that you can slip the butts of a rod or two and strap the rods to the bag during hikes. Overall, the Stalker backpack is a great option for fishermen. The versatility and quality are there and earns our recommendation.
3. Daiwa Tactical Fishing Backpack
Pros: Easy fast access to your tackle, sturdy construction.
Cons: The included tackle trays are cheap, should be replaced by Plano 3600 boxes.
Whether you hop ponds, and stalk the bank, the Daiwa Tactical Backpack can handle anything an angler might encounter. The pack looks greats, with a stylish digital camo that looks as good at the lake as it does on the street.
The layout of this pack is smart. At the bottom is a plastic frame that holds three 3600 sized tackle boxes. The frame allows the trays to be slid in and out of the pack without getting stuck. Be warned the included tackle boxes are cheap knockoffs, and you will likely want to replace them with Plano boxes.
Above the tackle storage is a bulk storage compartment for line, plastics, and whatever else you might need. There is one large side pocket opposite the tackle opening, tool holders, and a nice sunglasses case.
4. Bass Pro Shops Advanced Angler II
Pros: Excellent materials, sturdy backpack, tons of tackle storage, and included rainfly.
Cons: Smallish shoulder straps considering the large tackle capacity.
View at: Cabela’s
Cabela’s has long had awesome Advanced Angler branded gear. It now wears the Bass Pro badge, but the tough outfitter quality is still there in the 600-denier water resistant Advanced Angler II fishing backpack.
The layout is perfect, with access to four 3650 size boxes though a back zippered panel. The top compartment holds a larger 3750 box, sliding in sort of like a laptop would. On the outside there a small pouch for small 3500 box that can hold terminal tackle. There is room for soft plastics and line in the bulk storage area.
The backpack has lots of fishing convenience built in. There is a sunglass pocket, a waterproof phone pouch, tool holders, and even a rainfly that slips over the entire pack. As for comfort, the back is padded and there is a waist buckle to help take some load off your shoulders.
5. Wild River Recon Fishing Backpack
Pros: Smaller and easier to carry than the Nomad, yet still more than enough storage for most people.
Cons: Again, the price of Wild River bags are higher than most, as you pay for quality that lasts.
For those of us who do not need the massive capacity of the Nomad, we have the little brother in the Wild River Recon tackle backpack. When comparing the Wild River Nomad vs Recon, the main difference is the dimensions.
At 16.5”H x 13” W x 6.8”D, the Recon is 2.5” shorter, 4” narrower, and 1.75” thinner. The tackle tray size is downsized to the Plano 3500, but you still get four of them included with the pack. The main gear compartment is more compact, but still has a divider, and all the other side pockets are slimmed up in size.
Most of the special features of the Nomad make it over to the Recon, the main exceptions are no chest strap, protective sunglasses pouch, or rubber footed bottom. It does have the fishing pliers holder, LED work light, rain fly, and retractable lanyard for attaching line clippers.
We classify the Nomad as a near perfect backpack for taking multi-day fishing trips, like backcountry canoe tours or fly-in fishing trips. Then you have the Wild River Recon, which is much better suited for taking out on single day fishing adventures.
Need Something Smaller? Try a Tackle Sling
Don’t want or need a full-sized fishing backpack? The next best solution would be a tackle sling or messenger bag. You get the benefits of shoulder carrying a smaller amount of tackle without the heavy weight on your shoulders. These are perfect for the quick day trip to your favorite lake or river.
6. KastKing Pond Hopper Tackle Sling
Pros: Versatile lightweight tackle sling that looks as good as it functions.
Cons: Thin fabric (420D), no grab loop or shoulder strap clip.
Neither too big nor too small, the Pond Hopper sling hits the right spot for quick solo fishing trips. With enough room for the essentials, you can fish this pack out of a canoe, kayak, boat, or take it down the trail to your best shore fishing holes.
The main compartment is perfect for a 3600 utility box (or even 3700 if you push it) to hold hard lures, and the secondary zipper makes room for a smaller terminal tackle box, some soft plastics, and line. Finally, you can stash extra items on the molle loops or stash pocket on the back of the bag.
7. Spiderwire Tackle Sling
Pros: Sleek and compact design, padded shoulder strap, reversible sling.
Cons: The shoulder strap is long and may hang low or shorter anglers.
The Spiderwire Tackle Sling is a mini version of the Spiderwire Tackle Backpack. It has the same Spiderwire black and green styling with web and spider graphics. It is shaped a little like a messenger bag, but the compartments are sized for tackle boxes.
You can slide several small tackle trays into the main compartment and still have room for bags of plastic baits in the outside pocket. I also really like the fleece padded sunglasses pocket on top of the sling. For keeping tackle at the ready at school or in the car, the Spiderwire Tackle Sling is a versatile and cool looking bag.
8. Bass Pro Shops Stalker Sling Pack
Pros: Awesome on the go tackle sling. Just enough storage without too many pockets.
Cons: Does not connect to the Stalker backpack as easily as stated.
View at: Cabela’s
Like the full Stalker backpack, the new version of the Stalker Sling Pack has many 4 and 5 star reviewers and has been recently redesigned. The Sling Pack is a small, water-resistant compartment that holds 2 Plano 3650 Pro-Latch tackle trays (included).
You wear it over your shoulder with the single padded strap. It’s perfect for pond fishing, or keeping in your vehicle to make quick fishing trips after work. You can use 1 tackle tray and fill up the rest of the space with soft plastics.
If you do a lot of shore fishing, you may want to get both the Stalker Backpack and the Tackle Sling because they are designed to work together. The Sling attaches to the back of the Backpack via several loop hook and straps. Together the Tackle Sling and Backpack make the ultimate system in mobile fishing tackle storage.
9. Piscifun Cross Body Fishing Sling
Pros: Tough, multi-functional sling bag, in two sizes and multiple colors.
Cons: The standard sized sling is a bit too small, the Large size is better for fishing.
The Cross Body Sling is a stylish and versatile tackle sling from Piscifun. Available in 2 sizes and 5 color styles, there is an option for any taste. The bag is built out of 1000 denier nylon and has two rectangular storage pouches. You could honestly buy two and use one for school or work and have another in your vehicle or garage ready to go fishing.
They do not come with tackle trays, but you can fit two Plano style 3500 or 3600 size boxes you already have. If you are an ultralight fisherman, you might like the standard sized pack, but most others are going to want the Large size to fit enough tackle and soft plastics to make it work.
10. KastKing Ultralight Tackle Sling
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Pros: Slim and sleek size perfect for keeping in your vehicle for quick fishing trips.
Cons: 600D fabric not as durable as some other tackle slings.
Designed for the minimalist, the KastKing Ultralight Sling has just enough space for quick fishing trips, but not so much that it is a chore to haul around. The sling will carry a few 3600 utility trays in the main compartment and some packs of soft plastics and some fishing tools in the second pocket.
Some anglers complain about the size, but that is the beauty of it. It holds just enough to be useful, but not so much that it will weigh you down.
Which Tackle Backpack is Best for You?
- Bank Fishing – The best tackle backpack for bank fishing will be the medium-sized backpacks like the Bass Pro Stalker, Advanced Angler II, or the Wild River Recon . They have enough storage capacity to handle long or short days, as well as trips where you need to hike yourself in.
- Multi-Day Trips – The best fishing backpack for backcountry fishing and hiking trips, the Wild River Nomad is the top recommendation. It has the most capacity for tackle and gear, while also having the comfort of hauling you get with padded shoulder straps on a backpack.
- Short Trips – The best tackle sling for bank fishing are the No products found., SpiderWire Tackle Sling, or the . They are the perfect size to hold some tackle and lures while still being lightweight and mobile. A Piscifun Shoulder bag is a good alternative that also has multipurpose uses.
Featured Photo Credit: gowildriver.com / Product photos courtesy Cabelas.com or Manufactuer
Last updated 2023-06-01 at 16:57 / Affiliate Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API