Anglers these days, myself included, walk around some expensive gear when fishing and you need a great fly fishing backpack if you want it to stay safe and protected.
I walked the flats of Seychelles for three years with a $2000 Canon SLR and it’s only because I had one of the best fishing backpacks around, the FishPond Thunderhead, that it managed to survive and still works today.
|Fishpond Thunderhead Fishing Backpack||Check Today's Price|
|YETI Panga Airtight Fly Fishing Backpack||Check Today's Price|
|Simms Freestone Ambidextrous Fishing Backpack||Check Today's Price|
|FishPond Wind River Roll-Top||Check Today's Price|
|Orvis Waterproof Backpack||Check Today's Price|
Detailed Fly Fishing Backpacks Reviews
Fishpond Thunderhead Fishing Backpack
- Capacity: 28 L
- Pockets: 4
- Waterproof: Yes
- Material: 1680d TPU coated recycled Cyclepond nylon fabric
- Built tough from durable recycled materials
- Fully waterproof
- Excellent external attachment points
- Thick padded waist belt and shoulder straps
- Not many internal pockets to keep things organized
- A little expensive
The FishPond Thunderhead is one of the best fly fishing backpacks around in my opinion, and I own one so am slightly biased.
This is a waterproof backpack that is made from FishPond’s own recycled Cyclepond nylon. The outer shell is thick and rubbery and it’s secured with a waterproof zipper to ensure that all your gear stays dry, even on a wet day on the water.
Beyond being waterproof, it’s also a submersible backpack and you can even use it as a PFD (personal flotation device) as the zipper is airtight too. I’ve swum a kilometer across a creek to get to a fishing spot, and this backpack stayed afloat and actually adided my swim.
This fly fishing backpack comes with a large main compartment that will fit everything from lunch, a water bottle, and numerous fly boxes plus any other gear. Internally there are a few zippered pockets for valuables but not much else. Even fully loaded, it’s comfy to carry thanks to the padded back panel, shoulder strap, and waist belt.
Externally you’ll find attachment points for rod or rod tube, daisy chain webbing, a clip for a tippet holder, and another easy-access zippered pocket.
YETI Panga Airtight Fly Fishing Backpack
- Capacity: 28 L
- Pockets: 3
- Waterproof: Ye
- Material: Nylon with a thick TPU lamination
- Great size main compartment
- Incredibly tough
- Waterproof build
- Good attachment points
- Has a laptop sleeve
- Internal zippered pocket
- Comfortable to carry
- Watertight zipper is tough to open
- Not many pockets inside
- No waist belt
The YETI Panga Airtight Fly Fishing Backpack is another fishing backpack I have the pleasure of owning. I have to say, the Yeti Panga waterproof backpack has style and I find myself using it for everything from going to the office to wading the flats.
The outer shell of this Yeti backpack is about as tough as it could be. Nothing seems to mark it or puncture it, even when left on jagged rocks with waves crashing onto it.
The Yeti backpack is fully waterproof with a bulletproof zipper and its large storage compartment can fit all the gear you need for a day of fishing and some. Carrying all your boxes, rain gear, plus a water bottle and more is a piece of cake with these fishing packs and none of your gear will even get wet.
Inside the backpack, you’ll find a zipper mesh pocket which is ideal for valuables like your phone, and there is even a laptop sleeve at the back which doubles as a handy place to store fly boxes in an organized manner.
Externally, you’ll find webbing attachment points on the front of the backpack for any quick access gear like a net, and there are also webbing loops on each shoulder for gear like fly fishing nippers.
The only thing missing from this pack is a hip or waist belt system and a place to store a rod or rod tube, otherwise, it’s one of the best fishing packs for river, creek, or flats fishing.
Simms Freestone Ambidextrous Fishing Backpack
- Capacity: 18 L
- Pockets: 6 +
- Waterproof: Water-resistant
- Material: Nylon
- Good capacity if you like to pack light
- Comfortable to carry
- Quick and easy access to gears
- Plier and nipper holders
- Good pocket system
- Not enough storage space for all fishing needs
The Simms Freestone Ambidextrous Fishing Backpack is an awesome pack for trout fishing. Its small size has the perfect amount of storage space for all your gear while keeping it light so you can wade up the river for hours without any discomfort.
Unlike the other packs featured, this pack is water-resistant not waterproof. It’ll protect your gear if you’re on fly fishing in the rain but it’s not submersible to keep it out of the water.
This Simms pack also features a sling system, so only has one strap with a hip fastener. This allows you to leave your casting arm shoulder free, and it’s ambidextrous so works for right and left-handers too. Plus you can swing it around into a chest pack without much trouble.
You’ll find a ton of zippered pockets inside from a mesh pocket for valuables to small and large ones for leaders, sink tips, flies, rain gear so anglers can stay organized on the water. There are also external pockets and webbing for attaching extras too and a tippet pool holder.
The back panel and straps are padded so it’s comfy to carry and the chest strap features pockets specially designed for nippers and pliers.
FishPond Wind River Roll-Top
- Capacity: 32 L
- Pockets: 1 main compartment + 3
- Waterproof: Yes
- Material: Cyclepond waterproof fabric
- Fully Waterproof
- External strap for a rod/rod tube
- Retractor hoops on the shoulder
- Great storage capacity
- Removable hip belt
- Hard to access and find gear due to the roll-top
- Could have more internal pockets/ external attachments
The FishPond Wind River Roll-Top is another waterproof backpack but the difference with this pack is that it features a roll-top instead of a zipper. Roll-tops are great for durability as there is no zip to malfunction but they do make access a bit harder and it’s tough to find the gear that sinks to the bottom of the bag.
Like the other FishPond pack featured, this is also made from recycled fabric from ponds and its outer shell is super tough to abrasions and punctures. Inside you’ll find ample storage space and it features one clear stash pocket and one zippered pocket for valuables too.
Externally there are straps for anglers to carry and an extra rod on the side of the bag and it also features webbing on the shoulder straps plus two retractor hoops that can also connect to FishPond chest packs for fly fishing that are sold separately.
It’s a super comfortable bag to fish with thanks to the padded straps, back, and hip belt. The hip belt is also removable in case it gets in the way while you’re fishing.
Overall, this is an excellent pack to fly fish with but it could do with a clip to put your net on and anglers might get annoyed with the roll-top access.
Orvis Waterproof Backpack
- Capacity: 21 liters
- Pocket: 5
- Waterproof: Yes
- Material: TPU coated 500D nylon
- Handles wear and tear with ease
- Padded with waist and sternum straps
- Good amount of pockets
- Padded bottom
- Pretty expensive
- Doesn’t handle the salt well
The Orvis Fishing Backpacks hit the nail on the head when it comes to space, organization, convenience, and comfort, plus they are waterproof to keep everything dry, even if your pack takes a tumble into the water.
This Orvis pack features a large main compartment with a padded bottom to protect your camera plus two internal mesh pockets and one for valuables. Each pocket sits on the back of the pack and has its own zipper. The two mesh pockets are perfect for small items which you need to see to access.
Externally, this Orvis pack is a little limited. There is no webbing on the front for a net or anything else. There is a stash pocket though with is great for a fly box or two. On the side is a sleeve for a rod tube and a strap to secure it with, so you can always fish or guide with an extra rod stored or fully rigged.
The one thing this Orvis pack can’t handle is hot saltwater environments in my experience. I’ve seen them fall apart in just a few months on the flats, so I’d recommend only using the bag in colder freshwater environments.
Do you need a fly fishing backpack?
Every angler needs something to hold their gear in while fly fishing, whether it’s a chest, vest pack, backpack, or a dry duffel bag. But it should really be a backpack made for fishing right?
Why get a fly fishing backpack?
These style backpacks have all the features you need to hold your gear around in comfort and without having to worry about water damage, as most of them are waterproof. They are also built for fishing environments and are thick-skinned and will last a lot longer than a normal backpack.
Things to look for in the best fishing backpacks
Durability & Waterproofing
Wandering around fishing environments takes its toll on a backpack and there is a high chance your packs will end up falling into the water at some point too. Make sure you pick a fly pack that is waterproof, or at least water-resistant, so your valuable stay dry no matter the whether or river side mishaps.
The outer shell should also be also thick and tough enough to handle being scuffed on rocks and branches or slid around the bottom of boats. Materials like TPU coated nylons are excellent for this and most of the packs featured above are made from them.
Capacity & Organization
Think about what fishing equipment you tend to take with you on a day out and make sure to find a backpack that has enough space for it all without too much room to spare. A backpack that is too small isn’t going to get used, and one that is too big won’t be comfortable to haul around., plus you’ll probably end up the mule with extra space when fishing with your buddies.
Having your gear organized on the water saves a lot of time, and a backpack with a pocket or 5 makes this a lot easier. Think about your ideal layout and the things you use the most when fishing and pick a backpack that has a space for them.
Straps & Attachments
One of the most important factors when it comes to loving a backpack is how comfortable it is on your back. Look for a backpack with padded backs and straps, plus hip or waist belts, as this helps spread the load when it’s full to the brim. There are also the best hip pack in the market today if you’re interested.
Another handy feature to have is external webbing and straps to attach things like nippers, tippet rolls, nets, and even a spare rod or rod tube.
Thanks for reading my article about the best fishing backpacks. I hope you enjoyed it and found the right pack for you.
I’d highly recommend going for the FishPond Thunderhead pack, it’s by far the best in my experience. Being fully waterproof, submersible, and tough as nails, there is nowhere you can’t go fly fishing and it has all the pockets and attachment points you’d need.