Top 5 Best Fly Fishing Backpacks (2020 Buyer’s Guide)

// Written by Leonard Schoenberger

The last thing you want is your essential gear to get wet.

That’s why you need a waterproof fly fishing backpack. Imagine yourself in a remote place on a long planned trip somewhere in the wilderness. What is the last thing you need out here? Worries about your gear being kept dry. The solution is a waterproof fly fishing backpack that you can haul anywhere. Everything inside will stay dry even when fully submerged. This is crucial if you want to bring a camera or other electronic equipment along on a trip.

The Yeti Panga 28 Waterproof Fly Fishing Backpack

In this review we want to show you five options for great quality products that have different strengths and weaknesses.

Which are the best Fly Fishing Backpacks?

Of course there are other manufacturers out there producing waterproof backpacks. We chose these five for a couple of reasons: they are all fully submersible featuring the T-Zip zippers that have proven incredibly durable over the years. They have different shapes and sizes giving you a choice to select your preferred type of backpack.

The Patagonia Stormfront 30l Waterproof Fly Fishing Backpack

All three brands have proven over and over again how durable their products are. No, they ain’t cheap but the products will last a very long time making them possibly cheaper than buying several backpacks within the same timespan.

Casting a fly wearing the Ortlieb Atrack Waterproof Backpack

Yeti Panga 28 Fly Fishing Backpack

American brand Yeti has made a big name for themselves in the industry in recent years. They have gained a huge fan base amongst outdoor lovers, in particular for their great coolers. But their bags are not less impressive and are used by fly fishing guides all around the globe. Why is that?

The Yeti Panga 28 Waterproof Backpack

The Yeti Panga focuses on the essentials. Its shape seems a bit bulky at first but the upside of this design is the huge space inside the backpack. Yeti calls the shell fabric “Thickskin Shell” – rightly so. The material almost feels like an elephant skin and is extremely durable. It is highly puncture and abrasion resistant so you can literally haul it anywhere in the wild.

Yeti Panga 28 Waterproof Backpack
The Yeti Panga 28 Waterproof Backpack “Pull Hard” Zipper

In combination with the HYDROLOK Zipper the Yeti Panga 28 is guaranteed to keep your gear bone dry. To understand how tough the zipper is, Yeti added a little note to the handle reading “pull hard”. If you’ve never used such a waterproof zipper before you will be surprised how hard you have to pull indeed.

The inside of the Yeti Panga 28 features a laptop sleeve and a mesh pocket for essentials

The inside of the Yeti Panga 28 fly fishing backpack is just as simple as the outside. It features a laptop sleeve pocket that can hold a 15″ laptop. You can tell that professionals rely on the Yeti Panga when they absolutely need to make sure their gear is safe from rain and moisture. A small mesh pocket inside can be used to store essentials such as a fishing license.

The Yeti Panga 28 Fly Fishing Backpack side handle

On the outside the Yeti Panga 28 features a number of loops to attach extra gear such as a landing net for example. On the top and side of the backpack are handles that make the backpack easy to carry around when not worn on your back.

The Yeti Panga 28 Fly Fishing Backpack is comfortable to wear

The wide DryHaul shoulder straps make the Yeti Panga 28 very comfortable to wear even after hours on the water. If you need extra support there is a removable waist belt and chest strap.

Verdict: Yeti Panga 28 Fly Fishing Backpack

The Yeti Panga 28 is a great option if you want a large waterproof backpack that can hold a lot of gear. It is the right choice for professionals who want to bring electronic gear such as a camera or laptop on a trip. Due to its rock solid construction it is a piece of equipment that will last you a long time. For smaller people it can be a bit bulky when wearing it while casting. Overall an excellent choice.

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Patagonia Stormfront Pack 30l

The Patagonia Stormfront Pack 30l has become a classic fly fishing backpack over the past years. It has undergone small iterations that make it a top waterproof backpack.

The Patagonia Stormfront Pack 30l

Its shape is a bit rounder and less stiff than the YETI Panga 28. This makes it a bit more comfortable and less bulky to wear. Just like the YETI the Patagonia Stormfront 30l is made of a tough fabric that features a combination of nylon and a TPU coating making it 100% waterproof and fully submersible. The TIZIP Zipper is as sturdy as they come and guarantees that your valuables inside stay dry.

The Patagonia Stormfront 30l Waterproof Backpack is the only one with an outside pocket

In comparison to the other two models we tested the Patagonia Stormfront 30l Pack is the only one with a small exterior pocket. It is not waterproof but comes in handy to store small items such as a fishing license, a smartphone or car keys.

You can tell the Patagonia Stormfront 30l Pack is made for fly fishermen

On the side of the backpack the Patagonia Stormfront 30l Pack features two webbing loops that allow you to attach a rod tube – a very nice feature and a standalone on top.

An extra rod attached to the webbing loops of the Patagonia Stormfront

Besides the webbing loops the Patagonia Stormfront waterproof backpack features additional loops on its frontside where you can attach additional gear.

The inside of the Patagonia Stormfront 30l Pack is kept simple like the YETI. There is a mesh pocket that can store essentials like a car key, fishing license, smartphone or wallet. Everything else goes into the one big compartment.

The straps of the Patagonia Stormfront 30l Pack are comfortable and wide enough to distribute the weight. Wearing the waterproof backpack all day is not tiring. The Patagonia Stormfront feels a bit smaller than the YETI overall which is also due to its less bulky shape. This makes it easier to bring along in a duffle bag for example since its pack size is smaller.

Verdict: Patagonia Stormfront 30l Fly Fishing Backpack

The Patagonia Stormfront 30l Waterproof Backpack has been made for fly fishermen and women. Besides its incredible sturdiness we love the webbing rings to attach a rod tube and the handy small outside pocket for easy access. At this level of product quality it’s the small things that make the difference. The Patagonia Stormfront 30l Pack is also a great choice for women thanks to its smaller silhouette. Comes in black and grey.

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Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack

Fishpond is a brand that has made a name for itself as an innovative fly fishing gear company. Their Tacky fly boxes are hugely popular. Their waterproof backpack are of great quality as well.

The Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible has all the features you ask for in a fly fishing backpack. It is fully submersible and hence keeps your most precious gear such as a camera dry at all times. Made from 1680d TPU coated recycled Cyclepond nylon it also features the indestructible T-Zip Zipper.

You can comfortably carry the Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack all day since it features padded shoulder straps. For additional comfort it comes with two straps, one at the waist and one around your hip, to ensure a tight fit.

Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack Sideview – Photo: Fishpond

On both sides the Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible features straps to attach additional gear such as a fly rod or fly fishing net. On the front it features a small outer pocket to hold essentials. This pocket is water resistant but not waterproof.

The Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible is compatible with other Fishpond products such as the Fishpond Thunderhead Chest Pack. It comes in three colors: Yucca (the color you see on the pictures), Cutthroat Orange and Riverbed Camo.

Verdict: Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack

The Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack is an excellent choice if you want to invest in a high quality long lasting fly fishing backpack. At $299 it does not come cheap but is loaded with features that will make your fly fishing experience even better.

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Orvis Waterproof Backpack

The Orvis Waterproof Backpack has been on the market for a few years and is still one of the most popular fly fishing backpacks out there. There is a reason for that: it has everything you need in a fly fishing backpack and Orvis’ quality has a long reputation.

Orvis Waterproof Backpack
Orvis Waterproof Backpack – Photo: Orvis

Made from TPU coated 500D nylon, the Orvis Waterproof Backpack features a waterproof YKK® Flexseal zipper that ensures everything inside stays dry no matter the conditions. The additional outer zip pocket comes in handy to store small items. It is water resistant but not waterproof.

Orvis Waterproof Backpack Front Pocket
Orvis Waterproof Backpack Zippered Front Pocket – Photo: Orvis

Like all of the other brands, the Orvis Waterproof Backpack features a great shoulder strap system that provides comfort for a long day on the water. Additional straps at the waist and hip ensure a solid fit when needed.

Orvis Waterproof Backpack – Photo: Orvis

The Orvis Waterproof Backpack is very thought through. On the shoulder straps you can attach additional gear such as a pair of pliers or extra tippet spools. On the side it features several other storing options for a water bottle or to attach an extra rod.

Orvis Waterproof Backpack – Photo: Orvis

The inside pocket system is elaborate as well when compared to other brands. Most waterproof fly fishing backpacks only have one separate inside pocket. The Orvis Waterproof Backpack features a number of zippered pockets which is great if you want to store your phone and your keys separately to prevent scratches.

Verdict: Orvis Waterproof Backpack

The Orvis Waterproof Backpack is a premiere fly fishing backpack. You can’t go wrong with it and it will last you a long time. We really like the inner pocket system which gives you additional flexibility. Great product warranty as well.

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Ortlieb Atrack Waterproof Fly Fishing Backpack

At this year’s ISPO (the world’s biggest sports fair in Munich, Germany) we strolled by the booth of Ortlieb, the famous manufacturer of waterproof bike bags. I have always been a fan of their long lasting products. When taking a closer look the Atrack caught my eye.

The Ortlieb Atrack Waterproof Backpack

It is the first waterproof backpack that opens like a travel bag taking a completely different approach than conventional backpacks. It makes accessing gear deep down in the backpack a lot easier.

The Ortlieb Atrack is accessed like a travel bag

Besides the different access system with a number of zippered pockets inside, the Atrack features a great shoulder and waist strap system making it the most comfortable to wear.

Ortlieb Atrack Waterproof Backpack
The Ortlieb Atrack features a number of neat pockets on the outside

The Atrack boasts a number of outside pockets that are very thought through. A bottle holder on the side, and zippered pockets on the outside of the waist straps to store essentials. These pockets are not waterproof of course but provide easy access to things like a car key, a wallet or smartphone.

The various straps of the Ortlieb Atrack Waterproof Backpack make attaching gear simple

The Ortlieb Atrack was not specifically designed for fly fishing. It features a number of straps that make attaching gear very easy. If you like skitouring in the winter the Atrack is a great choice since you can attach your skis using the strap system. The padded shoulder straps make it a fantastic overall backpack choice for various activities.

Ortlieb Atrack 35l Waterproof Backpack
The Ortlieb Atrack Waterproof Backpack is very lightweight and comfortable to wear

The fabric of the Ortlieb Atrack consists of PVC-free nylon that does not feel as sturdy as the YETI and Patagonia at first glance but the products of Ortlieb are unimpeachable and have stood the test of the toughest conditions around the world. Combined with the TIZIP zipper the Atrack is 100% waterproof.

Verdict: Ortlieb Atrack 35l Waterproof Backpack

The Ortlieb Atrack is a great choice for outdoor lovers that want to make sure their gear stays 100% dry. I am a big fan of multiple use items hence I love the versatility of the Atrack. The revolutionary access system is great for a weekend trip for example. The Atrack’s fabric feels softer than YETI’s and Patagonia’s and hence is a bit more comfortable to wear. The Atrack is available in three different sizes and colors.

Price point: $290