Top 5: Fishing Travel Bags

March 19th, 2014| No Comments

In search of the perfect luggage for your next fishing trip? Here are our top picks, from budget to luxury…

Bargain Option: Army Duffel Bag

Price: from $20/£10

Fishipedia Top 5: Fishing Travel Bags - Army DuffelWhy we like them… 

  • They’re built to last – anything that’s capable of transporting a soldier’s kit to a war-torn jungle or desert should be able to withstand the rigours of an average fishing trip.
  • They’re large but lightweight – the absence of wheels, extendable handles, rigid compartments and, well, pretty much anything that might qualify as “extra” keeps the weight to an absolute minimum. That means more valuable allowance to be used up on the stuff that matters – fishing gear. The larger sizes are usually upwards of 35” in length, meaning they’ll easily take a 4-piece 9-foot fly rod or similar multi-piece spinning outfit.
  • We like the schlub factor – eagle-eyed, light-fingered baggage handlers are far less likely to suspect some beaten-up duffel bag of containing your beloved fly-fishing arsenal.
  • They cost peanuts - that means less pain should you have to replace it for any reason.

On the downside… 

  • They’re not that much fun to carry – if you’re young, strong, willing and able, these things are fine. If you’re a bit older, or possibly a bit lazier, you’re going to get bored of not being able to pull out a nice little handle or throwing a comfy padded shoulder strap across you.
  • There’s always the packability issue, too. You can get plenty of stuff in these things, but top-loading all your gear means you have to take it all out when you realise the one thing you suddenly really need is buried somewhere near the bottom.

Tech Spec 
Dimensions - larger sizes are around 36” x 12”; Weight - approx 1.5kg

Want one? Buy one here. UK folks, click here

>> More bargain options: Traveler’s Club Adventurer Duffel ($45); army deployment bag (search on eBay)


Budget Option: Lifeventure Expedition Duffel 120

Price: from $90/£50

Fishipedia Top 5: Fishing Travel Bags - Lifeventure Expedition Duffel 120Why we like them…

  • Simplicity is the key here – with a capacity of 120 litres, these things are huge. If you can’t get everything you need for a fishing holiday in here, you might want to reconsider your packing list. Made from tough 1280-denier fabric, it has one main compartment, a reinforced base with integrated wheels, and top and side grab handles to make it easy haul around.


  • It’s light and long – the Expedition Duffel weighs in at 2.1kg; impressive for a wheelie case this big and strong. At 850mm long (just over 33 inches) this will easily take your 4-piece 9-footer. And when you’re done with it, the whole thing folds away into a nice little compact package.

On the downside…

  • Points off for the lack waterproofing, but at this price, you’re hardly expecting that. And if you’re the kind who likes a neat side pocket to hold your passport and paperwork, you won’t find them here. Nor will you find separate compartments for your reels, or somewhere to stow wet gear. This bag doesn’t do flashy and clever – it does big and strong.

Tech Spec
Capacity – 120 litres; Dimensions – 14” x 33” x 15”; Weight – 2.1kg

Want one? Buy one here

>> More budget options: Grundens Gage 105 Liter Shackelton Duffel Bag ($80)


Mid-Range Option: Simms Dry Creek Duffel 

Price: $169/£129

Fishipedia Top 5: Fishing Travel Bags - Simms Dry Creek DuffelWhy we like them…

  • This is a little like the shinier, flashier brother of the Lifeventure. With a 122-litre capacity, it ticks off the “cavernous” box with ease and despite its unfussy appearance, there’s plenty of the gadgety goodness you’d expect from the people at Simms. There’s a gear engulfing roll top with double buckle closures, a padded shoulder strap and carry handles. This thing is basically bomb-proof, not to mention waterproof.


On the downside…

  • It’s big – in itself, that’s no bad thing, but given the amount of stuff we take on fishing trips, it’s likely to get heavy. With that in mind, you might just rue the absence of some wheels when you’re hauling it through the airport – at least you will if, like some of us round here, your back’s little creakier than it used to be.
  • One other gripe: I’m never completely relaxed about having the logo of a renowned fishing company on my bag – it feels like a badge that says “Hey! Look! Expensive gear this way!” If that’s a concern you share, you might want to consider the North Face equivalent (the Base Camp Duffel) – it’s not built specifically with fishermen in mind, and you won’t get the same degree of waterproofing, but it’s similar enough.

Tech Spec
Capacity – 122 litres; Dimensions - 33″ x 15″ x 15″; Weight – 45oz/1.3kg

Want one? Buy one here. UK users, buy here.

>> More mid-range options: North Face Base Camp Duffel ($135); Helly Hansen Travel Duffel 120L ($130/£110) 


Top-End Option: Orvis Safe Passage Rolling Vented Duffle

Price: $259/£259

Fishipedia Top 5: Fishing Travel Bags - Orvis Safe Passage Rolling Vented DuffleWhy we like them…

  • The appropriately named Safe Passage combines brains and brawn. The inline wheels make it easy to cart around, and there are handles at either end to help you haul it off the baggage carousel with ease.
  • But it’s what’s inside that really counts. This is the Clark Kent of fishing bags – a traditional, ever-so-slightly-drab exterior belies an inner power house, where you’ll find a roomy main compartment with two mesh pockets, compression straps, and enough room to store your clothes, reels, fly boxes and who knows what else. The sturdy drop-bottom compartment will hold 9-foot 4-piece rod cases, and there are vented compartments for wet waders.
  • It’s not as cavernous as some of the other bags here, but there’s enough room – plus, the reinforced base means you can transport your precious gear with peace of mind. You’re more likely to break en route than anything in this bag.


On the downside…

  • Falls down slightly in terms of capacity, but that’s the trade-off if you want something this sturdy. It also weighs in at 4.7kg before you’ve put anything in it – that’s a hefty portion of weight to give away. And of course, just like the Simms, that maker’s mark does tend to give away what’s likely to be hidden inside.

Tech Spec 
Capacity – 117 litres; Dimensions – 31″ x 16.5″ x 14″; Weight – 4.7kg

Want one? Buy one here. UK folks, buy here.

>> More top-end options: William Joseph Terrestrial Duffel ($240/£200); Cabela’s Outback Series Wheeled Drop-Bottom Duffel ($219)


Luxury Option: Fishpond Westwater Large Rolling Duffel 

Price: $389/£299

Fishipedia Top 5: Fishing Travel Bags - Fishpond Westwater Large Rolling Duffel Why we like them…

  • For this amount of money, you’re expecting a whole lot of bag – and that’s exactly what you get. It was a close call on whether this category should have been headed up Fishpond’s Rodeo 31 Rolling Duffel or this one. Honestly? Either one will be your loyal servant for years, but given the 31’s similarity to the Orvis Safe Passage (see above), we went with the Westwater.
  • Like the best luggage, it’s simple but super-effective. It’s roomy, if not as capacious as some of the others in this list. With a length of over 30 inches and a capacity of 105 litres, it’ll take plenty of gear in its water-resistant main compartment. Inside it’s got just the right level of organizational capability – a see-through, laminated waterproof pocket under the lid, removable liner, and a further zippered compartment along the interior side wall.
  • What else? Rugged ball bearing wheels for easy travel, padded nylon webbing handles, lash-down points, exterior accessory pouch and oversized zipper pulls.
  • But perhaps the bag’s biggest strength is its lightness. Thanks to its simplified design, it weighs substantially less than many other rolling duffels out there, without compromising on quality. That means more room for more gear and less chance of you getting hit with excess baggage fees.


On the downside… 

  • There’s no getting away from it – that’s a serious amount of money to spend on a bag. According to Fishpond, this bag is for when “you absolutely, positively have to haul every piece of gear you own into the wettest place possible”. How often do you find yourself doing that? Not often enough, probably. That being said, once you’ve bought one of these, you should be set for life.

Tech Spec 
Capacity – 105 litres; Dimensions – 30.5″ x 14.25″ x 15″; Weight – 3.9kg

Want one? Buy one here. UK folks, buy here

>> More luxury options: Orvis Battenkill Rolling Duffel ($450/£400); Patagonia Black Hole Wheeled Duffel ($349/£210) 


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