Modern fishing kayaks have storage galore. Center consoles and spacious tankwells offer paddlers plenty of real estate to store tackle, rods, and other fishing essentials. But, as most boat owners know, extra space invites extra mess. Loose gear is a hazard to both you and your wallet while you’re over the water. Kayak fishing crates help solve this issue by providing much needed organization and vertical capacity.
Milk crates have long been the favored solution for quick and easy kayak storage. They’re cheap, durable, widely available, and can hold plenty of gear. Kayak Fishing Crates have evolved around these concepts and pay homage to the ubiquitous plastic milk crate. Today most manufacturers offer a bespoke version that will perfectly fit in the rear tankwell of their more popular kayak models. There’s also a wide selection of third-party brands that offer innovative storage solutions. Or if you’re not too keen on ditching your handy milk crate there are even crate-covers now that add extra functionality to the OG kayak storage solution.
The list below represents some of the best kayak fishing crates on the market. Please note that all stats listed are outer dimensions.
Soft Shell Bags
The following kayak fishing crates are made out of synthetic fabric materials and offer a lighter storage solution for your rig. Some use milk-crates as their internal skeletons while others are self-contained. These types of bags are great because they won’t weigh your yak down and double as over-sized tackle bags for fishing on land. On the flip side fabric is much more likely to catch a stray hook and these bags can’t be easily modified, unless you know how to sew.
Feelfree Crate Bag
Feelfree is one of the more popular fishing kayak brands because of their ability to deliver great value at affordable prices. That and their unique camo designs. The Feelfree Crate Bag continues the Feelfree tradition and provides anglers with a stylish and voluminous storage option that readily fits the Lure, Mokken, and Big Fish models. Feelfree opted for a fabric bag with rigid inserts to provide stability; this approach cuts down on weight and enables this crate bag to function equally well on land.
5 rod holders adorn opposite sides of this kayak crate bag while and Velcro latch pockets on the other two. A detachable wade bag on the front is convenient for storing personal effects during shoreline excursions. The internal compartments comes with semi-rigid dividers and can easily fit 14″ Plano 3600 boxes. An insulated lid offers additional protection for perishables, but this isn’t a cooler so don’t expect your ice to stay frozen. Finally the clear plastic pouch on the lid is a great place to keep a copy of your fishing license or knot tying guide.
Milk Crate Buddy
Austin Canoe and Kayak’s Milk Crate Buddy is a soft shell bag that uses a standard 12″ milk crate as its internal skeleton. The Buddy slips over a milk crate and secures it using straps and a mesh bottom for quick drying and drainage. Side pouches are accompanied by two rod holders that come with incorporated rod leashes. Four interior pockets will keep small gear and maps/documents secure.
The Milk Crate Buddy is a simple and cost effective option that’s a true value, especially since it’s made in the USA. ACK offers Milk Crate Buddy with and without a crate and both versions can often be found on sale.
Pelican’s ExoCrate looks very similar to other fabric kayak bags, however it’s got a few nifty features that set it apart. Foremost its made from 1200 denier polyester fabric. These thicker fibers provide a rugged exterior that’s also UV and saltwater resistant. A milk crate provides internal structure. Or if you’re missing a crate and don’t want to run to the store you can use the included semi-rigid inserts. These inserts will give the bag structure while still maintaining flexibility. The shoulder strap is another welcome addition that makes transport easier during long hauls.
Another useful addition is the extra loop for the lid. The lid rolls up and stays out of the way when you want persistent access or it’s just a tad too windy out. The ExoCrate is another great option for paddlers targeting the lower price range and is a handsome compliment to most Pelican kayaks.
Perception Splash Kayak Crate
Perception’s Splash Crate is a stand-alone kayak storage system, no milk crate required. This fabric square prism is spacious; it’ll easily fit seven (7) 3700 boxes or twelve (12) 3600 tackle boxes. On the exterior a linear series of horizontal loops offers dual functionality; anchor points for gear and upgrades. A triple pocket pouch, single pouch pocket, and soft shelled rod holder are all available to mount to the sides. Plastic feet on the bottom keep backsplash from flooding the base and the waterproof fabric is more than capable of keeping your gear dry.
The Perception Splash Crate is a lightweight soft-shell option that’s reasonably priced. We do wish that it came with included rod holders, however the spacious dimensions and affordable upgrades more than makes up for their absence.
Plano is synonymous with storage in the fishing industry. They’re the brand behind numerous different models of tackle boxes, storage trays, and other tackle organization systems, so it makes perfect sense for them to offer a kayak crate solution. Their approach is a soft shelled bag that adds functionality and structure to your pre-existing milk crate by sitting inside it. With a nesting bag you can easily leave the crate latched to your kayak and remove the Plano Weekend when you’re done for the day. This is an awesome time saving feature and will come in handy if you tend to switch boats frequently.
The Plano Weekend has two zippered side pouches and one zippered compartment on the lid. These internal compartment will easily fit 3600 series Plano boxes, but 3700 series are a tad too big. Two 23650 latch boxes also come included. There are no rod included with this crate bag. Rod tubes or do-it-yourself PVC rod holders are easy enough to attach to the crate if that’s a concern. The Plano weekend is one of the lightest options on our list at just 1.7 lbs. It’s a great option for paddlers who need something a little fancier than just a milk crate and want to keep their setup light and portable.
Shoreline Marine Propel Ultimate Kayak Bag
Shoreline’s Kayak Bag is another soft shell case that uses a standard sized milk crate for its internal structure. The durable canvas fabric and zippered lid will have no problem keeping your fishing gear dry. Mesh pockets adorn two exterior panels and two fabric rod holders will handle all but the beefiest of rods with ease. Tie downs on each corner provide anchor points for lashing cords or the rod holders can double as catch points for bungees.
This kayak bag isn’t super fancy or complicated. It takes a simple approach towards kayak organization by capitalizing on a proven and versatile system. The Shoreline Marine Propel Ultimate Kayak Bag offers great value for die-hard milk crate enthusiasts, or paddlers searching for a simple solution. We’d also consider this as a great backup-crate to keep in the car for overflow gear and quick tackle swap outs.
Hard Shell Kayak Crates
The following products are true kayak fishing crates. In general they’re made of more durable materials like plastic and HDPE. Rigid crates offer a more resilient structure to house your fishing gear in. Strong bones make these crates easy to modify; most can be fit numerous rod holders, gear track, or extra tie down points. The tradeoff for a stiffer box is weight and price. These fishing crates are often much heavier and pricier than their fabric-only cousins.
CleverMade Collapsible Milk Crate
A standard sized milk crate has internal dimension of 12″x12″x10.5″, which is perfect for fitting four 1 gallon milk jugs. These crates are incredibly strong for their weight, can be stacked for storage, and permit airflow during storage. In short they’re a nearly perfect functional object, which would make you think it’s impossible to improve on. CleverMade’s collapsible milk crate adds in one just one small tweak to make the milk crate even better.
The collapsible milk-crate expands and breaks down in seconds to store in a much smaller form factor. This feature might not seem like a big deal. But it’s incredibly handy when you’re off the water. When you’re not using your crate on the yak it won’t take up garage space. The CleverMade Collapsible Milk Crate is a cool product that takes a time-tested design and kicks it up a notch. It comes in a three pack, weighs just 2 lbs, and can hold up to 50 lbs of kayak fishing gear.
Engel 19 Quart With Rod Holders
|Model||Length||Width||Height||Weight (lbs)||# of Cans|
|Engel 19 Quart||16.5"||11.25"||12.75"||6.75||30|
|Engel 30 Quart||19"||12.5"||14.5"||7.5||48|
The Engel 19 Quart Cooler isn’t so much a kayak crate as it is a kayak cooler. Nevertheless this is the first and only option on our list that can effectively double as storage for both gear and whatever you catch. The Engel 19 is small enough to fit in most tankwells, but unlike most kayak crates this cooler can keep 30 cans cold for the day. Two rod holders on each side offer ample room for different setups both on and off the water.
The Engel 19 is fabricated with injection molding technology, which is not the same as rotomolded. This coolers is classified as a “dry box” so you shouldn’t expect your ice to last for 10 days. We also don’t know why you need ice to last 10 days on a kayak. A small tray rides the inner rims and is useful for small tackle storage. The Engel 19 is a slick and affordably priced cooler that’s great if you’re out fishing for supper.
Flambeau Tuff Crate
Flambeau got its start in the plastic industry making toy frogs in Bruce, Wisconsin in 1947. Today they make car parts, medical supplies, and everything in between. Their brand Flambeau Outdoors has made big waves with the Flambeau Tuff Krate and its quickly become one of the most popular kayak fishing crates available. The Tuff Krate features a double lid system. The top lid has a shallow compartment that’s great for storing small and loose items. The lower voluminous cavity can hold up to 5 Flambeau 5000 series trays, or 8 Flambeau 4000 series trays.
The Flambeau Tuff Krate comes with two rod holders and can fit an extra two rod holders on the opposite side for a total of 4. Stronger latches keep your lids closed under tough conditions. And the mix of solid and vented sides offers plenty of mounting options for diy mods. We especially like a piece of foam under the bottom for temporary crankbait storage. If you’re looking for a stylish and functional kayak fishing crate at a reasonable price than just ask yourself – are you tuff enough?
Hobie H Crate
|Hobie H Crate||17.45"||14.14"||13"||5.8|
|Hobie H Crate Jr||14"||14"||13"||5.08|
Hobie’s answer to kayak storage crates is the H Crate and its younger brother, H Crate Jr. The H Crate is a modular crate that can fit a wide variety of both Hobie and 3rd party accessories. More so than other crates on this list the H Crate can fit rod holders in a dizzyhing array of configurations. Vertical holders can be mounted to the sides to compliment the 4 built in rod holders on each corner. The H-Rails on top, which double as handles, can also fit any of the Hobie H rail accessories such as the tackle bin, mini bin, or our favorite – the horizontal rod holder.
The Hobie H Crate is a stylish and well put together kayak crate with abundant possibilities for customization within the Hobie ecosystem. The only complaint we can really come up with on this is the price; it’s easily one of the most expensive crate on this list. The age old adage of you get what you pay for rings true here though; the H Crate offers the complete package for adding storage to your yak.
The NuCanoe BlackPak is the result of a collaboration between NuCanoe and BlackPak. This design makes a few tweaks to the original in order to provide a better fit for the NuCanoe lineup. To begin with NuCanoe’s version shaves an inch off of the length and replaces the hinges. These new hinges replace the originals para-cord hinge in order to deliver a smoother and quieter open and close. The anterior corners feature built in tracks that accept t-bolt accessories; these corners are great for adding a camera stick or hi-vis flag.
Finally the top lid is reinforced with a buckle strap for extra security during transport. The bungee latch makes access quick and easy when you’re on the water. If you’re already rocking a NuCanoe kayak then definitely consider this version of the BlackPak for your storage needs.
Wilderness Systems Kayak Krate
Wilderness Systems Kayak Krate is the mac daddy of fishing crates. It elevates the kayak crate form and function to a new level. This blow-molded kayak crate’s cavernous 29L interior can fit eight Plano 3600 boxes, each of which has 21 adjustable compartments. For those of you who can’t math as you well as you paddle that’s 168 different lures. If you need more than that then maybe you should start considering live bait or you know, a new hobby.
The translucent top lid lifts to reveal shallow storage for quick grab lures and bait changes. Six tie downs around the perimeter will keep the krate safe during any yard-sale situations. Four rod tubes come with the krate along with four tube extenders. The tube extenders provide additional clearance for the rod tubes for narrower tankewells. Rod holders can also be mounted at an angle to give you a fighting chance when you drift under low hanging tree branches.
The Wilderness System Kayak Crate is not inexpensive, but this is the last crate you’ll ever buy. In fact we’re pretty confident your kids will fight over this if you don’t spell it out in your will.
Yak Attack BlackPak
The Yak Attack Blackpak is one of the most ubiquitous kayak fishing crate solutions out there. Made from the same stuff that your kayak is this HDPE crate offers creative paddlers a blank canvas for both mods and decorations. Pre drilled holes on the sides permit the easy addition of additional fishing rod holders. In fact you can outfit this fishing crate with up to 10 rod holders total for maximum storage. The top lid relies on a simple paracord hinge and can accommodate mighty mount track for extra accessory mounting options.
Starboard HDPE construction makes the Blackpak easy to modify with additional hardware. Pre-drilled holes on the top will fit Yak Attack’s Mighty Mount accessories. Or you can add a gear track on the top rails for easier on-the-fly adjustments. The matte black sides are also great for mounting some stickers or flair from your favorite tackle store. Just remember that 15 is the minimum for flair. Now, you know it’s up to you whether or not you want to just do the bare minimum. Or… well, like Brian, for example, has thirty seven pieces of flair, okay. And a terrific smile.
YakGadget LowPro Crate System
|LowPro Crate XD||17.5"||17"||12.5"||10.9|
YakGadget is an American company that designs and fabricates high quality after-market parts for fishing kayaks. Their LowPro crate system offers paddler’s an eye-catching and highly functional design that’s been giving other kayak brands a run for their money. One of the most frustrating aspects of upright crates is navigating tackle boxes around lid lips – it’s easy to get snagged on a corner. This crate solves that problem with an angled front that keeps Plano’s easy to retrieve.
The LowPro Crate comes in two different varieties; the LowPro Crate and LowPro Crate XD. Both versions are made from sturdy 3/8″ thick HDPE and come with an attractive and rugged soft-cover with dry pocket. The XD features 6 rod holders while the regular version has 3. Additionally the XD model can hold both 3700 and 3600 sized tackle trays horizontally. The regular version stores 3700 trays length-wise and 3600 trays horiziontally. Check out the YakGadget LowPro crate system if you’re interested in supporting a cool company making even cooler gear.
Overview on the Best Kayak Fishing Crates
Kayak crates offer paddlers an effective way to store their gear and organize their tackle. Whether you’re considering a commercial option like the ones above or doing it yourself just make sure not to go overboard with loading your rig. It’s tempting to use these crates as a catch-all for every piece of tackle you own. Not only does this make your crate chaotic, it also makes any capsize exponentially worse. As somebody who has lost plenty of gear on the water I highly recommend being selective with what you bring. Finally, let us know what you think the best kayak fishing crate is. And make sure you throw some flair on your crate for extra style points.
Now that you’ve got your gear in one place make sure you’re boat does the same. Check out our guide to kayak anchors to stay on top of those monstahs.