Rigging a kayak is no simple task. Once you’ve loaded your kayak with tackles, poles, and other kayak accessories, you’ll be running out of space, which can be a problem when you're paddling away from shore.
It’s pretty easy to make a mess of disorganized items on your kayak if you don’t know how to utilize your gear. If you end up spending more time decluttering your kayak, you won’t have enough time to remove hooks from fish or enjoy your kayaking trip in general.
When it comes to fishing crate options, there’s an array of products both on online and brick-and-mortar shops: beginner-level, purpose-built, basic, and modified models, all of which have varying degrees of usability.
But before we introduce you to the best kayak fishing crates out there, you’ll need to understand what fishing crates are and why seasoned anglers own more than one of those handy products.
Fishing Crates: What Are They and Why Do We Need Them?
Once you start paddling your way through uncharted waters, you'll soon realize that space can be limited to a great extent, which can reduce your fishing time. This where a fishing crate comes in.
Fishing crates are basically the extra storage space you’ll need when you don’t have enough room to spare for your tackle, fishing gear, lures, and spare parts. They’re also relatively affordable and available, which is why no kayak fishing trip should go without a fishing crate.
Fishing crates are usually affixed to a kayak’s tank well. However, as you may have guessed, they come in different sizes, so you must pay attention to the dimensions of any fishing crate as well as the dimensions of the tank well in your kayak.
Like all kayaking gear, you'll find different types of fishing crates, like milk crates, modern and collapsible fishing crates, and we'll further explore these types later on in this guide. Once you get a compatible model, you'll need to mount it on your kayak, which can be quickly done using clips, D-rings, and bungee cords.
Since tank wells become wet fairly quickly, fishing crates need water-resistant padding to keep them in place and secure your tackle. Expert anglers usually use non-slip materials, such as soft silicone or non-slip pads, though not all fishing crates come with non-slip padding of their own.
Although all of these models work on increasing your vertical storage, some of them have extra handy features that might be useful to you, like waterproof properties or built-in rod holders. You can choose between those models depending on your needs.
Since this is an essential fishing accessory, some anglers substituted these crates with milk crates found at any grocery chain and DIY-ed their own extra space. While this is an excellent idea, DIY crates might not be the best in terms of durability or usability, for that matter.
Moreover, the making materials of any brand fishing crate are top-of-line; they can be quite sturdier and durable than DIY fishing crates' materials. Considering the various handy features that fishing crates have and their affordability, brand fishing crates certainly will fare better than DIY ones.
To sum it up, a fishing crate is an excellent accessory. It’s highly effective when it comes to vertical storage and organization, so you’ll need them to store your tackle every time you go fishing.
However, you’ll have to ensure that your items are well secured, as gear can be easily lost, especially if your kayak capsizes. If you’re a newbie angler, it’s highly recommended that you don’t bring all your gear at once. Select only the essentials to reduce the risk of losing equipment.
Since there’s no definitive answer when it comes to the best fishing crate on the market, we’ve provided you with an assortment of the best models you can find, so without further ado, here’s everything you need to know.
The 5 Best Kayak Fishing Crates
With that said, let’s dive into the minutest details of every model, and you’ll surely find the best one for you.
1. Plano PLAM80700 - Best Overall
This Plano PLAM80700 kayak v-crate tackle box is perhaps one of the best models out there. Boasting a unique V-shape, intriguing colors, and various compartments, this model will work well for anglers, novices, and experts alike.
You may think that the V-shape might not be the most versatile design when it comes to installation, but it actually makes it easy to access your tackle and gear whenever you need it, especially if low mobility is one of the main issues you face while fishing.
Plus, it makes up for the hard installation with the angled rubber straps at the crate's sides that make it easy to view the contents of the crate.
The Plano PLAM80700 is lightweight, versatile, and has several compartments to allow you to categorize your tackle as you see fit, something that you won’t always find in other models. It also has a side rail system, which you can easily use to attach rod holders.
Although the compartment at the bottom is the only water-resistant part of the crate, there’s a drain hole at the back to get rid of any trapped water.
Lastly, the crate tackle box has a side rail system to which you can attach rod holders or any accessory type.
- Highly versatile
- The V-shape design allows for easy gear access
- Rubber legs prevent slipping
- Waterproof bottoms help store valuables
- Relatively large, making it hard to install on a kayak’s front
The Plano PLAM80700 crate will work best for those with plenty of fishing gear and tackle to pack on their next kayak trip. Considering that it’s highly versatile, portable, and relatively affordable, it can work for any beginner angler.
2. Wilderness Systems - Runner-Up
Large compartments make it easy to store as many items as you need. If that’s what you’re looking for, the Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate is certainly for you. This model has one large main compartment in addition to the lid, which houses a storage space as well. So, space is no longer a limitation!
What’s great about this crate is that it fully protects your items once it’s sealed shut. Make sure to place your valuable items inside the crate and seal it shut with the lashes for optimal protection.
The Wilderness Systems crate is fairly easy to assemble, thanks to its simple design. In fact, you won’t have to assemble any parts, so you’ll be able to use it as it is once you purchase it.
Although it’s the heaviest crate you’ll find on this list, it has a high carry capacity (about 29 liters). It’s 18 inches deep, 13.25 high, and 12.25 wide. Therefore, it can be a bit bulky, but it’s perfect for those who need to pack large items for their kayaking trip.
Additionally, this is one of the sturdiest and most durable crates an angler could use; it’ll fit in most kayaks’ tank wells, and it can also be installed on top of a kayak, unlike Plano models.
Also, the Wilderness Systems comes with four rod holders, which you can adjust to a higher position with risers if you have a narrower tank well.
- Highly durable compared to other models
- Incredibly sturdy
- Overall great quality
- You won’t need to assemble any parts
- Slightly pricey for a fishing crate
- The top compartment latch can be mistakenly unlocked
If you're looking for versatility, large storage, and durability all in one model, the Wilderness Systems will undoubtedly be for you. However, it might not be easy to carry around, so make sure your gear deserves the package that comes with it!
3. Flambeau Outdoors 455TKP - Most Durable
The Flambeau Outdoors 455TKP is a heavy-duty crate designed for the needs of expert anglers. For starters, the lid on the top compartment has double OTC snap latches to secure items stored inside. Additionally, it has safety flag rings and enough ports to install the crate to a corresponding kayak. Hooked yet?
Although it has only two rod holders, the crate comes with several stainless-steel screws so you can place them wherever you need, which means that you can attach extra rod holders to any panel.
If you order this model, you'll get several parts, but assembling them is quite easy (it can take only a few minutes). Ensure that you're following the instructions on the user manual, as parts can be easily damaged if anything is out of order.
This crate can carry a large load, around 50 pounds of fishing gear, without strain. It’s sturdy enough to carry that amount in addition to the mounted accessories and rod holders.
- Relatively high carrying capacity
- Firm OTC snap latches
- Durable design
- High storage management
- The rod holders are slightly shallow
- The crate can be large once assembled
The Flambeau Outdoors 455TKP crate combines sturdiness, storage management, and high carry capacity, all in one design. Plus, it’s a budget-friendly option compared to other offerings!
4. BIGANT IP403026 - Best Lightweight
Are you looking for an easy solution to your storage problem? The BIGANT IP403026 crate is an excellent contender – it’s highly economical, durable, lightweight, and quite spacious for packing any of your fishing gear and tackle.
This BIGANT milk crate is a compact one, so you might be interested in this pick if you have a narrow tank well. BIGANT’s milk crates, in general, are extremely lightweight (3 pounds per crate), and they can hold up to 200 pounds per crate, making them one of the best products when it comes to carrying weight capacity.
In particular, this model takes vertical storage to the next level by incorporating collapsible crates with high capacity for an array of items; you won't need any extra space while using them.
If you're thinking of how secure your items will be, rest assured that BIGANT's milk crates are designed so they'll maintain their shape and snap-close only when you pull the bars on the back and front of the crate. While most collapsible models often fold and stay like that forever, this milk crate's unlocking mechanism will prevent this from happening.
Moreover, you’ll also be able to keep one side of the crate’s wall open, so you’ll have access to the contents of the crates whenever you need to.
- High carrying weight capacity
- Easy to install
- Moderately durable
- Highly portable
- Offers no water protection to the items stored
- Relatively brittle design
- Doesn’t come with straps to fix it into the tank well
The BIGANT IP403026 crate is among the lightest you’ll come across, making it highly portable and a breeze to carry around on your kayaking trips. Despite that, its weight capacity is pretty decent, so it’s a win-win!
5. Jezero Multi-Purpose Milk Crate - Budget Pick
When it comes to affordability, handling, and availability, the Jezero Multi-Purpose Milk Crate fares best.
With ergonomic handles that offer a comfortable grip and smooth internal surfaces, this crate is an excellent option if you're not planning on taking a lot of items with you on your kayaking trip.
Although the grid design on the sides regulates temperature and keeps the air flowing in normal situations, unfortunately, your items won’t be protected against water.
- Ergonomic grip
- Compatible with most rigging accessories
- Small carry capacity
This Jezero Multi-Purpose Milk Crate is an entry-level type of crate and will be useful if you’re not packing a lot of items on your kayaking trip.
How to Choose a Fishing Crate
Now, you probably have some idea of what to look for when shopping for a crate, but if the previous information was a lot to take in, you could take a look at the following points to make a well-informed decision.
Identify Your Needs
The first thing you need to do is to specify your needs. You might be trying out kayaking for the first time and need a budget-friendly storage space to keep your items intact.
If so, you can look for some of the budget-friendly milk crates mentioned in this guide, but make sure that you choose one that’s compatible with your tank well’s dimensions. You should also be familiar with how you can strap your crate to the D-rings of your kayak.
On the other hand, if you're a professional angler who needs a new fishing crate, choose models designed after your exact needs. Although these might be a bit on the expensive side, they'll definitely be helpful for you in the long run.
Crate Size, Weight, and Capacity
As you can see in our guide, the size and dimensions of a fishing crate can vary depending on the model you get. A bigger crate might not be the best option if you’ll attach it to the front of the crate, as it can obscure your vision or hinder your kayak’s movements.
You should also know the maximum carrying weight of your kayak. A heavy crate might also contain heavy fishing gear, which might prevent you from paddling in the water with ease.
As for the crate's capacity, this will depend on how much tackle you're planning to bring on future trips. For instance, if you need plenty of storage for your tackle, clothes, or fishing gear, you'll have to get a spacious crate, preferably one that's waterproof.
There are several crate designs out there, with various customization options.
Some anglers prefer open crates, as they allow them to tinker with the crate's storage space as they please. However, open crate designs require that you get smaller boxes to sort out your items and not make a giant tackle mess.
If you’re new to kayaking, you’re probably not packing many items along with you, so getting an open milk crate will suffice.
If you're very specific about how you categorize your tackle, however, a sturdy fishing crate with various compartments will work best for you. It all depends on what you'll need when you're out in the water.
The best types of fishing crates come with no less than two rod holders built into the crates' sides. If a fishing crate model doesn't have that option, you'll still be able to attach additional holders to it whenever you need.
Typically, rod holders are standard-sized. If they’re not, you need to ensure that your rod handles are compatible with the model of choice. If not, you can either look for a different model or attach your own holders if the crate’s other unique features make up for this minor technicality.
Tank Well Dimensions
Before you attach your new fishing crate to your kayak, knowing the dimensions of where you’re placing the crate is extremely important.
As evidenced by the comparison table above, there are no standard dimensions for crates, so matching the attachment location dimensions will make all the difference in your kayaking experience.
Your tank well's specific dimensions might indeed cut down your options or eliminate popular crate models, but look at it this way: if you get an incompatible model, you won't be able to use it to its fullest capacity.
As we mentioned time and again, water resistance is a crucial aspect to think about when getting a fishing crate. If you’re bringing dry clothes along, a smartphone, or a smartwatch, it’s needless to say that you’ll need to keep them away from the water.
This aspect is essential, especially on rainy or stormy days. You can look for crates with waterproof properties if you find yourself needing to protect your personal effects from the water more frequently.
Kayak Fishing Crates FAQs
How Much Protection Will I Need?
That depends on the weather and the items you're packing. If you often go kayaking in turbulent weather conditions, you should get a crate with a solid lid. Otherwise, you can use non-lidded crates. Also, if you're packing lots of fabrics, you'll need a solid lid to prevent any water from seeping in.
Are Cheaper Models Any Good?
Cheaper models can be pretty useful and versatile. While they may not have all the features of an expensive model, they’ll still get the job done, especially in normal weather conditions and short kayaking trips.
Can a Crate Work as a Cooler?
Although some people use it as a cooler (especially if the compartments are highly waterproof), it's recommended to only use your storage space for your tackle and gear, as crates were explicitly designed for that purpose in the first place.
Do I Need to Bolt Down the Crate to the Kayak?
Not necessarily. The bungees in the tank well or even some straps will do, although the latter offers a stronger hold and prevents any slips.
The Bottom Line
You won't really know how useful a fishing crate can be unless you test its functions yourself. So, scrutinize fishing crates and factor all the elements mentioned into your decision-making process. And if you want to spare yourself the effort, go ahead and take your pick from our list of the best kayak fishing crates!
If you take our word for it, we'd highly recommend the Plano PLAM80700 – striking the right balance between versatility, water-resistance, and high carrying capacity; it makes for an excellent pick for all anglers alike.