Best Kayak Fishing Crates With Rod Holders

If there’s one thing that kayak anglers tend to struggle with, it’s gear storage. When you have multiple paddles, fishing rods, coolers, and other accessories,…

Best Kayak Fishing Crate

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If there’s one thing that kayak anglers tend to struggle with, it’s gear storage. When you have multiple paddles, fishing rods, coolers, and other accessories, it can be hard to keep track of all your equipment as you try to paddle or reel in your next big catch.

Thankfully, there’s a solution to all your gear storage woes: a kayak crate.

We’ve reviewed the best kayak crate models on the market so you can minimize the amount of time you spend researching your gear and make the most of your time on the water.

Our Top Picks

If you’re in a hurry, here are our top picks. Or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.

Best Overall: Wilderness Systems Kayak Krate

Dimensions: 13.3” x 12.3” x 18” | Weight: 10.9 lbs | Capacity: 29 L

A kayak angler’s best friend out on the water, the Wilderness Systems Kayak Krate is a fully-featured gear storage system that’s ready for any angling adventure.

This crate is made from a blow-molded, water-resistant plastic for durability, and it features universal lash-down points for extra functionality and security as you paddle. It even comes fully assembled, so you don’t have to worry about breaking out your tool kit before you first hit the water.

As far as gear storage goes, the Kayak Krate doesn’t disappoint. It has a total carrying capacity of 29 liters, the bulk of which is found in the crate’s main storage compartment. As a bonus, Wilderness Systems also designed this model with a lid that can act as a secondary storage spot for smaller bits of gear.

The crate comes complete with four-rod holders so you can maximize the total number of lines you have in the water. You can even use the included brackets to raise the position of the rod holders on this crate. Doing so is particularly beneficial if your kayak has narrow tankwells that wouldn’t otherwise be compatible with the built-in rod holders.

However, the kayak crate is pretty pricey, so it’s not great for budget-conscious paddlers. It’s also reasonably hefty, which means it’s not ideal for paddlers looking to minimize the weight of their kayak on the water. But, if you refuse to settle for second best, it’s hard to go wrong with this kayak crate.

  • Water-resistant design
  • Made from durable blow-molded plastic
  • Includes four adjustable rod holders
  • Lid doubles as a secondary gear storage spot
  • Universal lash down points for extra security
  • Pricey for a kayak crate
  • Fairly heavy

Best Budget Milk Crate: Yak Gear Grab & Go Kayak Angler Crate Starter Kit

Dimensions: 10” x 13” x 13” | Weight: 5.2 lbs | Capacity: 25 L

Yak Gear Grab & Go Kayak Angler Crate Starter Kit

Decidedly simple yet oh-so functional, the Yak Gear Grab & Go Kayak Angler Crate Starter Kit is an affordable way to organize your gear on the water.

This kayak crate system features a classic milk crate design, so it can easily be loaded onto your kayak, SUP, or any other boat. It also has a standard 13” x 13” footprint, so it’s the right size to fit into most kayak tankwells with relative ease.

Although the Grab & Go is a no-nonsense gear storage system, it does come with a number of accessories to help streamline your time on the water. In particular, it features a set of two rod holders, a small accessory pouch, a nylon anchor cleat for securing your anchor line, and a leash that’s compatible with rods and paddles for extra security as you cast your lines.

That being said, while the Grab & Go is a great budget-friendly option, it’s worth keeping in mind that this crate doesn’t come with a lid for protecting your gear. While this might not be a problem for flatwater use, the crate’s lack of water resistance might be an issue in rough weather. However, if you’re looking to keep costs at a minimum, it’s hard to argue with this model.

  • Affordable price point
  • Includes a set of two rod holders
  • Integrated accessory pouch for smaller items
  • Small footprint is compatible with most kayaks
  • Comes with an anchor cleat and paddle leash
  • Doesn’t have a lid for water resistance
  • Not ideal for use in foul weather

Best Soft-Sided Crate: Perception Splash Kayak Crate

Dimensions: 12.5” x 17” x 13” | Weight: 5.3 lbs | Capacity: 36 L

An innovative and practical option for nearly any paddling excursion, the Perception Splash Kayak Crate is a fully-featured soft-sided storage unit for all your gear transportation needs.

The only soft-sided crate on our list, the Perception Splash is made from durable and waterproof ripstop nylon. It also features extra-strong webbing loops and integrated D rings so you can efficiently secure the crate to your kayak.

With the Splash, you get a large central storage compartment for stashing all of your gear. The crate also comes with a removable lid to provide you with a blend of security and versatility on the water. What’s more, the Splash has a set of ergonomic carry handles as well as the ability to pack down small for easy storage and transport after your adventures.

The Perception Splash is compatible with the company’s rod holders and pocket organizers, these accessories are sold separately. Additionally, this crate is a bit larger than some of the other models in our review, so you’ll need a kayak with a decently large tankwell to use this crate. 

However, despite these shortcomings, the Splash is still a great all-around soft-sided kayak crate to have with you as you paddle.

  • Made with waterproof materials
  • Includes plenty of tie-down points for security
  • Built with ergonomic carry handles for transport
  • Removable lid for gear storage and versatility
  • Packs down small when not in use
  • Rod holders and pocket organizers sold separately
  • Fairly large size isn’t great for small fishing kayaks

Kayak Fishing Crate Buying Guide

While kayak crates might seem like simple pieces of gear, there’s a whole lot that goes into selecting the right option for your needs. To get you started, here’s a look at all of the most important features to consider as you choose the best kayak fishing crate for your paddles.

Types of Kayak Crates

There are multiple types of kayak crates on the market today, each of which is designed for a specific type of paddling adventure. While there are dozens of different crate designs out there, we can categorize all of them into one of three types:

  • Milk Crate – As the name suggests, milk crate-style kayak crates are built to look a whole lot like, well, milk crates. In many cases, these models are made from repurposed milk crates that are accessorized with other features like rod holders and gear storage pouches. The primary benefit of this type of crate is that it’s generally quite affordable and lightweight. However, these crates don’t come with lids, which means they’re not ideal for rougher waters.
  • Hard-Sided – A more robust version of the milk crate, hard-sided crates are kayak storage units made from rugged molded plastic. These crates resemble a hard-sided cooler in many ways, but they have kayaking-specific features like tie-down points that are perfect for use on the water. The drawback to this crate style is that it tends to be both heavy and expensive. But, if you want a durable, water-resistant storage system, a hard-sided crate is your go-to.
  • Soft-Sided – The final type of crate on the market, soft-sided crates are made from thick, pliable fabrics, like ripstop nylon. They somewhat resemble a soft-sided cooler, both in terms of durability and overall structure, but they, too, often have paddling-specific features, like rod holders. Compared to a hard-sided model, soft-sided crates are the clear winner in terms of affordability and weight savings. But, they offer less protection for your equipment.

Size & Weight

Once you decide what type of kayak crate is best for your needs, it’s time to figure out what size crate will fit your kayak. You can spend hours researching the best kayak crate on the market, but if it doesn’t fit your kayak’s tankwell, it’s not going to do you much good on the water.

So, as you shop for your next kayak storage unit, be sure to take the time to accurately measure your tankwell size or open deck space. Although most kayak manufacturers are pretty accurate in their stated tankwell specifications on their website, it’s best to physically measure your kayak’s total storage space before you commit to buying a crate, just in case.

Additionally, you’ll also want to consider the weight of any potential kayak crate before you buy. While cutting weight from your gear often isn’t a significant concern while paddling, it is worth remembering that some crates are substantially heavier than others. For example, hard-sided models can often weigh twice as much as their soft-sided cousins.

For many folks, this added weight might not be a concern. But, if you’re already planning on transporting a substantial amount of gear with you on the water, you’ll want to be mindful of any extra weight you might have, so you don’t overload your kayak.

Storage Capacity

In addition to the total size of a kayak crate, you’ll also want to consider a given crate’s storage capacity. Since the storage capacity of a crate will have a direct impact on how much gear you can reasonably transport, you’ll need to be sure that you’re getting a model that’s big enough for the equipment you want to carry.

Most manufacturers will list a crate’s carrying capacity in liters, similar to how we assess volume in other types of gear, like coolers and dry bags.

However, if the manufacturer doesn’t list a crate’s capacity in liters, you can calculate its volume using the crate’s dimensions. Just be sure that you use the internal—not external—dimensions of the crate to calculate its total storage capacity so that you can get the most accurate measurement possible.

Once you know how big a given crate’s storage space is, you can start to think about if it’s right for you. As a general rule, day trips will require anywhere from 15 to 30 liters of storage space. But, this depends on how much gear you plan on bringing.

Lid vs. No Lid

When you buy a kayak crate, one of the earliest decisions you’ll have to make is whether or not you want a model with a lid. Lids on kayak crates are particularly helpful if you’re concerned about the security of your gear while you paddle. 

In flatwater and in very nice weather conditions, securing your equipment to your kayak might not be a huge deal. But, if you suspect that you might face some choppy waters during your adventures, having a lid on your crate can provide the peace of mind you need to know that your gear isn’t going to disappear if you capsize in your local lake or river.

Of course, lids have their downsides, too, so you’ll want to consider these before you buy. In particular, lids on crates can make it more difficult to access your gear on the water, especially if you already have a rod in hand. Ultimately, there’s no one right answer as to whether you should invest in a kayak crate with a lid, but this is a feature worth considering as you shop.

Water Resistance

If you’re going paddling, you’re probably already quite aware that you will get a bit wet in the process. However, there are times where you don’t necessarily want your gear to be completely exposed to the elements. In these situations, a water-resistant kayak crate might be what you need.

Water resistance in kayak crates is a factor of both the crate’s materials and whether or not it has a lid. As you can imagine, models without a lid (particularly milk crate-style models) are not water-resistant. 

However, you can get both soft-sided water-resistant crates, like the Perception Splash, and hard-sided models, like the Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate. That’s because both of these models are made from waterproof materials with sealed seams to keep the water at bay.

Do keep in mind, however, that no kayak crate is going to be fully waterproof. If you have a piece of gear that can’t get wet under any circumstances, you’ll want to invest in a couple of dry bags for kayaking or a dedicated hard-sided waterproof storage system. But when it comes to water resistance, many kayak crates are a sure bet.

Attachment System & Ease of Use

As a general rule, it’s best to lash your kayak crate down to the deck of your kayak for added security while you paddle. You never know when the weather will turn sour or if a large wake will broadside your kayak from out of nowhere. By attaching your crate to your kayak, you can lower the chances of your gear drifting away if you happen to capsize.

Since there are so many different attachment systems out there, we couldn’t possibly cover them all here. But, suffice to say that you’ll want to look for a crate with multiple, durable tie-down points so that you can quickly and easily secure your gear to your kayak before your paddles.

Fishing-Specific Features

If you’re an avid kayak angler, it may be worth looking for a kayak crate that comes with fishing-specific features. In particular, you’ll want to keep an eye out for models that come with one or multiple integrated fishing rod holders.

Kayak crates with integrated rod holders can be particularly helpful for kayak anglers that might not already have rod holders on their kayak. This is especially beneficial for people who paddle inflatable kayaks, which often don’t have the same fishing-specific features you can find on hard-sided models.

Even if you do paddle a hard-sided kayak, there are benefits to having extra rod holders on your kayak crate. These can help you maximize the total number of lines you have in the water at any given time, and they can help you stay organized as you paddle. What could be better?

The Verdict

Whether you’re a keen kayak angler or just someone who likes to stay organized on the water, there’s no doubt that a quality kayak crate can make a world of difference on your adventures.

Although there are plenty of great crates out there, there’s one model that certainly stands out among the rest: the Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate.

The Wilderness Systems Kayak Crate is a particularly great gear storage unit for your kayak because it’s durable, spacious, and jam-packed with excellent features, like fishing rod holders. Although it might be heavier and more expensive than other options, it is a solid all-round storage unit for use on nearly any kayak.