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Traveling to go fishing is supposed to be fun. But with the wrong gear, it can be miserable. This gear is for trips to the kinds of places where days can be ruined by inadequate equipment. Everything here lends itself to easy packing in a carry-on or small checked bag, so you can move through the airport and get to where you’re going quickly. Usually, if you’re chartering a boat for an adventure like this, you just have to bring yourself, so we won’t cover rods, reels, or tackle. Your only responsibility is to stay comfortable enough to not complain and piss off the captain. But don’t take this responsibility lightly. A happy captain means more fish, so pack accordingly. 

1. Grundens Bouy X Gore-Tex Bibs and Jacket

Grundens BouyX Gore-Tex Bibs and Jacket
Grundens Bouy X Gore-Tex Bibs and Jacket. Grundens

I had a chance to see how tough this jacket and bibs are on a tour of the Gore-Tex factory a couple of years ago. They were testing the fabric for abrasion, extreme cold, and even chemicals like gasoline. It held up to everything. Both the bibs and jacket are covered in zippered pockets, which are great for keeping electronics and important stuff like your wallet dry and secure. There are also neoprene cuffs in the sleeves that keep water from soaking your shirt underneath. If you’re fishing where wind and rain blow sideways and waves crash over the gunwales all day, these are the jacket and bibs for you. I Recently brought a Bouy X set on a trip to southeast Alaska for two days of fishing. In constant drizzly rain, I found them to be more like a shelter than a piece of clothing. For far-away places and fishing close to home, they will be the last jacket and bibs you ever buy. 

2. Filson Swiftwater Rain Pullover 

10 Quality Pieces of Fishing Gear for Traveling Anglers

If you’re not expecting squalls and white-capped waves, a simple packable rain jacket will work just fine. I like any that incorporate a carrying pouch that the jacket can fold into, and the Swiftwater Jacket has a pouch just for that. It’s a pullover, which can be frustrating if you have a fishing vest on. But don’t worry, Filson makes a zip-up version too. As with most Filson gear, this jacket is overbuilt with taped seams and strong waterproof fabric. Rolled up in its pouch, it makes a good pillow for the plane, which is worth its weight in gold. 

3. Ombraz Classics

Ombraz Classic sunglasses.
Ombraz Classic sunglasses. Ombraz

Before I wore these glasses I wasn’t sure about them, but I wanted to give them a fair try. Now they rarely leave my head or neck. Ombraz have no arms, just a cord from one side of the frame to the other. To put them on, you wrap the cord around the back of your head and pull it snug. They’re good for traveling for two reasons: One, without arms, they’re very hard to break. (Vacation has been the downfall of many of my sunglasses.) Two, when they’re on, they’re strapped to your head, which means they won’t fly off on a windy boat ride or during intense fish fights. Ombraz are also polarized. I know they’re not like other sunglasses, but in a lot of ways, they’re much better. 

4. Filson Duffle Pack

Filson Duffle Pack.
Filson Duffle Pack. Filson

Not having wheels on a carry-on is a bit of a challenge, but it’s something I’m coming to appreciate and prefer. And for a non-wheeled carry-on, this bag is hard to beat. It has a laptop sleeve, hidden backpack straps, and enough pockets to keep your things organized, but not so many that your stuff gets lost. It has an expandable side pocket that separates wet gear from dry gear, which makes it ideal for a fishing trip. On day one you won’t use it, but on day five—after your clothes and bibs are covered in fish guts and sweat—it’ll come in handy. The pocket also works well for sandy wading boots or anything else you don’t want contaminating your other stuff. 

5. LIVSN Flex Canvas Pants

LIVSN Flex Canvas Pants.
LIVSN Flex Canvas Pants. LIVSN

On the outside, these pants are plain and unassuming. Under the hood, they’re loaded with slick features. For travel, the hidden zippered pockets are perfect. Important documents are easy to access, yet locked down. The flex canvas is comfortable enough to fly in and durable enough to put up with some abuse when you get to where you’re going. And for all of you clam diggers out there: when you roll them up, you’ll find a strap and button on the inside of the pant leg to hold the roll in place.

6. Grundens Deck-Boss Ankle Boots

Grundens Deck Boss Boots.
Grundens Deck Boss Boots. Grundens

Deck Boss boots are a lot like Xtratufs, but as one charter boat captain told me, “they’re way more comfortable.” My favorite thing about traveling with a pair of boots like this is the lack of laces. When you’re rolling through a TSA line and all you have to do is slide these puppies on and off, it’s a good day. If you’d rather not wear them through the airport, they’re short enough to pack into a small bag. They perform well on a boat, too. The non-marking sole keeps you from getting screamed at, and the waterproof part does exactly what it should. I’ve even spilled caustic gun-bluing salts on them, and they still work. 

7. Olympus Tough TG-6 Digital Camera

Olympus Tough TG-6 Digital Camera.
Olympus Tough TG-6 Digital Camera. Olympus

A cell phone is fine for capturing the usual stuff, but the TG-6 will put your fishing trip photos and videos over the top. It’s waterproof to 50 feet so you can film underwater fish footage in 4K and snap photos in pouring rain. Best of all, you can transfer images and video from the camera to your phone via WiFi making it easy to post whatever you capture in no time. Pair it with a floating camera strap, and you’re ready for anything. 

8. Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight .5

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight .5.
Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight .5. Adventure Medical Kits

Your captain or guide will probably have a first aid kit. But you never know if they do for sure—or what state that kit is in. They could’ve just patched up a whole group of clients last week, and now there’s nothing left but a Band-Aid and some expired Aspirin. Instead of relying on what your guide might have, bring a backup. A lightweight basic kit like the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight is small enough that you won’t notice it in a daypack or fishing vest. It’s also water-resistant to survive some time in the rain or surf. Whichever kit you choose, just make sure that everything in it is TSA compliant before sliding it through the X-ray machine at the airport. 

9. Pelican Ruck Case

Pelican Ruck Case
Pelican Ruck Case. Pelican

I can’t think of a better case to bring on a boat for small stuff like a phone, wallet, fishing license, or snacks. The Ruck is a downsized version of bigger Pelican boxes with some extra features like a rubberized coating to keep it from sliding around, and well-thought-out tie-down points that still let you open the box when it’s lashed down. It’s also small enough to fit in a carry-on bag. As with all Pelican cases, the Ruck keeps gear from getting crushed or wet—making it ideal for holding a few celebratory cigars. 

10. Yeti Hopper M30 Soft Cooler

YETI Hopper M30 Soft Cooler.
YETI Hopper M30 Soft Cooler. YETI

How are you going to get all of that fish home? There’s nothing wrong with the waxed box of fish that outfitters give you. It will last 24 hours without an issue. But an unexpected layover could ruin it all, leaving pounds of hard-earned fillets to defrost on the tarmac. The Hopper will keep frozen fish cold for a couple days. And at the super-low temperatures that some charter companies freeze their fish, it could last even longer. The Hopper has a new leak-proof magnetic seal, and it can be cinched closed with buckles and straps—so it’ll withstand getting tossed around by baggage handlers.