To Crate or Not to Crate
It seems that most kayak anglers solve the organization problem with a milk crate: Take a standard crate, attach some add-ons like rod holders and tackle boxes, bungee it into your boat's tank well, and you have a nice cargo solution. There are several benefits to the crate, but after a lot of thought I opted not to have one. I may change my mind later when I discover some kind of fatal flaw with my approach, but here's my current thinking.
First, I should point out some of the advantages of a kayak crate:
- It's rugged. After all, it's made for commercial hauling of milk, so it's got to stand up to some abuse.
- It's inexpensive. Sometimes you can find businesses that will give you their old ones, but even if you can't they're pretty cheap to buy.
- It's customizable. You can get a crate in about any color you want and you can modify it to suit your needs exactly. Customization is easy to do for a person with even modest DIY skills. In fact, you can accomplish a lot just using PVC, zip ties, and bungee cords. But if that's not good enough there's a great aftermarket for crate customization parts.
- It works well in a wet environment. A crate won't keep its contents dry, but it'll drain quickly and won't wilt in the water.
So there's a lot to like about kayak crates. Why am I not doing it? Some of the reasons are peculiar to my kayak and some are related to advantages presented by alternative solutions.
|Just a bit too small|
Second, while keeping things dry isn't actually a hard requirement for me, to my way of thinking if I'm going to mount a hard box on my kayak, why not go the extra mile and get something watertight? Otherwise, there are a lot of other interesting alternatives to a box that one could consider. For instance, some kind of bag (like a duffel or a backpack) could be used instead. A bag would be lighter; would secure contents from spilling out in a boat capsize; and can more easily accommodate odd-shaped items. Bags can also be inexpensive and very easily secured to the boat with a bungee or leash. On the other hand, you can't really mount a rod holder on a bag very easily.
Third, I'd like my fishing tackle to still be readily available for use without the kayak. If I want to bank fish with my family, or go on somebody else's boat, I don't want to have to gather my fishing tackle from the crate and put it into a different container. I could just bring the entire crate, but I'd still need to remove the kayak-specific stuff, like the anchor. Also, since you must carry a crate in your hands, it likely means an additional trip between the car and the fishing site or boat. Yuck. Another solution is to buy duplicate tackle - one set for the kayak crate and one set for bank/power-boat fishing - but that's a waste of resources. I simply don't want to buy or carry extra crap if I can avoid it! Ideally, I want to use my little minimalist tackle pack for all my fishing - bank, kayak, or power boat - and I want it ready to go at a moment's notice.
Finally, when I started thinking about how I wanted to rig my kayak for fishing, I realized that I could put as many rod holders directly on the Guacamole as I would need. Up to seven without having to cram them on or go to an expensive rail-based mounting system. So the most compelling reason I could think of for using a crate - additional rod holder space - wasn't really a requirement for me.
Tackle pack and kayak pack
As for the kayak backpack, I chose mesh because if I'm putting a wet anchor and line in it, then it needs to drain water readily and allow stuff to dry out inside. Amazon has several mesh backpacks to choose from, most of which are intended for swimming or scuba gear. I got one that was inexpensive, highly rated, and came in a large variety of colors. Admittedly, it's nowhere near as rugged as a crate, but it seems up to the task of holding its intended contents. I like the fact that it's easily secured with a leash and I have the option to carry it like a backpack during portage.
|Packed up and ready to go|