Many many years ago after listening to me talk about it and watching me drool over it my wife broke down and got me the Cabelas Expedition XPG Deluxe Anglers Backpack one Christmas. (This started a very good trend. She has bought me an awful lot of my fishing gear, usually as gifts. The biggest upside is that she then expects me to use it) The backpack was around $100 and it is awesome. It seems to go in and out of availability. Here is a screenshot of the stock picture and the description from Cabelas website.
I have used it an abused it heavily and it’s as great today as it was in the beginning. It has more pockets and pouches than I know what to do with. I have carried all over the eastern half of Pennsylvania, up and down creeks, over hills, through creeks, sometimes chest deep, through those damn thorn bushes that line every river, creek, and stream here. It has stood up to it all.
There is side access to the area for holding 3 medium (3600) plano boxes, which it came with. You can cram a couple of smaller boxes in there on top of the medium boxes if you need to. This is what started me off on sticking to medium boxes for everything. That decision has so far served me well. I don’t think it matters what size boxes you go with, but once you pick a size life is much easier if you stick to it for everything.
As mentioned it does have a cooler. It is the bottom front compartment. I only have 2 complaints about the backpack. The first is that the cooler is soft, with no liner. So it has nothing to give it form or keep it in shape. The weight of your tackle and other gears causes it to crumple. This can potentially crush sandwiches or cardboard or Styrofoam worm containers and also prevents the backpack from standing up. I solved this by finding a plastic container at Wal Mart that was a snug fit in the cooler. This also serves another purpose. It keeps spilled dirt and scum from baits from getting into every nook and cranny in the soft sided cooler. Trust me, that’s important. If you spill dirt or nasty liquid in the cooler it is extremely difficult to get it all out. Other than that the cooler is awesome. It’s big enough, and conveniently located. I usually stick a cold pack in there along with food or bait and that will keep things cold all day.
If you don’t use it as a cooler, it can hold 4 more medium (3600) size boxes. However the edges and anything that sticks out will eventually wear holes in the cooler lining.
It has a hard CD player shaped pocket on the top front for electronics. It may be waterproof too, but I am not certain. I keep a couple of cheap walkie talkies and some batteries in there among other junk.
The front of the backpack has horizontal loops and one vertical loop. I use the horizontal loops for holding my rod holders. The curly q’s stay in fairly well, but the forks have to be twist tied to the loop or they can slide out.
The vertical loop was for the tool pouch. This is my 2nd complaint. The tool pouch was located low enough that the ends of pliers extend below the bottom of the backpack. If you sat the backpack down the ground would push the pliers up. There is a strap to hold the pliers in, but then the entire tool pouch gets pushed up off of the backpack. I have lost it more than once. Thank goodness I have always found it again. But one time I lost a large collection of various sized and shaped forceps at Memorial lake when they got pushed out and I didn’t notice, so they got left behind.
The main compartment is big, and goes the full height of the backpack. It also contains a hydration bladder pocket. There is an opening in the top for the drinking tube to come out and loops on the backpack straps to secure the tube when not in use. This could hold a lot of boxes, but I typically use it for other gear. I have a pasta container I use for my snell holders that goes in there along with rain ponchos, toilet paper, a really long stringer with a rope and other stuff.
On the left, if you are facing the backpack, there are top and bottom pockets with water bottle holders. I attached the tool pouch to the upper water bottle holder. There are also assorted D rings and attachment points scattered about. The yellow thing hanging there is a mini screwdriver.
On the other side you can see the backpack is extremely well padded. The straps are wide, thick and also very well padded. It is very comfortable to wear, and I have used it on some long hikes. I used to regularly hike 4-8 miles each way on fishing excursions. I have a pair of forceps and a pair of bandage scissors attached to the strap by a gear retracter and water bottle holder attached to the other strap. There are various loops for holding the hydration bladder tube, and for attaching whatever gear you like.
By having the scissors and forceps attached this way I can use them without removing the backpack. So I can walk with a rod in my hand and the pack on, making casts, and then use the forceps to unhook fish without taking everything off.
On the right side, facing the backpack, there are upper and lower pockets again. The lower also has a water bottle holder outside of it like the left side pockets, but the top right pocket does not. It has a roll top insulated waterproof pouch.
Back to the front, above the cooler and below the electronics pocket there is a small horizontal pocket with 3 internal pouches. I use it for papers, a small multi tool, a fish scale/ruler, and wet wipes. I always have wet wipes. Bears are not the only things that poop in the woods.
Under that is a hard sided sunglasses case. Since I wear glasses I usually keep my clip on shades and a strap for my glasses in there.
The tags that it came with. Don’t ask me why I saved them.
I have used this backpack for years. I can’t remember how many but at least 5 or 6. I highly recommend it if Cabelas has it or you can find it. It’s still in service when I shore fish, though since I got the kayak I rarely do anymore.