Planning to go fishing in the Bahamas? Expect to have your packing skills graded at the airline counter. Most flights to the Out Islands from Nassau limit your personal gear to between 75 and 100 pounds per person, and when you don’t hit the mark, they get real crabby.
The key is to pare down your equipment to the basic necessities and to check the weight of your bags at home before you head to the airport. Once you have booked your flights, consider traveling with one of the following gear systems, which allow you to pack your clothes and tackle smartly and economically.
Mystery Ranch Sweet Pea Backpack
Made in Montana, this pack is a perfect carry-on and day-gear bag. The Sweet Pea is so impressively suspended that you could carry bricks in it and still adjust it for wading the flats. The front has a butterfly waterproof zipper system that lets you open the entire pack to access the bottom without removing all the contents. Although the company says it’s not waterproof, impeccable design and fabric construction make it close. $190; 406-585-1428; mysteryranch.com
Orvis Safe Passage Clearview Kit Bag
With 22 pockets to jam your tackle into, this is an ideal carry-on, boat, or camp bag. Built with a waterproof liner and foam panels, the bag stays dry and floats if it takes a spill. Clear exterior pockets help you quickly locate your cellphone or keys, and pockets inside will organize lines, tippets, and reels. The 20-inch main compartment has removable baffles to handle waders, boots, and even a camera. There’s a rod-tube strap on the lid, and a rain fly will keep the bag dry if it’s left out in a downpour. $119; 888-235-9763; orvis.com
Cabela’s Extreme Wheeled Waterproof Duffel
This 30-inch duffel is roomy but not to the point of getting you into trouble with the weigh-in police. Thoughtfully constructed, the bag has a hearty plastic bottom (with wheels and a handle) to prevent sharp objects from puncturing the bottom while your gear is in the care of baggage handlers. The best news is that it’s completely waterproof, and your stuff will stay dry even if you leave it out on the dock during a downpour. $180; 800-237-4444; cabelas.com
Loomis Large Rolling Cargo Bag
This bag is so large that you are going to be hit with an overweight charge if you fill it. That said, this rolling cavern has two lockable PVC rod tubes on each side, and enough space for a big fly-tying bag, waders, wading shoes, a sleeping bag, and all the rest of your stuff. A thoughtful wet bag will separate suspect items from your dry gear. It’s reasonably water resistant, not waterproof, and thanks to wheels and a handle, it rolls easily when stuffed. $140; 800-456-6647; gloomis.com