Plano made an interesting step into the kayak fishing world with the introduction of the soft side, V Series, and Z Series. Inside the Z Series was one of my favorite ways to organize my gear, a backpack. The Plano Z Series Backpack caught my attention because it was waterproof and came equipped with four Plano 3700 boxes. I went down to the local Bass Pro Shops, liked what I saw and bought one.
The Plano Z Series Backpack is between 20 and 40 dollars cheaper than some of the alternatives I’ve been testing and has a smaller footprint than others as well measuring in at L=17in. x W=9in. x H=9in.
Plano lists the features as:
- Zipper-less design
- High-performance TPE-coated, waterproof fabric
- Comfortable and adjustable shoulder straps feature one mesh slip pocket and one tool holder
- Cinch-cord top provides complete closure of the main compartment, further secured by buckles and hook-and-loop closure
- Wrap-style front pocket secured by buckles and hook-and-loop closure provides quick, see-through access to contents
- Two exterior side pockets secure with buckles
- One additional tool holder and one additional pocket with Velcro closures beneath front flap, plus multiple MOLLE attachment points
The Good Stuff
The biggest frustration I’ve had with backpacks in the past is the zippers. They fail, they corrode when used in saltwater, and the pull tabs that make them easier to open and close with gloves on very often rip under pressure. The Plano Z Series Backpack doesn’t have a single zipper. The quick clip closures can be used with or without gloves and are heavy duty for a backpack.
I really appreciate the cinch cord on the main compartment. The waterproof flap isn’t enough to keep water out but the addition of the cinch cord and internal bag top make it almost impossible for water to get into while on deck. If you submerge the backpack it will let water in but I have no plans of doing that.
The side pockets are a great height and depth. They are almost the exact height of a normal package of soft plastics and are deep enough that I can store four or five packs on each side. Not having to carry a worm binder in addition to the backpack is nice.
Room for Improvement
The plier’s enclosure inside the front pocket is a little narrow and the velcro strap doesn’t fit any of the pliers I put in it. I had to go around the side of one of the handles rather than in between. A potential solution could be to use a small clip, a bungee, or different sized strap that’s not quite as thick.
I’d also like to see an additional waterproof pouch attached to the interior of the top flap. It could be a good place to protect a lake map, fishing license or other documents.
If you can travel fairly compact (4 3700 boxes and some soft plastics), the Plano Z Series Backpack might be an excellent choice. I made one slight mod that I like. I replaced two of the four 3700 boxes with two of the Plano Two-Tiered Stowaway boxes in the 3700 size. This gave me more storage and it still all fit without stressing the seams. It’s definitely a good tackle bag and being waterproof was the icing on the cake, enough that I changed from the previous backpack of another brand I was using. The Plano Z Series Backpack is my everyday storage and works great whether bank stomping, kayak fishing, or hitching a ride in a power boat.