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Tackle Storage Review

The Albackore "Altunative" proves to be a quality alternative

Date: 4/4/05
Tackle type: Tackle Storage
Manufacturer: Albackore by Enjay
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.83 + EDITORS CHOICE

Introduction: With so much new gear available to anglers it has become increasingly taxing to cart all your tools & tackle on fishing trips. Albackore sportfishing gear has always specialized in doing one thing better than anyone else, and that is to design the ultimate tackle storage solutions. We examine Albackore's latest conception, the "Altunative" tackle bag, which is designed for shorter range fishing expeditions.  

Albackore Altunative Tackle Bag Specifications

Size 11"H x 12"W x 10"D
Materials PVC-backed 600D Nylon
Storage Compartments 1 Enclosed, 2 mesh (3 covered), flexible shelf system
Water Resistant Yes
Stowaways 3 - Albackore #3010 Utility Boxes
Color Black
Price as tested $79.99

About the Albackore brand: Its been nearly 3 years since we last looked at the Albackore II tackle backpack. Since then the company has grown, and so has their product diversity. The Albackore II has now been updated to become the Albacore 3 and 5 backpacks (depending on configuration). In our last review we deducted points for two things. At the time it was difficult for many anglers to procure the original bags, and it was somewhat difficult to get the tackle boxes into the shelved bag. In 3 years a lot of things have changed, and now Albackore bags are widely distributed nationwide, chances are your local tackle shop has the bags on the retail shelf. To address the tackle box issue Albackore actually went beyond the call of duty and designed their very own utility boxes! Today in addition to tackle bags the company has also added reel transports and jig wraps to their impressive line card of tackle management solutions.


From the people who brought you the Albackore backpack, introducing the smaller more portable Altunative

Albackore is located in Southern California, and it is no secret that the majority of their tackle solutions are aimed at saltwater anglers. While they are built to withstand the rigors of offshore angling, they certainly can be employed for inshore and freshwater applications as well. The Altunative is not just a scaled down version of the Albackore backpack bag, this bag was made to address the needs of anglers that often go on 3-4 day charter trips, bass anglers, and those who simply require a smaller more portable bag. The Altunative features the same rugged construction as the Albackore but adds some nice creature comforts like small enclosed pockets, mesh outer pockets, a license window, and a sunglass holder. Upon initial observation the overall construction looked excellent, and the same quality construction that won us over with the original Albackore II looked like it had translated to the Altunative.


The Altunative is primarily designed for shorter offshore expeditions


The Real World Test: We tested the Altunative on a number of offshore Salmon and giant Humboldt squid runs, as well as used the bag on a number of bass fishing trips to see if the bag was capable of adequately addressing the needs of freshwater anglers. We tested the bag for a total of three months, alternating between these various applications.


The Altunative has upgraded small tooth zippers, which are easy to operate and corrosion resistant


The Design & Layout: The Altunative's design is similar the Albackore backpacks, just smaller. The main chamber comes with three Albackore configurable utility boxes, and are held in place via configurable shelves. The right side of the bag has a fully sealable pouch which offers plenty of storage for tools or two more boxes placed vertically. This enormous side pocket is so large that it can be used to hold fully loaded jig wraps, water bottles, or even a fighting belt. The left side of the bag has two sealable pouches, one is a medium sized pouch which we found is the perfect size to hold bags of plastics. The left upper pouch is designed for electronics or sunglasses.


The top section of the bag is also configurable, and can be divided in three sections. This compartment can be used to hold backup reels, tools, or even personal belongings. This entire top section is padded nicely, and offers reasonable protection 360 degrees around your items. While you can't sit on the bag it is quite rigid and well reinforced throughout.


The top compartment is configurable and ideal for spare reels and electronics. The entire section is reinforced and padded

If you already own an Albackore bag and have existing storage boxes or want to buy accessories like Albackore's insulated lunch box, rest assured that these items can be fully integrated into the Altunative. Albackore's lunchbox can replace 2 shelved boxes, or can be fully nested into the top section, or even strapped in on top of the bag. Albackore's small reel transport can also be stacked and secured on top of the Altunative as well.


The bag comes with three of Albackore's own customizable utility boxes

Albackore Utility Boxes: Because the shelving is configurable anglers can purchase a range of different Albackore or Plano utility boxes. Albackore manufactures extra large (36D) boxes which are large enough to hold full sized jigs, tools, or even pork jars. Each box has a front handle grip in the center of each box. This allows you to draw the boxes from the bag with just one finger. Albackore tackle stresses flexibility in all their designs, allowing anglers to really tailor their tackle management to fit their needs. One such example is are the optional color coded latch packs. Albackore tackle boxes are superior to standard Plano boxes because the sliding latches will never break with repeated use. Each bag comes with three blue latched boxes, but you can easily change out these latches with colored latches, this is especially useful for bass anglers who want to draw the right lures quickly. Another often overlooked feature is that each box comes with all the dividers perfectly pre-inserted. On other boxes you often have to cut tabs and configure the sections yourself.


The Albackore utility boxes are easy to customize, and you can even change latch colors for easier identification


Plentiful Storage: On our tests we found that the Altunative offered enough storage for both short and long range trips up to 4 days. Beyond that you may need the supplementary storage the Albackore 3 or 5 backpack bags offer. We love the huge right pocket, which we used to store our tools and water bottles. When freshwater fishing we found the bag's mesh pockets on the front and left side excellent for stowing small items quickly. When we cut off our plastics we would toss them in the mesh pocket, allowing them to dry off before we put them away. The Altunative has just the right amount of storage for bass anglers. Because the Albackore utility boxes are interchangeable its very easy to alternate fresh and saltwater duty simply by rotating out boxes.


The side pocket is massive, and capable of holding 2 more boxes vertically, or a excess of tools


Ergonomics: The Altunative can be rather heavy when fully loaded with heavy saltwater tackle, but the load is reasonable to bear with the well padded over the shoulder strap. The Altunative doesn't offer the same flexibility of the Albackore backpacks, but is easy enough to carry from the car to the charter boat. The shoulder strap's length can be easily adjusted to meet individual preferences. The one thing we would have loved to see on this bag is a single handle like that found on the Albackore II. This would allow anglers to move the bag around the boat by simply reaching down and grabbing the main bag instead of having to hold onto the shoulder strap. Overall ease of use of the configurable shelving and dividers is excellent, and the bag gets high marks for flexibility, enabling anglers to really customize the bag to suit their individual purposes.


Detail in design is what the Altunative is all about. The bag has a license window, exterior mesh pockets, a removable adjustable shoulder strap, and reinforced bottom with sure grip legs


Durability: The original Albackore backpack was extremely durable and we would be highly disappointed if the Altunative didn't showcase the same permanence. After multiple stress tests and 3 months of abuse we are happy to say that the Altunative definitely lives up to the Albackore brand name. We purposely overloaded the bag with downrigger cannonballs and hung the bag for three days to see if there would be any damage to the stitching or shoulder strap. After three days of torture we unloaded the lead and conducted a thorough examination of the bag. The plastic buckles that connect the bag to the straps were in perfect shape and while the bottom of the bag was concave for a short while it eventually rebounded nicely. This bag is built out of tough 600D nylon, and reinforced with PVC and plastic. The bottom of the bag is plastic and will not soak up moisture from wet decks. The Altunative also has a stitched in pyramid leg pad in each of it's four corners. These rubber legs hold the bag elevated off the boat deck, as well as prevent it from slipping around when the watercraft is moving.

The sunglass holder is a nice touch


Price: The Altunative is priced at 79.99 which is 20 dollars less than the Albackore backpack bags. Basically just as the name suggests, the Altunative offers anglers and alternative to traditional bulky bags. What we like about the bag is though it is small in overall height it manages to offer anglers about 85% of the Albackore backpack's storage with the inclusion of the mammoth side pocket. When we first reviewed the Albackore backpack it was the very first of its kind. Since then there have been a number of new tackle bags released, some of which are obvious rip offs, others that do offer some unique innovations. The Altunative, like it's predecessor, is unique.



Albackore Altunative Tackle Bag Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality While some follow up products disappoint, the Altunative proves to be a quality solution. The Altunative doesn't seek to reinvent the wheel, rather it builds upon the success of the Award Winning Albackore 9
Performance Excellent performance in multiple stress tests and applications 9
Price Decent price for a tackle solution that is able to offer so much in terms of features and construction. There are a number of anew tackle solutions that doe cost slightly less, but few can match the Altunative's stunning good looks and flexible design 8.5
Features The Altunative falls slightly short of the many features offered in the Albackore backpack, but proves to be a solid design overall 9
Design (Ergonomics) The Altunative is a great car to boat bag. While it can be carried short distances it doesn't have the portability of its bigger brother. The ergonomics would have been perfect if it had a small handle for quick positioning 8.5
Application This tackle system is great for fishing saltwater and fresh, and for both boat and shore applications. The size is great for bass anglers, and can easily be tucked under any bass boat's dual console 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Durable materials L No handle strap for quick one handed portability
J Rigid PVC frame strong  
J Flexible drawer system  
J New Albackore utility boxes are excellent  
J Compatible with existing Albackore products  

Conclusion: The team at Albackore did their homework, and it shows. The Altunative is a quality alternative to the bulky and oversized bags that most saltwater anglers have felt compelled to carry.  Though smaller in overall dimensions, most anglers will be surprised how much the bag is still able to hold. With near perfect design, and quality ergonomics, this flexible tackle management system isn't just for offshore anglers. Bass anglers will find the size of the bag easy to manage, perfect for tucking under the dual console on their bass rigs. The well thought out design allows those anglers that dabble in both fresh and saltwater to easily and quickly adapt the bag to multiple roles by simply switching out boxes, and Albackore makes it easy to do this with various utility boxes, reel transports, jig wraps, and lunchboxes that are all compatible. The Altunative is the best bag we have seen in a while, and wins an Editors Choice Award for a great balance of configurability, wealth of features, and reasonable price. The only bag that we have tested to date that actually beats the Altunative is the Albackore backpack, but for those times when a smaller more compact bag will do, the Altunative steps up to the occasion.


Until Next Time....Tight Lines!









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