Every pilot needs a good flight bag.
Whether you’re jumping in a Cessna for your very first training flight, or you’re a pilot with thousands of hours under your belt, this article will help you find the best flight bag to meet your needs.
Before we jump into the flight bag reviews, however, let’s talk about what makes a good flight bag.
What to Look for in a Flight Bag
They type of flight bag you buy will largely depend on the type of flying you do.
If you’re a brand new student pilot, you may want a larger bag to carry all of the extra study materials you’ll need when you’re at the airport.
If you just fly occasionally, or always go on short day trips, you can usually get away with a smaller bag that will just fit your headset and iPad/charts.
Of course, if you’re an airline pilot, or about to be one, you’ll want a much larger bag for those overnight flights.
Overall, you’ll want a bag made out of a durable material that won’t wear down easily.
What to Carry in Your Flight Bag
Every pilot has different opinions on what the essential flight bag gear is but in general, you’ll always have these items:
- Pilot certificate and Medical
- Backup Batteries (if needed)
- Extra charts
- Water & snacks
- Fuel Tester
As you look at bags, it may help to write out a list of everything you’d like to be able to carry with you. Some pilots also like to have a backup radio and other emergency/backup gear.
Whatever you decide, make sure you buy a bag with enough storage space to comfortably fit everything.
Now that you know what gear you need to store in your flight bag, let’s take a look at some of the best options on the market.
Best Flight Bags for Student Pilots
Editors Pick: Flight Outfitters Lift Flight Bag Review
The Flight Outfitters Lift Flight Bag is a sturdy and highly convenient flight bag that’s easy to carry in one hand but also offers ample space for everything you could need.
There’s a separate pouch for a water bottle for easy access, or a back-up radio pocket. There’s also a fuel tester pocket, and 2 external chart pockets.
The fleece-lined headset pockets make sure that your headset will be kept in place, while the adjustable shoulder strap makes it easy to carry around the airport.
Dimensions are 12”x10.5”x9”.
What’s great about this bag is just how clearly it has been designed specifically for pilots – with lots of thoughtful compartments and design features. The manufacturer Flight Outfitters is well known for creating premium pilot products, and this bag is no different.
The bag is also particularly sturdy and compact, meaning it doesn’t get in your way and you’ll never have to worry about damaging your possessions.
The bag comes in a few different colors, mainly with a black body and colored accents. The fleece interior is lined orange to make it easier to find in the dark.
The drawback is that this bag is relatively small and with very specific pockets. That is to say that it isn’t quite as versatile as some other bags on this list. Some buyers might also prefer a leather aesthetic.
Given it's compact size, adequate storage space and durable material this flight bag is perfect for both student pilots and flight instructors.
Flight Gear HP iPad Bag Review
As he name suggests, the Flight Gear HP iPad bag was designed around the iPad. And, given that nearly every pilot you'll meet flies with an iPad or tablet, there's a huge market for this type of bag.
As you might expect then, the bag features a large, padded iPad pocket that has a handy pass-through slot for charging.
It likewise comes with the usual headset hanger, water bottle, and fuel tester pockets, organizer pocket (with key ring) and more.
Its compact size once again ensures that it won’t get in the way, and makes it perfect for fitting into cockpits or under chairs.
The front of the bag unzips entirely, which means you’ll be able to easily get in and access all the things you need.
Measurements are 12”x7.5”x132. This makes it just slightly bigger than the previous entry.
The bag only comes in one color, which is black and cyan.
Like the previous option, this bag is very structured with very clearly defined compartments for specific roles. If you hang your headphones inside, this doesn’t leave a lot of space for additional items – such as lunch or a few books.
The Flight Gear HP iPad Bag is another excellent option for pilots who really don't need to carry too much stuff on their flight and around the airport. It's a well designed bag that makes just about every pocket easy to access.
AirClassics Dispatch Pilot Bag Review
This bag is the smallest on the list and less rigid than the previous two options. It functions just like a standard shoulder bag. This will appeal to some readers and not others.
While it isn't rigid, it is made from a durable 600D polyester and the interior tablet pocket is also padded.
The interior is also very spacious with two separate pockets including the main compartment and smaller area for charts and any other small documents. The large space provides room for headsets, along with one or two other items.
You’ll also find a front pocket with space for pens and spare batteries, side slots for fuel testers, flashlights, and water bottles, and an adjustable strap. Note that the water bottle pocket is not specifically intended for that role and won’t fit all bottles.
The interior is lined blue to make it easier to find what you’re looking for in the dark.
While the front compartment is front opening, the two main pockets need to be accessed from the top.
Dimensions are 11.5”x9”x4.5”.
The AirClassics Dispatch Flight Bag is perfect for the pilot on a budget. It can easily store the essential gear you need for your flights. If you'll be using this bag as a student pilot, you may want to consider also bringing a backpack to the airport for any additional study materials you need for your lessons.
Flight Gear HP Crosswind Bag Review
This bag is a little different from some of the others on the list so far. This is shaped more like a gym bag, being a longer and more oblong design.
That said, it's still a rather compact bag and the simple handle makes it easy to carry in one hand.
This shape gives it a much larger main compartment, which the manufacturer describes as “cavernous” (perhaps a tad generous!).
There’s certainly a lot of room in here for books, a kneeboard, and some extra gear compared to the first three bags.
It also comes with many of the benefits you associate with the Flight Gear brand, such as a high visibility interior for easily finding things in the dark, exterior pockets for fuel testers and water bottles, and a comfortable padded strap.
That said, it only comes in a single color and has fewer “specialty” pockets for pilots. It also lacks any additional reinforcement that would make it more durable.
This is a simpler, more affordable design. It will do the job for most, but perhaps lacks the wow factor of some options here, or the extreme practicality.
The Flight Gear HP Crosswind is an excellent bag for pilot's who want a small bag but still need some extra gear that won't fit in the smaller bags mentioned above.
In particular, this bag is great for flight students who have a small stack of books and manuals they need to haul around every day at the airport.
Best Flight Bags for Private Pilots
Myogloflight PLC Pro Flight Bag Backpack Review
Likewise, the amount of storage it affords will also be very beneficial for many. The entire front compartment opens up, allowing easy access to the roomy interior.
Here, you’ll be able to store an iPad in a pocket, as well as numerous other gadgets and tools in the mesh pockets on the opposite side. These are perfect for headphones, cables, chargers, and more. A handy strap is also perfect for fuel-testers.
The only downsides here are the price, and the fact that it is somewhat large, meaning you’ll need a bit more storage space for it.
BrightLine Flex B7 Flight – Echo Review
The B7 Flight-Echo is a somewhat different beast compared with the other options on this list so far.
This is a much larger bag that has a thicker depth and a whole lot of pockets. Seriously. This bag has pockets everywhere.
In fact, it has three separate attachment points for shoulder straps – and even three pockets right on the front!
It definitely took a while to remember what pocket was storing what.
The bag comes with a SPE instead of a SPA, a big adjustable water bottle pocket. It also has a particularly strong main handle with slots for a J-hook.
The B7 Flight is designed specifically for airline captains, but is suitable for everyone else too. The huge number of pockets, compartments, and zippers means there is plenty of room for all the gear you need.
And with a whole lot of storage space, it’s ideal for a large number of personal uses as well. This will easily hold an iPad AND a keyboard, including cases. You can even fit a 13" MacBook Pro in here, along with a ton of adapters and documents!
And you can actually fit two sets of headphones in!
Despite all this, it's actually rather compact and easy to carry in one hand – though it might create a few more space challenges than some of the other options we’ve looked at so far.
It’s tough, though it isn’t specially reinforced as some other options on this list are.
One other handy feature on this bag is its ability to separate into different bags. So if you're headed to the airport to fly IFR and need more gear you can bring the whole thing. If it's a VFR day, you can separate the bag and take just take a third of the bag.
No other brand on the list has this unique functionality.
The BrightLine Flex B7 Flight Echo bag was designed for airline pilots. So if you're headed to the airlines (or already there) this may be a great option for you. If your the type of private pilot who always wants to prepared for anything (and thus need lots of gear) this bag is perfect for you.
Flight Gear HP Tailwind Pilot Backpack Review
Flight Gear HP make great bags for pilots, and this flight bag backpack is no different.
If you need to haul more stuff around the airport this backpack is exactly what you need.
Like other bags, the entire front will zip open to provide easy access. Here, there’s ample internal space for a headset which can remain suspended and protected.
There are iPad sleeves, and enough space around the rest to fit a host of other items.
As usual, you’ll also get side pockets for a fuel tester and water bottle.
It’s not the most premium looking bag and nor does it have the very best selection of pockets. It’s also a little larger than some of the other options here.
With all that said, if you’re looking for a pilot bag you can wear on your back, this is a very strong choice.
Flight Outfitters Brush Pilot Bag Review
This bag comes in a light canvas that has leather accents.
It stands out immediately from the crowd thanks to its color scheme, while the leather elements make it feel premium without limiting the practicality.
The padded headphone pockets (two of them!) mean you don’t waste previous internal storage, of which there is plenty.
The interior is large enough to store a lot of additional items, while the metal reinforced handle is enough to hold weightier items.
This is another bag from the excellent Flight Outfitters, and again comes with a lot of extremely thoughtful design features.
For example, the Brush Pilot Bag features a pass through strap on the back which lets you easily slide it over rolling luggage handles. The orange interior meanwhile makes it easy to find things in a dark cockpit.
We love this bag, but it’s a shame the design won’t be to all tastes.
Lightspeed Aviation – The Markham, Leather Flight Bag Review
For this writer, a flight bag should be a premium item for a successful professional. And for this writer, a premium bag should be leather.
That’s what makes this such a standout option, along with many other excellent features such as the center zipper that opens to reveal a large interior compartment that is more than spacious enough for headsets, charts, and all your other gear.
The front is divided with an organizer pocket for useful items and documents. A zippered rear pocket is great for storing iPads, and the side pockets are ideal for water bottles and fuel checkers – or you can use it for storing a transceiver thanks to the handy antenna-on storage feature.
There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can check out the bag first and return it if it’s not for you.
Of course, there is a trade-off with leather and this option is not as structured or reinforced as some others. It’s also not likely to hold up as well to the weather. But if you want something really premium with lots of pilot-centric features, the Markham is a cut above.
Have a recommendation we missed? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to check out the best books for pilots and add them to your flight bag!