Luggage is an important aspect of flying and ensuring that you have the right storage capacity with various items in their right place can make traveling so much easier. That’s for passengers as well as pilots.
You may need to find your pilot license, flashlight, or navigational charts all at short notice, and knowing where they are can save time and stress.
If you do not have adequate space in your backpack, you may struggle to fit everything you need.
For a student pilot, this could mean your study materials that you could be using during the flight or swotting up on during downtime.
Occasional flyers may want to carry their sunglasses for optimum vision or bring their iPad and a headset.
Then there are airline pilots who need more storage for all their overnight flights, including a change of clothes and toiletries.
The material and how easy it is to carry are also fundamental aspects that go into deciding on a backpack.
No matter, if you are flying a commercial aircraft, a jetliner, or a humble Cessna airplane, a flight bag is essential and that could mean a backpack.
So we are here today with the best pilot backpack! Keep reading to see our top recommendations, and be sure to check out our buyer’s guide and FAQ section to help you find the perfect backpack today.
Best For Dedicated Pockets
Best For Convertibility BACKPACK
Best For Frequent Flyers
Best For Dedicated Pockets
The best backpack for a pilot should have everything in its right place.
With the Waypoint Backpack, you can make sure your fuel tester, sunglasses, flashlight, and radio are protected in their own ideally sized pocket.
This should prove very ideal when flying and the backpack’s signature orange interior should make it simple to find your items at night, even in a dark cockpit.
Steel-reinforced handles also signal durability and sturdiness when lifting.
Then there are specific padded compartments for your laptop and tablet which could come in very handy when you need to travel with them and need to keep them protected.
All those fiddly little items, such as business cards, pens, and pencils, that you want to keep separate can all be housed in an organizer pocket so they prove easy to find.
There is also plenty of room at the bottom for a change of clothes which is ideal for overnight flying.
- Dedicated Pockets - There is a specific pocket for your fuel tester, flashlight, sunglasses, and radio
- Padded Laptop And Tablet Compartments - Keep your laptop and tablet safe with padded compartments
- Organizer Pocket - Ideally sized slots for your business cards, pens, and other items
Steel-Reinforced Handles - Durable handles for reliably carrying
- Too Many Pockets - If you do not have to carry certain items, the dedicated pockets may prove unnecessary
Also Available At: Flight Outfitters
Best For Convertibility BACKPACK
Your backpack should work for you and that may mean convertibility when you need it.
The Top Power Laptop Transformable Convertible Backpack has a simple enough design but a panel can be unzipped to unveil three compartments, alongside several other organizational pockets.
These are an ideal solution for those separate items that you want to ensure have their place in your backpack yet you could use this for all sorts of traveling.
Wherever you take it, the convertible backpack should prove reliable with a lifetime warranty and durable nylon fabric.
While you may not be carrying it all day through the airport, the humidity may change which is why an airflow back panel can save you from suffering a sweaty back.
For all other times, the padded straps should mean easy carrying without suffering fatigue.
- Convertible Design - Simply unzip the panel to use three specific compartments
- Organizational Pockets - Designed to keep specific items in relevant compartments
- Padded Straps - Carry the backpack without suffering fatigue, an airflow back panel prevents a sweaty back too
- Lifetime Warranty - With top-quality and durable nylon fabric, you can expect long-lasting performance
- Garish Colors - Some users have noted that the colors can be garish once the panel is unzipped
Also Available At: eBay
Best For Frequent Flyers
Yes, it may come with a higher price tag than most yet the MYGOFLIGHT Pro iPad and Laptop Water-Resistant Ballistic Nylon Aviation Backpack is a sound investment.
For a frequent flier, you can forget about worrying about where to place your items, or how to find them.
The self-standing shell means it can be sat on the ground while you carefully rummage through it.
Also ideal if you want to place the bag while filling it as you can lay your change of clothes at the bottom and then work your way up.
It should not be too hard to find whatever you have packed, mesh pockets make your items visible when packed.
Then there is a quick grab pocket for those items you may need to find at short notice including your wallet, passport, or other crucial documentation.
The ballistic nylon combines style with durability which is even more evident with MGF Deluxe Zippers that will last and last.
- Ballistic Nylon - This rugged material is ideal for pilots who aim for durability with style
- Mesh Pockets - Be able to see the items you have packed
- Self-Standing Shell - Easy access inside while it’s positioned perfectly on its own
- Quick Grab Pocket - Ideal for crucial items such as your passport or wallet
- MGF Deluxe Zippers - Superbly engineered for enhanced durability and strength
- High Price Tag - Unless you are a frequent flier, the price may be hard to justify
Also Available At: MYGOFLIGHT
Best For Carrying A Laptop/Tablet
For many pilots, a laptop is an essential item that they simply cannot be without during, or after, a flight.
With the Travelpro Crew Executive Choice 2 Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Backpack, your laptop is well protected with a dedicated padded pocket.
There is even a separate sleeve for a tablet though you could use this for charts too.
If you are unfortunate to suffer turbulence during a flight you should be confident that your laptop and tablet will be intact.
The dedicated backpack has a power bank pocket that is fully compliant with FAA regulations to be used with a USB charger as both carry-on and checked baggage.
Even more, protection comes from Duraguard, a coating that resists stains and abrasions.
A high-density ballistic nylon fabric also proves reliably durable and there is even a pocket to keep your passport safe known as Travelpro ID TheftBlock.
- Padded Laptop Protection - Ensure that you can look after your standard-sized laptop properly with a padded pocket that comes with a separate sleeve for a tablet
- USB Charger - The power bank pocket meets FAA regulations for both carry-on and checked baggage with an external USB port
- Duraguard - The coating resists abrasions and stains and is well-combined with high-density ballistic nylon fabric
- Travelpro ID TheftBlock - The pocket ensures that your passport is protected against loss
- Requires A Laptop - If you are not carrying a laptop, a lot of the storage space is wasted on that one requirement
Also Available At: Travelpro
Best For Student Pilots
If there is a brand that you can depend on for aviation supplies, it should be Aviation Supplies & Academics.
Their pilot (see also "Best Gifts For Pilots") backpacks are ideal for a student or private pilot and offer a subtle option that still has decent storage space.
The 600D polyester also proves durable while a water-resistant bottom will look after your documentation and charts.
Spillages can occur so it is good peace of mind to go with a water-resistant option, especially if you need to place your backpack on the wet tarmac during a walkaround.
Four zippered compartments can be used for various items and contrast lining can make it even easier to find them.
A backpack should be relatively effortless to carry and a chest strap, as well as padded comfort straps, are ideal.
For such convenient carrying, this backpack proves decent value for money making it a good option for those pilots starting.
- 600D Polyester - An ideal material for extreme durability and long-lasting dependability
- Water-Resistant Bottom - Keep your belongings try, even when the backpack is sitting in water
- Padded Comfort Straps - Easy to carry with a chest strap for even more comfortable carrying
- Contrast Lining - Make it even easier to find items based on the lining
- Not Ideal For Overnight Flights - Anyone requiring a change of clothes and more items may struggle to fit them all in
Also Available At: Aviation Supplies & Academics
Best Pilot Backpack Buying Guide
No matter what type of aircraft you intend to fly, you will need to have a flight bag to carry all of your essential items to ensure you have everything you need.
That could be a backpack and it should ensure it has storage space so you do not leave without an item that may prove vital for everyday flying and especially during an emergency.
Your backpack should also be an extension of your personality as a pilot so it should be organized and look the part.
While you may have considered a backpack to be perhaps a little nerdy, they can now look very sophisticated which should be ideal for someone in uniform.
The number of compartments should align with the number of different items you have to carry and their various sizes.
There will be charts that can be sorted flatly and bulky items that need to be stored on their own.
You may also want your more essential items towards the top so they can be easily found while less necessary items can be stored at the bottom and only come out when you empty the backpack, such as your change of clothes.
Keeping your laptop and/or your tablet protected in their padded pocket may also be a good feature to look out for.
Let’s dive in now and look a little closer at the areas you should be considering when purchasing your backpack.
There are some essential items for any pilot to carry in their flight bag or backpack.
Top of the list should be your documentation including your pilot certificate/license, passport, airport ID, and medical documents.
To fly, you will also need an aviation headset and even some backup batteries and ear defenders for your walkarounds.
You may need to make sure you can carry your iPad and some extra navigational and aeronautical charts and maps just in case, as well as a pen and pencil.
A flashlight would also come in handy to check those difficult spots in the cockpit.
Your pilot kneeboard will also help keep your paperwork in one place so you can remain organized while flying.
Make room for your fuel tester, aviation radio, pilot logbook, charging cords, flight computer, ADS-B receiver sunglasses, and ensure you bring along some water and a few snacks too.
There may be other items that you simply cannot be without which may include alcohol wipes for a quick clean of your cockpit so check the storage space so you can fit them all in.
For overnight flights, a pilot should always carry their toiletries which may need some substantial room if you want to include your deodorants, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, moisturizer, and face towel.
You may also want to carry a change of clothes and carry your wallet in your backpack.
An important aspect to remember with the storage space is to make sure that there is so much essential equipment that you can pilot the aircraft safely, nothing should be left out. If you cannot fit it in, you simply have to find a new backpack that will allow you to do so.
There is no leeway in deciding which items to pack and which you can do without as certain items are indispensable for regular flying and in emergencies.
Failure to pack your charts or your essential documentation could get you into some real trouble before you even take off.
The most practical backpacks will have a sufficient number of compartments to store various items. This could be charts and books, but also more bulky items like headsets and radios.
Knowing where certain items are is also important so you can find them quickly and those seconds could prove vital during an emergency.
Grabbing that correct chart, slipping on your aviation headset without having to untangle wires, and even finding a pen should all be easy.
Ideally, each compartment should have its use and be its ideal shape to fit an item.
For instance, a thin divider inside the inner lining of the backpack could be the ideal slot for your charts whereas a fastened pocket should be perfect for storing your radio.
An organizer pocket that comes with slots for certain items such as pens is also a good feature to consider.
Size And Weight
Backpacks can prove to be a stable type of flight bag yet you should be careful that it is not too heavy before you begin to fill them.
A pilot should be aware of how important weight is with luggage, just as it is for passengers.
An ideal size fits in all your essential gear, as well as a few other optional items, but still fits in the small space that lies behind your seat.
Having to cram the backpack in under the seat could cause damage to the seat and the items inside.
You also do not want a backpack that is too large for a short flight as that can be considered overkill and an unnecessary waste of space.
Any backpack should be made from durable material and standard choices include polyester or nylon.
These usually prove inexpensive yet still offer adequate protection while remaining malleable so you can fit one into a tight space.
Buying a water-resistant backpack should mean you can use it for years and years while also being able to wash it easily.
Best Pilot Backpack - FAQ's
Check out our FAQ section before you leave us to have any last-minute questions answered!
Do Pilots Check-In Their Bags?
Pilots and their cabin crew typically travel with two bags. You will often see a pilot go through an airport with their flight bag, which usually has wheels, strapped onto their carry-on bag.
The flight bag could also be a backpack to carry a pilot’s essentials that are required for flying.
While a passenger will be allowed to carry a bag onto the plane, a pilot will likely have a larger one to carry the specific equipment they need to fly.
Why Do Some Pilots Carry A Backpack While Others Use A Business Backpack?
Pilots have their preferences and may only need to carry certain things depending on which aircraft they are flying.
For instance, for short flights where you are expected to be returning to your home base, only a business briefcase is required for essential documentation, personal items such as keys and wallet, then maybe some food.
A business briefcase will therefore be ideal for low-cost airline pilots, flight instructors, and short-haul pilots.
Those who have longer layovers will likely prefer a larger suitcase, preferably one with wheels so they can carry a change of clothes and toiletries.
They will still be required to carry essential documentation, items and charts so require a bit more room for the prolonged duration of their layover.