Every pilot, whether you have just started flying lessons or have been flying commercially for a number of years, needs a dependable flight bag to store and preferably smartly organize all the essentials you need on a flight.
Our Top 5 Picks
- Best Overall: Brightline Bags Flex B7 Flex, “Thanks to its modular design, you are able to tailor the bag to specifically meet your packing requirements.”
- Best for Student Pilots: ASA AirClassics Flight Bag,“The ASA AirClassics Flight Bag is very popular with student pilots due to its low price, and compact and sturdy design.”
- Best Flight Backpack: ASA AirClassics Pilot Backpack ,“If you prefer to carry your flight gear in a backpack the ASA AirClassics is a good choice.”
- Best Leather Bag: Lightspeed Aviation – The Gann, “A beautiful looking flight bag for who pilots who want their bag to be just as stylish as practical.”
- Best with Wheels: Travelpro Luggage Crew 11,“Travelpro has long been trusted by flight crew for their durable, well-thought-out luggage.”
What You Should Know
Our aim is to be as transparent as possible, so you should know:
- We picked the best flight bags for pilots by taking a look at each bag’s size and weight, number of compartments, material (polyester, codura, nylon, ballistic nylon, canvas, and leather), and durability from brands including Brightline, Travelpro, Crewgear, Flight Outfitters, Jeppesen, Aerocoast, Lightspeed, and ASA until just the best remained.
- We considered rollaboards, backpacks, spinners, totes, duffels, and coolers for student pilots on a tight budget to professional and private pilots.
- We have made our recommendations based on thousands of owner reviews, including a combination of testing and firsthand experience, and flight bag reviews from other outlets.
The 5 Best Flight Bags for Pilots
Brightline Bags Flex B7 Flex – Best Overall
Very popular with pilots thanks to its modular design. Now updated with a J-Hook handle and Side Pocket Echo
The Brightline Flex B7 is the updated version of the hugely popular B7. It was updated to better meet pilot needs.
One of the main changes is an SPE (Side Pocket Echo) instead of SPA (Side Pocket Alpha). This simply means that the pocket is now highly adjustable and can accommodate larger items. For reference, you can hold a water bottle from 0.5L to 1.5L in size. The other main change is the handle that now has slots for a J-Hook.
The reason why the B7 and now B7E is so popular with pilots is due to their versatility. Thanks to its modular design, you are able to tailor the bag to specifically meet your packing requirements.
If you’re taking a short trip, you can downsize the bag to just pack what you need and nothing more. If you’re flying cross-country or will be away for a long period of time the bag can accommodate a full set of flight gear. This is achieved by being able to swap out or completely remove the compartments.
This eliminates the need of having to buy and use both a smaller and larger bag that is better suited for different journeys.
The B7E can hold two full-sized headsets, an iPad, a large water bottle, kneeboard, laptop, a full suite of charts, a handheld radio, a few items of clothing, and generally anything else a pilot will ever need with them. We weren’t kidding when we said you can take your full flight gear with you.
ASA AirClassics Flight Bag – Best Flight Bag for Student Pilots
The HP Crosswind is very popular with student pilots due to its low price, roomy interior, and sturdy design
If you’re a student pilot you probably don’t want to spend too much on a flight bag just yet. You just need an affordable, dependable bag with enough space. The ASA AirClassics Flight Bag is just the ticket.
The zippered pockets on both ends of the bag will comfortably fit any sized headset or other items like a tablet or book while also providing a suitable amount of protection.
There is also a zippered compartment with pockets on the front of the bag that is ideal for smaller items like a flashlight and fuel tester.
The bag is also designed to be water-repellent, lightweight, and comfortable to carry thanks to its sturdy, padded, connectable handles.
The ASA AirClassics Flight Bag may be slightly on the small side, but in our opinion its compact design is a plus for student pilots who need a dependable, inexpensive flight bag when starting out.
ASA AirClassics Pilot Backpack – Best Flight Backpack
If you prefer to carry your flight gear in a backpack the ASA AirClassics Pilot Backpack is a good choice
If you would prefer a backpack to store all your flight gear, you’re not alone. They are becoming more and more popular with pilots, and the ASA AirClassics Pilot Backpack is your best choice.
Designed specifically for pilots but also suitable for everyday use, the backpack has enough space for all your gear. Four zippered compartments ensure that there is enough space for all your gear and equipment, whether that be your aviation headset, handheld radio, flight computer, laptop, sunglasses, books, or anything else you need to take with you as you fly.
Don’t think that the AirClassics backpack isn’t comfortable either. It offers a good amount of breathability, and the shoulder straps are nicely padded.
Lightspeed Aviation – The Gann – Best Leather Flight Bag
Made from South American cowhide, the Gann is a beautiful looking flight bag for who pilots who want their bag to be just as stylish as practical
Lightspeed makes some of the best aviation headsets for professional and private pilots, and the same applies to their flight bags too. The Lightspeed Gann is a beautiful looking flight bag handmade from full-grain, oiled South American cowhide.
It’s not all style over substance, though. The bag will hold up and even improve in appearance over the years and with frequent use and is large enough to fit all your flight gear. You can carry it by its top handle, shoulder strap, or on top of a rolling carry-on thanks to its rear strap.
At the front, there are two pockets: one for your handheld radio with a cut-out flap to accommodate the antenna, and an organizer pocket for easy access to smaller items and accessories.
At the back, you can store documents and other flat items. The main compartment is spacious enough to hold your larger items like a headset – we recommend getting the Organizer Insert too.
The Gann may be expensive, but it will definitely last, and doesn’t look out of place when used outside of pilot duties due to its good looking design.
Travelpro Luggage Crew 11 – Best Flight Bag With Wheels
Travelpro has long been popular with flight crew, and the Crew 11 continues that trend with its wheeled flight bag that is backed by a lifetime warranty
Wheels or no wheels, Travelpro has long been trusted by flight crew for their durable, well-thought-out luggage. The Crew 11, though, is a particularly good choice if you want a flight bag with wheels.
It is made out of ballistic nylon fabric, which is one of the most durable (and expensive) materials that luggage can be made from. Clearly built to last, this explains how Travelpro is able to offer a lifetime warranty.
One of the best features of the Crew 11 is its dedicated charger pocket and an external USB port that recharges any USB device. Another great feature is its deluxe suiter to keep clothes, particularly suits, dresses, and dress shirts wrinkle-free.
Other Flight Bags We Reviewed
We took a lot at several other flight bags. Here are the ones that are worth checking out.
Lightspeed Aviation – the Markham is another beautiful looking leather bag that is cheaper than the Gann but without as much storage space.
Student pilots have a few more suitable options. The Jeppesen – Student Pilot Bag is similarly priced to the Crosswind and would make a good alternative. The Flight Outfitters Lift is more than double the price of both and is a good choice for pilots looking for a more compact design.
Another recommended flight bag with wheels also comes from Travelpro. The Crew Executive Choice 2 is smaller than the Crew 11 (17 inches instead of 21), but is made from the same tough ballistic nylon, and also has an external USB charging port.
The KAKA Travel Backpack isn’t designed with pilots in mind, but it’s worth checking out for its low price and sturdy design.
How We Picked the Best Flight Bags for Pilots
Type of Pilot Bag
Some pilot bags have wheels, others don’t, some can be carried as backpacks while others use a shoulder strap or just a handle. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong choice, as it comes down to preference. You will often find that bags are designed to have more than one carrying option.
Size and Weight
Think about the size of your cockpit, and what you will pack in your flight bag. If it’s always just a few essentials for short flights, a large bag will be overkill. Conversely, you don’t want to be too restricted in what you can pack either. This is why a bag like the BrightLine B7 Echo is so popular, as it offers you both options.
Think about the weight too. While the material of a bag plays a role in its weight, it primarily comes down to the size of the bag itself.
Number of Compartments
For some pilots, there can’t be enough compartments. After all, what pilot doesn’t want their gear to be easily accessible? However, it’s a good idea to strike the right balance between the number of compartments and storage space.
While more compartments may mean better organization, this can come at the expense of storage space.
- Leather: Not only does a flight bag made out of leather look great and may even improve in appearance with age, but it will also be highly durable. Leather might mean a heavier bag but when the trade-off is style and durability it soon becomes worth it. Prepare to pay more for the privilege though.
- Ballistic Nylon: Ballistic nylon was originally intended to protect aircraft personnel from shrapnel, bullets, and other ballistic impacts (hence the name). Therefore, when you see a flight bag made from the material, you can be sure that it will last.
- Cordura Nylon: Cordura is another form of nylon. Compared to ballistic nylon, cordura is not as durable (its tear strength is not as high), but it is more abrasion resistant and lighter.
- Polyester: Polyester is a cheap fabric, so you will find the more inexpensive pilot bags are made out of it. However, the durability of polyester can vary. It’s measured in Deniers, so the higher the value you see the more durable the bag it will be.
- Canvas: Canvas is another highly durable material. Canvas isn’t commonly used in the manufacture of flight bags. It is more common in the making of sails, marquees, and backups. You will typically only see Flight Outfitters bags made from this material.
There are many flight bag manufacturers, but only a few that student, commercial, and private pilots have come to put their trust in time and time again. These include BrightLine, Lightspeed Aviation, Flight Outfitters, Flight Gear, TravelPro, ASA, Jeppesen, and Aerocoast.
What Should Pilots Keep in their Flight Bag?
Whether you’re a student, professional or private pilot, a flight bag typically contains the same items.
Items may include an aviation headset, pilot kneeboard, handheld aviation radio, aeronautical and navigational charts and maps, pilot logbook, flight checklists, fuel tester, aviation flashlight, flight computer, snacks and water, pilot certificate and medical, charging cords, an ADS-B receiver, backup batteries, sunglasses, pens, notepad, iPad or tablet, and electronic flight bag.
Benjamin is a licensed pilot who has tested and reviewed countless aviation supplies and equipment over the years on his way to becoming certified.
Aspiring pilots know that the cost of becoming a pilot can be steep, especially when it comes to purchasing the necessary supplies and equipment. Luckily, Benjamin is here to help, sharing his product recommendations so that others can save time and money.
Whether you're in need of an aviation headset, handheld radio, ADS-B receiver, or any other product for the cockpit, Benjamin has the knowledge and experience to guide you in the right direction.
With Benjamin's guidance, aspiring pilots can feel confident in their equipment choices, and focus on their training to become licensed pilots.
Benjamin has been quoted or mentioned in major publications, including The Savvy Globetrotter.
You can email Benjamin at firstname.lastname@example.org