We looked at several flight bags to identify the best that fulfill certain criteria. We considered rollaboards, backpacks, spinners, totes, duffels, and coolers for student pilots on a tight budget to professional and private pilots.
We had 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 flight bags remained.
Best Flight Bags
- Best Overall: Brightline Bags Flex B7 Flight Echo, “Thanks to its modular design, you are able to tailor the bag to specifically meet your packing requirements.”
- Best for Student Pilots: Flight Gear HP Crosswind,“The HP Crosswind is very popular with student pilots due to its low price, roomy interior, and sturdy design.”
- Best Flight Backpack: Flight Gear HP Tailwind Backpack,“If you prefer to carry your flight gear in a backpack the HP Tailwind 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.”
In This Article
5 Top-Rated Flight Bags
Brightline Bags Flex B7 Flight Echo – 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 Flight Echo is the updated version of the hugely popular B7. It was updated to better meet pilot needs.
One of the main changes is a 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 its 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 are better suited for different journeys.
The B7E can hold two full-sized headsets, an iPad, large water bottle, kneeboard, laptop, 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.
Flight Gear HP Crosswind 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 splash out just yet on a flight bag. You just need an affordable, dependable bag with enough space. The Flight Gear HP Crosswind Bag is just the ticket.
The padded headset pocket will fit any sized headset while also providing a suitable amount of protection. There is also a water bottle holder; two internal gear pockets; a padded, no-slip shoulder strap; three external pen holders; a high visibility interior, and an extra soft handle. In other words, everything to accommodate a student pilot’s needs and more. The bag also manages to be lightweight.
You won’t find a student pilot who has a bad word to say about the Crosswind Bag.
Flight Gear HP Tailwind Backpack – Best Flight Backpack
If you prefer to carry your flight gear in a backpack the HP Tailwind 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 Flight Gear HP Tailwind Backpack is one of the best.
Designed primarily for pilots but also suitable for everyday use, the backpack has enough space for all your gear. There is a padded pocket with computer and iPad sleeves; two side pockets for a water bottle and handheld radio, flashlight and fuel tester pockets, two internal mesh side pockets, four webbing loops allow for attaching gear with carabineer clips or hanging sunglasses a high visibility interior.
Don’t think that the Tailwinds 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 make 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 are able to offer a lifetime warranty.
One of the best features of the Crew 11 is its dedicated charger pocket and 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 a 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 than 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.
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, snacks and water, pilot certificate and medical, charging cords, an ADS-B receiver, backup batteries, sunglasses, flashlight, pens, notepad, and electronic flight bag.
Important Features to Consider
- 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 have 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 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 original 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 resistance 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.