Flight bags come in every possible size and price. Depending on the type of pilot you are, another aviator bag will be a better fit for you.
In this guide, we will help you pick the best flight bags and discuss what you need to look for!
Things to Consider when Buying a Flight bag
Whether you’re a student pilot taking your first lessons, a private pilot going for a $100 hamburger on a Sunday or a full-time professional pilot, you need a proper flight bag or aviator bag to carry all your precious gear, such as your aviation headset, handheld radio, portable GPS, etc.. Not only is a flight bag a must-have for every pilot, it also defines your style as a pilot and is, therefore, a great style accessory if you value that. Every flight bag is different and fits other needs. But how do you decide what kind of bag you need? To help you answer this question, we will first cover some important things to consider with flight bags.
The first difference between flight bags lays in the type of bag. Some flight bags can be carried as backpacks, others require a strap around your shoulder or just a simple handle to carry by hand. Below you will find different types of flight bags, it’s up to you what you prefer.
Size & Weight
When it comes to flight bags, size does matter. Depending on your own unique needs, you will have to go with a different size of flight bag. This mostly depends on the stuff you are carrying with you on your flights. Is your flight bag paperless? Great, then a smaller flight bag will do the job. But if you need to carry multiple headsets and books or other documents, you will have to make sure there’s enough space for those and go with a larger model.
Another aspect that will influence the desired size of your flight bag is the space you have in the airplane. Tucking a big bag away in the small space behind your seat might not be ideal and could cause damage to the flight bag and aircraft. You have to make sure that your flight bag is big enough to fit all your gear but small enough to not make it a hassle on board.
A flight bag is only as practical as the number of compartments it has to store your gear like headsets, radios, books, charts and logbooks. Keeping your stuff organized before, during and after your flights is important, and could one day even save your life during an emergency.
Finding that one pen during turbulence, untangling your headset wires and finding the right chart can be a struggle. Modern flight bags can prevent this by helping you organize all your stuff and make it easy for you to find the things you need, whether it’s on the ground or 30,000 feet in the air.
Flight bags are made of different materials. The material has a big impact on how protective the bag is, but also on the price.
Traditional hard case bags provide the most protection for your stuff. These bags are usually wheeled trolleys and often used by commercial pilots who have the needed storage space in the airplane.
A second popular material is standard nylon or polyester. Flight bags made out of these materials are often less expensive but still provide very decent protection. In the list below, you will find that we often use denier as a measure of the fineness of a fabric. As a rule of thumb, the higher the denier, the stronger the fabric. It is best to select a minimum of 600-1800 denier polyester toward the least expensive end and 500-100 Denier Cordura or 1800 to 2500 Ballistic Nylon at the more expensive end (source).
The last category of flight bag materials is leather flight bags. These are usually the more expensive ones that are slightly heavier but provide great protection, are durable and look very stylish. You can find our selection of leather flight bags at the end of this guide.
Just like headsets, flight bags come at different prices, depending on the size, material and brand. Your budget will play a major role in deciding which flight bag to go with.
Below, you can find our list of the best flight bags. This list is divided into different categories based on the type of pilot you are and the budget you have. Of course, flight bags that are good for one type of pilot can be just as good for other pilots, so feel free to pick any bag you like.
The Best Flight Bags for Student Pilots in 2021
Every type of pilot is different and has different needs. For student pilots, we found a few interesting aviator bags at an affordable price, something that’s important if you’re just starting out in aviation and have to pay for all your flight training.
Another important aspect for student pilot flight bags is that they need room for books and paper, because you will often carry books with you as a student pilot.
1. Jeppesen – Student Pilot Bag
Jeppesen's Student Pilot Bag is the most affordable flight bag on his list, and therefore perfect for student pilots on a budget.
While compact, Jeppesen’s sturdy Student Pilot Bag provides plenty of storage space for all your aviation essentials. In addition to the double-zippered main compartment, the bag features 7 exterior storage pockets for easy organization and quick access to all your must-have tools. Three of the outside pockets are ideal for pens, flashlights, a fuel tester, and similar size items, while additional compartments are well suited for aeronautical charts, a calculator/E6B, a plotter, and more. It also features an interior key clip for easy storage and peace of mind.Learn more about this flight bag
2. ASA Pilot Flight Bag
The bag you want for your everyday flying: big enough to hold everything you need but compact enough to carry and store easily. It’s made of fully padded nylon for extreme durability.
The ASA Pilot Bag is the simple, no-frills bag of choice for everyday flying because it’s big enough to hold a pilots essentials yet compact enough to carry, transport, and store easily. This bag is a favorite among both fixed-wing and rotorcraft flight instructors who often recommend it to their students for solo and cross-country flights.Learn more about this flight bag
3. Gleim Padded Flight Bag
With an attractive and durable design, the Gleim Padded Pilot Bag makes an excellent carry-on for all of your flights.
This flight bag was created for easy, in-flight organization and quick access to your flight equipment. It contains an exterior, padded headset compartment, front, rear, and side pockets, a cell phone pocket, pen slots, and a place to keep your IFR goggles. It also has large dividers inside for easier organization.Learn more about this flight bag
4. Simple Flyer Alpha Pilot Headset Flight Bag
The Simple Flyer Alpha Flight Bag holds all you need for a day flight or training flight. With a large outer pocket for your headset, a protected inner pocket for your tablet, and an inner tactical pocket you have room for all of your gear.Learn more about this flight bag
The Best Flight Bags for Private Pilots in 2021
1. ASA AirClassics Flight Bag
With a clean, sophisticated and professional look, the ASA AirClassics Flight Bags have been designed and engineered to be supremely functional. They re able to stand up to the toughest treatment possible and still look great at the end of the day.
The large, single-pull, divided and zippered main compartment, along with the headset pockets on both ends, are fitted with large, sturdy zippers for easy handling. You can count on ASA s AirClassics Flight Bags to bring many years of utility and pride.Learn more about this flight bag
2. Flight Outfitters Lift Pro Travel Bag
Though this bag is small, it features both external and internal pockets and plenty of open room to pack a powerful storage punch. Durable nylon and reinforced braided steel handles make the bag long-lasting, while the adjustable shoulder strap will keep you traveling in comfort.
The Lift Travel Bag has a water bottle/backup radio pocket, Fuel tester pocket, 2 external chart pockets and more internal compartments for batteries and other gear.
3. Flight Outfitters Lift XL Flight Bag
The Lift XL Pro is ideal for professional pilots who prefer an understated, all-black look. As a larger version of the top-rated Lift Pro Bag, the Lift XL Pro adds more room for storage (including two headsets) and more organization options, all while retaining the signature design features that make Flight Outfitters bags so useful in the cockpit.Learn more about this flight bag
4. MyGoFlight – Flight Bag PLC Sport
The PLC Sport Flight Bag is a smaller version of the Flight Bag PLC Pro. Just enough room to carry one headset, an iPad/EFB, a handheld radio, and other gear. It has a modern style and sleek exterior, but it is loaded with pockets to give you the style, storage and functionality like never before.
The PLC Sport can stand up on its own, making it easy to load and access gear. It is also equipped with a laptop pocket that fits laptops up to 13 inch.Learn more about this flight bag
5. Brightline Bags B4 SWIFT VFR Flight Bag
The Brightline SWIFT is often recommended as the ideal VFR flight bag. It’s designed to hold one or two full-sized headsets plus a handful of charts, and/or an iPad, plus all the small stuff you’ll want along for the ride. It also serves as an unbeatable carry-on personal bag when traveling on commercial flights, or just as a terrific daily bag for a wide variety of personal and professional uses.Learn more about this flight bag
6. MyGoFlight – Flight Bag PLC Pro
The PLC Pro is MyGoFlight’s best selling flight bag. It has a modern style and sleek exterior, but it is loaded with pockets to give you the style, storage and functionality like never before. Just like the MyGoFlight Flight Bag PLC Sport, the PLC Pro can stand up on its own, making it easy to access and store your stuff. This model can also fit laptops up to 16″, compared to the 13″ limit on the cheaper model.Learn more about this flight bag
7. Design 4 Pilots Brand Pilot Bag Cross Country Flight Bag
Made of high-quality lightweight nylon, fully padded with removable reinforced bottom. Offering plenty of different compartments for charts, radio, flashlight, headset, iPad and more!
The Cross Country Pilot Bag is perfect for weekend trips!Learn more about this flight bag
8. Flight Outfitters Seaplane Duffel
The Flight Outfitters Seaplane Duffel is a rugged, water-resistant duffel bag, made for remote fishing trips, cross-country flights in old taildraggers, and any other adventures you can dream up. The huge center compartment can haul almost anything, from clothes to hunting gear, and features a padded bottom layer for protection. Best of all, the Seaplane Duffel remains flexible enough to stuff into cramped luggage compartments. You can even roll it up and pack it away in another bag when not in use. It’s your go-anywhere, do-anything bag—whether you’re flying or not.
The Seaplane Duffel bag is available in 40L and 60L.Learn more about this flight bag
9. ASA Flight Bag +
The ASA Flight Bag is large enough to fit everything a pilot needs and more without being too bulky to manage. Made with durable, water-repellent 600D polyester, this bag has sturdy comfort grip connectable handles, a non-slip detachable carry strap, heavy-duty zippers, and reinforcing straps that go around the bag for extra strength.Learn more about this flight bag
The Best Flight Bags for Professional Pilots in 2021
When you’re a commercial pilot, the price of the bag becomes less important than the overall quality, durability and ease of use. The flight bags below are all an excellent choice for commercial pilots!
1. Alpine Swiss Rolling 17″ Laptop Briefcase on Wheels
Carry all you need to carry for work or travel with ease with this large rolling briefcase with telescopic handles and plenty of room. And it is lightweight! Made from the best possible materials and providing a great value. This briefcase is roomy, well designed and sturdy.Learn more about this flight bag
$114.99 $175.00Buy now on Amazon
2. Jeppesen – Black Captain Pilot Flight Bag
From binders to headsets and other gear, the Jeppesen Captain Pilot Flight Bag is fully-padded and holds it all. The Jeppesen Captain Pilot Flight Bag is durable being made from polymer with a water-resistant PVC coating on one side.Learn more about this flight bag
3. ASA Bag-Pro-1 Pro Flight Bag
Designed with padded 600D polyester, non-slip detachable carry strap, and connectable Comfort Grip handles, this Flight Bag Pro has capacity and convenience for every pilot’s flight needs.
Focusing on a clean, sophisticated and professional look, these bags are designed and engineered to be supremely functional, able to stand up to the toughest treatment possible, yet still look great at the end of the day. Airclassic bags are some of the most functional pilot bags available, and classy enough to carry straight from your airplane to a business meeting.Learn more about this flight bag
4. Lightspeed Aviation – The Gann, Leather Flight Bag
One of our personal favorites: The Lightspeed Gann Leather Flight Bag. Since we started writing pilot gear guides on Hangar.Flights, this flight bag has been one of the most popular flight bags our visitors have purchased.
And it’s not hard to see why: this stylish, superior quality carpenter-style flight bag was made for the cockpit and is a great companion to the pilot who has everything – and likes to take it along. The Gann features purpose-built pockets for headsets, iPads, and transceivers, and rugged, but wing-friendly, textured PVC bottoms.
It is handmade from full-grain, oiled South American cowhide in espresso brown with contrasting black leather pocket flaps. Uncoated for authentic look and wear, they will become more supple with age and use, while taking on a rich patina. Each hide has its own distinctive grain and markings, making each bag as unique as the pilot who owns it.Learn more about this flight bag
$299.00Buy now on Amazon
5. Lightspeed Aviation – The Markham, Leather Flight Bag
Just like the previously-mentioned The Gann flight bag, Lightspeed's The Markham Leather Flight Bag is handmade from full-grain, oiled South American cowhide in espresso brown with contrasting black leather pocket flaps. It again offers pockets for headsets, iPads, and transceivers, and rugged, but wing-friendly, textured PVC bottoms.
The Markham is a slightly less expensive option compared to The Gann flight bag.
“Set off on your own record flight with a flight bag as beautiful and daring as the pioneering aviator and writer whose name it bears.”Learn more about this flight bag
$249.00Buy now on Amazon
The Best Pilot Backpacks in 2021
Some pilots might prefer a backpack-type of flight bag, as it could be more convenient in some cases. Below are a few great backpack options for pilots!
1. Rothco Vintage Canvas Flight Bag
If you’re more into backpacks, the Rothco Vintage Canvas Flight Bag is a great and stylish option.
This canvas backpack features a washed 14oz canvas material for that vintage look and feel, a large zippered main compartment, inner zippered pocket, small hook and loop side pocket and a front pocket with contrasting lettering reminiscent of a flight bag and metal clasp closure with a gold pull tag.Learn more about this flight bag
2. ASA AirClassics Pilot Backpack
ASA has been an established brand of pilot gear for many years. The backpack version of their AirClassics flight bags line is a great option if you’re looking for a pilot backpack that’s a little more ‘low profile’, and offers plenty of room and compartments for all your gear.
Made of durable fabric and supported by a heavy-duty water-resistant bottom, this backpack keeps books and supplies organized and protected. Four zippered compartments provide ample room for just about anything a pilot-on-the-go needs.Learn more about this flight bag
The Best Leather Flight Bags for Pilots in 2021
1. Lightspeed Aviation – The Gann, Leather Flight Bag
Although we already included The Gann flight bag above, it would be a shame to not mention it again when talking about the best leather flight bags. Again, we highly recommend this quality flight bag if you’re looking for a decent leather bag that will last many years.Learn more about this flight bag
$299.00Buy now on Amazon
2. Lightspeed Aviation – The Markham, Leather Flight Bag
Another leather flight bag we mentioned before in this guide, but worth including again as well in this category of flight bags.Learn more about this flight bag
$249.00Buy now on Amazon
3. Augus Leather Briefcase Messenger Bag
The Augus Leather quality bag is made of 100% full-grain leather and provides all the space you need to organize your flight gear, phone, laptop, passport, and even clothes, effectively helping you both inside and outside the cockpit.
A strap on the back enables you to attach the briefcase firmly to the luggage, which makes this bag perfect for professional pilots traveling often with trolley suitcases.Learn more about this flight bag
4. Bosidu Leather Messenger Bag
The Bosidu Leather Messenger Bag is made of high-quality leather to be both fashionable, practical and provides a professional appearance. It offers plenty of room for headsets, documents, tablets and anything else you need to take with you on flying trips.Learn more about this flight bag
5. Samsonite Columbian Leather Flapover Case
Samsonite, who doesn’t know the brand trusted for its high-quality travel bags and suitcases. The Samsonite Columbian Leather Flapover Case is made from luxurious Colombian leather and features a medium-sized shape with a padded laptop pocket and three interior pockets to hold all your required pilot gear. The bag also includes a rear compartment to hold files and documents, plus an organizer with slip pockets, pen sleeves, and card slots.Learn more about this flight bag
We discussed a few key points to keep in mind when choosing a flight bag, but in the end, it all comes down to your own preferences and taste. The type of flight bag you want, the color, material and size all depend on how you are planning to use it and what gear you need to put in it.
Your flight bag keeps all your precious pilot gear safe and protected. Just like a good Aviation Headset, it’s an investment that will keep paying off, flight after flight.