The iPad has eliminated the need to carry a lot of bulky gear – when’s the last time you flew with books, paper charts or paper nav logs? But while the amount of stuff we carry has gone down, a good flight bag is still essential equipment for most pilots. That’s because most of the latest digital toys are more sensitive than paper charts or books ever were. Drop your iPad on its screen and you won’t be happy with the result.
To meet this need, many companies have designed or redesigned their flight bags to accommodate the iPad. The latest is the Flight Gear collection, and we recently spent some time flying with the new Flight Gear iPad Bag.
The bag is made from an attractive black and blue fabric and has three main sections: a padded iPad pocket in the back, a large headset pocket in the middle and two smaller storage pockets up front for cords or accessories. This setup works well in flight, since all the essential pieces of pilot gear are separated and protected. There’s nothing worse than dumping all your stuff into one big compartment and losing it when you go to look for it – that won’t happen here.
The center compartment is the most flexible, with a large main for storing a headset, plus mesh pockets for ADS-B receivers or GPSs. Smaller slots offer a convenient way to store paperwork or backup charts, without taking up a lot of room. This compartment can be loaded from the front before flight, since the entire bag zips open. In flight, we accessed this compartment from the top – the zippered top-access was ideal for storing the bag between the seats in the cockpit or even under the pilot seat.
There are also some handy side pockets, including a pen/pencil slot, a backup radio pocket, a flashlight pocket and a water bottle pocket with a bungee top. We found all kinds of uses for the last one, from a morning coffee mug holder to a place to keep your windshield cleaner.
The back of the bag features Flight Gear’s MyBag system. These rows of nylon webbing allow you to add additional headset cases or other accessories when you need to carry more – perfect for those times when you need a passenger headset. These add-on compartments simply snap in place.
There are some little details we like. For example, the headset pocket includes elastic straps that make it easy to store extra AA batteries for your ANR headset (when you need them, you need them). The split flap radio pocket means you don’t have to remove your radio’s antenna. We also liked the lighter blue interior color, which makes it easier to find small items than a traditional black interior.
The price is right too – in a world of $150 or even $250 flight bags, the Flight Gear iPad Bag is a great deal at $69.95. Combine that with a six year warranty and it should be on the short list for any iPad pilot.