Keeping all your portable devices charged in the cockpit isn’t easy. Most pilots fly with an iPad, a smartphone, and a GPS or ADS-B receiver. Some carry much more, like a backup iPad or an Iridium communicator. There are hundreds of options for keeping all those batteries charged, from cheap to very expensive (and we’ve flown with many of them), but a new option from Flight Gear is our favorite one yet.
The Flight Gear battery pack is a sleek white brick, about 8″ long and less than half an inch thick, but it packs 20,000 mAh of power. That’s enough to charge an iPad multiple times, but that’s not what makes it unique. The reason we’ve made it a permanent addition to our flight bag is because it’s ideal for the cockpit.
Our number one complaint about most backup batteries is the proprietary cables that are used to keep them charged. When you need to charge your battery before a big trip, there’s usually a mad scramble to find some odd-shaped plug buried in a kitchen drawer. With the Flight Gear battery pack, you have plenty of options. It will charge with a micro-USB cable (common on thousands of devices, including many Android smartphones), a USB-C cable (found on Stratus ADS-B receivers and MacBooks), or a Lightning cable (which works with iPads and iPhones). That means you’ll almost always have the right cable to keep this battery pack charged, because you already own one.
Another frustration with cheaper battery packs is that they lack the high amp ports that pilots need. While 1 amp is enough for a phone, iPads, ADS-B receivers and other sophisticated devices need 2.1 or 2.4 amps. This battery pack has plenty of those:
- One 3 amp USB port
- One 2.4 amp USB port
- One 2 amp USB port
- One 3 amp USB-C port
While the battery pack will eventually max out if you plug too many devices in, we have successfully charged two iPads and a Stratus (all of which require 2+ amps) at the same time. You can also charge the battery pack while you charge another device, and a four-light status indicator on the side lets you know how much power is left.
The Flight Gear battery pack is at home in the cockpit. We’ve flown many flights with it in a variety of aircraft and have had no radio interference, a common problem with some battery packs (although the charging cable is usually the weak link). It’s also white so it stays cool in the sun. There’s even some helpful reference information printed on the back.
Safety is another concern in the tight confines of a general aviation airplane, and this battery has a lot of built in monitoring features. It is continually protecting against:
- Temperature fluctuation
- Short-circuit protection
The Flight Gear battery pack is available now for $79.95, which is a pretty good deal compared to some higher end battery packs we’ve tested at over $200. It’s essential equipment in the cockpit, but it’s also very useful other places too. We’ve used it in the car, on camping trips (it would be great at Oshkosh), and around the house.
There’s also a Flight Gear cigarette lighter charger and a Flight Gear wall charger, both with dual 2.4 amp charging ports. The best option is to buy all three – the battery pack, cigarette charger, and wall plug – as a kit for $99.95. That would guarantee you always have 2 amp charging ports, whether you’re at home, in the airplane or completely off the grid.