Every pilot should secure their iPad in the cockpit, for both convenience and safety. The most popular ways to do this involve either a mount or a kneeboard, and it usually ends up being a bit of a “Coke or Pepsi” debate. Some pilots just love iPad mounts, while others hate them and prefer kneeboards. There’s not really a right answer for everyone; it depends on the pilot and the airplane.
There are several popular mounting solutions available that will work with just about any airplane, from basic RAM Mounts to the versatile PIVOT case and deluxe options from MyGoFlight. In this article, we’ll review some of the most popular iPad kneeboard options, so you can make an informed decision if you’re not a mount person. There are more options than ever, and most of them are quite good.
Best overall: Flight Gear Bi-fold iPad Kneeboard. This kneeboard is our overall top pick, winning points for its nearly universal design (it even works with iPads in cases) and its competitive price. Flip it open to reveal an iPad mount on the left side and storage pockets on the right. In typical use, the right flap will hang down on the side of your leg, with two pockets accessible. These are a great place to store your cell phone, screen cleaners, or charging cables. There’s also a place for two pens or a stylus, plus a zippered pocket that we like to use for our backup iPad battery. However, the right flap can be folded underneath for a lower profile setup, and a lot means you can still use the leg strap.
The iPad is securely held by two large, rubber-coated clips that grab the top or sides of the iPad. These clips are then attached to the kneeboard by velcro. That means the clips can be moved to accommodate a huge range of tablets, from Mini to Pro 11″—with or without a case. There’s also a kickstand so the iPad can be elevated at an angle for the optimal viewing angle or to avoid sun glare. Plus, the iPad can be mounted portrait or landscape on the kneeboard. Maybe you want to start with the iPad in portrait mode and folded down flat, but then switch it to landscape mode and tilted up in cruise; this kneeboard can accommodate all those changes easily.
The Flight Gear Bi-fold iPad kneeboard is available in two sizes: the smaller fits all iPad minis (1-6) and some other 8″ Android tablets; the larger fits all iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Pro tablets. At $39.95, it’s a great value.
Best for small cockpits: MyClip Multi. This simple but innovative kneeboard is our favorite for securing a tablet in a small airplane or one with a center stick. It’s the smallest kneeboard we’ve seen, so if you don’t have much room, it’s an excellent choice—no pockets or clipboards to get in the way. It’s also very adaptable, fitting all iPad sizes, from iPad Mini to iPad Pro 12.9″, with or without a case. If you like to leave your protective case on, this is probably the best option. Just pull the rubber gripping surfaces apart, position the iPad and release—the elastic straps hold the kneeboard in place and prevent your iPad from moving around. It’s well-made and durable, and it takes up virtually zero space in your flight bag. The only downside is that it offers no storage or protection for your iPad. The MyClip is available for $34.95.
If you like to rotate your iPad: Flight Outfitters Centerline Kneeboard. This kneeboard has a simple but well thought out design, with the iPad sitting in the middle, held steady by four silicone straps. These straps prevent scratches and the iPad section can swivel, so it rotates from landscape to portrait with one hand. It’s firm enough to stay in place, but it doesn’t require latches or buttons. There is a small mesh pocket on the left for storing essential iPad accessories like charging cords, and a fold-down platform on the right side is perfect for your cell phone or a small notepad. The kneeboard is fully reversible, so you can wear it on either leg. The Flight Outfitters Centerline kneeboard is compatible with the iPad 5-9, Air 1-4, and Pro 9.7″-11″; a smaller model is compatible with the iPad Mini.
If you want a clipboard: MyGoFlight Folio C. For a premium option, MyGoFlight offers the Folio C, which includes both a custom iPad mount and a metal writing surface. The writing desk attaches with magnets, so it’s easy to attach it to the front or it can be attached to the left panel of the bi-fold kneeboard when open. The Folio C includes a leg strap and closes up neatly for a professional look outside the cockpit. If you want a clipboard, this is the best option. The MyGoFlight Folio C Kneeboards range in price from $159 to $179. MyGoFlight has three options to fit the iPad/Air/Pro (through 11″), iPad Mini 1-6, and iPad Pro 12.9″. These kneeboards aren’t cheap, but they are well made, good-looking, and highly-functional.
If you want to prevent overheating: X-Naut. This ingenious mounting system features built-in fans to circulate cool air, specifically targeted at the iPad’s main hot spots to prevent it from overheating. The mount can be powered off of typical alkaline batteries or USB with a power bank or backup battery. We’ve flown with the X-Naut and it works, buying precious hours of use before an overheat situation. In addition to working the RAM mount system, you can also turn it into a kneeboard with this accessory kit—perfect for cockpits with a bubble canopy where the iPad is exposed to direct sunlight. The X-Naut is available for the iPad mini 6, mini 1-5, and Pro 11″.
Best value: Flight Gear Slimline Kneeboard. If you just want a basic kneeboard to hold your iPad in place, this model is hard to beat. The iPad rests on two small ledges at the bottom (while leaving the power port unobstructed) and two elastic straps at the top secure the iPad. The attachment point for these straps can be adjusted so they don’t block the screen or push any buttons, and they will also accommodate iPads with a small-medium thickness case. The kneeboard does rotate easily, and at just $22.95 it’s easily the least expensive kneeboard on the market. Two sizes are available to fit iPads from mini through Pro.
Three-in-one storage system: Flight Outfitters iPad Flight Desk. If you want it all, this solution is really three products in one: iPad kneeboard, lap desk, and organizer case. Best of all, it can easily switch between modes to match your type of flying. As a lap desk, the case folds open to reveal an iPad mount on the right and a number of storage pockets on the left. There’s also a removable clipboard for checklists or copying clearances, and the iPad can be tilted to reduce glare. The iPad kneeboard can also be removed from the larger case for a low profile kneeboard without the storage—just pull the straps through the case and go flying. When you’re done, zip it up and you can carry it like a small flight bag. The Flight Outfitters iPad Flight Desk comes with three sizes of silicone straps, so it will fit every size iPad and even iPhones. In fact, you can mount your tablet and phone at the same time (see picture below). The flight desk is available for $99.95.
You can shop the complete iPad Kneeboard selection here.