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  • November 15, 2023 5 min read

    Ever wonder what a pilot bag contains? They need so much stuff, but why? And why do some pilots only appear to need a cup of coffee, while others always have a big, bulky backpack with them? It's a fact that pilots don't need to bring much with them when they fly.

    However, an excellent pilot, and particularly an excellent student pilot will always be ready. This is why some pilot gear usually contains a clipboard, while students or trainees would be toting about stacks of books and other flying gear.

    What Should Pilots Carry In Their Flight Bags?

    Many pilots still opt to travel with a small pilot bag or backpack to carry supplies and keep the cockpit organized, even with an electronic flight bag in tow. There are a few basic goods that can be useful on any flight, even if every pilot has particular preferences for what goes in his or her luggage.

    Here is the list of items pilots carry in their bags: 

    • Pilot's License
    • Bag For Electronic Flights
    • Pen, Paper, and A Kneeboard
    • Screwdriver As A Fuel Tester
    • Headlamp or Torch
    • Portable Charger For Mobile Devices
    • Batteries and A Headset
    • Water And Food
    • Alternative Handheld Radio
    • Sunglasses
    • Sleeping Sac

    Let's dive deeper into the list. 

  • Pilot's License 
  • Without a pilot's license, photo identification, and a medical certificate, if required, you are unable to fly legally. Make sure your flight bag has these items accessible.

  • Bag For Electronic Flights
  • Nowadays, the majority of pilots choose to carry an electronic flight bag (EFB) instead of bulky paper charts. The situational awareness of pilots in the cockpit can be improved by the use of an iPad or tablet with an electronic charts program like ForeFlight, which also makes flight planning simpler and safer.

    In case something happens to your EFB, it may be a good idea to include a set of sectional charts and private pilot gear in your travel bag as a backup.

  • Pen, Paper, and A Kneeboard
  • Many pilots find it convenient to keep a pen and paper close by, even when using an EFB, to scribble down instructions or perform fast calculations. Having a pen and paper on board is always useful, whether you choose a kneeboard or a little notebook.

  • Screwdriver As A Fuel Tester
  • Every flight begins with a pre-flight examination, which should involve testing the fuel for impurities and water. To bring in your flight bag, look for a gasoline tester with a screwdriver placed on the tip.

    The majority of fuel testers are compact, useful, and won't take up much room in your bag.

  • Headlamp or Torch
  • Another wise addition to your aviation gear is a good torch. It will help you see what you're checking out during pre-flight and post-flight checks, whether it's day or night. Some pilots choose to use a headlamp so they can do pre- and post-flight inspections without having to use their hands.

  • Portable Charger For Mobile Devices
  • A charged external battery is an important flying gear for your backpack. It ensures that your EFB is completely charged throughout the flight. You can charge your phone using this as well.

  • Batteries and A Headset
  • Gears for pilots must include an aviation headset. Some pilots even go one step further and use both foam earplugs and a high-quality headset as hearing protection.

    Make sure to bring additional batteries if you have a noise-canceling headset.

  • Water And Food
  • Food is necessary to have on board, especially on lengthy flights. In case you (or your guests) get peckish unexpectedly during the journey, take a few packaged meals like protein bars, nuts, or candies.

    Of course, drinking water is vital to avoid being dehydrated. Bring a few water bottles on each flight.

  • Alternative Handheld Radio
  • Having a backup two-way portable radio and aviation gear can be quite helpful if your primary radio fails in the middle of the flight. To ensure that you have communication in case of emergency, keep a backup radio in your flying bag.

  • Sunglasses
  • Sunglasses are crucial for protecting your eyes from the damaging effects of direct sunshine, eye strain, etc. They have a practical purpose beyond just fashion.

    Look for a pair of high-quality, non-polarized eyewear that won't obstruct your view through the windscreen or dim anti-glare instruments.

    • Sleeping Sac

    Sleeping bags for pilot

    Some pilots also carry their sleeping bags when there are long flight hours. These bags are made with pure cotton. They are soft and comfortable with a pillow case arrangement to secure your head. 

    What are the different types of Pilot Bags?


  • Commuter Airside Pilot Bag

    The commuter airside pilot bag is a popular option for pilots traveling with a medium-sized suitcase because it is available in two sizes (11 inches and 12.5 inches).

    This bag gives pilots additional storage space in their backpacks for their necessities. However, if you have a tall suitcase, you may consider purchasing a paperless airside pilot bag.


  • Paperless Airside Pilot Bag

    The usual paper-based flight paperwork can be carried in a compact Paperless Airside pilot gear Bag. It gives pilots easy access to several resources and technologies.

    Many electronic devices, namely chipsets, EFB- iPads, and tablets, can be easily carried in this bag. 

    EFB-iPad facilitates access to crucial data, including flight plans, weather reports, navigation charts, document libraries, take-off and landing computations, planning mass and balance, and a host of other things. The paperless pilot bag offers easy access to the EFB. 


  • Small Paperless Airside Bag

    Essential pilot gear can be easily accessed and used during flights thanks to a small paperless airside bag. When time is of the essence during pre-flight preparations, having a small bag with all the important documents and devices is useful for pilots.

    Small bags can help student pilots carry laptops, tab, passports, sunglasses, notes, shoe bags, etc. 

    Wrapping up for Pilot Bags

    Gears for pilots should be carried in a comfortable kit bag that can hold everything that pilots carry, including their headset, kneeboard, paper sectionals, approach plates or their electronic counterparts on an iPad, flashlights, water bottles, yoke clips, and multi-tools.

    While it may be tempting to use your day hike backpack or overnight duffel bag as pilot gear bags, this may not be the greatest option.

    Recommended read: 13 Best Gifts for Pilots


  • Do airplanes have airbags?
  • Ans: Aeroplane airbags are typically installed in First class, Business class, Premium Economy, and Economy bulkhead/exit row seats, depending on the airline's preference.

  • Why do aviators carry two bags?
  • Ans: They typically bring extra stuff when travelling for layovers, just like anyone else would if they were taking a trip. Most pilots typically bring a second bag in addition to the flight bag for this. When going on a quick shopping trip, some pilots do take empty bags.

  • What is the pilot six-pack?
  • Ans: The term "six pack" refers to a cockpit's six primary flying instruments, which are arranged in a stack of three on top of each other. Three of the six instruments are part of the Pitot-Static Pressure System of the aircraft, while the other three are categorized as Gyroscope Instruments.