As you accumulate flight time as a student or licensed pilot, you’ll probably want to give up the bag you received through your flight school, and buy a flight bag designed to carry all the gear you’ll need. Things like a headsets, kneeboard, headphones, aviation charts, writing instruments, sunglasses, tablets, chargers, and water bottle all need to be organized and easily accessible in the cockpit.
If you’re looking to buy, here are three medium-sized flight bags that I’ve recently researched: the ASA AirClassics Flight Bag, the Brightline B4 Swift bag, and the Brightline B7 Flight bag. These bags are from established brands and offer lots of compartments to keep you organized. The flight bag you decide on will depend on your relative preference for features, the way you like to organize your belongings, and how much you want to spend.
ASA AirClassics Flight Bag
The ASA AirClassics flight bag is the largest-volume bag of the 3, yet is the lightest in weight. Its clean look owes to its large central compartment, similar to that of a duffle bag, allowing lots of storage. It also has zippered pockets on either end, and thin, unobtrusive pockets on the front and back.
Double-pull zippers access the main storage area which has adjustable dividers allowing you to configure the space somewhat. The cavity is big enough for things like a tablet, charts, kneeboard, water bottle, and books.
The front zippered pocket opens to a series of other, smaller pockets designed for items like ID, keys, and holders for a flashlight and fuel tester. There’s an open back pocket with a sleeve that can fit over roller luggage.
Although the two end compartments are designed for headsets, they look to be a tight squeeze for a standard set, and online reviewers complained of the same. If you’re interested in this flight bag, it might be a good idea to test out the pockets with your personal headsets to ensure they fit. However, given that most higher-end headsets come with their own headset bag, this may not be an issue.
The bag appears to be quite durable, was designed to weather the elements somewhat, and is built solidly. It’s made of water-repellant 600D polyester (backpack fabric), heavy-duty zippers, has reinforcing straps wrapping the bag, and its semi-rigid bottom has plastic feet.
For the price, the ASA AirClassics flight bag is a good bag for a student or pilot who likes using a large central compartment. It’s got plenty of room to carry what you need on a flight.
Dimensions & weight: 18" x 11" x 11"; 3.5 lbs
· Roomy & lightweight
· Durable and sturdy construction
· Pockets on either end may not fit a standard headset
About the Brightline Bags FLEX system
The Brightline Bags FLEX system, designed by a pilot and flight instructor, is a modular system allowing you to build your own bag out of hundreds of possible configurations. This allows you to put together the right-sized bag corresponding to the gear you’ll need on a given day. Buying one of the preconfigured nylon bags like the B4 Swift or B7 Flight gives you a base for which you can familiarize yourself with the system and start using the bag the way you’d like to.
The B4 Swift
The B4 Swift is one of the smaller preconfigured bags in the Brightline system. But it’s one that allows for a number of permutations, including removable and interchangeable side pockets; the smallest configuration to allow for this. The B4 Swift is actually 2 complete bags in one.
The B4 Swift is made up of these 5 components:
· the front and back sections
· the center section
· 2 side pockets
The front and back sections are mainstays of all Brightline bag configurations.
The front section features an arrangement of 9 pockets with colour-coded zippers for your small-sized essentials. Simply zip this front panel onto any attaching module, and you’ll have your necessities without having to unpack or repack. This front panel can store things like your wallet, keys, phone, glasses, flashlights, fuel testers, cords, cables, batteries, and chargers.
The back panel zips onto any module to give the bag a more complete look while providing three flat storage pockets. The main exterior pocket can fit slim items like a tablet or documents.
To create the smallest complete bag possible, just zip the front and back sections together and you’ve got the Brightline B-Zero Slim bag (minus the slim handle). This bag is the size of a portfolio, and can fit a tablet or documents, along with your personal essentials housed in the front panel.
And of course, to create the B4 Swift bag, zip the front and back sections to the center section.
This preconfigured bag is named the “B4” because its center section has a storage depth of 4 inches, big enough to fit 2 headsets. In place of headsets, you can fit a 13” laptop, tablet, books, and documents, if needed since the divider is removable. (I typically use this section to store 2 headsets with the divider, but during the pandemic, one of the spaces has been used to store face shields and face masks.)
The removable side pockets are an insulated water bottle pocket and handheld radio pocket.
With just the sheer number of pockets and the specific items they’re designed for, the B4 Swift offers great organizing capability along with flexibility and versatility, even with it being the smallest bag of the 3 that we cover.
Dimensions & weight: 14" x 10.5" x 6.5"; 4.6 lbs
· Lots of pockets
· Customizable capacity and organization
· 2 complete bags in 1
The B7 Flight
The B7 Flight has all the components of the B4 Swift, but with one additional module – that of an added center section which has a 3-inch storage depth. And rather than being 2 bags in 1, the B7 Flight is 4 bags in 1.
The B7 Flight is made up of these 6 components:
· the front and back sections
· 2 center sections
· 2 side pockets
In a nutshell, the B7 Flight offers a bit more storage space with the additional central compartment, compared to the B4. It offers a degree of added flexibility, allowing you to pack a bit more for longer trips or to use the bag as a carry-on in commercial flights. This bag can still be trimmed down/downsized/downscaled into its thinner profile sections to fit into the GA aircrafts easily.
Dimensions & weight: 14" x 13" x 10.5"; 6.0 lbs