Pilot Bag Comparison

Choosing a bag that will keep you organized and pulled together for a life on the road is a tricky. To make it more challenging, the bag you choose with incur more flight miles in the first year than most people will in their entire lives. Between space constraints [hello crew storage!], constantly lugging it around hotels and airports, to the eventual damage from either use or mishandling, a pilot’s bag sees a lot of abuse.

Many pilots and crew would suggest purchasing a Luggage Works bag, but with so many other options now on the market, it’s worth shopping around for a bag that meets your specific needs. While there are near infinite options to choose from, in our search, we found 3 alternatives that you may want to consider if you’re looking for your first bag, or if your last one bit the dust.

Away Carry On- $225

Pros:

  • Dual-sided storage [one for shoes/toiletries, etc, and one for clothes]

  • Unbreakable polycarbonate outer shell

  • Non-fabric exterior is easy to clean, resists showing wear

  • Built-in compression pad for saving space

  • Included laundry bag

  • 100 day trade-in/return/money-back guarantee for any reason

  • Built-in removable and rechargeable battery pack [stores in exterior of bag under the handle]

  • Strong metal frame, including handle

Cons:

  • Traditional model has no pockets on the interior or exterior [though there is now a version with an external front pocket]

  • 4 wheel all-direction spinner

  • No third bag hook

  • Add-on overnight bag [that perfectly fits over the handles] is extra

Overall Thoughts:

This is my personal bag for my travel job/life. I lived out of it when I was in Europe for work for 3 weeks and countless times since and it held beyond what I could have packed. I logged about 10K miles on it in the first 90 days without a scratch. The shell is really strong and survived being lugged miles around cobblestone, wheels and handle are still perfectly intact. Compression is great but I wish it had easy access pockets. Could easily add a third bag hook, but doesn’t come with one. Overall, I recommend this bag.

Briggs & Riley- $569

Pros:

  • Included third hook

  • Lifetime coverage [free replacement] for damage—specifically including airline damage

  • Has top and outer pockets, though small

  • Exterior frame allows for a lay-flat bottom

  • Interior dress shirt hanger to keep button-ups/suit jackets relatively wrinkle-free

  • Manual frame compression

  • Maintains its shape almost as well as a hard shell

Cons:

  • Expensive [by comparison, but airline discount is available]

  • Fabric is hard to clean

  • Third bag hook takes some extra time to attach

  • Not as much storage space in external pockets as Luggage Works

Overall Thoughts:

This is CP’s bag for his job. Though he purchased on sale, this bag has by far the highest retail sticker price. The handle on this bag is just a standard handle that you’d find on any roller [meaning it’s not terribly strong]. Overall, the third bag option is nice, it’s pretty lightweight, and it can hold a lot of clothes, etc when you use the expandable storage. The replacement factor is huge, because with Luggage Works, the cost of replacement is on you, whereas with this bag, it’s covered. CP would recommend this bag.

Costco- $100

Pros:

  • Very low cost of entry compared to other aircrew bags

  • Can return or do 1-for-1 exchange any time in the future with Costco receipt

  • Good compartments; built in luggage tag laundry bag, internal divider strap down

  • Lightweight frame

Cons:

  • Doesn’t retain shape when packed [front pouch pooches out]

  • Slightly bulkier frame, non-metal [+ the bulkier frame might not fit in all closets/overhead compartments]

  • No third bag hook

  • Requires a membership to purchase

  • Weak handle

Overall Thoughts:

CP owned this bag before returning it for the Briggs & Riley bag. There are not advanced features to help this bag retain its shape, so unless you are an expert, minimalist packer, that can present a challenge for packing for extended trips. Though Costco does have an excellent replacement policy, perhaps more robust than any of the other bags.