When it comes to purchasing the right drone backpack, there are currently so many on the market to choose from that the options can be overwhelming, especially for the new drone pilot. You’ve most likely spent a lot of time choosing the right quad and accessories, and now you need a quality case to hold all your gear and safeguard your investment.
Drone backpacks aren’t necessarily a one size fits all decision and it can be challenging to choose one that fits your specific needs. This guide will cover everything a drone pilot needs to know before purchasing a camera drone backpack and some tips on how to keep your drone safe while traveling to your next adventure.
What is a drone backpack?
A drone backpack is a special customizable padded backpack made specifically to provide protection for your drone and accessories. Most stock bags that come with the purchase of a drone are very small and don’t include space to hold extra batteries or other expensive accessories. Even the most novice of drone pilots learn early on that the purchase of a dedicated bag is necessary to keep all your drone gear organized and protected from damage.
Like many drone pilots, I’ve amassed several different carrying bags and backpacks to transport my fleet of drones. Between experience and research, I’ve learned a few things along the way, such as bigger isn’t always better, and the right drone backpack can make or break your experience.
Also, maximum support doesn’t mean maximum comfort or convenience, and price, size, and durability matter.
One of the biggest mistakes I made with my first few drone purchases was to run out and buy custom heavy hard-shell cases for them which look good and do the job. But I quickly discovered they come up short when it comes to portability. They were great for transporting the drone in the car and flying from the trunk but not at all appropriate to carry the gear on a long hike or while traveling through an airport.
Ultimately, I had to spring for a lighter-weight shoulder backpack with more portability to transport my drones and camera gear safely and comfortably. Live and learn.
Types of drone backpacks
Most drone backpacks on the market feature hard outer shells and padded interiors and come in a variety of sizes and dimensions. All drone backpacks have their pros and cons, depending on how you plan to use them in terms of features.
The types of packs available today run the gamut of everything from simple bags that will get the job done to bags that have extra features like anti-theft protection or lighted exteriors. It’s not uncommon for pilots to own multiple bags and swap their gear out depending on their purpose and destination.
How much does a drone backpack cost?
The cost of a camera drone backpack varies as much as the cost of a drone and will range in price depending on size and features. For the sake of discussion, it’s safe to assume you will pay anywhere from $80 – $300+ for a decent drone bag.
Obviously, the hobby pilot who is in the market for a bag to carry a DJI Mini to the family function might be able to get away with a cheaper generic version bag with minimal space. However, the full-time pilot or FPV Racing enthusiast will need a more advanced bag with ample space to carry multiple drones at once as well as spare parts, tools, and accessories.
What type of drone backpack should I buy?
This is a loaded question, and the answer is…it depends. There are many variables that go into choosing the right drone backpack to fit your specific needs. Let’s explore some of the most important things you’ll want to keep in mind when narrowing down your choices for a drone backpack that fits your style and needs.
Things to Consider when Choosing the Right Drone Backpack
When it comes to drone backpacks, it’s important to consider what purpose you’ll mostly be using your equipment for. If you’re primarily going to be using your backpack to carry your drone while hiking up a mountain, you’ll do better to choose a more lightweight backpack with easy access to your quad for those moments when a quick shot pops up.
However, if you’re traveling with your drone on a plane, it’s important to make sure the size of your backpack is TSA friendly and will meet all airline regulations while providing adequate protection for your gear.
For many drone pilots, the appearance of the backpack deserves adequate consideration.
For example, if you’re traveling to and from a worksite with your drone you may be inclined to purchase a drone backpack that looks more on the professional side. Several on the market even have a space on the front to easily attach your business logo which is a big plus.
On the other hand, if you’re more into FPV racing you may prefer a sportier design backpack with brighter colors and funky customizable outside lights.
Obviously, we all want the maximum protection for our gear but other factors such as budget also come into play when choosing the right backpack for the job.
A pilot who primarily carries the drone from the house to the car may be able to sacrifice a few bells and whistles and opt for a more affordable model of a backpack. However, a pilot who will be hiking or traveling with their drone and subjecting the backpack to a lot of use and abuse will require a lot more durability and protection, as well as the ability to provide water and moisture resistance.
Space and capacity
Consumer drones come in all sizes and specs and so do drone backpacks. Before choosing one that’s right for you, it’s important to take an inventory of your drones and accessories and be sure to purchase a backpack that is going to meet all your needs.
You’ll want to make sure the bag provides adequate space to hold not only your quad, but also the controller, extra batteries, and all your accessories such as a tablet or laptop.
Things like extra propellers and SD memory cards can be delicate and you want to make sure there’s enough space to fit all your gear without compromising protection.
If you have more than one drone in your fleet, you may very well need to purchase a backpack for each drone and all of its accessories. If everything is organized by the drone, then when you need to get out on the job, you know all the parts and pieces are in the right place.
The great thing about drone backpacks is that most on the market today feature customizable internal compartments. Spacers that attach with Velcro allow the interior dividers to be moved and rearranged to form various tight-fitting pouches to hold batteries and accessories.
Be sure to include all the gear you plan to carry when deciding the minimal amount of compartments you’ll need. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have at least a little extra room to grow, for those future purchases like extra batteries or goggles.
Many drone backpacks feature the ability to attach drones to the outside of the bag which allows easy access while hiking. These types of bags are particularly popular with FPV drone users.
Accessibility can be important for those moments when you need to quickly reach for your drone while out on a day of adventure. This may not be as important a consideration for the drone pilot who has time to set up their gear at a job site.
Straps and Comfort
Whether you’ll be walking around all day with your gear at the airport or hiking the trails in search of some great nature shots, you’ll want to look for a backpack that has customizable straps with adequate padding.
While wearing your backpack you should be able to move around freely without being uncomfortable. Daily hikes or long trips with the wrong gear will just lead to regret, so remember to pay attention to the straps and strap features while choosing a backpack.
A cool feature on some of the newer backpacks is a handy phone pocket built-in right on the shoulder strap which makes it super easy to access your phone, money, keys, or other small items on the go.
Several popular drone backpacks available today feature anti-theft devices so you can lock your backpack. This may be an important attribute to have on your backpack if you travel a lot or just want to make sure your gear is always secure.
Best drone backpacks on the market
Now that we’ve covered some of the things you should consider before purchasing a drone backpack, you may have formed a general idea of what type of bag is right for you. When it comes to pricey gear, the ‘live and learn’ experience can be an expensive lesson, so the final decision is worth the homework.
At this point, I’ll share a few of my personal favorite drone backpacks currently on the market that have been a hit for fellow seasoned pilots.
These aren’t necessarily the ‘best’ or the ‘priciest’ backpacks available, but they are favorites for a reason in that they combine functionality with affordability for the average drone pilot looking to keep their gear safe while in transport.
LowePro DroneGuard BP 250
The LowPro Droneguard BP 250 isn’t new to the market but continues to be a favorite backpack among drone pilots. At around $108 it’s a great middle-of-the-road, budget-friendly drone backpack with all the features and customizability generally offered in its class.
The case features a rugged armored protective outer shell made of impact-resistant polycarbonate plastic with reinforced stitching to protect gear from impact without adding weight or bulk.
The inside boasts adjustable soft molded compartments with flexible partition dividers that are easy to move for customizability.
Weighing in at just 2.9lbs and with dimensions of 10.2” x 4.3” x 9.4” this drone backpack meets all TSA regulations for airline travel and will easily fit in the overhead bin or under the seat on most aircraft.
This backpack was designed specifically for the Mavic Pro but will easily fit any comparable size drone. There is enough space inside to easily fit a Mavic Pro, transmitter and up to 5 batteries.
In addition, the secondary CradleFit compartment will expand to hold up to a 15” laptop along with a 10” tablet.
As if that isn’t enough, this drone backpack also features a phone pocket on the padded shoulder strap that holds up to a plus-size smartphone, as well as other smaller items such as money or keys. This is a huge plus in my book.
Pro tip: If you don’t have access to a landing pad and find yourself trying to launch or land your drone in a grassy or sandy area, the hard outer shell on this backpack is flat enough to use as a landing pad!
Manfrotto MB BP Drone Backpack (For larger drones like Phantom Series)
The Manfrotto MB BP is a great budget-friendly drone backpack specifically made for larger drones like the DJI Phantom Series. This backpack will hold all models of Phantom drones in an ideal compact design.
When it comes to Phantom backpacks, this one is almost perfect in terms of practicability for any Phantom drone and will quickly become your daily go-to bag.
Weighing in at 4.9lbs, this bag empty is a tad heavier but makes up for it in versatility.
The Manfrotto MP BP measures 13.4 x 9 x 22 inches and meets all TSA regulations which makes it the perfect carry-on for travel as it will fit in the overhead bins and underneath the seats of most aircraft.
The main compartment of the bag will hold a Phantom drone along with a transmitter and spare batteries which each have their own sections. There is also a separate compartment for DSLR camera and tripod.
Netted sections will easily hold spare props and 3 internal pockets got you covered to hold all your media and charging cords. Zip side pocket will hold a 15” laptop or tablet.
When it comes to being practical and functional, the Manfrotto MP BP will be the perfect companion on your travels.
PGYTECH OneMo Backpack
This PGYTECH is another favorite and for good reason. The backpack is modular and can easily transform into different styles for multiple uses because every journey is unique.
The backpack itself is top-notch high-end bag with a ton of storage and transformability capabilities and is like getting several bags for the price of one. Check all the different ways to travel with this bag.
This bag is quite impressive, a perfect drone backpack for the DJI Air drone or similar with expandable capacity from 25L to 35L. The main bag and separate built-in pouch fit together to provide the perfect solution for several scenarios of transport.
This system is made using sturdy construction that remains stable no matter how much stuff you cram inside. The main compartment can be arranged in any configuration with the included multi-fold dividers to fit all your gear to fit any travel needs.
This all-in-one modular bag does an excellent job of turning wasted space into storage space and there are just too many pockets and hidden compartments to mention in a short review.
The outer shell of the OneMo drone backpack is scratch-resistant and tear-resistant and can hold up to extreme use. The balanced weight system and adjustable chest and waist straps help to evenly disperse the weight of the backpack so you can comfortably carry it all day.
On the shoulder strap, the anti-theft and RFID security side pocket with zipper can easily hold your cards, passports and other valuable items for easy access. The pocket also contains built-in elastic bands for lens caps or media.
The dedicated battery pockets with charge level indicators will ensure you never grab a dead battery again. Plus, there is a waterproof rain cover included to keep your gear double protected from drizzle and moisture.
IFLIGHT Lighted FPV Drone Backpack (Best backpack for FPV pilots)
If you’re an FPV Drone Pilot, the IFLIGHT Backpack has you covered with plenty of room for all your gear and tools. This FPV focused backpack can easily fit 4-5 drones along with transmitter, goggles, and even a 17” laptop.
When it comes to FPV backpacks, this is definitely on the top of the list in terms of customization and durability.
It’s no wonder the IFLIGHT FPV drone backpack remains a favorite among FPV pilots. Aside from the fact the bag boasts a 33-liter capacity for maximum storage, there are also more than ample numbers of pouches, pockets and compartments to hold all the extra MPV gear like tools and spare parts.
Really, the number of extra cubbies and pockets in this bag is impressive, not to mention the backpack is equipped with an expandable feature where you can add additional compartments using zippers.
On the lightweight side of backpacks, the IFLIGHT weighs 2.6 pounds and features Honeycomb comfort foam back padding with EVA straps to reduce back burden.
Just hook your drones and go. Whether you’re headed to the airport or for a long hike up the mountain, this backpack won’t let you down. One feature not available on many other backpacks in its class, is this bag is waterproof and rain repellant and comes with an additional rain cover.
The IFLIGHT also includes a removable protective LIPO battery compartment as well as battery-powered LED lighting for cool ambient lighting. Easily switch to different colors and has an on/off switch. It’s the little things! This truly is a great drone backpack with all the bells and whistles.
Bonus: The IFlight also has a flat front to place your company logo sticker or any other decoration.
How should I pack my drone backpack for travel?
Packing your quad and gear in your new padded backpack before you head out should be an easy task, but there are a few tips that can help assure you get the maximum result for your efforts.
Firstly, make sure your information (name, address, phone) is securely attached to your backpack because even if you don’t intend to lose your drone, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
When packing your gear, rearrange the padded dividers in the pack to form separate tight-fitting compartments for your drone, camera, and other large accessories. Batteries should always be packed in the bottom of your bag for maximum weight distribution which will greatly reduce the burden on your back while carrying.
It’s also important to note if special LIPO battery pouches do not come with your backpack you should purchase them separately. These special battery pouches will keep your battery from exploding if punctured.
Don’t forget to pack spare propellers and a place to back up your media so you don’t run out of space to store all those great photos and videos.
5 Tips for traveling with your drone
Traveling with your drone can be an exciting adventure, but it also can turn sour very quickly if you get to the airport and your drone bag is rejected by TSA, or you’re 2 miles up the trail and your back gives out from lugging all your gear up the mountain in a heavy bulky bag.
Whether you’re flying on an airline with your drone or boarding a cruise ship for the trip of a lifetime, you probably have some questions about traveling with your drone gear. So let’s break down the things you need to know, and some common questions.
Know the laws of the land
Whether you’ve set out for the day to hike a semi-local new trail with killer views, or you’re headed to the airport to embark on an adventure on the other side of the planet, it’s important to know the laws of the land.
Before you leave it’s important to check up on the drone laws at your destination so you can safely and legally operate your drone. Some countries aren’t drone friendly and have very strict laws and regulations regarding drone use.
The USA is also constantly changing, and each locality may have its own bylaws as to when and where you can fly your drone. Familiarizing yourself with the drone laws of both your departure and arrival destinations can assure a smooth travel experience and save some unexpected headaches.
Can I bring my drone on an airplane?
There are a few exceptions, but the quick answer for most consumer drone owners is:
Yes! You can bring your consumer drone and accessories onboard passenger aircraft.
The majority of consumer drones on the market today can be easily transported through airport security and onto the plane with you so you don’t miss any of those great vacation shots.
However, there are some rules and regulations you need to follow. The Transportation Security Administration considers drones to be portable electronic devices with lithium batteries and these types of spare batteries must be transported with you onto the plane in a carry-on bag, hence the need for a good, padded camera drone backpack that meets TSA regulations and can fit in the overhead bin on underneath the seat of the aircraft.
Checked in or Carry-on?
Although you may pack your actual drone with one battery installed and most accessories in your checked bag, TSA regulations require that LIPO batteries MUST be carried onto the aircraft with you.
These types of batteries cannot be placed in your checked-in luggage to be stored in the belly of the plane. Although a rare occurrence, the reason for this rule is because a rapid change in temperature in the cargo area can cause LIPO batteries to swell or catch fire which is why they are one of the items you must keep with you in the cabin of the plane.
When it comes to your spare drone batteries, you’ll also need to know how many watt-hours each of your batteries are. For the average hobby pilot, most common drone batteries on the market today will be under 100w (with the exception of certain Inspire and Matrice UAV’S).
- As long as your batteries are under 100-watt hours, there is generally no limit to how many you can carry onboard the aircraft in your carry on.
- If your batters are between 100 – 160-watt hours, you may bring a limit of 2 spare batteries onboard the aircraft in your carry on.
- Batteries larger than 160 watts CAN NOT be carried onto the plane nor checked in.
Can I bring my drone on a cruise ship?
When it comes to major cruise ships, Carnival and Royal Caribbean appear to be the only two cruise lines that allow consumer drones to be brought on board the ship. Carnival requires that the drone be a camera drone.
At all times while on the ship, both cruise lines require that all drones must be stored inside your cabin.
Will I be able to fly my drone while onboard the ship or at the port?
No. You cannot take your drone out of its case or fly while onboard the ship. Furthermore, many ports have strict regulations that ban drones from flying within 400 feet of critical buildings including the cruise terminal, or within 100 yards of cruise ships.
Royal Caribbean also has banned the use outside of their port area and at all of their private destinations such as Bahamas, Labadee, CocoCay, and Haiti.
As every drone pilot knows, quads and accessories aren’t cheap, and a good drone bag is a necessary purchase because you want to protect your investment and easily transport your gear between locations. Likewise, drone backpacks themselves are equally as much of an investment, so you want to get one that not only fits your drone gear, but also your style.