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Pilot vs. Co-Pilot vs. Night Flight: Personal Carry-On Item Showdown

The Co-Pilot, Pilot, and Night Flight Travel Duffle are minimalist packing powerhouses, allowing you to bring what you need without weighing you down. All three bags contain a bevy of pockets and built-in organization; yet, each can be customized to suit a variety of packing styles and occasions.

Read on as we break down each bag’s features and share packing lists, including suggestions from members of the Forum.

Co-Pilot: 600 cubic inches / 10 litres

The Co-Pilot has four compartments: three in the front and a main compartment in the back.  The back of the bag has an open-top pocket that can hold a magazine or newspaper, and zips open at the bottom so you can slide the bag over the handle of your rolling luggage.

The Co-Pilot is available in two fabric choices: 1050D high tenacity Ballistic nylon exterior lined with 200D Dyneema, or 400D Dyneema lined with 200D Dyneema. It has a comfortable grab handle padded with Poron foam; you can also carry it over your shoulder with the included Standard Shoulder Strap (you also have the option to upgrade to the Absolute Shoulder Strap). One 8” Black Key Strap is included.

Other features:

Side front compartments:

  • can fit a toiletry bag such as the 3D Organizer Cube
  • has 1 o-ring in each compartment
  • the left compartment has an Halcyon 200d-lined organizational pocket; the right has four pen slots

Middle front compartment:

  • sized for a small water bottle or umbrella (you can also store a rolled-up lightweight rain jacket or merino wool jersey)
  • has a drainage eyelet so moisture doesn’t collect

Main compartment:

  • large, open space with two open-top inner pockets that can accommodate a Side Effect or 3D Organizer Cube
  • has two o-rings
  • can fit an iPad Mini/iPad/iPad Air, other 7” tablet, or an 11” MacBook Air

Great uses:

  • an under-seat, in-flight personal item (see Tachiyaku's packing list here)
  • a way to haul your mobile office (example packing list: iPad, folding bluetooth keyboard, journal/notebook, pens, insulated thermos, chargers, multi-tool)
  • a sturdy sightseeing bag (example packing list: lightweight rain jacket, map, guidebook, travel dictionary, sunglasses, water bottle, food bar)
  • an ultra-minimalist one-bag carry on (see amazngin's impressive packing list)

Pilot: 800 cubic inches / 13 litres

The Pilot shares many design features with its smaller sibling, the Co-Pilot.  It comes in the same fabrics and has the same overall shape and structure.  Here are the differences:

Side front pockets:

  • inside one, an pocket that can hold a tablet
  • inside the other, three pen slots and one slightly larger pocket (for tools, glasses, spare battery, etc.)

Main compartment:

  • in addition to the tablets that fit into the Co-Pilot, the Pilot can accept the iPad Pro and most laptops up to 13”
  • using a Cache makes the Pilot checkpoint friendly (see how the Cache works here)

Packing Cubes:

  • The Pilot has dedicated Packing Cubes in two sizes, Large (main compartment) and Small (front compartment or two in the main compartment)

Great uses:

  • an overnight business trip bag (example packing list: laptop in Cache, clothes in 1 Small and 1 Large Pilot Packing Cube, toiletries in 3D Organizer Cube, office supplies and cables/chargers in Organizer Pouches and Travel Stuff Sacks)
  • a multi-use weekend bag (see scribe's packing list here)
  • a briefcase for everyday (example packing list: laptop in Cache, papers in a folder, water bottle, sack lunch, pens, a rain jacket)

Night Flight Travel Duffle: 1220 cubic inches / 20 litres

A petite cousin of the Aeronaut, the Night Flight Travel Duffle has a similar shape and that famous 3-compartment design (complete with zippered mesh pocket inside the hatch).  Like the Co-Pilot and Pilot, the Night Flight Travel Duffle comes in Ballistic nylon and Dyneema versions, includes one Black 8” Key Strap, and comes with a removable Standard Shoulder Strap (with optional Absolute Strap upgrade).  Other specs are as follows:

Main compartment:

  • mesh hatch pocket with 1 o-ring
  • removable foam padding
  • optional Padded Organizational Divider Set (to protect fragile items such as electronic equipment)
  • 4 o-rings

End compartments:

  • interior drop-in pockets large enough for a 7” tablet
  • 2 o-rings
  • outer zippered pockets

Packing Cubes:

  • optional Packing Cubes in one size (one fits in each end compartment and two fit in the main compartment)

Great uses:




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