March 3, 2022

Limitless Possibilities - What Fits In The Pilot

TOM BIHN Pilot work travel bag

What's the best way to kit out your Pilot bag, you ask?  Well, it depends...

You might not need much, if any, additional organization at all!  For many folks, nothing more than the included Key Strap (or perhaps one or two extras) is needed to keep oneself organized with the Pilot.  After all, it has five separate sections, with additional pockets and slots built into three of them.  Plenty of places to put that ever smaller version of your stuff.

For those who'd like to keep things well sequestered, though, the answer will still depend - how will you be using your Pilot?  As a briefcase for work?  A daily carry cross-body?  Diaper bag?  The possibilities are endless!

I'll go over a general list of what-fits-where, and then zero in on a couple specific use cases, and how to get the most from your Pilot in those situations.  Let's go by pocket:  

First up is the main compartment that takes up the rear half of the bag.  This is where you'll put your laptop, any large books, papers or folders, and other large things.

Next are the two side pockets on the front of the Pilot.  They have the same volume, but have different internal pockets (an open pocket in one, and four pen/tool slots in the other).  Some accessories that work well in them are:

The center-front pocket is the water bottle pocket, but it can hold other things as well, like a small collapsible umbrella or a few small accessories:

Lastly, the open-topped pocket on the back of the bag will likely stay accessory-free for most folks, since there's no way to close the pocket, or attach things to the bag back there.  It's a great place for an easily accessible book, magazine, file folder, or newspaper (a news-what?).


So there are our pieces to work with; now let's build a loadout for a few specific uses.

First up is as a daily carry work bag: 

Next, what if we've got a miniature human in our care?  Babies, and even older kids, require a lot a specialist equipment, which can fit neatly in the Pilot's (relatively) cavernous holds while the fam is out for the day.  For a quick day trip, it beats a huge diaper-duffel!

 And finally, what if you just need a bag?  Just a bag to keep your stuff in while you explore this weird and/or wonderful world?  Here's an example loadout that covers most daily adventures:

The Pilot is one of the most versatile bags we make, and these ideas are only the tip of the nylon-enrobed iceberg.  There are many other ways to pack it and load it up - we'd love to hear how you use yours!  Let us know in the comments if you have any alternative packing strategies, or ideas on how you'll pack it out when you get one!


Greg - March 30, 2022

Great blog piece. I’d love to see more of these also, perhaps as a way to find in one place the collective wisdom of the staff and the forum about the various bags. I’ve traveled with my Pilot as my sole bag for as long as a week. Superbly organized “as is,” I do occasionally throw one packing cube in for the undies and socks and/or to use as a laundry bag. I’ve also added Velcro strips to the back pocket so it stays closed with a modest amount of things in it, rather than gaping open. Superb bag. And in Night Walk Halcyon, it looks great, too.
TOM BIHN replied:
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the blog. We have more of these coming!

BT - March 28, 2022

I LOVE the Pilot! It’s my favorite TB bag.

I wish we could get a double size one (26L like the Western Flyer). I like the format of this one much better than the interior of the WF or TS styles, which rely more on straps and zips than pockets.

Steve - March 6, 2022

I have had the Pilot for a month or so, and I am amazed at how much stuff I can fit in the front pockets. I can easily fit pens, size 4 wallet, hobonichi planner (with cover), and cubelet in the first pocket. In the middle pocket, my yeti rambler fits perfect (500 ml one). In the other pocket (and this is what REALLY impresses me), I can fit my reading glasses in a case, my noise cancelling headphones (Seinheisser) in A5 ghost whale pouch, and an apple magic keyboard.

TOM BIHN replied:
That’s amazing! Thank you for sharing.

Mike - March 7, 2022

Will a Pilot fit a size 13C cache? It seems like it’s a little taller than 13A, but not much.

Also, any plans to release a Pilot in 1050d Ballistic, or is that no longer an option? Thanks!
TOM BIHN replied:
Hi Mike! Yes, the 13C will fit in the Pilot. No plans at the moment to
release the Pilot in 1050.

Rob - March 5, 2022

I love my Pilot, and I love seeing these ideas. I’ve used mine as a diaper bag when I had to carry one – it’s the perfect dad diaper bag that held everything I needed – bottles, diapers, wipes, binkies, rattle toys connected to long key straps, clothes, changing pad, and snacks for me. I used a 3DOC for all the lotions and creams, and in a double organizer pouch I had a tin of mints, cards, and essential oil to make sure I stayed calm through all of it. It was a handsome and stylish bag all dads can feel good carrying.
Now it’s an office and commuter bag with all the usual things described in this blog post – I use the outside pocket to hold mail and papers I collect during the day – receipts, flyers, pamphlets and all that stuff you come across in a day. My 3DOC is a small toiletry kit with toothbrush/paste, floss picks, lotions, advil, eye drops, moist wipes, and chapstick. A mini whale pouch holds oil beadlets and more chap.
A small notebook and a pen go in one of the main interior pockets, and shades and a small whale with essential oils go in the other. My iPad 11 with keyboard case gets toted around and a windbreaker gets stuffed in there too.
Definitely one of my most favorite bags!
TOM BIHN replied:
Amazing, thank you so much for sharing!

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