Backpacking with a DJI Phantom gifts you with the ability to capture the fullness of a new place from an angle you (realistically) can’t otherwise dream of—to captivate your viewers the way the world captivated you. The reality, however, is that not everyone has a DJI Mavic, or a GoPro Karma. Most drones are not the most portable things in the world. But still, backpacking with a DJI Phantom or other drone is definitely worth it. Especially if you can get the best travel drone bag for the job. In fact, having a good travel drone bag is our #1 essential tip for traveling with a drone (without going insane)!
Truth is, there is no perfect one-size-fits-all best travel drone bag. There are different trips, different people, different drones, and different needs, and all of these ever-changing variables extend to a different conclusion for the best travel drone bag. Still, we have our answer for the best travel drone bag for our needs.
For more general travel drone tips, check out our post,
Want to see our drone videos?
Check out our “Traveling with a Drone” YouTube Playlist!
We also brought our DJI Phantom to this epic Harbin Ice Festival in China! Bringing your drone to a cold place is a whole different ball game. To learn more travel drone tips for cold temps, check out our post, Flying a Drone in Cold Weather.
- 1 Things to Consider Before Backpacking with a DJI Phantom
- 2 The Best Travel Drone Bag
- 3 How Did the Airport Helipak Perform in Vietnam?
- 4 The Break Down: Think Tank Airport Helipak
- 5 Reduced Price (with Free Shipping & Gift!)
- 6 Like this post?
- 7 You Might Also Appreciate…
- 8 Have you ever traveled with a drone?
Things to Consider Before Backpacking with a DJI Phantom
What should you consider when choosing the best travel drone bag for you?
Your needs for a travel drone bag will be different from those required for your standard, non-drone travel backpack—although if you’re also looking for a great backpack for your clothes, etc. here’s a helpful guide outlining the Best Travel Backpacks.
These are the MAIN CATEGORIES to choose from when choosing the best travel drone bag:
- Hard case or soft case
- Backpack, carrying case, or rolling bag/case
Of course, these considerations all depend on the kind of travel you’ll be embarking on.
Ask yourself: will you be moving locations frequently? Will you be taking your drone on hikes or staying only in well-paved cities? If you’re anything like us, you’ll be moving too much, and taking your drone to such a variety of places, that a rolling case is simply out of the question. Likewise, a hard case is much too heavy and (if it has a big DJI logo) too attention-grabbing for backpacking with a DJI Phantom.
So what have we found to be our perfect bag for traveling with a drone?
The Best Travel Drone Bag
After some trial and error, we found the best travel drone bag for our needs: the Think Tank Airport Helipak.
But first, what about cost? We’ll talk a lot about durability and functionality later in the “The Break Down: Think Tank Airport Helipak” section of this review, but if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, Think Tank’s got it covered. The Phantom and 3DR Solo Airport Helipaks are now being offered at an incredible REDUCED PRICE ($130 less than a comparable DJI branded drone bag) and you can use these links to get free shipping plus a free gift.
We’ve tried out different drone bags, from the cheap Chinese eBay variety to hard cases and so on, but nothing else really matched up to our needs. Other bags were either flimsy and fragile or heavy and awkward, and none of them gave us the peace-of-mind that the bag was offering the ultimate protection while backpacking with a DJI Phantom. The Think Tank DJI Phantom bag, however, fulfilled all of our top travel needs.
The company makes a few variations of the Airport Helipak drone bag to make traveling with a drone easy for a variety of models, such as the 3DR Solo. For us, the DJI Phantom Airport Helipak fits our Phantom 3 Standard perfectly.
Think Tank was awesome enough to send us out their Airport Helipak drone bag a few weeks before we left South Korea for our Vietnam trip. After testing the bag out around Jeju Island, we knew it was exactly what we needed for backpacking with a DJI Phantom through Vietnam. Well, we were right.
How Did the Airport Helipak Perform in Vietnam?
The bag performed remarkably well under the tough travel conditions you might expect from a couple of adventure travelers backpacking with a DJI Phantom.
Our week-long trip in Vietnam took the Think Tank drone bag through rainy Sapa trekking in the rice terraces of the northern mountains, to the wetlands of Ninh Binh in canoes and bamboo rafts to explore the striking limestone karsts, right up to the edge of Halong Bay during a typhoon threat, zooming ’round the country on motorcycles, through the Hanoi streets lined with Vietnamese food vendors, along the sandy shores of Da Nang, and of course on the many bus rides, train rides, and plane rides in between it all. Our drone (and other gear) stayed 100% dry, protected, and safe the entire trip, and the Helipak managed to make it through without a single scuff.
Without a reliable, protective bag such as the Think Tank Airport Helipak, backpacking with a DJI Phantom through our rugged itinerary would’ve been simply out of the question.
What makes the Think Tank Airport Helipak the best travel drone bag for us?
After considering our travel needs, we’ve broken down the Airport Helipak’s highlights into 10 top categories: lightweight, organized, customizable, durable, comfortable, water resistant, inconspicuous, plane-friendly, spacious, and thoughtful.
The soft padding of the foam dividers provides ultimate protection without adding a ton of weight. We brought this bag everywhere, wearing it wherever we went, and it never felt super heavy.
Even with the extreme carry-on luggage weight restrictions of Vietjet Air (7 kg or 15 pounds), the bag passed the weight test just fine!
The Helipak includes tons of compartments and inserts for everything you’ll need.
One of my favorite features of the bag is the organizer panel of the external pocket, with slots for your laptop, phone, pens, keys, and pretty much anything else you need for easy and convenient grabbing. This pocket is the perfect vlogger’s companion—I keep our mics, a few extra SD cards and batteries for my GoPro and Canon G7x here for easy access while we’re on the move.
The interior of the bag has padded compartments suitable for batteries, RC, other cameras, tablet display, GoPro mounts, travel adapters, chargers, and phone gear, as well as mesh see-through pockets for SD cards, props, tools, cables, cords, etc., so you can quickly and easily access everything you need. This allows you to conveniently keep your important things together, making it easier to keep an eye on it.
Additionally, there’s a handy stretchy 32 oz water bottle pocket on the side, which we’ve also used to carry our vlogging camera set-up (Canon G7x with a Gorilla Pod) and our medium-sized tripod
Check out this drone bag packing video on the Television of Nomads YouTube Channel to see everything we fit into our Think Tank Airport Helipak—and to be honest, we could’ve fit in more!
Velcro-closed dividers enable you to easily customize the size of each compartment to fit your own gear.
This makes it super easy to rearrange our gear as we need it—if I need to accommodate a long selfie stick, a GoPro Dome, or a DSLR, changing the size of the compartments is as easy as pulling apart and re-attaching velcro!
The Think Tank Airport Helipak is built to last.
Constructed of ballistic nylon (the material so tough it was was invented to protect WWII airmen) and other durable materials, 3-ply bonded nylon thread, and incredibly strong abrasion-resistant zippers, the Think Tank Airport Helipak is also layered with a durable water-repellent coating and an additional layer or polyurethane coating. Phew. This bag’s got muscles.
Its strong construction never feels at all flimsy, ensuring the bag will survive through traveling conditions. This is absolutely essential for traveling with a drone—luggage can take a beating, and this well-made bag withstands it beautifully (keeping our DJI Phantom as safe as can be!)
With ergonomic, comfortable padded straps that can be buckled for back support, the Airport Helipak makes for pleasant wearability while traveling with a drone. Additionally, the bag has a removable padded waist-belt and a contoured harness complete with adjustable straps.
The bag’s straps even include elastic pockets for small items you want to (literally) keep close to your chest, such as a phone. We found these elastic pockets perfect for clipping a GoPro clip mount while we were Sapa trekking through the rice fields of Vietnam—so much more convenient than the chesty mount!
6. Water Resistant
One of the handiest features of the Think Tank Airport Helipak is the durable water-repellent coating. And in heavier rain, the included seam-sealed rain cover makes this bag virtually waterproof!
The first day of our Sapa trek had torrential rain. Seriously—the rain was so bad that our Belgian companions were receiving concerned messages from friends in Belgium who had seen the extent of the flooding in Sapa on their news channels. The only thing we used to protect our Airport Helipak was the included Think Tank rain cover. When we finally got to shelter and inspected all of our gear, EVERYTHING was completely dry. Even the papers we had on the external pockets were 100% protected by the rain cover.
As far as a water-resisting goes, that’s pretty impressive. Now, don’t go throwing the Helipak drone bag into the ocean and expecting it to stay completely dry. But for realistic conditions (rain, snow, water splashing while inside a boat, etc.) the Airport Helipak with the included rain cover will get the job done!
This was one of our top priorities in looking for the best travel drone bag!
The last thing you want to do while backpacking with a DJI Phantom is advertise to everyone around: “HEY GUYS! LOOK! I HAVE AN EXPENSIVE QUADCOPTER AND YOU KNOW ITS BRAND JUST BY LOOKING AT THE BAG’S LOGO!”
No thank you. This is the problem with a DJI bag with a blatant logo. First off, DJI’s a well-known consumer drone brand, and flashing a logo like that down every foreign alley isn’t smart. Second, I find the hard case shape a bit awkward to handle—almost like wearing a giant turtle shell on your back. Even the new soft case DJI Phantom drone bag has a big DJI logo front and center, and it costs a whopping $130 more than the Think Tank, with little to no room for other gear.
To the contrary, the simple (yet well-thought out) black design of the Think Tank Airport Helipak helps the bag blend in, which is exactly what you’ll want when backpacking with a DJI Phantom or other quadcopter. During our trip in Vietnam, no one suspected what was inside the bag, and they were continually surprised when we pulled out our DJI Phantom.
Think Tank made this the perfect carry-on travel drone bag.
The 14” W x 20.5” H x 9” D (35.6 x 52.1 x 22.9 cm) exterior dimensions fit even the strictest of discount airlines for carry-on luggage for both domestic and international flights. During our Vietnam trip, we were delighted to find the Think Tank Airport Helipak was not only the perfect size for a carry-on, but its lightweight materials allowed us to come in under VietJet Air’s 7kg (15 lb) carry-on weight limit, even when loaded with our gear.
As frequent travelers, we try to carry on our bags whenever we can (in fact, you should check out these recommendations for the best carry-on luggage choices)! But for traveling with a drone in particular, carrying on your bag is essential.
Why is carrying on your drone so important?
Well first of all, for security reasons. Something as costly as a drone is not something you should be checking in, for fear of it being lost, damaged, or even worst, stolen.
And second of all, for safety reasons. The LiPo batteries that power a DJI Phantom should absolutely NEVER be checked in! If LiPo batteries are handled improperly they can become extremely dangerous and potentially start a fire. It’s incredibly important that the LiPo batteries are brought onto the cabin in a carry-on bag, where you and airline flight crews can better monitor the batteries and have quick access to them if a fire were to occur. For extra brownie points, store your LiPo batteries in a LiPo Safe Fireproof bag
In addition to being plane-friendly, the Think Tank Airport Helipak was also the perfect size for transporting our drone on trains and buses, fitting nicely in the luggage compartments. The bag also fit like a glove in the Seoul subway station locker we stored our bag in while we had a Seoul day trip on our way back to Jeju! And with handles on three sides, it’s incredibly easy and quick to grab your bag from anywhere you store it.
The Think Tank Airport Helipak can accommodate all my gear.
A serious concern of mine in finding the perfect travel drone bag is ensuring it will be able to fit everything I’ll need while traveling. Many drone bags I tried out or looked at were fine for day trips using the drone, but lacked the space and customizability I needed for the variety of trips we take every year.
The Think Tank Airport Helipak has space for the basics: quadcopter, RC, batteries, propellers, and tablet. But it also has enough space for everything else I need: GoPro and GoPro mounts, handheld cameras, this multi-charger for the Phantom 4, or this multi-charger for the Phantom 3, as well as all my other chargers (including the essential portable charger) and travel adapters, and just about anything else I think I’ll need for my trip.c
And here’s the great thing about the bag: it’s functional for longer backpacking trips, and short day trips. Spacious while still being lightweight, the bag can accommodate different kinds of travel, whether we’re heading to Sri Lanka for 8 days, Seoul for the weekend, or just a nearby Jeju beach for a few hours!
Think Tank thought of things I didn’t even know I was missing!
Everything from the pocket organizers and changeable slots, to the protective coatings and tough zippers, to the included rain cover and protective rotor thread caps—it all shows that this bag was designed by drone users for drone users.
Lightweight, organized, customizable, durable, comfortable, water resistant, inconspicuous, plane-friendly, and spacious, the Think Tank Airport Helipak has everything it takes to be labeled the best travel drone bag.
Now that I’ve used the Think Tank Airport Helipak, I simply can’t go back. While it doesn’t make backpacking with a DJI Phantom as easy as…well…not backpacking with a DJI Phantom, it sure makes it as easy and painless as can be. It’s no wonder it’s the drone bag used by YouTube photographer superstars such as Sawyer Hartman.
Reduced Price (with Free Shipping & Gift!)
Though we’ve only covered the Airport Helipak here, Think Tank also makes several other other high-quality bags and cases for all your photography needs, from backpacks, shoulder bags, belt systems for your photography and videography gear, to laptop cases and accessories. Feel free to browse here!
As for getting the drone Airport Helipak, you can find it in the Helipak series section. Check out the Airport Helipak for yourself!
Here’s what’s even better: the price is right.
Think Tank has reduced the price of the Airport Helipak, and no matter what you buy, every $50 or more order purchased through these links will get you free shipping plus a free gift.
Think Tank supplied us with the Airport Helipak, but as always, the opinions are honest, thoroughly-considered, and very much our own.
If you decide to make a purchase through these links, it won’t cost you anything extra, and it will help offset the cost of running Television of Nomads!
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Have you ever traveled with a drone?
Let us know in a comment below!