Wotancraft Pilot Backpack Review
Wotancraft are well known for their beautifully handcrafted carry solutions including bags, watch straps, and a variety of other pieces – all of which are created from high quality and durable materials.
Boasting customers from all walks of life, their products suit anybody from the casual photographer to the adventurous professional out in the field.
In short, these are products that can handle abuse while protecting whatever items one may require on assignment.
On top of that, Wotancraft’s products can easily be moulded into the perfect carry solution for a variety of situations and needs, from your weekend away to your office commute.
Meticulously designed with Wotancraft’s signature vintage military styling, the Pilot Travel Camera Backpack is a new addition to the already popular Pilot range of bags, known for its lightweight, ultra-durable materials and customisable interchangeable MOLLE modular exterior options.
Let’s have a closer look at one of the most innovative camera backpacks of the year.
Wotancraft Pilot Backpack Specs
- Incredible build quality and materials
- Highly customisable with the MOLLE modules (up to 36L!)
- Unrestrictive carry capacity even without the modules
- Doesn’t look like a traditional camera bag
- Accessing the main compartment can be a bit tight from the top
- Side MOLLE attachments get in the way of the side pockets
20L (expandable to 36L with External Modules)
30 x 17 x 48cm (11.8” x 6.7” x 18.9”)
29 x 15 x 45cm (11.4” x 5.9” x 18.9”)
1.65kg (3.6lbs) without dividers
1.8kg (3.9lbs) with dividers
28 x 36cm (11″ x 14.1″)
fits a 15″ Laptop or 16″ Macbook Pro
Front Panel Pocket (Outer):
23 x 13cm (9″ x 5.1″)
Front Panel Pocket (Inner):
23 x 33cm (9″ x 13″)
25 x 20cm (9.8″ x 7.8″)
Hidden Mesh Pockets (x2):
10 x 18cm (3.9″ x 7″)
Side Pockets (x2):
15 x 19cm (5.9″ x 7.5″)
– Water repellent Teflon® Coating
– Ultra-strength bonded Nylon 6,6 thread
– PU Laminated Interior Coating
– Medical grade durable microfiber lining (ie: velcro compatible)
– Cotton fabric liner
– High-density EVA foam padding
– Duraflex Swivel Snap Hook
– YKK Water-Resistant Zippers
2x Small interior dividers
2x Large interior dividers
1x Tripod strap
1x Chest strap
1x Cotton dustproof bag
External Size: 18 x 3 x 29cm (7” x 1.2” x 11.4”)
Internal Size: 17 x 2 x 28cm (6.8” x 0.8” x 11”)
Weight: 250g (0.55lbs)
Fighter 02 – Travel Pouch (7.5L):
External Size: 21 x 12 x 35cm (8.2” x 4.7” x 13.7”)
Internal Size: 20 x 11 x 34cm (7.8” x 4.3” x 13.4”)
Weight: 200g (0.44lbs)
Fighter 03 – Rider Bag (7.5L):
External Size: 35 x 14 x 18cm (13.7” x 5.5” x 7”)
Internal Size: 34 x 13 x 17cm (13.4” x 5.1” x 6.7”)
Weight: 395g (0.87lbs)
Add-on Phone Pouch:
External Size: 10 x 1 x 18cm (3.93” x 0.39” x 7”)
Internal Size: 9 x 1 x 17cm (3.54” x 0.39” x 6.7”)
Weight: 50g (0.11lbs)
Fits up to iPhone 12 Pro
Add-on Coin/Filter Pouch:
External Size: 10 x 1cm (3.93” x 0.39”)
Internal Size: 9 x 1cm (3.54” x 0.39”)
Weight: 35g (0.07lbs)
Build & Appearance
To put it simply, the Pilot backpack not only looks the part, but without question has definitely been built to fit the part.
Featuring Wotancraft’s “vintage soul”, the classic WW2 military style flows through every stitch and weave across the entire backpack and module range.
From the moment you first pick it up, it looks ready to go. It’s immediately obvious that Wotancraft have yet again built a high quality and very capable product.
Lovingly constructed from a uniquely developed CORDURA® 500D waxed nylon that is upwards of 10 times stronger than the usual cotton canvas featured on products sold elsewhere, it provides you with the confidence you need when on a tough adventure or enduring crowds on a busy commute.
Depending on the look you’re going for (or the discreteness you require) the Pilot Backpack is available in either a military-style Khaki colourway or a stealthy classic Black design.
Each of these options will scuff and mark over time, creating a unique look and style that adds more character to the bag and retells the story of your time with it.
The soft-to-touch outer canvas material also features the same weather-proof Teflon® coating and a PU Laminated interior coating as the Pilot Messenger Bags.
This will withstand and repel most of the water droplets from rain, river, waterfall spray or otherwise, and will prevent it from seeping through onto your gear.
Wotancraft have also used an ultra-strength bonded Nylon 6,6 to provide added strength and help the bag withstand continued use and abuse from whatever you may encounter. If only I was this durable!
All of the hardware used on the Pilot Backpack has been carefully selected to pair with the construction of the bag itself, from the YKK Water-Resistant zippers to the Duraflex Swivel Snap hook and high-density EVA Padding found throughout the backpack.
The Pilot Series have a set of standard features that they all contain, ranging from the aforementioned exterior coatings and materials, all the way down to the external pockets and MOLLE straps for equipping the optional range of modules.
Featuring an ergonomically designed strap system and a heavily padded body side panel, the weight of the backpack is intentionally biased towards your body instead of away from it.
This ergonomic system greatly helps to evenly distribute the weight across your shoulders and back, alleviating fatigue when you wear the backpack for extended periods of time.
Coupled with the chest strap, this will prolong your ability to adventure for further and longer!
You’ll find a convenient luggage pass-through on the back panel as well, giving your shoulders a break while on those tiresome airport runs and making life that little bit more comfortable.
The main compartment of the Pilot Backpack features four zippers along a full-length L shaped zipper rail, with large leather pulls for easy and convenient use.
If you need full open access, you can unbuckle the top lid and open the backpack right up in a clamshell fashion. Alternatively, you can simply reach in to either side and access your gear.
Found on the outside of the Wotancraft Pilot Backpack are seven multi-purpose pockets.
On the top area of the bag hidden underneath the main lid are two very discrete mesh pockets suited perfectly for valuables such as a passport or tickets and small documents you need easy access to.
You’ll find a zipper pocket within the top lid, and two more zipper pockets on the front panel.
The zipper pocket along the top of the front panel provides easy access to smaller items and the more discrete pocket on the back of the front panel is suitable for larger A4 sized documents, a tablet, and an assortment of anything else you may require.
Bear in mind that the front panel is rather soft and hasn’t been given any structure, so paper documents may scrunch if not kept in something to retain their integrity (such as a book or folder).
The front panel being soft and malleable means you can load it up with a variety of items inside, as well as moulding it around bulkier items and using it as a carry space. Squeeze in a sleeping bag, puffer jacket, or tripod if need be and strap it up nice and tight to hold it snug!
There may even be enough slack in the buckle straps to utilise the Travel Pouch along with the pictured sleeping bag, but that’d be quite a tight fit depending on how loaded up the Pouch is.
The front and both sides of the bag contain MOLLE straps which allow for the external modules and other tools you may need to be attached to the exterior of the backpack.
Whether it’s utilising carabiner clips to carry your torch or expanding the carry capacity with Wotancraft’s optional external modules, the choice is yours!
For added security, Wotancraft’s optional external modules are not accessible or able to be removed without first unbuckling the top lid. As such, you can travel with confidence that no pick-pockets or would-be thieves will be able to access your items without you first knowing about it.
Depending on where you place them, the smaller Add-on Pouches may not share this same level of security due to their simplistic design and potential positioning.
So be your usual mindful self if you place valuables in them when out traveling or exploring.
Customisation isn’t limited to just the exterior of the Wotancraft Pilot Backpack – you also have a lot of freedom in how you choose to set up the inside.
As standard, the main interior compartment is quite bare and simple, containing only a large cavernous space and including a laptop sleeve (capable of fitting a 15″ Laptop or 16″ Macbook Pro).
This is not a bad thing though, as it provides you with the opportunity to set it up how you need. A staple of any good camera bag is letting the user decide instead of providing them with a fixed setting.
It also opens up completely flat as an indication of just how customisable and packable the backpack truly is.
If you’re familiar with other Wotancraft products, you may already know this, but they have a range of interior modules as well. Each of their interior modules is compatible with the Pilot Backpack and can be placed on any of the surfaces within the interior of the main compartment.
Featuring a medical grade durable microfiber lining throughout the entire interior compartment, the velcro compatible interior modules can be placed anywhere within the compartment along with the already included interior dividers.
The dividers can also be placed as high or low as you need and rearranged to suit whatever requirement you may have.
I’ve found that I don’t always need all the empty space within the bag on my day to day, nor do I need the extra external modules.
The Zipperless Pocket Module is small enough but contains just the right amount of storage space to handle my smaller bits and pieces that could otherwise be easily lost in such a large bag.
The Battery & SD Card Fastener Module also ensures I don’t lose my spare memory cards or even my car key if my other pockets are full!
Combining the two within the backpack is an ideal solution, while still leaving adequate space for the other essentials that I carry on my journey to the office and back.
Storage Capacity: Pilot Backpack
With up to a combined 36L of storage, the Pilot Travel Camera Backpack is definitely a bag suitable to being a work-horse if you so require!
But if that’s more capacity than you’d ever need, rest assured the base 20L backpack is more than capable of serving you on your normal day to day, or even on more adventurous outings.
The 20L Pilot Travel Camera Backpack isn’t reliant on the modules to be a fantastic solution, but they’re certainly a great value add! I’ll introduce the three Fighter external modules in the next section so you can get a better idea of their capacity and the value they bring to the overall system.
I stuffed basically all of my camera gear into the full combo, along with an array of other items including a raincoat, bomber jacket and an umbrella.
I still had more space to drop in more items but it started getting ridiculous when I found myself raiding a wardrobe full of miscellaneous items just to fill the space. So I just kept the flat lay photo to the more relevant items instead.
Wotancraft advertise that you can fit a 15″ Laptop or a 16″ Macbook pro, but I managed to squeeze in my 15.6″ gaming laptop into the pouch.
It only just fit – not much in the way of wiggle room, but the zipper did clear and seal the bag nicely!
I won’t be naming each item individually, but for an idea of what can fit you’ll easily fit a full DSLR or Mirrorless system with spare lenses, laptop, tablet, and even a full foldable DJI Mavic kit (ie: Pro/Air/Mini and their “2” updates, etc) in there too.
Within just the backpack itself and ignoring the modules, a Canon 5D Mark III with Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 attached will fit across the base with a divider behind it to separate a charger or spare lens. The same goes for a Sony a7 III with Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8.
On the second level, you can fit a few bulkier accessories and lenses if you pack well and utilise the vertical dividers, which leaves you with heaps of space at the top level of the backpack for everything else.
Utilising the interior modules will help organise as there are no interior pockets as standard (as pictured in the previous section).
Storage Capacity: “Fighter” External Modules
You have the freedom to pick and choose the individual modules when you first order the Pilot Backpack (you can still order them later!), but my recommendation is to bundle it with the standard combination, which includes all three “Fighter” external modules.
By selecting this combination, it will provide you with the opportunity to utilise the single 20L backpack without any modules on lighter commutes, but then introduce one or two of the modules as you require (1-7.5L a piece), or just simply grab the Rider Bag if all you need is just a 7.5L shoulder bag and leave the backpack at home (or in your accommodation?).
The two larger modules, the Rider Bag and Travel Pouch, will easily fit a DSLR or Mirrorless camera system, along with an array of smaller accessories. Their capacity is on par with most camera sling bags (which are usually 3-7L), but unlike dedicated camera sling bags, these lack the padding and protection those tend to offer.
Expandable carry isn’t limited to the Pilot series backpack and messenger bags either – the Rider Bag and Travel Pouch also feature MOLLE straps on the exterior. This allows you to utilise the small Add-On Pouches as well as the Front Water Bottle Pouch and Front Accessory Pouch.
By attaching the included shoulder strap, the external Fighter modules work great as shoulder bags when you don’t need the full size Pilot bags.
Designed to be easily attached to the base of the Pilot Backpack without any extra straps or hooks, the Rider Bag (7.5L) is great for packing additional bulk such as spare clothing, tools, or gear.
It’s also quite nicely suited for solo use as an everyday shoulder bag. I must add though, if internal organisation is a big deal for you, I recommend getting some interior modules as well.
The Rider Bag only contains a single side of soft lining along the full-width zipper pocket, therefore internal dividers are not compatible.
I recommend using the aforementioned interior modules or drop-in compartments/pouches for any gear that requires padded protection, such as lenses or camera bodies. But for anything else, this is a great solution for the extra gear you may need.
The straps on the Rider Bag also allow you to expand or contract its physical size, helping to contain loose items and reduce the physical footprint that the bag takes up on your person or when attached to the Pilot Backpack.
The 7.5L Travel Pouch is very minimalistic and lightweight in its design. I’ve found it’s best suited for packing soft and bulkier items such as spare clothing, booklets, or rainy weather gear.
Easily slipping in between the front panel and the backpack, with a zipper on either side for added convenience, the Travel Pouch doesn’t weigh you down while adding that extra storage space. It will happily sit squished up and out of the way when not in use, saving you from having to reattach it each time you need it.
On bulkier days, you can shift it to the outer front of the backpack in a matter of seconds if need be.
The Accessory Pouch may only allow for 1L of storage but it definitely comes in handy for arranging smaller useful bits and pieces.
Being rather accessible, it’s great for transporting your more frequently used items such as batteries or lens filters, saving you from rummaging through the other buckles and zippers on the backpack.
It contains an easy-access zipperless pouch on the front which is protected and covered by the top buckle-up flap, and a full-length zipper around the main compartment to keep everything in check.
Inside you’ll find a dual zipper mesh pocket on the front side and two more mesh pockets on the back.
It’s also handy to just grab and go when I don’t need the full-size backpack or one of the larger modules, being big enough to carry the essentials such as earbuds, sunglasses, and a battery pack, but small enough to not get in the way or weigh you down when heading out for a quick coffee or errand.
Ease of Use/Comfort
Attaching and removing modules is a rather easy process with the YKK Snap-on buckles, although please ensure they clip up properly! At times one may feel like it’s closed, but if you don’t hear the satisfying click noise it may just be snagged.
In saying that, however, it’s super easy to add and remove any of the modules that Wotancraft have developed. Both inside and out!
As I mentioned earlier in the article, Wotancraft have designed an ergonomic strap system and adorned the back body side panel with multi-layered thick EVA foam padding. This not only helps with the comfort factor, but also with weight distribution.
The weight of the pack is spread across your body instead of pulling entirely on your shoulders, helping to alleviate the strain often found with other backpacks.
The straps are padded nice and thick and don’t cut into your shoulders either.
They’re also compatible with Peak Design’s Capture Clip.
It’s quite a comfortable bag to wear regardless of how loaded up it is (depending on your strength of course!).
All of the zippers and buckles included with the Pilot Backpack are smooth and comfortable to use; they’re not rigid or tight, nor do they snag or require any exertion of force to open or move.
The side access is easy and designed to be convenient while on the move.
Having the extra sidewalls along the base of the backpack means items don’t accidentally fall out upon opening either.
Value for Money
Wotancraft aren’t known for releasing cheap products – they’re a higher quality brand than you’d normally find in your everyday camera store and they back their products accordingly too.
You’ll find a 3-year free repairs warranty on the Pilot Backpack which is covered on the condition that the bag has failed during normal intended use.
As I’ve mentioned in other Wotancraft reviews, the value comes from the development and craftsmanship that goes into forming one of the brand’s products.
This is a functional work of art that’s ready to accompany you on whatever adventure, big or small, you embark on – whether it’s to the office, in the mountains, or on assignment in a volatile and exciting environment.
The focus tends to be on quality rather than quantity and Wotancraft work with high-end manufacturers to develop bespoke and custom fabrics to suit their standards and help them to achieve the goal they set for each product.
The exterior and interior modules on offer are very well worth the additional costs on top, as they expand the range of usage and can be added or removed as needed. Coming in a wide variety of sizes and configurations, having them on hand is incredibly helpful.
You can customise the capacity to suit your needs; add just the one pouch to fit that extra few pieces, or attach everything to account for any unexpected additions to your kit.
The modules are there for your use if you so choose! I highly recommend adding the Module Combo that Wotancraft offers on the Pilot Backpack page.
Wotancraft Pilot Backpack Review | Conclusion
When I received the Pilot Backpack I had high expectations on the quality, weight, and capacity on which it was advertised.
I was not disappointed.
This bag was everything I expected of a Wotancraft product, and more. On my work commute, I only have one extra module attached, but when heading out on an adventure with my wife, I load it up with every extra attachment!
Given the current world situation, our travel is restricted to more or less local adventures. But even so, you can never have too much space available! Especially when out and about on a classic Australian bushwalk, camping trip, or coastal adventure.
I have every confidence that the gear inside the bag is in good hands, and the only reason I worry about the weather is in case we get stuck somewhere.
I do not have any concerns that the Pilot Backpack will fail to withstand or endure some adventure. I am pretty sure I would fail before this bag does, as unlike me, it’s truly a masterpiece of design and construction.
I cannot wait until the borders re-open so our larger travels can begin once again. Rest assured that the Pilot Travel Camera Backpack is going to accompany me on each of those trips!
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.