Wotancraft Pilot Review

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In a rather saturated market, there are only a select few brands I can think of that continue to intentionally produce less instead of finding ways to mass produce more. Wotancraft still prefer their more traditional approach of handcrafted smaller run products.

For this, I truly admire their mission and how dedicated they are to maintaining this image.

My first introduction to the brand was the beautifully crafted Ryker series of messenger bags, which I also reviewed here on Shotkit. The intricately crafted details and the quality of the leather were like nothing I had seen before.

shk-fs-table__imageHighly Recommended Half the weight of regular canvas yet 10 times more durable, this bag has to be carried to be believed.Get Price

Wotancraft recently announced the release of the Pilot, a lightweight camera messenger bag made with high strength and anti-tear CORDURA® 500D waxed nylon fabric.

Beautifully crafted in Wotancraft’s signature vintage military style, these light and durable messenger bags are ready to tackle the elements and securely carry your gear on your next photographic adventure.

Wotancraft create camera bags that don’t immediately appear to be camera bags; bags truly versatile enough to be used for daily carry as well.

Removing the dividers turns them into a great durable solution for any of your day-to-day errands and activities, with a heavy splash of vintage style.

Let’s have a closer look at the Wotancraft Pilot.

Wotancraft Pilot Specs

The rather lightweight Wotancraft Pilot comes in two sizes and two colour options.

The rather lightweight Wotancraft Pilot comes in two sizes and two colour options.

Pilot S Specs
Capacity:
7L

Exterior:
35 x 15 x 24cm (13.78″ x 5.9″ x 9.45″)

Main Compartment:
32 x 10 x 20cm (12.6″ x 3.94″ x 7.87″)

Front Zipper Pocket:
21 x 20 cm (8.26″ x 9.45″)

Hidden Front Pockets:
15 x 15 cm (5.9″ x 5.9″)

Rear Zipper Pocket:
24 x 15 cm (9.44″x 5.9″)

Internal Laptop/Tablet Carry:
Up to 9.7″ when using Laptop/Tablet Divider

Weight:
700g (1.54lbs)

Pilot M Specs
Capacity:
10L

Exterior:
40 x 16 x 28cm (15.75″ x 6.29″ x 11″ in)

Main Compartment:
38 x 11 x 24cm (14.96 x 4.33 x 9.45″ in)

Front Zipper Pocket:
27 x 23cm (10.63″ x 9″ in)

Hidden Front Pockets:
19 x 17cm (7.48″ x 6.7″ in)

Rear Zipper Pocket:
32 x 20.5cm (12.59″ x 8″ in)

Internal Laptop/Tablet Carry:
Up to 13″ when using Laptop/Tablet Divider

Weight:
900g (1.98lbs)

Standard Materials
– Cordura® 500D tear-proof waxed canvas
– Water repellent Teflon® Coating
– Ultra-strength bonded Nylon 6,6 thread
– PU Laminated Interior Coating
– Canvas Lining
– Zinc alloy & brass hardware with vintage finish
– YKK Water-Resistant Zippers
Package
1x Main bag
1x Detachable shoulder strap (with shoulder pad)
1x Cotton dustproof bag

Pilot S:
1x Medium malleable divider
1x Large malleable divider with top fold
1x Extra Large laptop/tablet divider

Pilot M:
1x Medium malleable divider
2x Large malleable dividers with top fold
1x Extra Large laptop/tablet divider

Featuring a complete construction of 500D CORDURA® waxed nylon with a protective weatherproof Teflon® coating, the Wotancraft Pilot series is a testament to the mission and passion that the brand continues to express through their lineup of products.

Available in two sizes and either dressed in a rugged Khaki or a discrete Black colour theme, the vintage military style provides both the functionality and durability reminiscent of the products they draw inspiration from.

Wotancraft have yet again hit the mark with the Pilot series!

Proudly having a “Vintage Soul”, the Pilot is a classic example of combining both form and function.

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Build & Appearance

You wouldn't immediately guess that this is a camera bag, the Pilot gives you the function without drawing attention to it's potential contents.

You wouldn’t immediately guess that this is a camera bag. The Pilot gives you the functionality without drawing attention to its contents.

The Wotancraft Pilot series of camera messenger bags are constructed from CORDURA® 500D waxed nylon, which is upwards of 10 times stronger than the usual cotton canvas you’ll find elsewhere.

Not only that, but Wotancraft have elected to use ultra-strength bonded Nylon 6,6 to sew the bags together to provide the extra confidence you need when out in the field.

Available in a classic Khaki or a more subtle Black coloured design, the Pilot messenger bags will not only give you a level of discretion that many other camera bags don’t offer, but they’re also quite durable and are certainly built to be used.

If the weather turns on you, or you’ve intentionally wandered into those adverse conditions, rest assured that the materials from which the Pilot has been constructed will be glad to endure it as long as you do.

Featuring a weather-proof Teflon® coating and a PU Laminated interior coating, the Pilot will withstand and repel most of the raindrops with ease and you won’t have it seep through to your gear.

Dressed in a mixture of both form and function, while drawing inspiration from vintage military packs, the Pilot is as ready to go as it looks!

Dressed in a mixture of both form and function, while drawing inspiration from vintage military packs, the Pilot is as ready to go as it looks!

Following the classic and vintage military style, the straps and buckles are designed to match. Not using any gimmicky magnets or clips, the simple hook system is not only effective but is a design element within itself.

The zinc alloy and brass hardware on the Pilot comes with a lovely vintage finish which can also be found adorning the YKK water-resistant zippers.

The purposefully tough straps are more rugged than they are soft, but don’t get in the way or take away from the functionality and comfort of the Pilot messenger bag once on your person.

Exterior Features

The wide opening lid is held in place by a single adjustable strap and easy to find brass hook on the front of the Pilot..

The wide opening lid is held in place by a single adjustable strap and easy-to-find brass hook.

The Pilot features a zipperless seashell flap design with just a single hook to hold it closed. This allows for quick access to your gear without having to fuss about with zipper rails, and with a single adjustable strap holding it in place, the lid will always be able to be held shut.

Adorning the front of the Pilot are two external MOLLE straps for equipping Wotancraft’s optional range of interchangeable modules.

Easily attach up to two of these modules at any one time to expand your carry capacity, or wear them separately for added convenience on the move.

Featuring MOLLE straps the modular attachments clip to the front of the Pilot, while larger bulkier loads can be attached to the base using the detachable cargo straps.

MOLLE straps allow the modular attachments to clip to the front of the Pilot, while larger bulkier loads can be attached to the base using the detachable cargo straps.

For bulkier items or if you intend to carry a tripod, placed along the base of the Pilot are a pair of adjustable cargo straps.

Wotancraft have also conveniently placed two bottle pockets on either side of the bag, and have included the usual convenient top handle.

With travel and added security in mind, there are no zippers easily accessible by anyone other than yourself.

Discretely placed on the front of the Pilot is a full-width pouch that contains a hidden zipper pocket that’s only accessible through the sides of the bag.

Multiple discrete pockets can be found on the Pilot, all of which are relatively hidden away from prying eyes and would-be thieves.

Multiple discrete pockets can be found on the Pilot, all of which are relatively hidden away from prying eyes and would-be thieves.

On the body side of the Wotancraft Pilot is another full-width zipper pocket for important or quick access items that you may need on the move such as a small to mid-sized tablet, folded maps, or anything else that may come in handy.

You’ll find a 21cm wide luggage pass-through strap on the back as well.

The materials that make up the Pilot lightweight camera bags are a feature in themselves. Much like the leather bags that Wotancraft make, these CORDURA® waxed canvas bags gracefully develop unique scuff marks – much in the same way that raw denim pants do.

So the bag you purchase today will change over time and become a unique piece that tells a story of its life with you. That’s just a little bit romantic, right?

Interior Features

Plenty of space available in the main compartment which can be easily rearranged with the multiple dividers supplied by Wotancraft in the Pilot.

There’s plenty of space available in the main compartment, which can be easily rearranged with the multiple dividers supplied by Wotancraft.

You won’t find anything unnecessary on the inside of the Pilot camera bag. Wotancraft have developed it with weight and function in mind, and therefore you’ll only find purposeful items adorning this wonderful bag.

Underneath the Pilot’s top lid is another zipper pocket with a pair of soft padded accessory pouches inside. This pocket is nicely suited to organising your smaller items, and with the softness of the bag itself you can really load it up like crazy in there and still seal the zipper!

The inside of the Pilot‘s main compartment contains up to four removable dividers depending on which size you choose.

One of these is an extra-large tablet or laptop divider which you can completely remove if you don’t require it! This saves you that extra space for whatever else you may require.

Coming with two other styles of malleable interior dividers, you’re able to fold the top down on one of the styles to create a second layer atop of your gear.

The dividers curl and bend fairly easily to allow the bag itself to softly mould around your items and keep its slender shape.

You may be pleasantly surprised by the amount of gear you can store in either of the Pilot lightweight camera bags.

You may be pleasantly surprised by the amount of gear you can store in either of the Pilot lightweight camera bags.

With soft canvas layering the main compartment, the interior modules that Wotancraft have developed to suit their range of bags work wonderfully within the Pilot.

The Zipperless Pocket Module is a great addition to secure some of your larger loose items and the Battery & SD Card Fastener Module sorts out the smaller bits and pieces.

I’ll explain these internal modules further in the section below!

Storage Capacity

It's pretty awesome how much fits on and in the Pilot M once you tack on a pair of MOLLE modules. If you had some carabiner clips you'd be able to attach even more outside!

It’s pretty awesome how much fits on and in the Pilot M once you tack on a pair of MOLLE modules. If you had some carabiner clips you’d be able to attach even more to the outside!

Either size of the Wotancraft Pilot can be tailored to your needs when accompanied by the external MOLLE modules offered by the brand, but even on their own, they’re very capable bags.

You’ll find multiple lists below giving you a clear example of the number of things you can fit into either size without any additional external MOLLE modules.

Pilot S:

The Pilot S is a great slim and light messenger bag that can fit your everyday essentials or serve as a dedicated street photography bag.

It has enough space to fit a mirrorless camera with two taller lenses, or a body and multiple smaller lenses, an external flash, or whatever else you shoot with.

You’ll find the extra pockets available on the Pilot S to be quite well suited to dropping in a decent amount of loose items as well, including chargers, cables, and all the other necessities you’ll find yourself requiring.

I found it to be great for the daily commute as its small profile allows me to duck through crowds without slamming it against anybody.

The only drawback was that the size sometimes couldn’t cater to the unexpected things I needed to bring back home with me from the office.

The Multitasker:

If you can't keep to using just one photographic tool, the Pilot S has got you!

If you can’t keep to using just one photographic tool, the Pilot S has got you covered!

The Office Worker:

I carry my camera to the office each day, but I don't use a tablet.. But hey, it's an example and the Pilot S did well!

I carry my camera to the office each day, though I don’t use a tablet… But hey, it’s an example and the Pilot S did well!

The Street Photographer:

Pretty hefty lenses for a street photographer, but either way, the Pilot S suits really well for it.

Pretty hefty lenses for a street photographer, but either way, the Pilot S suits really well for it.

Pilot M:

Now the Pilot M is a bag that’s definitely ready for something much more substantial than its smaller sibling. The extra 3L of storage capacity and its larger profile means that you can definitely slam it with a decent amount of extra gear.

I found the larger profile of the Pilot M to be a bit more menacing on the daily commute as I had to get used to the wider size of it when dodging people.

However, the added convenience of the extra size when you need to stop by somewhere on the way home or bring back a new delivery… that was a bonus.

If you’re someone who likes to be extra prepared on a day out, or who tends to carry two systems or a lot more accessories and lenses, the Pilot M is the pick for you.

The Heavy Lifter:

It's kind of silly how much fits in the Pilot M, but definitely a very welcomed thing. Even with small loads it's great!

It’s kind of silly how much fits in the Pilot M, but definitely a very welcome thing. Even with small loads it’s great!

The “I work at a cafe”:

MOLLE Modular System:

I highly recommend pairing either size of the Pilot messenger bag with at least one of the available external MOLLE modules (or two for balance).

The two I have paired with the Pilot M are the Front Water Bottle Pouch and Front Accessory Pouch – both of which I’ve found to have multiple uses when utilised on the front of the Pilot.

I found that the Front Water Bottle Pouch is great for dropping in multiple taller items together, providing a quick drop pocket when you’re rushing around, or as a place to stow a rather wet umbrella.

But it’s a great padded lens pouch as well. If you’re one who regularly swaps between a pair of lenses, the Front Water Bottle Pouch works great for that!

You may also notice that the Front Accessory Pouch can fit a handy amount of items in it too. Wotancraft have supplied a carry strap with it as well, so you can utilise it off the Pilot as a small pouch when you don’t require a full-size bag.

Just an example of what can fit in to the Front Accessory Pouch, but the multiple example uses of the Front Water Bottle Pouch.

Just an example of what can fit into the Front Accessory Pouch, and the multiple example uses of the Front Water Bottle Pouch.

Internal Modules:

If internal organisation is an important feature for you to have included on any of your camera bags, be sure to have a look at Wotancraft’s range of internal modules.

Capable of being dropped into any camera bag that accepts velcro dividers, these internal modules work great to organise all the smaller bits and pieces that may otherwise run rampant throughout your bag.

I have the Battery & SD Card Fastener Module and Zipperless Pocket Module to use in my Pilot bags, but I elect to only use them sometimes. They can take up vital space when I really need to load up the bag.

But on my lighter loads, they’re handy for keeping my smaller things in place when I have a number of cables and chargers scattered through the other pockets, as I have a tendency of misplacing memory cards and batteries!

The Battery & SD Card Fastener module and Zipperless Pocket module both have multiple uses!

The Battery & SD Card Fastener Module and Zipperless Pocket Module both have multiple uses!

Ease of Use/Comfort

The Pilot lightweight camera bags are quite comfortable to wear and sit nicely against your body.

The Pilot lightweight camera bags are quite comfortable to wear and sit nicely against your body.

Thickly padded and adjustable straps support the load whether you carry the Pilot over your shoulder, cross-body or single side. I find it most comfortable further around my back than my side, and the padding on the strap is quite decent.

The softness of the canvas along your person is quite comfortable as well, but like all messenger bags, when it’s heavily loaded up you definitely start feeling it on that one shoulder.

The Duraflex swivel snaphook attaching the shoulder strap to the Pilot is not only lighter than the metal counterparts, but it’s rather strong and durable too.

Both of the Pilot’s built-in exterior pockets are convenient to access when you know they’re there, but hidden away from those light-fingered opportunists looking to separate you from your items.

This is certainly comforting to know when you’re travelling abroad or when in crowded situations carrying expensive gear.

The MOLLE modular system is fantastic on the Pilot, however, please double check that you’ve attached them properly. I didn’t the first time I used them (the strap bunched up and so it didn’t clip properly) and I ended up losing an expensive small umbrella while walking as the top clip of the module detached and dropped it.

I now double check that I’ve done it properly – although it was just a random event, it’s always better to be safe!

Value for Money

For the level of craftsmanship, durability, build quality, and how dynamic they are in their uses, the Pilot lightweight camera bags are great value.

For the level of craftsmanship, durability, build quality, and how dynamic they are in their uses, the Pilot camera bags are great value.

Wotancraft bags are never cheap, but that’s often true of camera bags in general, especially when you start factoring in the materials and features many out there offer.

However, Wotancraft’s value starts to truly take shape when you start factoring in what goes into making their products. Focusing on quality over quantity, developing customised fabrics and materials, applying handcrafted details… these things all make a difference.

A Wotancraft product isn’t just a bag, it’s a functional work of art ready to be used and abused (within reason) out in the field.

In saying that, Wotancraft also offer a 3-year free repairs warranty on the Pilot messenger if it fails during normal intended use.

If you own a legacy waxed cotton fabric Wotancraft bag and are looking to upgrade to one of their newer CORDURA® 500D waxed nylon fabric bags, you’ll find that these materials are 60% thinner, 50% lighter, and up to 10 times stronger in terms of “abrasion and tear resistance”.

I would also like to add that their modules are great value too, quickly providing you with just that little bit of extra space, or with that added level of helpful organisation to make your day that bit more convenient.

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Wotancraft Pilot Review | Conclusion

Even in rainy weather I wasn't worried about how the Pilot would hold up, there is a great level of trust that comes with Wotancraft and the build quality is incredible.

Even in rainy weather, I wasn’t worried about how the Pilot would hold up. There’s a great level of trust that comes with Wotancraft and the build quality is incredible.

The Wotancraft Pilot bags work great as daily non-photography bags, and even better when paired with your photography gear. They’re truly versatile messenger bags with a wonderful vintage style!

Out of the two sizes, I’ve found myself using the smaller Pilot S more often as it fits just what I need on my usual day-to-day commute and most of my weekends with my wife.

The Pilot M is definitely a great backup and something I can throw in the car as I head out for a bigger adventure with my drone kit.

The Pilot lightweight camera bags are a true testament to Wotancraft’s mission, which proudly states, “Vintage design that endures & matures”.

Wotancraft have yet again hit the mark, and I greatly look forward to anything else they set their minds to!

Likes

  • Build quality and lightweight nature
  • The classic style that Wotancraft do so well
  • Capacity – these bags carry more than they appear to
  • They don’t look like a normal camera bag!

Dislikes

  • The front hook can be a little annoying at times.
  • They are quite susceptible to cat fur!
  • I lost my favourite umbrella when I didn’t attach a MOLLE clip properly :(
shk-fs-table__imageHighly Recommended Half the weight of regular canvas yet 10 times more durable, this bag has to be carried to be believed.Get Price

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.

Tommy Williams is a travel photographer from Sydney, Australia. He is pretty chill, and admits he really needs to get around to updating his website more often.

Features9
Looks9
Build Quality10
Usefulness10
Price/Value8

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