10 Best Pilot Kneeboards for Cockpit Essential Supplies
A pilot kneeboard is one of the cockpit essentials that every pilot from a first-time student to a seasoned ATP needs for each flight. At its most basic, a kneeboard is an organizational system that straps onto your thigh and serves as a readily accessible and highly visible place to organize charts, documents, paperwork and digital devices. Styles vary and your choice of kneeboard will depend on what tools you will be using most in your cockpit.
Today we’ll go over the types of kneeboards on the market and help you narrow down your options so you can feel confident in choosing the best fit for you.
Styles of Pilot Kneeboards
There are two main categories of kneeboards to choose from: standard kneeboards and those that are designed to hold iPads or tablets of various sizes.
A standard kneeboard is a good basic choice if you are a pilot who mainly flies using charts and doesn’t use an electronic flight bag (EFB). This type of kneeboard usually consists of a rigid clipboard type of device in a fabric sleeve which is secured around your thigh with a Velcro strap. More deluxe models have extra pockets and flaps for storage.
Kneeboards for Electronic Devices
The modern cockpit includes more electronics than ever. To accommodate and integrate these devices, manufacturers now design kneeboards that are made to hold your iPad, tablet, or even your phone. Some of these kneeboards are designed specifically for certain devices while others are adjustable and work with any device within a given size range.
10 Best Pilot Kneeboards
For student pilots just starting out, inflight guides are invaluable. Harper Aviation’s Ultimate Kneeboard is designed with your choice of either fixed or loose binder rings that are designed to hold Jeppesen approach charts. To set you up for success, the kneeboard comes with a 5-page In-Flight Guide containing both VFR and IFR information. A clipboard, pen holder, side pocket and sheet protectors round out the features on this scalable pilot kneeboard that can take you from your student pilot days all the way through your career.
As a student just working on upgrading to your IFR rating, a good basic kneeboard will give you exactly the information you need without overwhelming you with too many extras. The ASA IFR standard kneeboard is a perfect training option. The aluminum board is silkscreen printed with all the IFR information that you will reference the most. It also serves as a clipboard to hold your additional materials.
The next step up from a basic IFR kneeboard is the tri-fold model. This style includes a center kneeboard under a clear plastic protector plus two extra panels to hold charts, checklists and paperwork. A pen/pencil holder keeps your writing utensil within arm’s reach.
You don’t need your IFR rating to benefit from a tri-fold style basic kneeboard. The ASA makes a VFR tri-fold model as well. It has the same organization-friendly design with fabric pockets on the left panel and a clear plastic pouch on the right. The center kneeboard portion has a silkscreen printed clipboard with all your most relevant VFR info in an easy-to-reference cheat sheet format.
Looking for a low-profile, streamlined kneeboard that won’t get in your way? Lucky for you, an F-16 pilot wanted the same thing, so he designed his own kneeboard. This style is narrower than most and fits close to your leg. A row of removable eyelets along the side of the board offer you a way to secure your checklists and in-flight guides.
All the lefties out there know what a struggle it is dealing with gear that is built by and for those who are right handed. Well, prepare to be delighted, because this kneeboard is reversible. That’s right – the clipboard is removable and can be fitted on either side, so no matter how you want to wear your kneeboard, you can adjust it to the right fit.
Flat strap-on kneeboards are all well and good, but if you often find yourself wishing for a better viewing angle, it may be time to upgrade to an adjustable model. ASA’s rotating iPad Air Kneeboard gives you the freedom to rotate your iPad’s screen a full 360 degrees. You can also tilt the kneeboard using the built-in easel to improve your angle.
A small kneeboard for a small device, Flight Outfitters iPad Mini kneeboard is compatible with the iPad Mini 1, 2, 3 and 4.
The mounting bracket can be set up for you to view your device in either portrait or landscape orientation. Unzip the side pocket to reveal storage for a small notepad and pen or your cell phone. The reversible design means you can comfortably wear this kneeboard on either knee. Once your flight is over, slip the kneeboard into the included drawstring bag for safe storage.
Just like its smaller sibling, the large iPad kneeboard can be worn on either leg and allows your device to be viewed in either landscape or portrait mode. It also has the interior pocket and drawstring storage bag.
Select the large version of Flight Outfitters’ kneeboard if you will be pairing it with an iPad Pro 9.7”, iPad Pro 10.5”, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad 1, iPad2, iPad 3 or iPad 4.
Could you see yourself using both the standard and the digital device versions of the kneeboard? Are you torn between them and unsure which one to get? If you plan to use your kneeboard with a full-size iPad or other 9”-11” tablet, you’re in luck. You don’t have to choose.
MyGoFlight has designed a well-thought-out kneeboard that marries the best qualities of both the standard and the digital device styles. Like standard kneeboards, the MyGoFlight Folio C comes with a clipboard which is printed with commonly referenced VFR flight information. However, unlike standard models, the clipboard can be repositioned to the inside cover and used with the built-in stand to convert the kneeboard into a lap desk for your iPad.
The rotating cradle allows you to adjust the viewing angle in 5 degree increments so you can find just the perfect setting.
The Folio C is compatible with all full-size iPads as well as 9”-11” tablets.
Despite all the most elaborate of devices, sometimes there is something to be said for simplicity of form and function. If you are looking for an easy way to attach just about any electronic device to a kneeboard, then the MyClip is it.
This affordable, adjustable kneeboard consists of clips mounted to a 2” Velcro strap. Instead of being a proprietary choice that only works with a specific model, the clips on the MyClip can be adjusted and sized to fit devices with widths ranging from 3” to 12”.
This gives you the freedom to use the same kneeboard for your phone, your tablet or your iPad.
Bonus Kneepad Accessories
If you’ve ever touched the back of your iPad after it’s been running for a long time, you know it can get pretty hot. Now imagine that hot pad strapped to your thigh. Not a pleasant thought, is it?
Keep your leg cool and your iPad from overheating by adding cooling mount to your kneepad. It works similarly to a laptop chill pad by using extra fans to remove heat from your device. For your convenience, all of the cooling mounts come with two power options: micro USB and AA batteries.
Cooling mounts are currently available for select iPad models.
This model works with the iPad Air Versions 1, 2 & Pro 9.7”.
The iPad Mini cooling mount is compatible with iPad mini Versions 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.
This mount is designed exclusively for the iPad Pro 10.5”.
A kneeboard is an invaluable cockpit tool for pilots with all levels of experience. It offers a means of keeping important charts, sheets and information easily accessible throughout the flight.
The sophistication level of your kneeboard is completely scalable. If you aren’t using an electronic device with your kneeboard, you can select a basic minimalist strap-on clipboard style or a tri-fold style with extra storage pouches and pockets.
If you use your iPad, tablet or even a phone as a replacement or supplement to printed sectionals, you will benefit from a kneeboard that is designed to hold your device. Some of these digital device kneeboards are designed for a specific device while others are adjustable and can fit any device within a given diameter range. Consider one of these multi-device options if you have more than one digital device that you would like the ability to use with your kneeboard.
Whichever kneeboard you choose, it will make your flights smoother and will soon be added to your list of essential cockpit accessories.
- PilotMall.com Editor