Wotancraft Pilot 18L Review

Wotancraft Pilot 18L Review; shot of the bag in a park

Overall Score:8.8

In the course of our evaluation of the Wotancraft Pilot 18L, we will examine its features, gauge its adaptability, and provide an impartial assessment of its overall performance. Our real-world testing aims to offer a candid and unbiased view, helping potential buyers make informed decisions.

Durability: 10.0
Functionality: 8.0
Performance: 8.5
Aesthetics: 9.5
Value: 8.0

Weight: 1,570 g

Capacity: 2 camera bodies + 5 lenses

Main Material: 500d Cordura canvas

Hardware: YKK zippers

Manufacturing Country: Taiwan

Warranty: 3 Years

North of Known is reader-supported. We may be compensated if you purchase through any affiliate links on this site. Thank you for supporting us.

Acquisition: Wotancraft sent us the Pilot 18L for testing purposes. All of the opinions in this review are 100% our own honest thoughts

Countries: Thailand

Climate(s): Tropical Savanna

Weather: Hot and Humid (highest temp 35 C), and Light Rain

The Pilot 18L is designed for:

  • Travel & street photography.

It’s not designed for:

  • Non-camera everyday carry.

Table of Contents

The Pilot's Durablity

Wotancraft Build Quality

The Wotancraft Pilot’s build quality and craftsmanship are unparalleled, exemplifying excellence in camera backpack design. Crafted from military-grade Cordura Duelcoat fabric, the bag is a testament to toughness and durability. Its hardware, including smooth YKK zippers and robust Duraflex and Fidlock buckles, underscores both functionality and sophistication. Flawless stitching, leather accents, and carefully designed patterning contribute to a visually stunning bag built to withstand the test of time.

The interior, lined with medical-grade microfiber, surpasses the durability of typical camera bags. Moreover, the bag is fortified with high-density EVA foam padding, ensuring the utmost protection for your gear. From its tough exterior to its protective interior, every element of the Wotancraft Pilot is meticulously crafted, creating a camera backpack that is not only visually striking but also an epitome of durability and security for your equipment.

Functionality

The Pilot's Feature Set

The Wotancraft Pilot’s shoulder straps redefine comfort and functionality with their wide S-curved design. Striking the perfect balance between support and pliability, these straps move seamlessly with your body, ensuring a comfortable wear even during extended periods. Carrying this bag around bustling Bangkok all day was a breeze, as there were no hotspots to be found. 

The thoughtful inclusion of webbing attachment points on the shoulder straps adds a layer of versatility, allowing you to effortlessly clip-on accessories – a feature that enhances the bag’s overall functionality and modularity.

The back panel of the Wotancraft Pilot is well-padded with a foam that offers a plush, cushiony feel, providing optimal support even during prolonged wear. The lining, designed for quick-drying efficiency, ensures that on sweaty, humid days, the fabric dries remarkably fast – within 5-10 minutes, without retaining any lingering odors. 

Additionally, the back panel includes a central air channel that enhances ventilation, although its effectiveness when worn may vary. For the avid traveler, the back panel also features a convenient luggage pass-through strap, allowing for seamless integration with rolling luggage.

The Wotancraft Pilot boasts two convenient side access points that are actually quite useful. While worn, the bag can be effortlessly swung around, granting quick access to your camera gear from either side. The interior storage space within these access points is generously sized, accommodating cameras with reasonably-sized telephoto lenses attached. For instance, our Fuji XH1 with the XF 90mm f/2 lens easily fits, leaving ample room. 

To enhance organization, each side panel features a mesh net for storing filters or accessories. However, it’s worth noting that these mesh pockets lack an elastic top, which tends to limit their effectiveness in preventing items from falling out during use. 

In addition to the side access points, the top of the Pilot is designed to accommodate a camera with a lens attached, along with 1-2 additional lenses. Accessing this point is notably easier than unzipping a back panel. Thanks to the bag’s ability to stand on its own, placing it on the ground allows for a swift operation – simply slide the magnetic Fidlock buckle and flap the access point open. This efficient design ensures hassle-free access to your camera gear. 

Furthermore, the padding insert in this area can be removed and transformed into a storage pocket for non-camera items, adding to the bag’s adaptability. This access point also doubles as a secure compartment for a laptop, accommodating up to a 16″ MacBook Pro. Additionally, the interior of the flap features a shallow zippered pocket, perfect for safely stashing slim EDC items.

The Wotancraft Pilot excels in exterior storage capabilities, catering to the needs of photographers with a penchant for organization and convenience. Two water bottle pockets line the sides of the bag, designed to securely house a Peak Design Travel Tripod or a 500ml water bottle. The face of the bag features a dual-access gusseted front pocket, extending the entire length and is ideal for storing extra clothing and small essentials. Inside this front pocket, there are two smaller zippered mesh pockets, ensuring a tidy arrangement of your belongings.

Adding to the bag’s versatility are two daisy chains on the front, allowing you to effortlessly clip-on modules for additional storage. To accommodate more gear, the bottom of the bag boasts lash points with removable webbing – although not utilized in our testing, it offers the potential for strapping on extra equipment.

Moving back to the Pilot’s two daisy chains, these webbing points offer enhanced functionality with a range of ingenious add-on modules. These modules, notable for their utility and unique YKK buckle contraption, seamlessly clip on and off with remarkable ease – an innovation that seems to be exclusive to Wotancraft bags. This distinctive feature sets Wotancraft apart, making one wonder why other manufacturers haven’t adopted such a user-friendly design. 

While these add-on modules may not suit everyday carry (EDC) applications, they prove invaluable for travel, providing additional storage solutions that come in handy when needed. Notably, the add-on module 01/02 combo set serves a dual purpose, also transforming into a practical sling for day-to-day use while on the road.

Performance

The Pilot's Practical Utility

The Wotancraft Pilot stands out as a commendable camera backpack, offering a delightful user experience with its blend of comfort, practicality, and aesthetic appeal. Below is a quick breakdown of what we appreciate and the minor quirks we’ve encountered:

What We Liked:

Comfort: The ergonomic design of the shoulder straps and well-padded back panel ensures a comfortable wearing experience, even during extended periods.

Practicality: The multiple access points, both on the sides and the top, provide convenient and quick access to camera gear without the need to place the backpack on the floor.

Versatility: The exterior storage options, including water bottle pockets, front gusseted pocket, and daisy chains, contribute to the bag’s versatility, accommodating a wide range of items.

Build Quality: The use of hardwearing fabrics, high-quality YKK zippers, and durable hardware reflects the bag’s robust build quality and craftsmanship.

What We Disliked:

Mesh Pockets: The lack of elastic tops on the interior mesh pockets seems like a small usability oversight, which limits their effectiveness in securing smaller items.

Lash Points: While the lash points on the bottom of the bag provide additional attachment options, they aren’t practical. Thankfully, the webbing is removable. 

Padded Dividers: Including one or two more flexible dividers would improve the modularity of the interior storage, allowing for more customizable organization of camera gear and accessories.

Wotancraft Aesthetics

The Scout's Design

The aesthetic of the Wotancraft Pilot is a testament to the brand’s signature style – simplistic, ruggedly handsome, and exuding a touch of timeless sophistication. This design philosophy is consistent with Wotancraft’s overall approach to crafting camera bags. 

While the Pilot does possess a boxy silhouette, its relative narrowness ensures that it seamlessly complements the wearer without appearing cumbersome or out of place. This blend of practicality and style makes it an ideal choice for travel, as its exterior doesn’t immediately convey a traditional camera bag look. 

The Pilot’s aesthetics, characterized by a balance of simplicity and rugged charm, contribute to its versatility, allowing photographers to navigate various settings without drawing unnecessary attention to their gear. 

Comparable Value

Primary Alternatives

Despite its higher price point, the Wotancraft Pilot represents a compelling value proposition. The investment is justified by the bag’s exceptional modularity and versatility, outclassing competitors in its price range. Its ability to adapt to diverse needs and environments, providing an unmatched level of customization, ensures that users get more than just a bag – it’s a tailored solution for photographers who prioritize flexibility and convenience. 

While it may be a more significant upfront expense, the Wotancraft Pilot delivers lasting value, making it a wise choice for those seeking a camera backpack that transcends the ordinary and offers enduring adaptability for their gear.

Did you know that… when you purchase something through one of our links, we earn a small fee. However, you still pay the exact same amount. It’s a win-win that keeps our lights on. 

Pack Main Fabric Vol. Weight Storage WR?
Wotancraft Pilot Cordura Duelcoat 18L 1,570 g 2 bodies + 5 lenses Yes
Wotancraft Commander 500D Nylon Canvas 21L 2,350 g 2 bodies + 7 lenses Yes
PD Everyday Zip 400D Nylon Canvas 20L 1,550 g 2 bodies + 4 lenses Yes
TT Retrospective Waxed Cotton 15L 1,800 g 2 bodies + 3 lenses Yes
Tenba Axis Lite Coated Nylon 18L 1,360 g 2 bodies + 4 lenses Yes

8.8/10 Rating

Our Overall Verdict

The Wotancraft Pilot emerges as a top-tier camera backpack, offering a blend of sophistication, versatility, and exceptional value. Its ruggedly-handsome aesthetic, coupled with thoughtful design and modularity, sets it apart in the market.

The Pilot is a strong fit for discerning photographers who value adaptability and premium aesthetics. It excels in travel scenarios, thanks to its inconspicuous design, multiple access points, and exterior storage options. 

If you’re seeking a camera backpack that seamlessly combines style, functionality, and lasting value, the Wotancraft Pilot is a stellar choice.

Pilot's Longevity

Usage Timeline

Excellent

Initial Usage

In our initial use of the Pilot, its build quality immediately stood out – robust, yet with a refined touch. Carrying the bag was a notably comfortable experience, and the practicality of its design shone through with easy access points and adaptable storage.

Excellent
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Alan & May

Welcome to North of Known! We’re Alan and May, a married couple who have embraced digital nomadism while calling Bangkok, Thailand, our current home base. Over the past 7 years, our shared passion for exploration and adventure has fueled our journey across the globe. Join us as we continue to embark on our nomadic adventures, sharing our insights, discoveries, and travel tales along the way.

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