The Great Outdoors

What you need to fly out there

AOPA Pilot’s 2020 Gear Guide for when you’re ready to travel.
Gear Guide 2020
Illustrations by Melanie Judd

That Island Vibe

Gear Guide 2020
Photography by Chris Rose and Mike Fizer

Flying in the islands is the epitome of fun flying. Here's how to maximize the fun.

  1. Picture perfect: AOPA Columbia Shirt
    Stay cool and protected from the sun in this Columbia Men’s Bahama II long-sleeve shirt. $68,
    Also consider: Tees, hats, and other gear from AOPA’s store.

  2. You might need this: Browning High Noon Rechargeable Spotlight
    Enjoy nights on the water with this clear, bright light; offers 550-yard beams. $99.99,
    Also consider: Biolite headlamp 200 $44.95,

  3. Smart choice: Hydro Flask Insulated Tote
    Stuff this cooler with tuna fish sandwiches and your beverage of choice and easily store this long-suffering, hard-working tote behind the pilot’s seat. $64.95,
    Also consider: Sovaro backpack cooler $299.95,

  4. You’ll have fun with this: Divelux Snorkel Mask
    Full-face snorkeling and diving mask with 180-degree panoramic viewing—watch out, fishies. $39.99,
    Also consider: Air conditioning for your airplane. $475,

  5. Must have: Garmin InReach mini
    Handheld satellite communication with GPS navigation. $399.99 plus subscription,
    Also consider: ACR ResQLink PLB $349.95 from

Dust in the Wind

Gear Guide 2020
Photography by Chris Rose and Mike Fizer

Take to the desert on your N-numbered steed—backcountry flying in destinations like Burning Man and High Sierra have become high on everyone’s bucket list.

  1. Picture perfect: AOPA Neck Gaiter
    Keep the dust off with this seamless tube design in several fabrics, which easily twists into many configurations. $20,
    Also consider: Pilot Gear store offers five designs.
  2. You might need this: MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) Genuine U.S. Military Surplus
    The ultimate in survivalist gear, MREs are also easy to have on hand when rations are in short supply. $35,
    Also consider: Emergency food rations $3.95-$7.90,
  3. Smart choice: Goal Zero Nomad 5 Power Bank Solar Panel
    Five-watt panel gives you the solar collecting capability needed to charge your phone anywhere the sun shines. $59.95,
    Also consider: Emergency solar hand crank radio $89.99,
  4. You'll have fun with this: Celestron Travel Scope 70 DX Portable Refractor Telescope with Altazimuth Mount
    Turn on the night sky and see the moon, the stars—wait, is that Russia? $89.95,
    Also consider: Sportys Laser Tag Gun set $69.95,
  5. Must have: Randolph Engineering Aviator Sunglasses
    Goose! Is that you? Worn by military aviators since 1978 and set to their exacting standards. $169,
    Also consider: Sporty’s also carries a wide selection of aviator shades.

Mountain High

Gear Guide 2020
Photography by Chris Rose and Mike Fizer

Hiking in the mountains, communing with nature, fresh-air fun—it’s all out there whether in the mountains of Colorado or West Virginia.

  1. Picture perfect: Oboz Firebrand II Low B-Dry waterproof hiking boots
    Our local outdoors store, The Trail House in Frederick, Maryland, says purple is the “in” color for outdoor wear. $140,
    Also consider: Altra Lone Peak 4,
  2. You might need this: Iridium Extreme satellite phone
    Established by Iridium to support anyone who might be in a life-threatening situation with communications you can count on, whenever you need them. $999.99, plus subscription,
    Also consider: Spot X Bluetooth 2-way satellite messenger $249.99,
  3. Smart choie: Off Grid Tools Survival Axe Ultimate Outdoor Multitool-Hatchet Hammer Saw
    Tool includes a hatchet blade, hammer, nail claw, pry bar, nail puller, replaceable 6-inch saw blade, multiple hex wrenches, bottle opener, and more. $44.99,
    Also consider: Leatherman Squirt PS4 $39.95,
  4. You'll have fun with this: Synch Fly Rod Outfit
    Experience the unique thrills of casting and catching fish on the fly. $129.97,
    Also consider: Sportys Tournament Bocce Set $179.95,
  5. Must have: Cloudveil Animas 45-degree sleeping bag
    Warmth for cool evenings, trapping heat with synthetic insulation, a drawstring hood, and a touch-fasten draft flap. $39.99,
    Also consider: Revelation quilt bag $280,


Gear Guide 2020
Photography by Chris Rose and Mike Fizer

Flying into town for business? Look the part, arrive in style, and prepare for whatever Gotham may throw your way.

  1. Picture perfect: Eddie Bauer TraveX Voyager 2.0 blazer
    Looks rugged, wears refined. Arrive looking like you didn’t just get out of the cockpit. $149.99,
    Also consider: Tactical Jacket from AOPA Gear $144,
  2. You might need this: NewHey Waterproof Canvas Overnight Bag
    Sturdy but fashionable and able to hold just about anything you’ll need for a day in the city. $49.99,
    Also consider: CG Gear Bag $99,
  3. You'll have fun with this: Nikon Z 6 camera
    Adaptability. It’s about remaining fluid, open. Preparing for nothing but being ready for anything—marketing speak for an easy-to-use camera. Starting at $1,799.99,
    Also consider: Canon EOS R5 $3,899 (plus lens),
  4. Smart choice: Breitling Aviator Chronograph 43 Mosquito
    Honoring the fastest aircraft in World War II. $7,710,
    Also consider: Tissot T-Touch Expert Solar $1,150,
  5. Must have: Outdoor Research face mask kit
    You need to be prepared in this COVID-19 world. $20,
    Also consider: The Montana Mask 3-D printable, free,

Lazy Weekends

Gear Guide 2020
Photography by Chris Rose and Mike Fizer

Flying in to grass strips is a perfect way to spend a weekend. Be prepared to relax.

  1. Picture perfect: Men’s Quilted AOPA Vest
    Throw on this ultra-light, quilted vest when the temperature takes a dip. Synthetic down fill keeps your core warm and dry. $78,
    Also consider: Buy one for your spouse!
  2. You might need this: Goal Zero Yeti 150 Portable Power Station
    This plug-and-play power bank is for emergencies, camping, or wherever there’s a need for power. The fully charged unit charges smartphones up to 12 times, tablets up to six times $199.99,
    Also consider: Sportys Solar-Powered Lantern with Preparedness Kit $29.95,
  3. Smart choice: Advanced Elements 2.5 Gallon Solar Shower
    Enjoy your daily ritual even when you camp under the wing—the sun warms the water for your a.m. shower. $23.99,
    Also consider: Have a better morning with SiriusXM Radio,
  4. You'll have fun with this: AlphaBeing Inflatable Lounger
    Grab a front-row seat to takeoffs and landings at that grass strip or cozy up around the campfire. $35.99,
    Also consider: Air Boss Joey chair $65.85,
  5. Must have: The Claw Tie-Down Kit
    The harder you pull, the more it grips the earth. $119.95,
    Also consider: Big Screw EZ tiedown $159.95,
Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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