Two drone guys from Hong Kong have created this year’s must-have accessory for the DJI Mavic. Introducing the Penna Sling Bag: one of Kickstarter’s better drone ideas. Lightweight, versatile, good looking – and designed to protect your drone no matter what, whether you’re carrying it on a crowded subway or the back of your bike.
Penna co-founders Thomas and Howard are professional photographers who have been playing with drones for years. “We had been playing with RC helicopters and quadcopters even when we were kids, but back then they weren’t called drones, just simple RC quadcopters without any aerial photography capabilities,” says Howard. When the DJI Phantom 2 was introduced, the two saw the potential of prosumer drones as professional tools – but felt that the equipment still wasn’t mature enough to provide the quality high res aerial images they were looking for.
But when DJI introduced the Inspire 1, the team felt they were ready to offer drone services as part of their portfolio, taking aerial footage of everything from construction sites to weddings. Still, the Inspire had its drawbacks, says Howard: “The Inspire 1 is a complete platform and easy to fly, but it’s still too large and with the huge carrying box that I’ve purchased for it, it’s really not suitable for bringing it along when we’re traveling. It’s just too inconvenient. When DJI announced the Mavic, we just felt that our prayers had been answered – we finally had an everyday drone that provided high-quality photography and videography, but could be carried around easily.”
The team still had a problem, however. Howard says that most backpacks aren’t really designed specifically for drones – they’re camera backpacks loosely modified and aren’t really protective enough for aircraft. “For example, when we were flying the Inspire I, the props were easily bent when stored in a camera backpack, which affected flight performance and stability,” he says. “Other camera backpacks were too large and bulky… for most of our trips, there’s a 1-2 mile walk from where we park our cars to the final destination where we can fly our drones. There are other smaller carrying cases, but they’re not designed to be convenient to take out the drone and fly it once we’ve arrived at our destination.”
That’s when the team decided to design the perfect bag themselves – designed specifically by pilots, for pilots.
The bag is lightweight, versatile, stylish, and safe. “Most camera bags come with dividers with foam inserts, that’s their idea of ‘protection’,” Howard explains. “That may be sufficient for cameras, but for drones with highly sensitive camera and gimbal components, they just don’t cut it. That’s why we’ve designed our own Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) interior that can securely store and protect your Mavic in your bag under any conditions, and yet can still be accessed very easily.”
While the team designed the bag for their business, they say it’s perfect for recreational purposes too. “We often take out drones with us when we’re traveling out of the country, for leisure or business trips pretty much all around the globe. Most of the time we don’t want to bring a huge carrying bag for our drones…Before we built the Penna Sling Bag, we brought a lightweight hand carrying bag to store our drone, but we still needed to bring yet another backpack to store other things (like passport, pens, wallet, power bank, etc.) With the Penna Sling Bag, that’s all we need to carry our drones and all accessories necessary for the trip,” says Howard.
Penna’s backers on Kickstarter (you can see their funding page here) have asked them to sell the Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) interior so that customers can use it in other backpacks – and that’s something definitely in the company’s future plans. They’re also building interiors for DJI’s other small drones, like Spark – and are committed to keeping the interior up-to-date as new aircraft are introduced.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com