Taking off and landing a drone from pavement or a road is easy. But we all know that such smooth terrain is not always available when you are out taking those epic drone videos.
Sure, you can always look for a nice flat rock to take off from, or even use the smooth sand on the beach, but it's not the best option and landing can often be a big issue.
That is where drone landing pads save the day.
They give you a large smooth and flat surface to take off from and land on as well as a nice target for the drone to find when it comes time to land.
And they are pretty darn cheap too, which leaves you with almost no excuse, right?
But there are so many landing pads out there, which ones are worth buying?
Not all landing pads are created equal and you want to be sure you don't waste your money on a bad one.
The following are things you want to look out for:
Depending on what kind of drone you are using, a 30 inch is usually more than large enough a target for any drone to land on. But, there are far larger pads for those that need them.
Don't forget a lot of the smarter drones take a snapshot of the ground so they will be super accurate in any case. That is why a landing pad helps (it stands out from the background).
Also have a think about how you are going to carry this thing. Do you have a case or bag for your drone? Will it fit in.
Some of them are as small as 12 inches when collapsed, while others will have to be carried separately.
Your lightweight landing pad can always blow away so having a way to secure it to the ground is key. Most are heavy enough to stay put in light wind conditions, but if you fly in more windy places this is key. (The Hoodman is an exception as it is quite heavy and stays in place on it's own).
This usually involves a simple stake and tie system like with a tent, so consider the ground you might have to push the stakes in to as well.
I know you are not going to take off or land from the ocean :> But seriously, water is an issue.
The ground can often be wet - wet sand on beaches, morning dew on the grass, flying after rain. And you don't want your drone to get wet (unless you have an awesome waterproof one!)
Some of the landing pads come with reflective strips which might help with night landing (provided you have lights) but the FlatHat also comes with a light strip you can add to the perimeter of the landing pad which is quite a cool idea.
FSLabs have produced a solid landing pad in two easy to see colors: orange and blue.
It comes with all the features you need:
RCStyle produce one of the most popular landing pads on Amazon. It is pretty similar to most of the others, but they also have two different color options - one on each side (see image). One is black with orange print, the other orange with white.
It comes with all the standard features:
The Flathat landing pad is again quite similar to the other 30 inch pads in this review, except for two things:
The design: it is quite colorful.
It comes with a light strip you can string around the border for night flying.
Otherwise, most of the features are standard, but also well made
The Big D landing pad is a very light and simple pad that is super visible with it's bright red design.
It does not seem to be as high a quality as the other pads in this review. It is very light and can easily blow away. The manufacturer has since provided 3 screw stakes to secure it but I have been unable to see how they work.
It comes with only some of the standard features you would expect:
This is more of a pro level landing pad for those that want a large landing surface and high visibility. It is also one of the most high quality (and price) pads you will find.
This baby is 5ft wide (1.5m) and only collapses down to 20 inches, so it will definitely not squeeze into a backpack :>
It comes with all the standard features:
I wanted to share this one as it is quite a new idea and not often seen on the market. A Hand landing pad.
Since a few of the latest Selfie style drones have hand landing, this is not a bad idea. Hand catching scares a lot of people due to the blades, and this might help.
It slides onto your fingers and provides a bright and easily visible pad for your drone to take off and land on.
The biggest choice up front is how big do you need. If you are flying as a hobbyist, the 30 inch options are perfect, while a pro will definitely go for the Hoodman and a smaller drone owner (like the Spark) might want to try the Clover palm landing pad.
As far as the rest of the options go, there are only a few other things I want to mention:
Wind resistance - the Hoodman kick's ass here as it is super heavy and you don't need to stake it down. But it's big and heavy to carry around for anyone wanting to be portable or travel.
Most of the 30 inchers are light and easy to collapse (once you learn how) so will be ok in light winds (except the Big D - which I don't think I will recommend). However, the majority of them need staking down in wind.
And for those that are considering night flying, I would go for the Flathat as it is the only one with the cool light strip to help highlight your landing pad even in the dark.
For the rest, you can't go wrong with a landing pad that simply helps you land and take off in less than ideal terrain and locate your landing spot with ease :>