Drones are becoming more and more popular. If you are thinking of getting a gift for someone who has a drone or is interested drones, I have some suggestions.
When we bought our drone back in 2018, I had no idea about everything that goes with owning a drone. I have put together a list of the best gifts for drone lovers to give you some inspiration.
Also drone pilots may appreciate our free drone flight checklist – claim it here.
If you are shopping for someone who is interested in a drone but doesn’t already have one, you need to figure out which drone to buy. There are a number of options here, but in general, we recommend sticking with DJI products – there is a reason why DJI is the market leader in drone technology: their products are competitively priced and well equipped.
We have a DJI Mavic Pro. Since we bought this, DJI has released the Mavic Air, the Mavic 2 Zoom, Mavic 2 Pro and Enterprises models, and more recently, the Mavic Mini. As the Enterprise model is aimed at search & rescue organizations, we do not recommend this model.
If we were buying a drone today, we would probably go for the DJI Mavic Pro 2. The image quality from the new Hasselblad lens is amazing, with excellent detail and color depth. Battery life is very good, and the technology that lets the drone communicate with the controller is far superior to that on the Air or the Spark. There are some very interesting automated flight modes too.
We have three recommendations for drones, depending on what you (or the person you are buying the drone for) plan to do with it once you’ve bought it:
- Ryze Tello. This is a very good first drone. It is relatively inexpensive, and easy to fly. The camera isn’t good enough for professional use, it really struggles if there is any sort of wind and the battery life is short. That said, it’s pretty capable for the money. Click here to check the price on the Tello Elite Max Combo.
- DJI Mavic Mini. This is the new offering from DJI and it is excellent. It is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and only weighs 249g. This is important because drone legislation in the USA and the UK applies to drones of 250g and upwards. The Mavic Mini has a 2.7K camera which is adequate for most people and claims a battery life of 30 minutes, although I’m not sure what it actually works out to be in real life. This drone is new to the market and is likely to be very, very popular. It’s reasonably priced, and given the specification, it’s extremely good value. Click to check the price on the Mavic Mini Fly More Combo here.
- DJI Mavic Pro 2. If we were buying a drone today, this is still the one we would get, although the Mavic Mini is tempting. The Mavic 2 has good battery life, excellent range, and a 4K camera. Whether you choose to get the Zoom version, with the zoom lens on it, or the Pro variant, with the high quality Hasselblad lens will depend on what you are likely to use it for. Click to check the price for the Mavic Pro Fly More Combo here.
One drone we do not recommend is the DJI Spark. Not because we don’t like it as a drone, but it’s been out of stock for some time on the DJI website. It has been out for a couple of years now and although it’s not listed as a discontinued product by DJI, it’s likely to be replaced by the Mavic Mini or superseded by a new version at some point. We recognize that many people have already got a Spark, so we’ve got gift suggestions for Spark owners here too!
There are many comprehensive guides about which drone to buy and reviews of the various models on YouTube. I suggest checking out Ed Ricker’s channel for his experiences with different DJI drones.
Best Drone Gift Ideas
If you want to buy a present for someone who already has a drone, it is important to know which drone they have. Many accessories are drone specific. In our list of recommended gifts for drone enthusiasts, we have included options for the Spark, the Mavic Mini, Mavic Air, the Mavic Pro, and the Mavic 2 Zoom & Pro.
There is one more thing to consider when buying accessories for the Mavic Mini, and that is the weight. It is 249g. All drones above 250g are subject to additional controls in the UK. These include registration of the operator, passing a short online test, and paying an annual fee. If you add anything to the drone that will make it weigh more than 250g, these restrictions will apply.
Best Drone Goggles
Despite the name, the DJI Goggles Racing Edition. are the goggles you should use with DJI drones – even if you are not planning on going drone racing! These goggles will work with any of the drones we are focusing on here except the Mavic Mini.
Note that you will need to get a USB OTG cable as well if you’re planning on using them with the Spark.
Best Drone Backpack
This backpack will fit any one of the drones we mentioned and more. You can also bring your laptop and a travel tripod. It features rear access, meaning your gear is secure up against you back and you can access the equipment without fully removing the bag.
Best Drone Bag
This is a minefield! Ask 100 drone pilots which is the best bag to carry a drone, you’ll get 100 different answers. There are two reasons we are recommending the Polarpro cases below:
- They are small, light and can be easily packed into a backpack. This is important for travel!
- We have the Polarpro case for our Mavic and we love it.
The Mavic Mini Combo package comes with its own case that should be fine.
Best Drone Filters
There is a lot of discussion online about how important ND filters are on a drone. Quite often you will be able to fly without them. Drone cameras tend to struggle with high contrast scenes though, so if you are taking pictures and videos on a really sunny day, or capturing a sunset, you are going to wish you had them!
The purpose of ND filters when recording video is slightly different than taking still photographs. For filming an ND filter is used to allow you to set the correct shutter speed so that you can get the right amount of motion blur for the frame rate you are using. For example, if you are shooting in 25 frames per second, you need a shutter speed of around 1/50th that means on a sunny day you are probably going to need an ND filter.
We have included two levels of ND filter in our recommendations for each drone – a set made by Polarpro, and a cheaper set – apart from the Mavic Mini which is so new to the market that PolarPro do not yet have ND filters for this drone yet. Polarpro makes very good ND filters and these are the ones to get if your budget allows, but the less expensive sets are likely to be good enough for most people
We do have the Polarpro filters, but we know other people that are happy with these less expensive options.
Best Drone Memory Card
We strongly recommend that you don’t skimp on SD cards. You need cards with a fast write speed. While these inevitably cost more, if you buy cards that don’t write fast enough, you will end up with jerky footage caused by dropped frames. The cards we recommend are SanDisk Extreme 32GB class 3. (Click here to view the price on Amazon)
Get more than one card. It’s a good idea to swap out the memory card at the same time you change the battery. This means that if the worst happens and you lose or crash your drone, you won’t lose all the footage you’ve already recorded.
Drone Landing Pad
Russell was a bit skeptical about a landing pad when we first got the drone. He didn’t see the point of a big orange mat with the letter ‘H’ for Helicopter on it. You can always find a flat bit of ground.
Having had the drone for a while, Russell changed his mind. These drones are very low to the ground, so if the grass is too long it can snag in the propeller blades. If the ground is dusty or sandy, the propellers can whip up the dust and that’s never good news for the motors on the gimbal. These days Russell is glad we have the landing mat, although he still thinks the portable helipad is a bit daft.
Drone Leg Extensions
The other way of getting the drone a bit higher off the ground is to buy some leg extensions. They work well, the only downside here is that they don’t look very good! They spoil the aesthetics of the drone a bit.
Click on the picture of the leg extensions for the specific drone model to see more information.
Multiple Battery Charger
Drone batteries do not last long! It’s always a good idea to have at least one fully charged battery as a backup when you are flying, and you should always fly with a full battery.
The DJI battery charging hub is capable of charging three batteries, but only charges them one after the other. Consider getting a battery charger that can charge up to three batteries and the controller all at the same time. Much more useful! This isn’t an option for the Mavic Mini yet, but the Combo page does include a charger that does multiple batteries sequentially.
Click on the picture of the charger for the specific drone model to see more information.
Propeller transport guards
When you put the drone back in the bag, or get it out again later, you’d like to know that the propellers are not going to get damaged in the process. These guards stop that from happening.
Click on the picture of the transport guards for the specific drone model to see more information.
Tablet Mount for the Controller
Some people prefer to fly using a tablet rather than a smartphone. The screen is bigger and can be easier to see. A lot of drone pilots recommend the Ipad mini 4 as the best compromise between a large screen and portability. If you’d prefer to use a tablet, this device clips into the controller where the phone would normally go and enables you to plug a tablet in instead.
Sun Shade for the Controller
Every drone pilot will need a sun shade at some point. If you’re out shooting beautiful sunny landscapes, it can be difficult to see the screen properly due to glare. This casts a shadow over the screen so you can still see to fly. This sun shade works for all the drone models we are covering.
Better Gimbal Clamp for the Mavic Pro
This is one for the Mavic Pro only. Let’s be honest here, the original gimbal clamp that comes with the Mavic Pro is awful. It’s fiddly to use and the cover and gimbal are two separate units, so it’s easy to forget to take the gimbal clamp off.
DJI knows that too, which is why they improved the design for the gimbal clamp on the Air and both versions of the Mavic 2. This version is much better. The gimbal clamp is part of the cover, and it’s much easier to get on and off.
Spare Batteries and Spare Propellers
It might not be the most exciting of the drone gifts on our list, but everyone needs spare batteries and propellers! For batteries and propellers, only buy original parts directly from DJI, or a DJI authorized reseller.
Yes, there are cheaper batteries out there, manufactured by third parties, but there are quite a lot of sensors built into DJI’s batteries and you will want the reassurance that the battery will work exactly as expected. A drone is not cheap – why put that investment at risk with a cheap battery you can never quite rely on? Sometimes you can find these drone accessories on Amazon, but if not try the DJI website.
Best Drone Books
Another gift idea for drone enthusiasts is a book about drones. These books can help them learn about flying the drone and improving video and photography.
The Complete Guide to Drones, Extended and Fully Updated 2nd Edition: Choose, Build, Photograph, Race 2nd Edition by Adam Juniper – This is another book primarily aimed at newbies, but useful for those who’ve been flying a while too.
Drones: The Complete Collection by Brian Halliday – This popular collection of the three drone books contains incredibly relevant information that will help prospective Drone Pilot go from beginner to expert. The books can also be purchased separately.
- Drones: The Professional Drone Pilot’s Manual (Volume 1) – In this book, you will learn about the different types of drones, how they are used commercial projects, flight reference cards, operating safety rules and regulations, and more.
- Drones: Mastering Flight Techniques (Volume 2) – This is a more advanced book for those looking to take their flying and filming skills up a notch.
- Drones: Fly Your Drone Anywhere Without Getting Busted – The book covers legal methods and proven techniques that allow you to safely fly anywhere IF done so correctly.
Best Drones for Kids
We can’t leave kids out of our drone gift guide! They will want to get their hands on your drone when they see you flying it. I worry about this because the drones are so expensive and easily damaged. Instead, it may be a good idea to give your children a toy drone as a gift.
The problem with a lot of the really cheap drones out there is that they are a pain to set up and difficult to fly! That’s the reason we recommend the Ryze Tello. Although the Tello is slightly more expensive than other models out there, it behaves in much the same way as the more expensive DJI drones.
It is very easy to fly and it is quick & simple to get set up, pretty much straight out of the box. You control it using a smartphone, and while the camera isn’t going to be good enough to make the next Hollywood blockbuster, it’s good enough as a toy. It even does ok as a selfie drone – which is why we have one of these too. In our opinion, the Tello is the best drone for kids. It also makes a great starter drone.
Fly Your Drone Responsibly
Whatever drone you fly, please make sure you follow the rules in the country where you are flying. Drones get a pretty bad reputation sometimes when people misuse them. In some countries the penalties for not following local drone laws can be very stiff including jail time.
Because drones are a comparatively new field, the regulations surrounding them in all countries are subject to change so it’s not possible to give a complete rundown of the rules.
Here in the UK there is The Drone Code, which is similar to the regulations in many other countries, but even here the rules have changed significantly over the last two years. Safe distances from airports have been revised, online competency tests for drone operators have been introduced, along with an annual fee. There have also been major changes to the drone regulations in America and Canada. If you are planning to travel with your drone, don’t rely on what the rule were last time you were there. Check before you set off.
We also created a drone flight checklist to help you be prepared for each flight – grab it (along with a few other goodies) here.
Do you have a drone? What are some of the best drone accessories that you have bought? Do you have any other drone gift ideas to add to the list? If you are looking for more present ideas, be sure to check out my list of gifts for travel enthusiasts.
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