Aer Travel Pack 2 Review: A bit over-hyped? - The Daily Grog

Aer Travel Pack 2 Review: A bit over-hyped?

Aer Travel Pack 2

Notice Title

In my opinion, the Aer Travel Pack 2 is a bit over-hyped as a one-bag travel backpack. But at a competitive price point, It could be a great option for business travelers or weekend warriors looking for a sleek, minimalist option.

ProsCons
Waterproof zippersNo dimension in some pockets
Very competitive priceNo load liftering straps
Great materialsNo rain fly
Useful tech organization

Specs

Dimensions

Length: 21.5″ (55 cm) Width: 13.5″ (34 cm) Depth: 8.5″ (22 cm)

Volume

33.0 L

Weight

3.7 lbs

Fabric

1680D Cordura® ballistic nylon exterior

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend started to venture into the one-bag travel territory. Knowing my uh, overzealous, minimalist packing mentality, she asked me for some recommendations. A while back, I found the Minaal 2.0 and have been in love (mostly) with it ever since. The problem is, recommending the Minaal 2.0 to her wasn’t going to cut it; she would’ve noped out of that recommendation, knowing what bag I use and thinking it was too small. So I had to recommend something different. 

One of the bags that I’ve seen and heard great things about was the Aer Travel Pack 2. Small but not too small, good build quality, and organization for the digital nomad. Better yet, it isn’t too expensive.

Being a gearhead, I was also pretty excited to test this bag out too.

About Aer

Aer is a San Francisco-based company that started out as a crowdfunding project. They initially got some notoriety from their “project that combined a gym bag and an office bag,” which turned into the popular Duffel Pack. After that, Aer started branching out into a series of backpacks and duffel bags.

Their design principles are utility, simplicity, and durability. And if you were to just look at their bags, those principles are pretty much what you see. In addition, all their bags have a kind of “tech worker” type aesthetic. This makes sense; they are a San Francisco company surrounded by tech workers.

The Aer Travel Pack 2

This bag is designed to be a one-bag travel pack, a successor to the original Aer Travel Pack. In fact, they even say so:

“Streamlined for One-Bag Travel”

Aersf.com

In theory, this should be good for almost all of my travel needs. So the lense I took to view this bag was similar to the Minaal 2.0:

  1. Can I live out of this bag?
  2. Do I enjoy using this bag?

Those questions may seem pretty vague, but the answers to those questions will indicate my experience interacting with the bag.

Materials & Aesthetic

The exterior of the Aer Travel Pack 2 is made from 1680D Cordura® ballistic nylon, and the bag uses YKK zippers throughout. These are pretty heavy-duty materials, so you can rest assured that they won’t let you down mid-trip.

The aesthetic of the bag is minimalist. Black on black is the only color option. The lines are clean, and there aren’t many straps dangling off the bag, immediately making it superior to many other bags I’ve tried out. Dangling straps are the worst.

I could see people who travel for work often and need to look presentable in front of clients reach for the Aer Travel Pack 2 pretty frequently. You could easily pair this with some nicer clothes, maybe even a suit. Or use the side handle to put the bag into a “briefcase mode,” in a pinch. It’s not going to look great, but it’ll get the job done.

Think “Jason Bourne wears khakis.”

Outside the Bag

Your first interaction with any bag is typically through the handles. The Aer Travel Pack 2 has two of them, one on the top and one on the sides. Both are thick and padded, making them easy enough to pick up or put in the overhead compartments.

Sturdy compression straps are located on both sides of the bag, which do a good job compressing the bag. You know when you see someone that has a backpack sticking two feet off their back? It looks ridiculous, don’t be like that. Outside of that, compression straps can also latch a jacket or yoga mat to the outside of the bag. It’s worth noting that you’ll need to unbuckle the compression straps to unzip the primary compartment. Not really a big deal, more of a minor inconvenience.

There’s a water bottle holder that can be zipped up and stowed away. It’s a pretty cool design, much better than the water bottle holder on the Minaal 2.0. It should be big enough to hold most water bottles, but a larger Hydroflask might take a little extra muscle to fit.

One peculiar design choice is the removal of the load lifter straps on the updated version. Apparently, they had them on the Aer Travel Pack 1 but decide to nix them from version two. It’s a strange move since, at 33 liters, the bag can start to get pretty heavy when packed out.

Aer did add the ability to attach a hip belt (sold separately). This is probably a nice touch if you have some heavy-duty gear in there, but I’d honestly prefer the load lifters. Hip belts just seem a little much for my liking when dealing with this type of bag.

The padded foam back panel is pretty comfortable and provides some airflow to prevent the dreaded back sweat…gross.

Pockets

When talking about exterior pockets, it starts to get a bit questionable. There are a few exterior pockets; a laptop sleeve on the back, an easy access pocket on the top, two zippered pockets on the front, the primary compartment, and a dedicated shoe compartment.

The laptop compartment is fine, but oddly enough, Aer didn’t include a false bottom in this bag, which typically gives your laptop some extra protection. This is an odd choice, especially for such a tech/digital nomad-focused bag maker. There is some padding at the bottom, so I wouldn’t be THAT concerned about your laptop, but still another odd design choice or oversight.

The easy access pocket at the top of the bag is a nice touch, allowing you to store accessories that you’ll need to reach for over and over. 

Where it becomes a little troublesome is the front two pockets. The top one has many pockets and organization for pens, charging cables, and basically, all your tech needs. The bottom pocket doesn’t have any internal organization, but it does have a YKK AquaGuard zipper. To me, this is a bit of a weird place to put a water-repellent zipper; I’m not exactly sure what they expect you to put in that pocket that needs to be waterproof. But hey, extra protection is never a bad thing.

My issue with these two areas is that there is basically no depth or dimension to either of these pockets. Without depth, it becomes pretty hard to actually fit anything in there. Oddly shaped objects don’t fit in the space well and can make the front of the bag look pretty bulgy.

Little depth makes it tough to fit oddly shaped objects.

The internal organization is a giant suitcase-style opening. The rigidity of the materials gives it some structure, making it easy enough to pack. Though I would, and always do, recommend using packing cubes for some extra organization.

Rigid walls make the main compartment easy to pack

The top panel has two zippered compartments, but again, no depth whatsoever. So though they could be helpful in theory, practically speaking, they are useless. Maybe you can fit some documents in there? Other than that, I’m really not sure.

Finally, there is a dedicated shoe compartment at the bottom of the bag. It’s pretty big and should fit most shoes, even large boots. But, to be honest, I’ve never really loved dedicated shoe compartments. I find them a bit unnecessary, mainly because they just end up taking space from somewhere else, in this case, the main compartment.

Overall

Listen, it’s a good bag. I don’t want to nit-pick too much here because overall, the Aer Travel Pack 2 really is a fantastic bag. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better option, especially at this price point. The materials are excellent, and the added organization is a nice touch. And given the price point, it’s a pretty compelling value when it comes to travel backpacks. 

Was it my favorite bag? Definitely not. My experience with it fell a bit short and left me wanting something different, and I don’t think it would work well as a one-bag travel backpack. 

That said, I could see it fitting nicely for some folks—particularly business travelers who primarily fly domestically or even as a weekender for some shorter trips. 

Have you tried the Aer Travel Pack 2? Let me know in the comments!

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