Thursday , November 23 2017
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Aer Duffel Pack Worn Side View

Aer Duffel Pack Review

Biking to work brought up some unique challenges to configuring my EDC. I was struggling trying to find a balance between weight, comfort and functionality with my existing backpacks. I was using my old Rush 24 backpack, but it was really just too large for this purpose. The tendency to overpack was always present and many of the bag’s features were overkill for bike commuting. I wanted a bag that was streamlined, smaller and less tactical oriented.

So, I was on the search for a streamlined backpack that would allow me to carry my electronics, gym clothes and basic EDC items. This is when I stumbled upon the Aer Duffel Pack while reading a marketing email from Huckberry. I liked the overall size and aesthetics, plus the integrated shoe compartment was very appealing. So, I decided to pull the trigger and order the bag.

The actual design goal for the Aer Duffel Pack was to build a bag that allows you to carry your gym and office essentials in one bag. Basically, they combined the features of a backpack and duffel bag into a hybrid pack. The result is a very clean, minimalist bag, that looks good and is easy to use.

Dimensions
21.5″ / 12″ / 7″ or 54.6 cm / 30.5 cm / 17.8 cm
Volume: 24L

Main Compartment 
The first thing you’ll notice about this bag is the large vertical zipper that runs nearly the entire length of the bag. This waterproof zipper is designed to give you full access to the bag’s main compartment. This proved to be very useful when extracting my gym gear. I could easily find every item, because it was all laid out in front of me. Most traditional backpacks give you a “top down” view, so items at the bottom of your bag are usually covered by other gear and not visible. I think we’ve all experienced how difficult it is to find dark colored items inside a black backpack. It can be downright frustrating! Easy access to your gear is wear the Duffel Pack shines.

Aer Duffel Pack Top View Closed
The Duffel Packs simple, minimalist design makes for an aesthetically pleasing bag.
Aer Duffel Pack Worn Rear View
The large waterproof zipper keeps your clothes dry and provides excellent access to the bag’s main compartment. I wish the laptop compartment also had a waterproof zipper.

Straps & Exterior Features
The “front” side of the Duffel Pack features a padded, spacer mesh back panel for extra comfort and breathability. I found the pack’s back panel to be very comfortable when full loaded. There was plenty of padding and my laptop wasn’t jabbing me in the back when pedaling hard. Ventilation for the back panel was on average with other backpacks, so expect to sweat if you’re exerting yourself or wearing the pack in hot weather.

Aer Duffel Pack Front Shoulder Straps
Shoulder straps have good padding and are easy to adjust. The back panel padding was comfortable with average breath-ability.

The shoulder straps are well padded and easy to adjust. The shoulder straps also include an adjustable sternum strap, which does help with stability when bike riding and carrying heavy loads. I did notice that the sternum strap is a bit short. Only the right side buckle of the sternum strap is adjustable for length. I’m six feet tall, weigh 175 pounds and the sternum strap was getting close to being maxed out. A larger mans chest may exceed the adjustment capacity of the strap.

I also noticed the shoulder straps seem to be placed a little narrow near the top of the bag. I experienced some minor rubbing on my neck during a recent bike commute. There wasn’t enough rubbing to cause chaffing, but I feel its worth noting in this review. If you have a large neck, this may be a problem.

Padded carry handles are located at the top and left side of the pack. You can carry the pack in a vertical or horizontal position.

Aer Duffel Pack Worn Front View
The shoulder straps are a little narrow, so there was some minor neck rubbing. The sternum strap is also a little short. Bigger guys may exceed the straps adjustment range.

Side Pockets
The large zippered side pockets allow you to carry a wide variety of items. There are two fabric dividers inside each side pocket, which can be used to organize your gear. A Maxpedition Fatty Pocket Organizer will fit inside the divider sleeves, but just barely. A Mini Pocket Organizer, EDC Pocket Organizer or similarly sized pouch would be better suited.

The outside side pockets are large enough to carry a nalgene water bottle. However, the exterior pocket’s usefulness is effected by the gear you keep in the interior pockets. So, overstuffing the internal pockets will reduce what you can carry in the outside pocket. I jammed a rather full Fatty Pocket Organizer into an internal pocket and it prevented me from carrying a water bottle on that side.

I was disappointed to learn the bag didn’t have a dedicated admin area. In my opinion this is a major oversight on Aer’s part, especially at this price point. I highly recommend using an aftermarket admin pouch or panel to organize your writing utensils and small EDC items. You don’t want those items rolling around loose and becoming scattered inside the pocket.

Aer Duffel Pack Side Compartment View
Zippered side pockets offer decent storage, but lack a dedicated admin area.

Laptop Compartment
The laptop area of the Duffel Pack is very nice. There’s plenty of padding to protect your valuable hardware and two separate sleeves. Both sleeves are secured with a single hook & loop strap. You can fit both a tablet and 15″ Macbook Pro with ease, plus there’s room for additional cords, paper files, etc.

I am surprised and somewhat disappointed Aer didn’t use a waterproof zipper for the laptop compartment. This isn’t a huge issue for me, because I don’t plan on bike commuting during bad weather, but you never know when a random rain shower may pop up. Apparently, keeping your gym clothes dry is more important than keeping your electronics dry. Hopefully, a waterproof zipper will be added in the future.

Aer Duffel Pack Laptop Storage Compartment
Laptop compartment is well padded and provides plenty of space for your tablet and 15″ Macbook Pro.

Shoe Compartment
The bottom, ventilated shoe compartment is an excellent feature. You can keep your stinky sneakers or sweaty clothing separated from the main compartment. Plus the shoe compartment is ventilated, which helps keep the compartment dry and “fresh”. According to Aer you can store up to size 13 shoes in this compartment. Sorry pro basketball players, you’ll have to look for another bag.

Keep in mind the shoe compartment liner actually exists inside the main compartment. So, you will lose main compartment space when carrying shoes. My size 11 Crossfit Nano’s fit nicely and there was some extra room on top of the shoe liner in the main compartment.

Aer Duffel Pack Shoe Storage Compartment
The ventilated shoe compartment keeps your smelly sneakers away from the main compartment. It also helps with weight distribution, since it stores your shoes at the bottom of the bag.
Aer Duffel Pack with Shoe Compartment Filled
There’s still plenty of room for gym clothing and gear with the shoe compartment filled. There’s even some room on top of the shoe compartment liner.

Summary
I like the Aer Duffel Pack. It’s well built, and the simple, minimalist design is appealing to me. It preforms well for bike commuting, as I have enough room to comfortably carry my EDC essentials, gym clothes and office equipment.

I wish it had a dedicated admin section and a waterproof zipper for the laptop compartment. Plus the shoulder straps and sternum strap are a little too narrow. But these are minor issues to me as the positive aspects of this bag make up for these shortcomings.

What do you think? Do you have questions about this article? Are you an EDC bag addict? Share your questions and experiences in the comments section below.


EDCP Breakdown

Overall Design
Initial Quality
Organization
Comfort
Customization
Weight
Overall Value

Very Good

Nice bag for the active commuter who needs to carry office and gym gear.

User Rating: Be the first one !

About Michael Eldridge

Michael Eldridge is a US Marine Veteran and the founder of Safety Glasses USA, EDC Planet and Project Shirt. He's a gear addict at heart and enjoys an active lifestyle. In his spare time he enjoys target shooting, fishing, crossfit, mountain biking, camping with his family and watching Detroit Tigers baseball.

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4 comments

  1. interesting design for a duffle style bag backpack . I like it for its simple no thrills compartments , and it would make a great get home bag with the added shoe compartment .

  2. Mike, nicely done. I’m currently evaluating the Aer Duffle and many of your observations echo my own so far. The sternum strap is too short and non-removable, which bugs me. I’m probably going to cut it off and use one from another pack.

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