Created in 2014 out of a crowdfunding project, Aer bags have always been of a particular interest to me. The sleek, no-frills design coupled with what appeared to be stellar craftsmanship had me interested for a while. I’m no stranger to packs and bags, having amassed quite the collection over the years. So when Aer sent me their Duffel pack 2, I was incredibly eager to pack it full of my travel necessities and hit the road to their hometown of San Francisco.
Being a digital nomad, I’m always keeping a keen eye to the bags designed for those on the road. The problem I used to run into the most with other bags that Aer has addressed is the built-in housing for a pair of shoes. I almost always travel in my Rainbow sandals and bring along a pair of shoes for work meetings or nights that just call for something a little more professional. The internal housing is found on the bottom of the bag and lined with a heavy-duty nylon that keeps dirt and mud away from your clothes. On the pocket flap itself are two grommets allowing the shoes to breathe and not make the rest of your clothes smell like feet. The pocket itself is big, like really big. I wear a size twelve and Aer advertises up to a size thirteen, but I think Shaq could stuff his clogs in without issue. This feature alone is enough for me to fall in love with the bag.
The laptop sleeve is a great size and can accommodate up to a 15.6” laptop or tablet. But what was intriguing is the compartment is separated by another padded nylon divider, essentially making it capable of carrying two laptops with padding between the two. This is fantastic for me because I have both a work and personal laptop. It may seem excessive to some but I personally found it amazing. If two laptops weren’t enough, there are three other pockets sewn in so you can carry your chargers, cables, earbuds, etc. I ended up referring to it as the media pocket so I always knew exactly where all of my electronics were.
This is my first duffel style bag, and I never really knew if it was a style I would enjoy. But as soon as I started packing it full of my clothes, I found it incredibly useful. You’re no longer constrained by having to pack your least essential items in the bottom with the more important up top for easy access. Now it’s easier than ever to get something at the bottom of the bag without having things fall out the top and possibly ruin your impeccable packing job. The duffel feature for me was even more important because I kept my toiletry bag and clothes towards the bottom and I added my Nikon DSLR with two lenses at the top to protect them when I put the bag down. I was amazed at how much stuff I could pack into the main compartment, even with a pair of Vans in the shoe compartment. I ended up fitting my toiletry bag, jacket, four days worth of clothes, a full-size DSLR body and two lenses without having to sit on the bag to get the zipper done.
There are four strategically placed external compartments that really prove that there was some serious thought going into the design of this bag. On the top of the bag is a pocket running the width of the bag sitting right by the vertical carry handle. I found this pocket particularly useful for the items I needed constant access to, such as my boarding pass, passport, wallet and my kindle. Just to the side is a small compartment that has an internal tether so you can hook your keys on it. It’s rather small but it would also be a good place to keep your sunglasses (as long as your keys aren’t also in there). Just under this pocket is a very unique water bottle compartment. What makes this pocket unique is the ability to unzip it to expand; in the event your bag is packed too full, or you carry a full-size Nalgene like myself. Directly across the bag is the last compartment that almost runs the full length of the bag. With further internal organization, this pocket serves useful for all of the ‘other’ miscellaneous items you need to take on your adventure. When closed, this pocket is almost undetectable and ads to the sleek allure of the bag.
I have completely fallen in love with the Aer Duffel II; it has replaced every other bag I use due to its incredible flexibility, clean lines and the ever so sexy Multicam Black pattern. There was an impeccable attention to detail that went into the design and it has not gone unnoticed. I salute Aer for what they’ve achieved and I look forward to using many more of their products on future journeys across the globe.
If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting our Veteran Editorial by becoming a SOFREP subscriber. Click here to join SOFREP now for just $0.50/week.