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Aer Carry-On Review

The Aer Carry-On is a successful first foray into rolling luggage, with an intuitive design and premium materials like a patent-pending handle and smooth wheels.

Our Verdict

7.8 /10
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  • Four stopping points give a good range of height options for the handle
  • Wheels are some of the smoothest we’ve tested to date
  • Quality construction with premium materials, so it feels like it’ll last a long time


  • Wheel-locking mechanism occupies space in the main compartment
  • You have to push the handle down after releasing the button; it doesn't drop by itself
  • Scratches are fairly visible on the flat and smooth exterior

Technical Details

2 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 3/145 Airlines

  • Capacity


  • Weight (lb)

    8.4 lb (3.8 kg)

  • Dimensions

    22.7 in x 15 in x 9.5 in (57.7 x 38.1 x 24.1 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Polycarbonate, Metal, CORDURA® Ripstop Nylon, CORDURA Eco Fabric, FIDLOCK Hardware, YKK Zippers, Hinomoto Wheels

  • Manufacturing Country


  • Warranty Information

    Aer Lifetime Warranty

Full Review

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When a brand dips its toes into a new product category, it always creates a buzz, spiking curiosity about what it’ll bring to the table. Whether it’s Apple allegedly designing a car or McDonald’s coming up with healthy salad options, doing something different piques peoples’ collective interest. So you’re probably not surprised to hear that when Aer announced it was developing carry on luggage, everyone at the Pack Hacker HQ sat up on their chairs wondering what that would look like. After all, we’ve always known Aer for the Travel Backpack series, which we consistently feature on our Digital Nomad Packing List as our one-bag solution (excluding a sling)—rolling luggage seems like a significant branching out for them.

Aer Carry-On Side
Aer Carry-On | Aer’s foray into carry on luggage.

While we still think the Travel Backpack line will remain their flagship product, we’re focusing the spotlight on the Carry-On in this review. So far, we like what we’re seeing. Aer didn’t go crazy for the sake of making this stand out and making a big splash. To put it bluntly, it seems they focused more on making a few features work as best as possible while sprinkling in Aer design staples, like a smart tracker pocket and FIDLOCK buckles.

Baby steps? Sure, but everyone pays attention whenever a baby takes those first steps. So, without further ado, let’s see what Aer has in store for us!

External Components

Okay, if there is anything crazy about the Aer Carry-On, it’s the really bright Safety Orange colorway we tested for this review. Sure, we’re always picking black colorways whenever we review a bag from this brand, but it’s also not often that we’ll see something this punchy from them either. Do we hate it? Not at all. In fact, it makes sense on the off-chance this gets gate-checked and ends up in the cargo hold. A bright colorway like this is really easy to spot, making its way down the luggage carousel. Other colorways are available, such as black, dark olive, fog white, and pale mauve, which is a bit more variety than what we see with Aer’s other gear.

Aer Carry-On Brand
Aer Carry-On | The aesthetics are quite minimalistic.

The shape is pretty low-key, too. Apart from the wheels, handles, and zipper track, the Aer Carry-On is a smoothed-out tub with chamfered (a.k.a. sloped) edges. They create a slight infinite mirror optical illusion on an otherwise relatively minimalist bag, forgoing the ridges, plastic trims, and shiny badges of other pieces. Interestingly, Aer did work with the same design studio that helped design the Away Carry-On luggage, Box Clever. So, if you’re sensing a bit of déjà vu with the aesthetics, there you have it.

The material of choice is Makrolon® polycarbonate (we’re sure if Aer could make a suitcase out of 1680D CORDURA® Ballistic Nylon, they would). Branding aside, polycarbonate is one of the more common materials used on hard-side luggage since it’s light and fairly robust. That said, it’s also not immune to scratches, as anyone who’s handed polycarbonate-based luggage over to baggage handlers would attest. Our sample already has a few scratches after a few weeks of testing, though it’s not strictly just the material that’s to blame.

Aer Carry-On Scuff 3
Aer Carry-On | The flat design leaves the polycarbonate vulnerable to scratches.

The Aer Carry-On’s front and back are flat—similar to most carry on luggage—but some luggage (like the Calpak Ambeur Carry-On Luggage) have elevated ridges along the shell to prevent scratches from covering the entire shell in one long line. With the Aer Carry-On lacking something similar, our sample has lengthy visible scratches, though not anything structurally or aesthetically catastrophic. This problem also isn’t unique to Aer; we’ve seen similar scratching on the smooth parts of suitcases like the Monos Carry-On. Suffice to say, any luggage subjected to the cargo hold or lying sideways in an overhead bin is at risk of a little damage.

It’s also lacking any trim that could absorb impact when tossed around. For example, the July Carry On has plastic on the four corners to prevent the edges from caving in when the bag is tossed around. This is a feature we see less often on carry on luggage, though, so we’re not particularly concerned that Aer didn’t include it.

While we’re on the subject of baggage handling, the Aer Carry-On’s uniform shape pushes it just above many airlines’ limits for what you can bring onboard. Some U.S. airlines are quite lax in this regard, but your mileage may vary. Carry on at your own risk!

Aer Carry-On TSA Lock Studio
Aer Carry-On | A closer look at the gapless zipper heads.

The YKK zippers are double-coiled and puncture-resistant, according to Aer. They feel beefy, so we’re not doubting that in the slightest. There’s also a gapless slider design, which reinforces what we love about the brand: their attention to design details. Arguably more important, though, is the built-in TSA combination lock at the side—a nice inclusion that saves you a bit of money you would have spent on a padlock.

The Aer Carry-On has four sets of wheels at the bottom. These are Hinomoto miraclent® metal bearing wheels, which must be fancy-speak for “really smooth-rolling wheels” because they are. We’ll get deeper into our experience using them in the next section. For now, we must say that, beyond the branding, these wheels also feature a braking system.

We haven’t seen this feature on any rolling luggage yet, but it is truly handy if you find yourself on uneven flooring or live along a sloping street in San Francisco (Aer is based there, so maybe they have a little experience with runaway bags!). It came in handy for us when loading the suitcase in and out of a car trunk on a road that was just barely uneven. The lock kept the bag in place while we did some rearranging to fit everything inside. While we don’t think this feature is a big selling point, it’s something that’s nice to have when you need it.

Aer Carry-On Wheels
Aer Carry-On | These wheels are the best part of the Aer Carry-On.

There’s one grab handle at the top and on the side. At first glance, these look very low-profile—and they are—but we can still get a hand through. Once you pull on them, they do expand, though the lack of padding means they’re not as comfortable as we’d like (especially when the suitcase is full and heavy). And, since this roller weighs more than other suitcases we’ve tested of a similar size, it starts to feel heavy pretty fast. We also missed having a handle at the bottom for when we needed to pull it out from that side. Unfortunately, you can only tug at the wheels or grab the bag from both sides.

On a more positive note, the ends of the handles have holes where you can hang a luggage tag or souvenir keychains, a thoughtful design choice so they don’t flap uncontrollably around the handle. Similar to the locking wheels, it’s something we didn’t know we’d like until we had the option.

Aer Carry-On Handle Studio
Aer Carry-On | Those holes are perfect for attaching a luggage tag.

As for the telescoping handle, Aer also put considerable effort into designing it. They’re calling it a “triangular trolley system,” presumably because the shaft and handle have a triangular shape instead of a more typical boxy one, and Aer says it’s for added stability. We can confirm that the handle feels comfortable, and there’s minimal wiggle when you rock it. Plus, at the time of writing, this design is patent-pending—talk about exclusive! In terms of height, there are four settings, and that’s plenty for us. Our testers range from 5’5″ to 6’2″ tall, so that’s saying something.

In all, Aer’s approach to this carry-on’s design can be summed up by Allen Choi, Aer’s Co-Founder and Head of Design. When asked what features set them apart from others on the market, he said:

“During the research phase, we discovered most brands—especially the more popular ones—were not using great materials and parts. This is where we saw an opportunity to do something different—to make the highest-quality suitcase possible while adding thoughtful features and details. Throughout our suitcase, you’ll find the best materials and trims usually found in our bags, but not commonly seen in this category. We also innovated on a variety of components, such as our patent-pending triangular trolley system for better mobility and the world’s first integrated brake system using Hinomoto’s miraclent® wheels.”

Fit Notes

What can we say? Aer did a fantastic job making sure that the Carry-On rolls very smoothly. We’ve tested luggage with “okay” and “fine” wheels, but the ones here feel like a step above in terms of experience and build quality. We haven’t really found a surface that made them lock up. Short of a gravel parking lot, these wheels dampen a lot of rolling jitter.

Aer Carry-On Telescopic Handle
Aer Carry-On | The handle doesn’t drop down automatically when you release the button.

Finding the ideal height adjustment is relatively straightforward. However, if we had a nitpick, it’s that the handle doesn’t drop down automatically when you release the lock. You have to manually push it down to put the handle away. We’re not quite sure if this is a pre-production sample issue, as we tested this bag before it was available to the public and the assembly underneath may not have been completely finalized, but it’s worth mentioning if you’re a “drop it and go” type of person (we didn’t realize it was a feature we’d miss until we no longer had it).

Aer Carry-On Handle
Aer Carry-On | A look at their patent-pending triangular trolley system.

Last but not least is our experience with the wheel-locking mechanism. In case you didn’t know, streets are seldom perfectly level for drainage reasons—something we were reminded of a few times while testing the Aer Carry-On. Only the back wheels lock once you toggle the switch below the main handle, but this was enough to stop it from going AWOL while we got the rest of our gear out of the car. This will also come in handy on public transit or a shuttle bus at the airport. No more runaway bags!

Inside The Carry On Luggage

Now, we move on to the Aer Carry-On’s interior. The layout is pretty typical of a lot of carry on luggage, with one half cordoned off by a mesh divider pocket and the other half being your main storage area.

Aer Carry-On Empty
Aer Carry-On | The layout isn’t all that different from other carry on luggage we’ve tested.

In typical Aer fashion, the hold-down strap has a magnetic FIDLOCK buckle. We’ve never had issues with a simple side-release buckle, but regardless, the magnetic buckle works, keeping the included compression pad locked in place as we travel. The strap itself feels relatively thick and premium, and we’re glad Aer’s not skimping out on it just because it’s out of sight most of the time.

While the compression pad is useful for making sure clothing stays in place, we wish it folded to the left like the page of a book instead of folding up and out of the compartment. This feels super out of the way and takes up a lot of extra space in our packing area. We could remove it entirely, but that’s also tedious to do because of how the compression pad’s plastic loops thread through the strap. However, the pad still works well, so this mostly comes down to preference. In fact, some Pack Hacker team members prefer the pad when it flips up because then it’s not blocking the other half of the suitcase. It’s up to you to decide what works best for your packing style.

Aer Carry-On Compression Strap 2
Aer Carry-On | How the compression pad is attached makes it tricky to remove.

We have no problem storing flat items, like a packable hat, in the compression pad’s large mesh pocket. The bulk of your clothing will reside underneath the compression pad, though we recommend saving it for loose clothing you don’t plan on storing in packing cubes; that way, the compression pad has a purpose and you can pack items in the spot between where the luggage handles stick out a bit (as you would with any luggage).

There is plenty of space, given that the Aer Carry-On is around 50 liters in capacity. However, press down on the liner, and you’ll notice that the wheel-locking system occupies a not insignificant amount of space. That means you lose a bit of the between-the-luggage-handles space for packing, but we had luck layering thinner items like T-shirts and tank tops on top of the mechanism and putting thick items like pants or sweaters in the deeper divots.

Aer Carry-On AirTag Pocket
Aer Carry-On | Place your Apple AirTag here.

Interestingly, the spine/hinge between the compartment’s two halves has a fabric cover attached with a hook-and-loop fastener. We’re not entirely sure why Aer went the extra mile to cover this portion. Our best guess is that it makes the interior look more neat or gives access to the entire zipper in case a repair is needed.

A large mesh pocket covers the left side of the main compartment. Like the compression pad’s mesh pocket, this is an ideal spot for large but flat gear like gloves, cables, or travel documents. There’s also a zipper pocket where you can store small toiletries, and further within is a hidden pocket for a smart tracker so you can keep track of your luggage if you’re forced to gate check the bag and it doesn’t make it to your final destination.

Aer Carry-On Stuffed
Aer Carry-On | The main compartment packed.

Unzip the mesh pocket along the edges of the suitcase and you’ll find another bucket space underneath. Here, we stored packing cubes, pouches, a pair of sneakers, and other large travel gear like a travel steamer and speaker.

We’re really digging how taut the liner fabric is on this side. Compared to the relatively baggy right bucket space—and other carry on luggage with baggy interiors—this feels much easier and more inviting to pack. On the whole, this is indicative of what the brand’s doing right with the Aer Carry-On. By incorporating their close attention to detail, good choice of materials, and solid construction, they’ve made it worth considering for travelers who prioritize the experience of packing.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • We don’t often see luggage with completely flat front, and the ridges on the edge are pretty unique, too!
  • Digging the range of colorways available
  • We haven’t seen a wheel locking mechanism like this on any other luggage we’ve tested
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Has developed a few scrapes and scratches, though nothing too bad yet
  • The locking mechanism is cool, though it takes up some valuable packing space on the inside
  • Wheels are some of the smoothest rolling we’ve tested to date
By Lauren Maternowski
Created May 13, 2024 • Updated May 14, 2024
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