Aer City Sling 2 Review
Despite its larger size, the Aer City Sling 2 wears more comfortably than the original—though the Fidlock buckle tends to snag inside the back panel.
- Main compartment has a good mix of pockets
- Magnetic Fidlock buckle is easy to use
- Sits and wears comfortably
- Mesh pockets feel loose
- Magnetic buckle tricky to pull out of back panel when stowed
- Small gear can fall out of the front pocket when worn crossbody
0.9 lb (0.4 kg)
4.75 in x 13 in x 3.5 in (12.1 x 33 x 8.9 cm)
CORDURA® Ballistic Nylon, YKK Zippers, Fidlock Hardware, Aluminum
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Among the many things we’d like to praise Aer for, it’s for the straightforward naming convention they’ve adopted. They release a product, and the immediate follow-up gets a number affixed at the end. They make the progression easy to track, sort of like a baby’s growth chart. Some of their products, like the Gym Duffel 3 and Sling Bag 3, are already in their third iterations (as their names suggest), and each time they do a release, there are usually small but meaningful changes under the hood.
Such is the case of the subject of this review: the City Sling 2. It’s grown in size, slimmed down its strap, got a shiny new Fidlock magnet, and is now more comfortable to wear. We think the improvements make this a better sling overall, and Aer’s even given it pouch-like capabilities. There’s actually a lot to go through, as we’ll be making some comparisons with the original City Sling. If you want a visual breakdown, check out our City Sling 2 vs City Sling comparison video. In the meantime, let’s put that Fidlock to use and buckle in; this is a sequel worth tuning in to.
Materials & Aesthetic
The City Sling 2 shares most of its DNA with the rest of Aer’s lineup, both in terms of aesthetic and material. We’ve flipped through this sling inside and out, and there’s no denying that Aer has kept their magic—this is one solid-feeling sling. The way they’ve put together 1680D CORDURA Ballistic Nylon and YKK zippers makes the whole sling feel very structured. Even when empty, it doesn’t collapse like a wet paper bag.
It’s the same story if you pick the X-Pac version as well. That one feels—and sounds—a bit more wrinkly, though, so our vote goes with this 1680D version. That said, the X-Pac version definitely has its own strengths. It’s more weather-resistant, plus it has a bright orange liner that ups interior visibility. Either way, the City Sling 2 has good structure, but that doesn’t mean comfort suffers, as you’ll see later on.
The overall styling is not revolutionary; rather, it’s an evolution of the original City Sling. Squint and you may not be able to tell the differences, but they’re definitely there, and they’re meaningful. For starters, the sling has grown bigger to fit more stuff. The jingly zipper pulls we always pointed out in the past are now just that: a thing of the past. Even the large side-release buckle on the strap has been streamlined. There’s now a Fidlock magnet in its place, which is as satisfying to use as it looks—very.
We dig the City Sling 2’s design; it’s flashy and minimal at the same time. The split-opening front pocket looks like a futuristic visor someone would wear in the 23rd century, and the black colorway suggests it’s Robocop. In contrast, branding is minimal, only appearing on a small Hypalon tag partly obscured by a compression strap, on the zipper pulls, and a black patch inside.
Aer has sprinkled a number of new features all over the City Sling 2, ranging from noticeable to subtle. Whether they’re big or small, those changes add up, so much so that we think this version stands head and shoulders above the original. For instance, there’s now a top handle for carrying the sling by hand. It’s just a simple flat nylon strap wide enough to grab onto, but it’s a hint as to what the City Sling 2 ‘s double life is.
The second hint is the new back panel, now featuring openings on both sides where the strap can stow into; simply undo the buckle and stuff the straps inside. There are two things to keep in mind, though. First, the strap is quite long, so stowing them inside the back panel noticeably bulks up the rear. Second, the two halves of the magnetic buckles can lock themselves together if pushed close enough inside the back panel.
Once they’re locked in, you have to pull the strap to one side first to undo the buckle, then pull the other end to completely free both ends. Unfortunately, this happened to us frequently, and it took some getting used to. Also worth keeping in mind is that stowing the straps away gets trickier as the sling gets packed more tightly. Whenever we had difficulty fishing the straps out of the back panel, removing our packable jacket from the main compartment usually helped.
So, with the top handle and stowable strap, what do you get? Yes, it’s a pouch! And a capable one, at that. Some of our favorite slings and pouches can pull off double-duty. Pouches with D-rings for attaching straps? Thumbs up. Slings with a handle and a stowable/removable strap? Also a thumbs up.
The strap on the City Sling 2 gets its own improvements. There are now plastic strap keepers to keep the slack in check and adjusters on both sides so you can position the Fidlock magnetic buckle as preferred. After a week or so of testing the City Sling 2, going back to the original made us realize just how big the original’s strap and buckle were. The strap on the City Sling 2 is much narrower, and the Fidlock magnetic buckle is way smaller compared to the wide side-release buckle on the original. It’s an unusual step considering that Aer made this current version bigger, so if anything, you’d expect them to scale things up.
The surprising thing is that somehow, the City Sling 2 handles just as well, if not better, than the original. We deduce that this is down to the new and improved compression straps along the sides, now with aluminum hardware. We do feel that the aluminum adjusters are more slippery than the old plastic ones, but we haven’t seen them let go or slip so far. They tighten down the sling and trim any excess fat left once you’ve packed everything you need inside.
Overall, the City Sling 2 sits just right against the body, whether it’s worn on the front or at the back. Considering there isn’t a ton of padding on the back panel or the straps, Aer has really nailed down the comfort of the City Sling 2 with the shape and ergonomics.
Inside The Pack
As for the inside, we’ll start with the frontmost compartment. The YKK zipper is an AquaGuard-type, giving the compartment good water resistance, complete with a small zipper garage to seal the deal. The split-opening doesn’t make this pocket very suitable for piles of small items. It’s not like a top-down pocket where you drop in everyday carry items without risk of anything falling out the next time you open it. When you’re wearing the City Sling 2 crossbody, there’s only a relatively shallow floor on the bottom portion to hold items in.
This isn’t an issue if you’re not filling the compartment with small items or if you’re stuffing in large items that can be lodged under both the bottom and top fabric like a packet of wet wipes or tissues—it’s not going to go anywhere if the split fabric obstructs it. The good news is that the built-in key clip is now more robust. It’s no longer the flimsy clip we called out before; it’s now more of a mini carabiner to which we’re more than comfortable attaching house keys.
On the other hand, when the City Sling 2 is lying on its back panel, the front compartment functions like a pencil case, which plays more into the sling’s pouch capabilities we mentioned earlier. There’s a fair amount of volume here, so you can fit in plenty of pens and EDC items. Though, with the split-opening, we’d still watch out for anything that may fall out.
On the opposite side of the sling is the rear security pocket. The zipper doesn’t feature the usual long zipper pull, just a small Hypalon tab that can be tucked away. Gusseting shrouds the opening to keep it hidden from plain sight, which is how you know its security pocket. It’s also the perfect size for a passport, small travel documents, or some spare cash.
Finally, we have the main compartment, where Aer has shaken things up a bit as well. The compartment still opens up all the way to the edges and down the sides about halfway. The interior liner—and this applies to all the compartments—is a fairly bright grey for good visibility. Weather protection remains great for the most part, with twin reverse-coil YKK zippers keeping the elements at bay.
The addition of a liner pocket changes the internal layout from the original City Sling. The order is as follows from front to back: liner pocket, twin mesh pockets, main space, zippered pocket, and divider pocket. The mesh pockets are stretchy, with enough room for wireless earphones cases. However, the material feels loose and doesn’t have much grip, even compared to the liner pockets they replaced on the original City Sling. The original’s liner pockets featured elastic and held items fairly well, whereas the City Sling 2’s mesh pockets sometimes failed to hold small adapters after a slight jostle.
The good news is that since the total volume is up from the original, the City Sling 2 has a wider floor. We were able to fit our Patagonia Alpine Houdini inside without a problem and with room to spare. Any small item also easily finds a home in the many pockets present. In case you don’t need all the extra space, the compression straps ensure that the City Sling 2 doesn’t bulk up more than it needs to. We think the original’s size was fine, and we wouldn’t have complained if the City Sling 2 retained that volume. However, we’d rather have the extra space and not need it than not have it and then need it later on.
Our biggest takeaway from the City Sling 2 is how well Aer addressed all of the cons of the original City Sling. It wears comfortably, the zippers aren’t jingly, and the elastic strap keepers are a welcome addition. Noteworthy changes like these are what we like to see. We like the original City Sling, and the City Sling 2 just makes us like it even more.
- Fidlock magnet feels quick to use and tactile
- The sling strap can be stowed away
- Feels structured thanks to the heavy denier fabric
- We like that the sling is offered in an X-Pac and a 1680d ballistic nylon
- Sling sits well on the body whether it’s worn on the front or back
- The strap is easily adjustable and clean with no dangling straps
- There’s enough organization inside to keep things tidy alongside a spacious compartment
- Mesh pockets are a little loose and don’t hold small items in tightly