Aer Pro Brief Review
The Aer Pro Brief is a professional, capable messenger bag with organization for your laptop, travel documents, and accessories, but not much else.
- Comfortable carry handles
- Water-resistant zipper protects your tech
- Front compartment has independent capacity
- Side pocket only holds tiny bottles
- Handles pretty thick for hanging on a hook
- Not much storage space left when pockets are full
1.7 lb (0.8 kg)
12 in x 16.25 in x 3 in (30.5 x 41.3 x 7.6 cm)
CORDURA®, Recycled Nylon, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware
Laptop Compartment Size
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If you’re a business traveler or simply like having a nice everyday carry bag that you can also take on the plane, you may be looking for a sleek, sophisticated way to take your work with you. The Aer Pro Brief is a messenger-style laptop bag that brings the Pro line’s smart looks and useful features to the office, business trip, or digital nomad life.
So it’s a well-designed bag that can be carried just as easily by hand as it can over your shoulder—but does it live up to our lofty expectations? Let’s find out.
If you’ve read enough of our reviews of Aer products, we may sound slightly like a broken record here when we start going over the exterior, but bear with us. As expected, quality materials are used throughout this bag, beginning with 840D CORDURA® re/cor recycled nylon. It’s bluesign® approved, making this a sustainable bag that looks great wherever it goes.
The black Aer logo centered at the top of the bag has a rubbery texture but blends well with the bag’s aesthetics, and the Aer brand name is also printed on the plastic ends of the corded zipper pulls. In keeping with the company’s commitment to quality, we’re not surprised to find YKK zippers and Duraflex hardware throughout the bag. They’re reliable and typically work well; the Aer Pro Brief is no exception. We’re also not shocked to find the Aer Pro Brief offered in black at the time of writing. It gives the bag an understated, modern look that vibes with most of Aer’s other gear.
The zipper to the main compartment is an AquaGuard style to provide water resistance to the bag and protect your laptop. On the other hand, the front pocket zipper is a traditional No. 8 reverse coil tucked behind a fabric welt for protection from the elements. The lone zipper hanging out without any weather protection is for a small pocket on the back panel where you can slip your phone or passport. It will likely be against your body if you have to dash through the rain, though, so you’ll provide protection there.
This briefcase-style bag can be carried as such, with two nicely padded handles centered atop the bag. Satiny webbing surrounds the padding, making it very comfortable to hold. However, the thickness does make them a little hard to hang up on a hook. Popping one handle on works better unless you have a very large hook, or you can hang it up via the shoulder strap. Be aware, though, that it also has a large amount of padding.
Before delving into the pros and cons of that strap, though, let’s pause briefly on the back panel, where there is a pass-through strap to slide over the handle of your carry on luggage or rolling briefcase. That’s an excellent addition for business travelers and vacation packers alike because it allows you to maneuver more easily through the airport than you may if the Pro Brief is bouncing alongside your hip or back.
Even if it does bang into you as you run to catch the train, you won’t feel much of the gear you’re carrying inside, thanks to the padding on the back panel. It’s there to protect your laptop, but we’ll take the extra comfort it provides as a nice bonus, too.
The shoulder strap is removable, as it connects using swivel gatekeeper hooks to D-rings atop the back panel. Even though they swivel freely, we don’t seem to have a problem with the strap twisting on itself as we have seen on other bags, a fact we greatly appreciate!
The shoulder strap is adjustable with a closed-loop strap that eliminates any dangling and stays where you put it. There is also a long and wide piece of padding to help you shoulder the load, even if you’re carrying a large and powerful (read: heavy) computer and all the associated tech accessories that come with it. The top has the same recycled nylon material as the bag’s exterior, but the underside of the padding is covered in breathable mesh, so, hopefully, your silk blouse will stay sweat-free.
The Aer Pro Brief is not out of place in the boardroom, at business meetings and lunches, or anywhere in the world, for that matter. It doesn’t stand out from the crowd in a loud and flamboyant way, so you can be sure it will fit in wherever you find yourself, whether it’s a local pub or cafe, the airport, or the office. Of course, it also won’t stand out from the crowd of black laptop bags and briefcases, so be sure you know which one you’re grabbing when it’s time to adjourn.
The thick padding on the shoulder strap and carry handles make it comfortable to carry for longer periods, although it can bang up against your side if you wear it over one shoulder while power-walking through Manhattan. Instead, you may want to lengthen the strap and carry it crossbody for a little more security and to keep it from slipping off your shoulder pads.
Inside The Brief
Even though this is a messenger bag and not a travel daypack, it doesn’t lack organization and pockets. On the front of the Pro Brief is a zipper pocket that’s much wider than deep, in keeping with the bag’s horizontal design. Atop the right side is a short key leash with a small gatekeeper clip to hold your keyring. Since you can easily swing the bag around to your front, we think you’ll have no issue opening your door while they stay connected, even though it’s only a couple of inches long.
On the opposite side is a small square slip pocket. It’s a means of separating whatever small gear you want, perhaps a minimalist wallet or cash in a money clip, but it is too shallow to hold your phone unless you’ve got a mini. It’s also located close to the end of the zipper, and we find it a little hard to access because of that, hidden as the zipper is below a fabric welt. It’s not impossible, just a little clunky. There is plenty of room in this pocket to toss small travel accessories and pouches willy-nilly as you please, though, so we didn’t find ourselves using it much.
Turning to the left side of the bag, you may see a small pocket. We say “may” because it’s topped with the same small webbing loop as the opposite side and has the same stitched design as the right side, so it’s easy to miss. This side pocket is supposed to hold small travel water bottles or umbrellas, with the emphasis on the word “small.” Standard mouth bottles need not apply; you’ll struggle to slide a disposable 12-ounce bottle here. Even a slim travel umbrella takes force to fit as the elastic top is quite stiff, and there’s hardly any slack in the fabric gusset. If you really need to carry something here, be prepared to make the effort. Otherwise, toss your gear somewhere else.
A large slip pocket along the back panel spans the entire width and nearly the whole height of that side of the bag. It lacks a fastener on top but is a good place for paperwork, file folders, or a magazine to page through on the flight. Then there is also a small zipper pocket centered above the luggage pass-through where you can put small, slim gear like a pocket notebook, your passport, or your phone and wallet if you haven’t put them elsewhere. It’s not the most convenient to access when carrying the bag, but it’s more secure as it is located against your body.
If you don’t find a use for it, don’t worry; there are plenty of other places to put your gear inside the main compartment. It opens via the top zipper that extends a couple of inches down each side to provide decent access to the area.
Against the back panel is a soft, black microfiber to protect up to a 16-inch laptop from scratches. This padded pocket is slightly suspended from the bottom of the bag for additional protection from drops should it slide off the table or get knocked off the back of your chair with your computer still inside. If the bag is upended, nothing is holding your device in place, so be sure it’s zipped up before you walk away.
There’s another slip pocket in front of it for a tablet, e-reader, or travel journal, though it doesn’t have any padding on the front, so you should face the screen of any device toward your laptop for the best protection or use a case.
You don’t have to rely on your tech pouches for organization in the Aer Pro Brief. Instead, you’ll find additional pockets against the front panel where you can slide your wall charger, cord, headphones, pens, and more. There’s a zipper pocket where you can lock down small gear like your AirPods, USB drives, and AirTag to keep them from rattling around the bottom of the bag. In front of that pocket is a wide pocket at the left where you can stash noise-canceling headphones or other larger gear. As you continue from there to the right, there are two pen slots for writing implements or a stylus and then a narrower pocket that holds a phone, battery bank, or other gear.
There’s not much space left in the middle, but this bag isn’t designed to carry a weekend’s worth of clothing to visit your friend. Instead, it’ll allow you to get work done while sitting by their pool or make a deal with a new partner, whatever way you want to roll.
- Very sleek and professional looking
- Good amount of padding on shoulder strap
- Lots of organization
- Hard to find a good use for front slip or side bottle pocket
- Shoulder pad may be too wide for narrow frames
- Plenty of organizational options for your gear