Aer Pro Pack 24L Review
The Aer Pro Pack 24L makes full use of its volume by letting its valet pocket and admin panel occupy otherwise wasted space—clever and efficient.
- Valet pocket's organization puts quick-grab gear in order
- Admin panel and valet pocket occupy main compartment's otherwise wasted space
- CORDURA's 840D re/cor fabric is light but maintains structure
- Valet pocket material feels minimal and lacks reinforcement
- Shoulder straps almost too short for large frames
- Laptop compartment's false bottom too small for the pack's overall size
2.8 lb (1.3 kg)
18.5 in x 12.5 in x 7 in (47 x 31.8 x 17.8 cm)
CORDURA®, Recycled Nylon, Duraflex Hardware, Woojin Hardware, YKK Zippers, Paracord
Laptop Compartment Size
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Aer designed its Pro Collection for professionals working in the city, and among the lineup is the Pro Pack 24L. This daypack features streamlined design elements that depart from their usual formula. For example, you may notice that the typical front pocket that splits an Aer bag’s front is nowhere to be seen. 1680-denier ballistic nylon is also absent; in its place CORDURA’s 840-denier re/cor recycled nylon. Fear not, because there are rationales and benefits behind the changes.
Far from being a perfect backpack, the Pro Pack 24L does have its shortcomings. In a somewhat literal sense, for example, the shoulder straps feel slightly too short for those with larger frames. Plus, as much as we dig the valet pocket that consolidates the missing front pocket and a quick grab pocket, its fabric lacks the quality we expect from Aer.
Hmmm? What’s that, you say? What’s a valet pocket? Well, we’ll tell you in the review below.
Long-time fans of Aer’s gear will probably have noticed by now, but we’ll give you all a second to guess what’s different about the Pro Pack 24L. Found it yet? If you answered, “It’s using CORDURA’s 840-denier re/cor recycled nylon fabric,” congratulations, you guessed correctly. You can also probably skip the eye test in your next physical exam since you spotted that this isn’t the usual 1680-denier ballistic nylon we’re used to seeing from Aer.
Yes, this new fabric has half the denier and is a finer and lighter material. Despite that, it still holds up in terms of durability, especially if you’re using it in the city as Aer intended. The Pro Pack 24L still has a lot of structural rigidity, making packing easier since you don’t have to prop up the fabric to get gear inside. Bonus points: the Pro Pack 24L can stand on its own relatively well when fully packed, which we think is an underrated feature. It’s nice to leave your bag standing beside you while you’re in line at check-in; can anyone else relate?
Hardware includes YKK zippers, a magnetic Woojin buckle on the sternum strap, and Duraflex adjusters for the shoulder straps. Those YKK zippers are using their new plastic pulls, by the way. It’s a subtle update, but all that’s important to us is that they don’t jangle like the pulls Aer used in their earlier gear.
Let’s talk about looks because this design is very clean and streamlined. At first, we couldn’t quite pinpoint what made it sleeker than their other bags, but then it hit us: no zipper in the middle. Now, don’t get us wrong, we like Aer’s minimal and urban aesthetics, and the pocket zipper that’s usually bisecting the front is kind of their signature by this point. From the Aer Travel Pack 3 down to the Split Kit, most of their lineup has it (most, but not all). If nothing else, it’s a refreshing change. Oh, and don’t worry, they’ve got a substitute for that missing front pocket.
At the top of the Pro Pack 24L is a beefy handle that’s centered and padded for a balanced carry. Less balanced are the side handles, which are biased towards the back, causing the pack to tilt when you’re using them. There is also get a handle at the bottom that doesn’t have padding, but that’s okay since you’ll mostly use it for pulling the pack out of tight spaces like overhead bins and trunks.
Water bottle pockets on each side use elastics along the top and a simple gusset for expansion. It’s notably less fancy than the zipper-and-elastic combo found in Aer’s other bags, though it achieves the same results. They hold bottles firmly while also folding flat when not in use. Unfortunately, there are no drainage holes, a feature that we’ve come to expect from bags of this caliber, meaning water can accumulate and soak if it gets in. While this highlights the bag’s more urban-focused design rather than being for outdoor adventures, it isn’t a deal-breaker.
The shoulder straps are thick and lined with dense foam padding. There’s a bit more stiffness around the upper portion, but generally speaking, you get a lot of cushioning throughout the straps. Underneath is a layer of mesh fabric to ensure air can circulate and heat dissipates.
The sternum strap on a rail system is easy to adjust. Being on rails means we can get really granular with the placement, too. Plus, unlike sternum straps that mount via clips and loops, it’s not as susceptible to accidentally falling off. We’ve had our fair share of bad experiences with those.
The buckle Aer chose to use is a magnetic one from Woojin. While Woojin makes reliable hardware, we’ve had reservations about magnetic fasteners because of the tiny bit of extra finickiness they tend to bring. The two halves hook together, so you have to push them in when you want to unbuckle. It’s a minute change over the pinch-to-release of simpler side-release buckles, but it’s noticeable. That said, we’ve learned to employ a similar pinch-to-release technique on the Pro Pack 24L’s magnetic buckle, making it less of an issue here versus other bags that use similar hardware. We suspect it’s the small size of the buckle that allows this.
Duraflex-branded adjusters handle the shoulder strap’s length adjustment. Much like the Woojin buckle and YKK zippers, Duraflex’s hardware is quite reliable, and we’ve no problems with the ones on the Pro Pack 24L. Of course, we have to mention the inclusion of strap keepers that help us keep the Pro Pack 24L looking prim and proper throughout testing. Some users like the strappy look of slack dangling around, but we’re glad there’s an option to tie them up if you don’t like that.
The back panel features a clean and simple design. There are no overly-fancy patterns and shapes here, just two large panels of foam padding layered with mesh and a central air channel. Embedded in said air channel is a luggage pass-through to sit the Pro Pack 24L horizontally on rolling luggage. You can also use it as a handle if you need to do so.
Aer generally nailed the basics of the harness system with a few caveats. The dense padding of the shoulder straps strikes a good balance between structure and cushioning. Meanwhile, the back panel rests the pack flat and close to the back while its mesh lets hot air escape, minimizing sweatiness (though that will still happen if the weather is warm enough). Dialing in the adjustment is relatively easy, thanks to Aer’s chosen hardware.
The Pro Pack 24L exhibits some sagging when fully loaded with heavy gear, which does affect carrying comfort to a limited extent. The balance tips slightly towards the back, so we make tighter adjustments to compensate. To be fair, you’d be hard-pressed to find similar-sized backpacks that perform with a similar load better or even just as well as the Pro Pack 24L. Where we encounter more pressing issues is in terms of size and fitment.
Those with smaller frames won’t have problems wearing the Pro Pack 24L’s shoulder straps. On the other hand, testing it on a larger frame shows their limits. With all the adjustments we mentioned earlier dialed in, the adjustment strap (that’s the non-padded area) already feels close to the chest. It only worsens when you wear several layers, so we wish the shoulder straps had longer padded sections.
Inside The Backpack
Okay, by this point in the review, you might (still) be wondering why Aer opted to forgo their signature front pocket. Don’t worry; it’s not just to clean up the aesthetic. Instead, they are trying a new concept. Up at the top of the Pro Pack 24L is what Aer’s calling a valet pocket. Think of it as a quick-grab pocket but roomier and with more organization.
Inside this valet pocket, you’ll find enough room for a pair of sunglasses, keys, and a wallet. There are two wide liner pockets in front of a long divider pocket, plus some extra free space. We like the idea mostly because of the extra organization it affords us versus it being just a plain dump pocket. It’s also much easier to access versus a front pocket when sitting in a cafe while you have the pack on the floor.
Our only gripe here is the liner used for the pockets feels lacking in substance. There’s little to no reinforcement like stretchy mesh or elastic. Instead, there’s only the folded-over fabric. From a quality standpoint, we’re worried that it can go loose and puff out over time. From an organizational perspective, the lack of elastic or mesh means gear can slip out relatively easily with enough jostling.
Fear not if the organization in the valet pocket feels less-than-ideal because there’s still the admin panel at the front. It’s a staple feature in many Aer backpacks, so we’re glad to see it make its way to the Pro Pack 24L, as well. Granted, it’s not the most spacious admin panel we’ve seen on an Aer backpack, but it’s still well-appointed and thoughtfully designed.
For starters, the open space is the perfect size for an Aer Slim Pouch in terms of width and horizontal depth. That’s the kind of seamless vertical integration we’d like to see from a brand with a diverse lineup. Organization-wise, you get a small mesh pocket on the left, followed by a pen pocket on its immediate right, which has a liner pocket directly behind it. A zippered pocket near the top lets you securely store loose gear like USB thumb drives and memory cards. There’s also a small stash pocket for a smart tracker, like an Apple AirTag or a Tile.
It’s not as hidden as the one on the Aer Travel Pack 3, but that’s understandable, given the difference in compartment layout. It’s worth noting that Aer uses stretchy mesh for this tiny pocket to ensure your smart tracker stays inside, and we wish there were more of this in the valet pocket.
Next up is the laptop compartment. Given how sensitive laptop ports are (and how much power those USB-C ports can squeeze through), Aer’s use of YKK’s AquaGuard zipper makes sense for the Pro Pack’s laptop compartment. Simply put, they’re very water-resistant zippers, and you can tell them apart from the other reverse-coil YKK zippers by the matte rubbery material flanking the track. Mind you, YKK AquaGuard zippers alone don’t make the laptop compartment waterproof; that’s like saying an airplane can be a submarine because rain doesn’t get in.
Inside, is a padded sleeve for your laptop that’s rated for up to a 16-inch device. A 16-inch MacBook Pro fits with some room to spare, although thicker 16-inch laptops may be a bit tighter. You can also put a tablet or documents in the pocket in front of the sleeve if you have one.
There’s free space for extra tech gear like a travel-sized keyboard or a very slim cooling pad. If you reach in, you can feel that the laptop sleeve is elevated from the Pro Pack 24L’s base, though not by much. We wish Aer would’ve given it an extra inch or so of elevation for better protection, especially given the pack’s overall size.
The main compartment zips all the way down the sides to reveal a bucket-shaped interior. A large liner pocket at the back works well to separate smaller pouches from larger ones. Plus, there’s a zippered pocket adjacent to the admin panel from this side for any extra gear you want to stash securely. The valet pocket occupies the upper area at the back, while the admin panel’s bulge occupies the upper front area. When opening the main compartment, pay careful attention to the admin panel because its heft can make the front cover drop down.
We like Aer’s compartment layout here since, in other backpacks, this top area is underutilized, as gear tends to settle around the bottom. Letting upper compartments occupy that space is more efficient, whether it’s a valet pocket or an admin panel. Of course, that also means less overall space in the main compartment for packing cubes and pouches. So you’ll have to choose: pack less in the valet pocket and admin panel to free up the upper area or simply pack less clothing—the choice is yours.
- Love the bucket opening—it’s got ample space perfect for weekend trips if you pack light
- Comfortable carry
- Valet pocket is an interesting concept—it’s like a quick access pocket on steroids. Curious to see how it packs
- New rubberized logo on the front provides a nice look
- Love the silhouette—very slick looking
- Comfortable fit, but when loaded up, the straps would benefit being a bit longer so the adjustment hardware isn’t near the chest—Tom is 6’2″, 200 lbs and the plastic duraflex hardware was almost at his chest
- Valet pocket is an interesting concept, and paired with the admin panel, allows some great usage of the depth of the top of the bag—though the liner pockets inside are messy-looking
- Our team is aligned on liking the new 840D recycled CORDURA® used on the outside of the pack
- Water bottle pockets are relatively average and don’t have drainage holes