Aer Pro Pack Slim Review
The Aer Pro Pack Slim is a decent daily driver with a comfortable harness system, though we wish it were easier to access the bottom of the bag.
- Water beads easily off exterior
- Shoulder strap padding comfortable and breathable
- Slender silhouette fits in tight spaces like airplane seats
- Wide bottles won’t fit in side pocket
- Front pocket interferes with bottom space of main compartment
- Can be hard to undo magnetic sternum strap
1.9 lb (0.9 kg)
17 in x 12 in x 4 in (43.2 x 30.5 x 10.2 cm)
CORDURA®, Recycled Nylon, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware, Woojin Hardware, Paracord
Laptop Compartment Size
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Hi, we are Pack Hacker, and we really like Aer.
They say the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem, right? Although is it a problem when a brand consistently produces sleek, well-thought-out products that we’re happy to take from here to there to anywhere? Scroll through our reviews of Aer products, and you’ll find consistently high marks for efficient design, comfortable harness systems, and more. There are even a few Pack Hacker Picks scattered throughout.
However, this is the Pro Collection—Aer’s first line of sustainable everyday bags. We dig eco-friendliness and sustainability; heck, we have an entire Earth Friendly Packing List dedicated to it! So what do we think of the new design and recycled fabrics? Keep scrolling to find out!
We’ll start with the looks and sustainability of the Aer Pro Pack Slim.
The exterior fabric is a lightweight 840D CORDURA® re/cor™ recycled nylon fabric that is bluesign® approved and water-resistant. It looks and feels smooth and keeps your gear dry in the pouring rain as you dash to your car or the bus. Indeed, the water rolls right off like a windshield coated with Rain-X, which is pretty darn awesome.
While it offers weather resistance similar to other fabrics like X-Pac, it’s not super crunchy nor looks like a shiny raincoat. It definitely has a sheen, though it’s subtle.
However, the YKK zippers on this pack are not water-resistant, so the weather protection will only go so far. We had no issues in short periods of dampness, but we can’t guarantee that water won’t seep inside if you leave it out in a prolonged storm with driving rain. So, you know, this isn’t the bag you’re buying for your absentminded young nephew who will forget his pack outside—nor is it designed to be a primary school bag.
The zippers work great, though, and include newly-designed pentagonal-shaped plastic pulls attached with a cord to the standard metal zipper pulls. They’re easy to grab, though still a little jangly because the metal is still there to make a wonderful noise with its friend.
Atop the front of the bag is a color-on-color, rubbery Aer brand name. It’s small, subtle, and blends well with the rest of the bag’s aesthetics. The Pro Collection comes in Black, Olive, or Navy, and the logo color matches that of the material, though the zippers and carry handle are all black.
Speaking of which, the carry handle is a satiny padded webbing strap that you can hold for quite some time without worrying about it digging into your hand. There’s also a luggage pass-through strap running vertically through the center of the back panel if you want to take your Pro Pack Slim on the handle of your rolling luggage through the airport.
As for the harness system, it is more than capable for a bag of this size. There’s not space to put much weight in 12.5L, so unless you’re carrying a load of bricks, this will be enough. And even with a few bricks inside, you’ll probably be fine! Not that we’re recommending that for a bag this nice…
Both the shoulder straps and the back panel feature dense padding that’s not too stiff, topped with diamond-patterned spacer mesh for breathability. There’s an air channel running between the two vertical panels of padding on the back panel—that’s where the luggage strap resides, by the way—and the shoulder straps align with the center edges of the panels. That gives this bag a very narrow fit, and broader users may find it too slim.
The shoulder straps adjust with Duraflex slides, and there’s also a sternum strap on a sliding rail so you can find the perfect height. It attaches with a Woojin magnetic buckle, which we like on other bags, yet it seems to stick more on this pack. Combine that with the fact that the buckle attaches toward the left side, and it takes a little getting used to for you to get in and out of it with ease. A small issue, to be sure, yet it can be frustrating.
The sternum and shoulder straps feature built-in elastic keepers, so you can minimize the extra material flopping around, which we dig. And, before we move on, there is one teeny-tiny black Hypalon tab on the left strap with the Aer brand name printed in white, a style we’ve seen on other Aer bags.
There’s one thing you have to admit about Aer. Like a skater perfecting awe-inspiring tricks on the half-pipe or the entire city of Paris, they’ve got style. So yes, we like the look of the Aer Pro Pack Slim. If we have one nitpick, it’s difficult to fill out the base of the main compartment, and the bag often sports a caved-in look at the bottom. However, if you manage to pack it right, the darts keep it looking trim and slim, so you don’t feel like a tortoise with a protruding shell, especially in the Olive colorway.
Additionally, it’s pretty comfortable when you find the right fit. Adjusting the straps can be a little tricky, as we mentioned above, and we kind of wish the sternum straps were removable because they don’t seem quite necessary on a 12.5L bag. They’re also not the most user-friendly (or some of our team members the most dexterous, which is also true). However, if you need to carry heavier gear and get the harness system dialed in correctly, it does make the pack very comfortable to carry by one strap or two.
Inside The Pack
Before we dive inside, let’s stop on the left, where there is one narrow travel water bottle pocket. A sturdy piece of elastic holds it tightly to the side of the pack, and it expands to accommodate the width of a standard bottle thanks to a fabric gusset. It can be tricky to slide a bottle inside, depending on what’s inside the main compartment. On the other hand, the pocket holds on quite snuggly, so you don’t have to worry that your favorite bottle will slip out on you accidentally. You win some, you lose some, you know?
Now onto the front pocket, which takes up the top half of the bag. Inside, a light gray recycled nylon makes it easy to see your gear, which is great. Against the back is a sizable zippered pocket for tiny travel accessories like your travel wallet, lip balm, and keys, which attach to a leash with a gatekeeper clip. It’s not long enough to reach a door with the bag still on your back, yet it’s a great spot to stash the key to your gym locker, your office key fob, or other keys you don’t want to lose but don’t need multiple times per day.
Also centered in this pocket is a small stretchy pocket for a smart tracker. It’s a nice inclusion, though it’s not as hidden as we’d always prefer. If someone were looking for your tracker, a zipper pocket in the front compartment is probably the first place they’d check. However, it will help you to remember where it is.
In front of the zipper pocket is a large divider sleeve for bulkier gear like wall chargers or battery banks, and in front of that divider are three more pockets: a slip pocket that’s a good size for your mouse, a pen slot, and a stretchier mesh pocket that we use for our AirPods, although it’s large enough for a minimalist wallet.
There’s extra space inside this pocket for a snack or glasses, as well, though how much it can hold can be deceiving; we can’t always zip it back up if every area is fully packed.
Now to the main compartment, which has some highs and lows.
It opens with a dual-sided zipper shaped like an upside-down J, with the shorter side stopping at the bottle pocket and the longer side, on the right, extending another couple of inches. The off-set opening aims to provide greater access to the main compartment, but, in reality, it can be annoying. Along with needing to remember which side opens further, if you leave the zipper pulls on the side near the bottle pocket and then slide a bottle inside, it makes it extremely difficult to grab them to open the bag since your bottle is held so tightly to the side of the pack. Plus, the right side doesn’t really open far enough to give you access to the problematic bottom of the bag.
Before we go any further, let’s address that, shall we?
Check out the front of the bag, and you’ll find two stitched darts angling toward the center of the bag. They end at the bottom of the front compartment, which is very obvious because that part protrudes while the area below it does not. Unfortunately, the front pocket protrudes similarly into the main compartment, so it’s hard to wedge gear below that line. When you add the fact that the bottom of the dart is where the zipper ends, you’ll see why it’s so difficult to wedge anything below that line. The depth at the bottom of the bag isn’t even enough to allow an Aer Split Kit to lie flat, and it’s not that wide. So while it can be nice to have a slim bag like this to take throughout the day or on a trip, in reality, you may be giving up more than you gain with its slender frame.
Now back to what we do like: a 16-inch laptop sleeve along the back panel, which has a false bottom to protect your device, nice padding on the front and back to cushion it, and soft black microfiber fabric along the back to prevent any scratches.
A pocket in front of it is loosely topped with elastic so you can slide in documents, dongles, or any gear you don’t want to wedge into the bottom or go digging for once you have.
And that’s it! You have space for a packable travel jacket, a tech pouch or toiletry kit, and maybe a book or an e-reader in the remaining area, and then this puppy is packed full. If you commute to an office daily and aren’t trying to carry your entire tech setup, or if you want to stash some entertainment and essentials inside to take on the plane, we think it will serve you well. If you need to carry more, you’ll probably want to check out the larger bags in the rest of the Pro Collection.
- Love the Olive colorway and the color-on-color brand name on the front
- Appreciate the built-in strap keepers
- Looking forward to carrying the slim design
- Magnetic buckle takes practice to use properly
- Plenty of room in front pocket
- Darts enhance slim design