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Aer Tech Brief Review

The Aer Tech Brief’s partial frame sheet creates structure and improves main compartment access, highlighting the brand’s attention to detail.

Our Verdict

8.4 /10
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  • Easy to prop up since it has a relatively wide and flat base
  • Rests comfortably against you because the strap’s mounted at the back
  • Well-structured, but also flexible enough that it’s easy to open and pack


  • Lengthy shoulder pad limits how much you can shorten the strap
  • Carry handles feel stiff and uncomfortable for long-term carrying
  • Limited space in front compartment for gear outside of built-in organization

Technical Details

91 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 132/145 Airlines

25 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity


  • Weight (lb)

    2.6 lb (1.2 kg)

  • Dimensions

    16.5 in x 12.25 in x 6.25 in (41.9 x 31.1 x 15.9 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    CORDURA® Ballistic Nylon, Nylon, DWR Coating, Duraflex Hardware, YKK Zippers

  • Manufacturing Country


  • Laptop Compartment Size


  • Warranty Information

    Aer Lifetime Warranty

Full Review

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If you’re looking at the Tech Brief’s image below and getting a sense of deja vu, that’s perfectly understandable. You’ve probably seen, have, or read our review of the Commuter Brief 2, and this feels like an upsized version of that. That’s not to say Aer didn’t put in the effort to make this as functional as possible. In fact, we’ve found details that make us go, “Oh, that’s smart!”

Aer Tech Brief Back
Aer Tech Brief | A Commuter Brief 2, but bigger?

However, with the good stuff also comes the bad. Spoiler alert: those stiff-looking carry handles are as hard as they look. It’s a bit of an oversight, considering this 16-liter brief is roomy enough to double as a—hefty—overnight bag. The good news is that’s the most glaring flaw in an otherwise excellent brief. The bad news? Well, we won’t spoil anything just yet—you’ll have to read the rest of the review to find out.

External Components

Aer’s not messing too much with their proven formula for the Tech Brief. Say hello to 1680-denier CORDURA® ballistic nylon, which covers most of the brief’s sides. This fabric’s thick appearance and texture are good for abrasion resistance and general toughness. That said, the 1680D fabric takes a back seat because it’s an 840-denier nylon fabric that makes up the entire front. Coated with a, presumably, TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) coating, it’s very water resistant. It also makes the bag look very slick, though we’re partly worried since the polyurethane coating of the Commuter Brief 2 did get scuffed relatively easily. That hasn’t happened with the Tech Brief yet! (Or at least, not at the time of writing, anyway).

Aer Tech Brief Brand
Aer Tech Brief | Aer’s choices of fabrics are on-point, as always.

In terms of more weather-proofing, the front compartment’s zippers are reverse coil, while the main compartment’s zippers are of the AquaGuard variety. The accompanying zipper pulls are plastic ones tied to the zipper with simple cords. These aren’t your noisy and jangly Aer zipper pulls of old, to say the least. In fact, the Tech Brief is a good example of the cumulative improvements Aer has steadily been iterating on their gear. Matching internal organization layouts, better liner fabric, and even the inclusion of a pocket specifically for an AirTag—all of these are small changes on their own but are significant if taken as a whole.

The Tech Brief’s upsizing makes us appreciate its overall shape, and we’re particularly keen about its flat base. It makes it easy to set the bag down wherever we want and be confident it won’t roll or fall down like slim briefs and messengers often do. Honestly, the Tech Brief feels more like a duffle in this regard, and we’re confident you’ll agree once you see how we pack it. For now, let’s move on to our biggest complaint.

Aer Tech Brief Zipper
Aer Tech Brief | YKK zippers are a top-notch choice as well.

The top handles stand on their own, regardless of whether or not you wrap them with the snap-fastened strap. This gives you an idea of their stiffness, and they certainly feel that way. To be fair, these are perfectly fine if you just need to move the Tech Brief across a room, for example, or whenever you need to pull it out of car trunks or storage bins. However, for long-term carrying, their rigidity just feels too harsh for us. It’s a bit of a shame for those who would want to use the Tech Brief sans the main shoulder strap.

Aer Tech Brief Handle Lock
Aer Tech Brief | These handles feel too stiff to be comfortable for long-term carrying.

The harness system is simply a removable shoulder strap that attaches to two D-rings along the top of the back panel. The strap features a lengthy shoulder pad you can shift along the strap, albeit limitedly since there are adjusters in the way. Conversely, this also limits how much you can shorten the strap since the adjusters stop where they feed into the shoulder pad. All of that said, the mere fact that you can shift the shoulder pad is an improvement over the Commuter Brief 2’s static one.

Aer Tech Brief Strap Pad
Aer Tech Brief | You can shift the padding, though not by much.

The shoulder pad itself is thick with mesh material underneath for breathability and a small Aer logo on a Hypalon-like tab. The padding doesn’t feel too stiff or pliant; it’s just right for a 16-liter bag like this one.

Aer Tech Brief Pocket Close
Aer Tech Brief | The luggage pass-through is a handy inclusion.

Lastly, the Tech Brief also features a luggage pass-through at the back, making it easy to pair the Tech Brief with roller luggage without having to handle two bags separately. Simply slot the Tech Brief on your roller luggage’s handle and you can pull both along while you navigate the airport, for example.

Fit Notes

Aer Tech Brief Side By Side
Left: Eric Hergenreder, Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), Torso: 18.5” (47 cm) | Right: Lauren Maternowski, Height: 5’6” (168 cm), Torso: 16.5” (42 cm)

It’s easy to get hyper-focused on the strap and how much padding there is when talking about how comfortable it is to carry a bag. On the other hand, the Tech Brief is a good example of how strap placement is just as important. More specifically, since this strap mounts directly along the edge of the Tech Brief’s back panel, it rests more easily on the body, whether it’s at your side or back.

Aer Tech Brief Strap
Aer Tech Brief | This bag rests easy against the body thanks to the strap being mounted at the back.

Oftentimes, briefs, messengers, and duffles have their straps anchored more centrally, typically on each end of the bag. That kind of setup works fine, but it can also make the bag sit at an awkward angle and wobble against you when you walk. A case in point is the Timbuk2 Wingman Travel Backpack Duffel, though that is an extreme example since it’s quite big at 38.3 liters. Of course, having the strap mounted on one side means the Tech Brief can only be worn with the 840-denier fabric-covered side facing out (i.e., it’s a non-symmetrical design), but we think the resulting comfort makes it a worthwhile tradeoff.

Inside The Brief

On the Tech Brief’s back panel is a small zippered pocket. It’s relatively hidden, given that it’s butting up against you most of the time you’re carrying the bag. With that in mind, it’s an ideal spot to store important items like a passport, cash, transit cards, and other valuables. Just keep in mind that this pocket rests directly against you, so we’d avoid putting anything pokey or irregularly shaped inside.

Aer Tech Brief Admin Pocket
Aer Tech Brief | The color-matched zipper pull is a nice touch.

Directly behind that zippered pocket is a drop-in sleeve pocket. It doesn’t have a ton of horizontal space, so it’s mostly suitable for long, wide, but thin items like a tablet or documents. It’s also a great spot to store the shoulder strap if you want to go handles-only carry. Regardless of what you put inside, keep in mind that there’s no closure or seal of any kind, so rain and dirt can get in, and your items can fall out.

The front compartment features the bulk of the Tech Brief’s organization. There are two stretchy liner pockets, plus another one that has a pen slot next to it. There’s also a pocket whose zipper is a self-locking type. Simply fold the metal pull flat, and the zipper will stay wherever along the track you’ve placed it on. Why would you want to do this? Well, there’s a key leash inside the pocket, and you might want to leave it hanging outside without worrying about the zipper grinding the leash. There’s also a document sleeve at the very back. It has some padding for protection, so you can put a large tablet here, like an iPad Pro.

Aer Tech Brief Laptop
Aer Tech Brief | Notably missing is the internal water bottle pocket present in the Commuter Brief 2.

In terms of space, the front compartment benefits from the front of the Tech Brief having gussets on its corners. This will allow you to fit bulky items, like a pouch or an organizer, in the pockets. If you want to put anything in the open space, it’ll be very compressible items like a pair of gloves or a buff, or else the front panel can start to look lumpy from the outside. That’s more of an aesthetic issue but one worth mentioning nonetheless.

The main compartment also has its fair share of pockets for organizing gear. A laptop sleeve at the back can fit up to a 16-inch laptop. It features thick padding, front and back, plus an adjacent document sleeve in case the one in the front compartment isn’t sufficient for your needs.

Aer Tech Brief Structure Pad
Aer Tech Brief | This partial frame sheet is a clever design choice.

Notably missing is the internal water bottle pocket from the Commuter Brief 2. Your water bottle will have to free-stand if you put it in the main compartment, or you’ll have to carry one by hand. Meanwhile, the front side has an AirTag pocket, plus zippered access to the Tech Brief’s lower frame sheet.

Yep, you heard that right: lower frame sheet. It only covers the main compartment’s lower front-side area. This limit accomplishes two things: First, the frame sheet prevents bulky items from poking out irregularly and awkwardly into the front compartment, and it generally keeps the bag’s shape composed and consistent. Secondly, a partial frame sheet like this preserves flexibility in other areas—in this case, the Tech Brief’s upper area.

See, once you unzip the main compartment, the front side folds out to give you a wide opening. The zipper track’s path makes it so that the back side doesn’t have to lean in; it’s all the front side that the zipper gradually pulls in as you zip along. All this is to say that Aer definitely intentionally designed the partial frame sheet and main compartment opening this way—it’s well thought out.

Aer Tech Brief Stuffed
Aer Tech Brief | It’s easy to pack since the main compartment is also easy to open.

Space-wise, the Tech Brief feels very roomy, even roomier than we expected from a three-liter upgrade from the Commuter Brief 2. We can fit a few packing cubes—plus a water bottle—which amounts to a weekend’s worth of clothing.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Digging that it stands upright on its own
  • Carry handles are structured but seem like they may get in the way
  • Surprisingly roomy main compartment
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Still in great shape, which we expected
  • Shoulder strap is super comfortable, though it’s tedious to adjust on the go
  • Pretty decent storage space in both compartments, so you can take advantage of the full 16L capacity
By Lauren Maternowski
Created March 11, 2024 • Updated March 13, 2024
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