When I used to commute to work, I would frequently take my work laptop in a backpack and another bag of clothes for the gym. The AER Duffel Pack tries to solve this problem by combining a gym duffel and a laptop backpack. It will not work, though unless you are lucky enough to have a 15″ MacBook or smaller.
When I commuted, I always had at least 2 bags with me. One for the tech and another for gym clothes and lunch. The design of the AER Duffel Pack is such that you could at least combine your gym gear and your work gear in the same bag without losing the convenience of the standard gym duffel. Let’s take a look at this interesting bag.
• 1680D ballistic nylon exterior
• Front-load main compartment for spacious storage and easy access
• Ventilated shoe compartment (fits up to men’s size 13 shoes)
• Padded laptop pocket (fits up to MacBook Pro 15″)
• Padded tablet pocket
• Dual quick-access side pockets for small accessories
• Adjustable sternum strap for comfort and stability
• Padded side and top handles
• Padded mesh back panel for enhanced comfort and breathability
• YKK zippers and Duraflex plastic hardware
Length: 22″ (56 cm)
Width: 12″ (30 cm)
Depth: 7″ (18 cm)
Volume: 24 L
Weight: 2 lbs
The AER Duffel Pack’s 1680D ballistic nylon is solid. It feels well made and can take the day to day beating a bag for commuters should take. I liked the styling of it very much as well. The areas for the gym gear make sense. It has a separate pocket for your gym shoes and will easily fit your workout gear inside unless you also include a yoga mat. However where it fails for me is where the tech parts come in.
My work laptop is a Lenovo w540. This is a laptop with a 15″ screen, and while it is a bit heavy, it’s not too bad to carry in the airport. While not everyone has a laptop with a big beefy Core i7 like I have, most everyone does have a laptop that fits the general dimensions of this laptop. Even if I stepped down a model in my companies lineup, it would be a struggle to fit in this bag. It says it’s designed to hold up to a 15″ MacBook Pro. The problem is that this is now thinner than most standard corporate laptops unless you are lucky enough to get your company to foot the bill for the MacBook Pro. My Lenovo does fit, but it won’t fit inside the padded compartment. That’s unfortunate, as it does limit who this bag is for. Most consultants I know would not be able to use this bag, as they are using Windows or Linux machines mostly because that’s what our clients use, and it also promises the most compatibility with our client systems. You could go with a 13″ laptop, and that should fit nicely in here, but many systems type people like myself want that extra 2 inches. We use it. Heavily. So the AER Duffel Pack won’t work for my daily driver. I’ll stick with my Swissgear Scansmart backpack, which fits even my humongous 17″ personal laptop.
With that said, this bag will fit even the largest iPad Pro and other mobile tech as well, so if you don’t have a laptop but you take your iPad with you on a daily basis, this would be the perfect go-to work bag for you. I like that you can hold it multiple ways with the handles on almost every side of it in addition to the backpack straps. It is comfortable to wear when loaded down, and I appreciate the sternum strap as it helps keep the bag on your back. Also, even though the bag is well made, it’s not heavy with it only weighing a couple pounds. So not only would this work well as an everyday laptop bag, it will also work well when you are traveling although you will have to remove any laptops as the bag is not checkpoint friendly.
This is a good bag, and if I had a MacBook Pro or smaller laptop I’d use it every day. It seems kind of pricey at $150, but a good bag like this is worth that. You can get the AER Duffel Pack direct from AER for $150.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Solid construction. It will take a beating.
What Needs Improvement: Laptop compartment too small for most corporate laptops.