Because fitting in a workout on top of a work day (or day at University in my case) is already hard enough, the last thing I want to do is lug around an additional pack just for the gym. Recognizing this sentiment, San Francisco based Aer set out to address it. The result of their design and a successful Kickstarter campaign is the Aer Duffle Pack.
I start my day sipping espresso like it’s my job. In between sips, the two identical vertical pockets flanking the main compartments of the Aer Duffel Pack produce for me an assortment of notebooks and pens. Working through the espresso while frantically scribbling the days agenda into the rapidly filling pages I happen to glance at my watch. Already 10 minutes late for class. Sounds about right. Slinging the bag over my shoulders, I jump onto my bike. Weaving through traffic the slim profile of this pack is very noticeable. As I dodge the occasional aggressive car mirror, I appreciate how it wears down your back as opposed to bulging out into a more horizontal profile.
Following class, it’s off to the library to try and make sense of this particularly bewildering lecture. Settling into the stark silence, I unzip the rear pocket. The Aer Duffel Pack has been designed to hold a 15’’ laptop and tablet in individual padded sleeves. The odd book and magazine are equally as comfortably accommodated for. Aside from the odd smell emanating from my gym clothes, there’s nothing about this pack that gives away its alter ego as a gym bag. If only superheroes were as discrete.
With my mind suitably spinning after a few hours in the library, it seems like a good time to workout some other muscle than my brain. Strolling across campus en route to the gym the padding generously garnished on the back and shoulder straps of the Aer Duffle Pack makes the homework I’m hauling seem less burdensome, at least physically. Further helping my case is the R&D that went into the weight distribution. Your carry stays up, as opposed to slowly migrating into an incongruous mass at the bottom of your bag over the course of the day. No lumpy bag syndrome here.
At the gym the previously hidden second life of this bag finally gets a chance to shine. Much like Clark Kent tears open his suit and tie to reveal the S, the main zipper on the Aer Duffel Pack resolutely opens, tossing aside its pretense as a 9-5 backpack, to reveal everything I need to fight the injustice of my waistline. OK, maybe not quite as dramatic as Clark Kent so I’ll leave the Superman comparison here. Sewn into the underside of the pack is a separate compartment for a pair of kicks, complete with two ventilation holes. A water resistant interior lines both areas to keep sweaty clothes away from electronics. I gladly toss aside the separate plastic bag of wet garb I usually carry back from the gym. Can’t be taking that to dinner.
Rolling up to the restaurant having donned a slightly sharper attire than earlier in the day the Aer Duffel Pack dresses up as well. Not wanting to appear as if I’ve just rolled up from class, it feels more appropriate to carry this pack at my side than on my back. No worries as the velcro strap keeps your electronics in place and the sufficiently narrow pockets keep the pack functioning equally as well in a horizontal configuration as a vertical one. Visually the black sleekness of the pack with its understated zippers and tight profile keeps it looking on point.
The Aer Duffel Pack resolves the inconvience of carrying multiple bags to accomodate the workday and the gym. The well thought-out pocketing, efficient use of space, and subdued ballistic nylon exterior that grace this bag keep it sleek and comfortable regardless of it’s on a gym or office floor.
The Not So Good
Over a couple months rolling with this pack on a daily basis (if only my workouts were that regular), it’s clear that this bag is not a bottomless pit. It’s designed to be slim with a fairly well defined load. This pack will not play nicely if you try to overload it.
Who it’s for
The Aer Duffel Pack is ideal for anyone who needs a mobile office and a reason to warrant a change of clothes, shoes, and a shower along the way. Bike commuters, weekenders, and gym rats I’m looking at you.
Who it’s not for
If you like to haul everything and the kitchen sink, look elsewhere. And if your shoes are commonly mistaken for skis, US mens size 13 (European 47) to be precise, well good luck.
Top to bottom the Aer Duffel Pack is an exceptionally well designed and executed pack. With a volume of 24L and a price of $149 it’s relevant for anyone looking for a functional gym bag that plays nicely with your electronics. So while finding time to work out may not be easy, the Aer Duffel Pack resoundingly throws the excuse of I don’t want to carry two bags with me decisively out the window with its superb functional design and aesthetic. Highly recommended.