I’m looking at the Bellroy Sling and having a seriously hard time choosing a color: cabernet, forest green, lunar are the top contenders. Help me!

I’m also desperately wanting to change up my wardrobe for new shorts, colorful/patterned shirts, ties.

I love to travel, and I love bags. So when I saw the Aer Travel Pack on Kickstarter, I really wanted to back it. I selected the $194 Early Bird Bundle, which included the bag and a Dopp kit (will retail for $260). Then stretch goal after stretch goal started unlocking: gray Dopp kit, gray bag, special edition Kickstarter-green zipper pulls, and a packing cube.

I chose gray over black for better visibility among a sea of black luggage, and for a little more style. (The green zipper pulls help, too.)

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Travel Pack Features

8 Compartments

The #1 thing that made me want this bag is that it combines the hands-free backpack form factor with a traditional lay-flat compartment for clothing. The bag is a total of 33L (measuring 21.5×13.5×8.5 inches), and I was easily able to fit:

  • 1 suit
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 1 polo
  • 1 dress shirt
  • 2 undershirts
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of slacks
  • 3 pairs underwear
  • pajamas
  • belt along with a couple ties and pocket squares (tucked into a zippered pocket)

The shoe compartment is a little strange because of the way it juts into the main compartment. It’s nice to have a built in shoe bag with easy access, but you have to pack around it somewhat (maximize space by stuffing your shoes with socks, etc.). The organizational compartment between the front and the main (lay-flat) compartment contains an 1) open pocket, 2) pocket with flap, 3) velcro pocket, 4) zippered pocket, and 5) mesh pocket will hold Field Notes, Kindle, iPad 9.7” (maybe a 12.9” Pro), pens, and miscellaneous small items. A quick access top pocket is perfect for small valuables like your passport. The laptop compartment is absolutely huge as it’s meant to accommodate 15.6” machines. There’s also a convenient expandable bottle holder. The bottom front pocket is perfect for storing chargers. There’s so much space in this bag that I didn’t even know what to do with the top front pocket.

Straps & Handles

The backpack straps (like the back) are padded and while there’s no sternum strap, there’s a waist strap to help with the load. The bag also offers a top strap and side strap (just behind the bottle holder) for when you prefer to hand-carry the bag. There are 2 compression straps per side, and they really only affect the main compartment; you retain full access to the organizer with them secured.

Construction

The bag is supported by an internal frame sheet. It’s really well built; I haven’t come across a single loose thread, and the 900D heather gray polyester seems extremely durable. I like the zipper pulls (but I’d say the black ones seem better built than the green ones).

Dopp Kit

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This Dopp kit has a side strap for a handle, and 3 compartments. One is a quick access side pocket. The other 2 have a few elastic straps and mesh pockets for organization. The outside has a strap that you can stick your toothbrush in if you so desire.

Does It Make a Good Daypack?

Probably not. This is a big bag, designed to be a carry-on. And it does that job exceedingly well. There’s tons of space, pockets, and compartments, but the bulk of the space is in the lay-flat compartment.

More Thoughts

Check out Ben Brooks’ thoughts. He has had more opportunity to put the bag through its paces and has a strong sense of what makes a good bag. I thought his point about the padding in the main compartment was interesting, all the more so because he didn’t suggest removing it in his “Modifications” section at the end.

All in all, I am so happy with this bag and really can’t wait to put it to good use.

I tried to write about the Côte&Ciel Isar Rucksack, which I got in medium last winter for $289. But several people out there were much more thorough—and positive.

It’s a good looking backpack and well-constructed. Personally, though, I became frustrated with it over the course of a 3 week overseas trip. The padded pocket did not hold my 13″ retina MacBook Pro snugly (it’s designed for up to 15″). The iPad pocket wasn’t ideal. Also, it’s not easy to keep the front compartment (“sharkfin”) organized. This is because you put everything in while it’s horizontal, but you carry it vertical. Things shift all over the place during use, and it becomes difficult to find things. Fully loaded, it barely fit under some airline seats.

Visconti Carter

When I returned home, I sold the Isar and replaced it with the Visconti Carter. It’s a small, affordable messenger bag constructed from buffalo leather. There are two outer pockets, the most useful being on the exterior flap. This pocket is great for storing thin items that are quickly needed, such as boarding passes (try as you might, airlines always find a way to stick you with paper in 2015). It has well placed pockets, and enough of them, without allowing you to put too much in it. I can easily include:

  • iPad Air
  • pocket Bible
  • magazines
  • pocket tissue, lens cleaner and cloth, small knife
  • 13″ retina MacBook Pro and charger OR Canon T1i with lens or two

Construction

The main issue in carrying the camera is a lack of padding. I don’t find this to be an issue as much with the MacBook Pro. If you know of a minimalistic camera sleeve that fits into messenger bags well, tell me on Twitter!)

I’ve only noticed one construction issue: the synthetic backing material on the strap was slightly frayed in a couple places. I used a little bit of fabric glue in those spots, and it’s good to go. However, the leather and other fabrics are very nice; it’s double-stitched, so it should be very durable. A solid win for this bag is that it supports itself (unlike my old Fossil messenger, which collapsed when set down).

Hardware

Much of the hardware is brass, which looks very nice. The zippers are very smooth, but almost every zipper-pull is different. The one on the outside flap is leather. The one on the back and on the tablet pocket is articulated brass. And the one on the small interior pocket is a standard pull. The miniature brass version of their marque is very classy.

Right now, this is my ideal everyday bag.