AER Travel Pack 2
Jeff Li/IBTimes
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Best business backpack
Just as the best camera is the one that's with you, the best gadget while traveling is the one most accessible to you, and the backpack you carry is then the crucial tool that provides that accessibility. But not all backpacks are created equal, and the AER Travel Pack 2 stands out in its own way with well thought-out features across the whole backpack, aiming to provide the best accessibility and protection to the gadgets within.

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Semi-formal Backpack

For a business traveler, the hardest choice to make is between travelling in style, and travelling in convenience. This is especially true when it comes to choosing your personal bag, where backpacks are the most comfortable to carry while rushing for your next flight, but not looking as sleek and professional like a messenger bag or suitcase.

The AER Travel Pack tries to eliminate that dilemma by providing a simple, clean, all black design that looks serious enough to pass for semi-formal. With almost no branding (except for a small tab on the side that says 'AER'), this is a backpack that can easily blend with more professional attires comfortably.

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Elegant yet Rugged

With visuals that match your shirt and slacks, the AER Travel Pack's toughness is a closer match to your cargo and Gore-Tex Jacket. What caught my eyes first were the extra large and robust YKK zips - all finished in gun metal black that seems both utilitarian and graceful.

The bag is mainly constructed of a jet black, woven, semi-glossy fabric called Cordura that is known for being more abrasion resistant than ballistic nylon. It is reputed to be a material originally developed for body armor, and its professional appearance works well with the overall minimalistic look.

I was initially worried about wear and tear on the base of the backpack that often comes in contact with the floor. Classic designs normally cover the base with a tougher material (for example JanSport's iconic leather base). But after some research, I found that Cordura IS the tough material that other manufacturers use as a tougher base material - talk about a vote of confidence!

All the straps on the Travel Pack are made with flat webbing - similar to what seatbelts are made of. One of my personal favorite details is the side grab handle that is fully made from this flat webbing that looks polished yet exudes strength and reliability.

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Day Bag or Carryon Luggage

On the sides of the AER Travel Pack 2 are four compression straps that keep all the contents nicely bundled together when the pack is filled up, but I found that it had a secondary function that doubles the usability of this backpack. Once the straps are fully tightened, they completely collapse the largest compartment, and turn it from a carryon luggage where you need to bring a decent amount of supplies for a short trip, to a day bag for the office where you only need your laptop, daily array of gadgets and documents.

This duo-usability is possible because of the clever design in sandwiching the main luggage space between the gadget organizer layer and the laptop pocket. This means your gadgets and laptop are always on the easily accessible outer layers, with or without using the large cavity in the middle for long trips.

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A luggage pass-through strap is cleverly hidden between the shoulder straps. It would normally be invisible, but when needed, you can attach the backpack sideways on top of your rolling luggage sliding the strap over the telescopic handle. It's a very simple, yet elegant implementation that makes the AER Travel Pack 2 a legitimate carryon when it needs to be.

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Laptop Suspended in Safety

After using this backpack for a while, packing and unpacking my laptop and gadgets, I noticed a very simple design implementation that adds almost no additional manufacturing cost but adds an essential layer of protection to the laptop in the bag.

A few years ago when my backpack accidentally slid off my shoulder while getting off the car, I learned the hard way that though normally laptop pockets offer padding on the front and back, the padding on the bottom is insufficient to protect the laptop from a 4 feet drop. What I ended up with was a dented laptop that constantly reminded me to add a layer of cumbersome but obligatory hard sleeve inside my backpack.

The AER Travel Pack 2 solution to this is laughably simple, yet is guaranteed to be effective: The laptop pocket does not reach the bottom of the bag, but instead the pocket is stitched shut roughly 3 inches before it reaches the bottom of the bag, effectively suspending the laptop half way in the pocket. This works for this backpack because of its relatively long shape, but kudos to the person who made the bag drop proof by simply a few additional stitches. The same 'suspension system' also extends to the gadget organizer layer, giving you a peace of mind for other gadgets too.

Who is the AER Travel Pack 2 for?

This is a backpack for those who are after an understated design that doesn't look out of place for a business meeting, yet has enough capacity to lug around across time zones on extended trips. The AER Travel Pack 2 is a solid choice for anyone who prefers owning one backpack that does it all rather than owning multiple specialized bags.

For more information, check out AER backpacks on

David is a tech enthusiast/writer who is often on the move and is on a mission to explore ways to make his overhaul flights more enjoyable. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Business Travellers.