AER Tech Pack 3 backpack review – it’s made for the road warriors!

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REVIEW – Road warriors: your backpack is here! I’m testing AER’s Tech Pack 3 from the 2024 Tech Collection. As the name implies, this is third generation of this particular bag. It’s designed to manage all your technology and tech accessories without the need for extra pouches or organizers. Let’s take it on the road. To the review!

What is it?

It’s a 16 Liter backpack with spaces & places to store your laptop, your tablet, your notebooks, mice, and all the accessories.

Tech specs

Click to expand

1680D Cordura exterior
840D nylon weather-resistant font face
YKK zippers
Duraflex hardware
Recycled nylon interior
18″ tall by 12.25″ wide by 7″ deep
16 liter total capacity
3.2 pounds

 

Design and features

This is the second item I am testing from AER’s 2024 Tech Collection, which focuses on optimizing tech-heavy carry for creatives and professionals. The whole family includes an accessory bag, a sling, a brief, two different backpacks, and two different material options (Cordura and X-Pac). The Tech Pack 3 is the biggest bag in the lineup.

As with the other members of the The AER Tech Collection family, the Tech Pack 3 presents with simple, efficient shapes from every angle. The exaggerated rounded corners & those pronounced corner pleats on the face are one of the signature design features of all the bags in the lineup. Tech Pack 3 uses a shiny fabric on that front panel to break up the black-on-black-on-black look a bit.

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The pack design, like the rest of the Tech Collection, presents with purpose and efficiency in the design. Every element from the handles to the bottle pocket is cleanly finished without frills or decorative elements. It’s a bag that goes with any style.

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This particular bag uses a flat bottom and a slightly wedge-shaped profile to provide an extra bonus: it stands on it’s own when you put it down, even when fully packed out.

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The AER Tech Pack 3 leverages a multi-point carry system to optimize portability. The low profile, narrow shoulder straps use sturdy padding coupled with some rigid fabric reinforcement at key points to provide a secure, comfortable fit.

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The lack of the straps and the rear face of the bag are lined with a soft-touch breathable fabric that gives a little bit of friction to reduce the bag’s sliding around on your back.

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You’ll see all sorts of nice design details throughout the build, including the straps and buckles. Every adjustment strap has a band of elastic to manage the extra length of fabric. The sternum strap uses a uses quick-release magnetic closure and sits on a fabric rail so that you can slide it up & down to adjust the positioning on your chest.

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Blink and you’ll miss the luggage pass-through strap that’s built vertically into the back panel. Those reinforced anchor points you see are another example of the premium-quality build we’re dealing with here.

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This bag has three padded grab handles: one on the top, and one on each side of the bag. The side handles allow for briefcase-style carry.

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The handle on the right side of the bag is positioned behind & above the water bottle pocket so you can still grab it, even with a water bottle in place.

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The water bottle pocket itself favors taller, narrower bottles like my 18 ounce Yeti you’ll see in some of the later pictures. You could also stash a compact umbrella in there. No matter how you use it, you’ll find that it tucks tight against the bag when not in use.

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Now we get into the pockets and spaces, starting with a surprisingly large (8″ by 5″) and well-padded top pocket for sunglasses, phones, and quick grab items.

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The front panel opens all the way down to the bottom of the bag, peeling away to give you full access to your technology admin panel. This space is designed to replace the need for an additional tech pouch for accessories. Two bottom squared drop pockets are made for power bricks and largish items, with three additional drop pockets set above them on the panel. You also get a 6″ by 10″ zipped pocket with a key leash, backed by a 9″ by 10″ drop pocket which would be ideal for notebooks or a small tablet.

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That back pocket is that it is shallow so that you can stuff your thicker items (like those power bricks) in the lower pockets. You can also see from this angle that there is a gap between the pockets and the front panel at the bottom of the bag, allowing you to stash other items here (like a light jacket) if you have to and leverage that pleated front face for extra room.

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The main compartment uses an unusual design. The zipper on the right (the bottle pocket side) comes down about 3/4 of the height of the bag, while the zipper on the left travels all the way down to the bottom. This is because that externally-accessed top pocket takes up a lot of compartment space, so you can fully open the bag from the left-hand side to get into that lower open area. There’s also a drop pocket on the rear face of this space that would work for notebooks, folders, etc.

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If you really look closely, you’ll find a very tight little zippered pocket tucked up in that space at the bottom of the main compartment. It’s tough to get to and VERY tight, so it’s best for cables you may need in a pinch.

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Finally, we get to the dedicated laptop/tablet space. This area is accessible from a top zip, and has a dedicated laptop suspended sleeve as well as a 12″ drop pocket for a tablet or documents. There’s a space in between the two where you could shove a notebook.

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As I mentioned in my review of the Cable Kit 3, this my first experience with the AER products and the build is excellent. The Cordura is rugged but has a softer, more pliant feel than many Corudra products I’ve worked with. Hardware is excellent throughout with YKK zippers, rubberized pull tabs, and sturdy plastics. The finishing work and detail is excellent throughout. It feels like a bag that is going to last a long time and keep its good looks along the way.

Performance

The AER Tech Pack 3 backpack checks just about every box on my list of “must haves” in a bag designed for traveling with your electronics and office gear. It’s got a dedicated and well-protected laptop/tablet area, a generous admin/organizer section, a separate water bottle pocket, a big quick-access area… all the good things. You’ve even got spaces for safely transporting folders/documents. And it does this:

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The standup feature is something you really appreciate if you’re moving around offices, coffee shops, airports, and hotel rooms. You can also see in the pic above how it expands outword and maintains it’s stable footing as you pack it!

The carry system is excellent. I hauled this sucker through a number of airports on vacation and quick train trip from Philly to NYC in addition to the office commutes. The shoulder straps hug the body nicely and keep the bag close. The adjustable sternum strap is excellent, especially as you move from wearing heavy coats to polo shirts when the weather gets warmer. I am not a small man, and I found it easy to get a comfortable fit with this bag.

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It’s surprisingly compact as well. The total volume on the bag is 16 liters. While the bag is pretty deep at 7″, it rides right to your back when you’re hauling through public spaces. I’m 5’10” and 220 lbs for reference.

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I like the pleated “pillow top” design of the back panel. It gives the bag a bit of understated personality.

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The addition of the three handles is outstanding. I’ve tossed this bag into overhead bins on airplanes, luggage racks on trains, and the back seat of cabs. All three handles are comfortable and functional.

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One clever bit about those side handles: see how they are positioned closer to the base of the bag? I don’t know if that is intentional, but it does balance the weight nicely since the heavier stuff tends to be at the base.

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There is one area that’s a challenge, however, and that is the main compartment. If you open it from the top, you’re presented with this tight entry point that you have to squeeze your hand past to get to your stuff.

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That’s all because that external pocket takes up all of that top space in the chamber. You could get to your notebook or tablet in that drop pocket on the back panel, but beyond that the only usable space is at the bottom of the chamber.

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This isn’t an issue if you don’t have anything in that top external pocket, but I don’t imagine that will be the case for most people since that is your only external access point for sunglasses and quick-grab stuff.

That limits the usefulness of this part of the bag. I use it for work to stash my headphones, a snack or two, my travel mug, etc., but I couldn’t use it for a one-day business trip to pack an extra set of clothes unless I was very careful about my packing.

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This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The AER Tech Pack 3 is an outstanding bag for it’s purpose. But as I found this out when I took his bag on vacation, it has limits. The rigid structure of the bag is excellent for gear protection and organization, but it’s not extensible as a one-bag travel solution.

What I like about AER Tech Pack 3

  • Excellent design & organization for electronics and tech accessories
  • Very comfortable harness system with multiple carry options
  • Stand on it’s own
  • Excellent laptop compartment
  • Purpose-built for travel and commuting

What needs to be improved?

  • Main compartment requires some work to get into the deeper parts of the bag
  • Not ideal as an all around travel bag — presents challenges for non-tech carry

Final thoughts

The AER Tech Pack 3 is an excellent design for professionals and creatives. The durable design will protect your precious electronics & accessories while riding in a chassis that is optimized for getting to and from places. The space design is thoughtful and promotes organizational zones for the things you need while moving vs. the things you need at your destination. It also looks great in both professional and casual environments. As long as you don’t need extra space for big stuff, this one is a definite winner that’s made it into my regular travel/commute rotation for business.

Price: $219.00
Where to buy: Get it at the AER Web Site!
Source: The sample of this product was provided for free by AER. AER did not have a final say on the review and did not preview the review before it was published.

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