A couple of Saturdays ago, I took a saunter into East Burnside's Machus, taking a look around the menswear boutique to kick off a leisurely afternoon of shopping. While thumbing through new garments, a sleek black bag that looked like a slightly oversized fanny pack caught my eye. I was told it was a day bag—also, sometimes called a cross-body bag or sling bag.
Made by San Francisco's Aer, I spent the next 10 minutes wearing the day bag while I shopped, barely noticing it (empty, it weighs 0.7 pounds) as I moved through the store. Like a fanny pack, a plastic buckle attached to a nylon strap keeps the bag fastened around the body. Unlike a fanny pack, the bag can be worn over the shoulder like a purse or diagonally across the back or chest.
The day bag certainly looks stylish as a fashion item. The accessory is currently having a "moment", with luxe takes from the likes of Kanye West's Yeezy line retailing for upwards of $400.
Aer's aesthetic reflects it's comparatively modest $60 price tag. Completely black and unadorned but for a handle, two YKK zippers and a small tag sporting Aer's austere logo, the day bag's ballistic nylon fabric and plastic hardware makes it resemble a piece of tactical gear.
I impulse-bought away, thinking it would make a good compliment to days out in Portland and a couple of upcoming vacations. But for the first couple of weeks, I didn't find myself using my day bag much. The bag has a front pouch with a cavernous 4.5 liters worth of storage space and three internal pockets as well as a zippered back pocket. None of these were necessary for carrying my normal daily rotation of wallet, keys and cellphone, and the bag was not large enough for my work (laptop, etc.) stuff.
But for five days now, I've been on vacation in New York City. Aer's day bag has been one of the smartest travel purchases I've made.
Throughout my time in New York I've worn my day bag, well, daily, using it as mobile storage for some of the following:
- A beanie, a sunglasses case, wireless earbuds and a cellphone charger.
- A beanie, a sunglasses case, wireless earbuds, a cellphone charger, a rolled up track jacket.
- A beanie, wireless earbuds, a cellphone charger, a rolled up long sleeve shirt, two cassette tapes, and earplugs.
- A beanie, a cellphone charger, a copy of the 1200-page book The Power Broker.
Even when the bag is crammed full, it maintains a low profile, comfy enough to sit against the back of a subway seat, and easily rotated around the front of the body for access or convenience without being obtrusive. Though it's big enough to fit a light jacket or sweater, it didn't make my back sweat walking around on a warm day like a backpack would. You don't look like a gawking tourist wearing it around during the day because it looks cool and modern.
There has been one downside, which is that I haven't been able to find a way of effectively storing a water bottle in the bag. The bag's pouch is 15″ long, but it's unwieldy to retrieve a bottle from it without pulling everything else in the bag out. This isn't a dealbreaker, but it isn't a strict upgrade from a light backpack if you plan on taking it hiking.
I will be taking my Aer day bag with me on every vacation for the foreseeable future, or every time I expect on needing to carry more than the basics around with me in Portland. As a bonus, its proved to be an effortless solution to the TSA line: just throw all of your stuff in there and toss it on the conveyor belt.
You can buy Aer's day and other bags locally at Machus, though they tend to sell out quickly. If you can't find them in town, you can pick them at Nordstrom, online.
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