A couple of weeks ago, I gushed about how much I love the sling bag—a large, fanny pack-esque pack that you wear across your body—made by San Francisco's Aer. Since then, I've started using the day bag as my gym companion, as I can throw my keys, wallet, cellphone and waterbottle in there, toss it in a locker and get to work without having to think.

But I'm not here to talk about the sling bag. I'm here to talk about their Flight backpack, which is both the prettiest and most comfortable backpack I've ever owned.

I became enamoured with my sling bag a couple of weeks after I bought it, and I got my wife to get me Aer's Flight Pack for my birthday. I was first impressed by it's sleek aesthetics when I came across it at East Burnside's Machus (cop it from them, here). It's exterior is featureless but for a profile-hugging side handle that lets you carry it like a suitcase, the only other exterior accessory being the waterproof zippers. Otherwise, it's all black, water-resistant ballistic nylon from Cordura with a slim 19″ x 12″ x 5.5″ profile, with a discreet opening that allows luggage handles through the back.

It’s basically impossible to lose anything inside of this bag. (Aer)
It’s basically impossible to lose anything inside of this bag. (Aer)

Yet, the guts of the bag are deceptively large. The main…chamber(?) features five interior pockets including a padded laptop sleeve, another magazine-sized sleeve and two smaller sleeves all secured with elastic, plus an opposite-facing zippered mesh compartment. On the exterior, a small top pocket fits a sunglasses case, keys and chapstick, while a weirdly cavernous lower pocket fits tablets or lunch and comes with more elasticised pockets and pen holders. The bag also comes with a detachable over-the-shoulder strap so you can wear it on your side.

Despite bringing all of my work stuff in this bag over the last couple of weeks—laptop and accessories, lunch, La Croix, beanie, sunglasses, over-ear headphones and more—I've never managed to get it more than half full. I've found this strange, because the bag is so damned svelte. It sits snuggly between my shoulders and just above my butt (the plastic buckles by Duraflex are steadfast when worn, but easy to adjust), and even when I have my stuff in there, it doesn't bulge like ever other backpack bag I've owned. And it has played nicely with several different kinds of outerwear (overcoat, hoodie, puffer, etc.), not riding the coat or my shirt up on my back when I walk to work.

This bag sits perfectly across my back. (Aer)
This bag sits perfectly across my back. (Aer)

It's nice and all that it's big and comfortable, but most importantly for me is that the bag just looks damn cool. I stopped wearing my old backpack once I got out of college, opting for a messenger bag from Will Leather Goods because the backpack looked so goofy. This looks professional and modern, and was clearly designed with fashion in mind without sacrificing any functionality.

At $150, it's certainly at the top end of non-luxury backpacks. But aesthetic considerations weigh heavily for me—as they say, black goes with everything—and once you touch the nylon fabric you'll see it's indestructable. This is an excellent mini-investment purchase, and a clear choice for anyone who needs to carry stuff around but doesn't want to look like a dork while doing so.

(Cool Stuff is a new feature at Willamette Week where we feature product reviews, roundups, sales and other commerce and shopping-oriented content. All Cool Stuff reviews are editorially independent, meaning we provide honest reviews and aren't paid by the brands we write about. If you do choose to purchase something after following one of our links, Willamette Week may receive a commission, which helps fund our journalism.)