AER Capsule Pack Review (Updated 2023)
AER CAPSULE PACK REVIEW (Updated 2023)
- The Best Aer Capsule Pack Review on the web!
- Reviewed by Digital Nomads
- Who is this backpack perfect for?
- If it’s not for you, we’ll show you which pack is!
Check out our EPIC video review below!
AER Capsule Pack
The Aer Capsule
is PERFECT for you if...
Below you can find a transcript from the video review...
“What’s up guys, Aaron Radcliffe here from NomadsNation, coming at you live from Ho Chi Minh Vietnam and we’re doing the best damn Aer Capsule pack review the world has ever seen. In this insider guide, I’m gonna tear this bag apart, we’re gonna talk about the style of the pack, the specs, the feel, the front, the back, the middle, everything. So you can know whether or not this is the pack that is perfect for you. Let’s roll.
Okay, so first let’s chat about the specs of the Aer Capsule pack. The specs; we’ve got two sizes and therefore we have two different prices, the first size is gonna be the 35 liter which costs $230 US dollars, that’s this guy, the other option is a 40 liter which is gonna run you back $250 US dollars. I think that while both price points are a little on the expensive side, both bags are 100% worth it, assuming they fit your needs and as for needs let’s talk about those different sizes. A 35 litre backpack is gonna be too big for a daypack, it’s perfect for weekend excursions, week-long trips, maybe even longer travel like a month long travel, if you’re a superlight minimalist traveler. Now a 40 liter backpack although it’s only five additional litres, those five litres go a long way which is why a 40 liter backpack could be great for something like longer-term travel. You can still use it for those weekday trips, for those week-long trips, but also if you’re a lighter traveler you can use a 40 liter backpack to travel the world free, end on ends.
Next up let’s talk about the style of the Aer Capsule pack and while we’re at it….. Let’s just talk about the style with Aer packs. In general Aer is one of the most respected backpacking apparel companies out there, in fact they’ve got a borderline, cult-like following and the biggest reason for that in my opinion is the style and look of their packs. Aer’s got a really specific style, they use typically always, ballistic nylon which we’ll talk about in the next section but also if you look at this pack man like it looks smooth and looks sexy and that aesthetic is what contributes to Aer’s popularity. Their packs are definitely functional, their packs are definitely durable but most importantly their bags look sweet. But the Style’s not gonna be for everyone because as I’ve mentioned in other videos the style is like “yo I’m like a modern urban dweller who likes super minimalist things and I probably like to go to really trendy coffee shops and pretend that I’m working but I’m just actually watching more Rick and Morty” (I’m not judging Rick and Morty’s, It’s my favorite show) “I am the person who travels with this pack okay”. That’s the whole vibe though man, is like that black on black and the minimalist sort of vibe. Look where’s the logo? You see the Aer logo? They only put their logo right there okay and that further emphasizes the whole sort of minimalist, the anonymousness, it’s not like supreme, more like “I’m a sophisticated city person, this backpack says enough about me as is without the logo”. Now Aer has been slowly introducing more colors, you’re seeing some Gray’s, that’s it just gray’s, but the 70 to 95% of them are going to be this super sleek black aesthetic. Black is always in fashion.
Okay let’s chat about the way the Aer Capsule pack feels, first off is like what’s its comfort? Is it nice to wear? Like is it comfortable? And the answer is, absolutely. I mean at $230 US dollars, it better be comfortable. But with the comfort too, it’s not just like is it comfortable? It’s like does it fit well? So I’m five foot eight, so you can kind of see how the bag looks on me, how the fit is on me. Like the comfort of Aer products, all of their backpacks, I’ve got like five of them, they’re all outstanding. But like with the way a pack feels, it’s not just how it wears, it’s also like the way the materials feel, so the exterior materials are ballistic nylon made from Cordura. Cordura is a brand so the nylon is the actual fabric. Ballistic nylon has that sort of scaly look to it, like if you get real close to it, you can see sort of how this fabric is. Ballistic nylon is so cool man because it like looks sleek and awesome, but it’s also tough and Cordura is awesome, because they’re one of the best brands that produces ballistic nylon and Aer works with Cordura exclusively.
On the inside though, I’m not as crazy about the interior materials, I never really am for Aer products. I’m not saying that there’re the worst interior materials like it’s not as bad as like… I don’t want to name any names, but it’s nowhere near as good as some of the other competitors like Nomatic or Tortuga. Now the interior materials are really important dude. You’re gonna be interacting with this backpack and like reaching in and grabbing things, so you want to feel nice when you’re doing that and overall I think the interior materials are okay. The exterior materials 10 out of 10, the interior materials 6.5 out of 10. And finally let’s chat about these zippers, now all Aer products utilize YKK zippers, only this YKK which means that they’re like the best. But they’re YKK would like this cool mad finish and there’re weather resistant as well. Weather resistance means you don’t have to worry if you get caught on a light little sprinkle. If it’s a thunderstorm, you’re …… but like a little bit of like cheap BGP on your bag will be fine. So the actual touch of the zippers is great, the actual quality of the zippers is great but there’re sticky zippers. What I mean by sticky is that, opening and closing these zippers requires a little bit of extra effort, the sticky zippers is fully intentional and it’s just part of the Aer experience. Aer zippers require a steady dose of commitment, you have to be like” I am ready to open that zipper” because it requires a little bit of strengthening, like you’ve got to like really pull on them to really get it them.
So when it comes to the front, there’s two things that are really most important, that’s the two compartments, we have a top compartment and then we have this main compartment here. Now let’s notice the name of this backpack, it’s the Capsule. Apparently this backpack is inspired from Japanese style Capsule hotel beds, which really just like a circle and you just kind of crawl in and you sleep and you got your bed and that’s it. So we can see what the front, it’s just this main sort of panel and that’s it, which is nice. Super minimalist just that ballistic nylon and the circular opening and then to conclude the front, we have these two zippers up here which give you access to the quick access compartment. So really all of that is like when we get into the middle of the backpacks. Let’s roll, let’s get to the middle part, come on let’s keep this thing moving. And most importantly let’s get this main compartment open with these sticky ass zippers man, like I said they are slow, they require a little bit extra bicep when you’re opening them, but they’re not bad, they’re just sticky. There’s a difference.
Here is the actual main compartment, so as you can see, we always put a bunch of things in there so you can get an idea of how the main compartment packs. This is a 35 liter and I’d say for a 35, it’s right on point. Sometimes backpacks feel smaller, sometimes they feel bigger but this feels right on point. You could put a ton of stuff man, I’ve got the Aer tech pouch, I got the peak design wash pouch at the bottom. We’ve also got these new packing cubes that I’ve been trying, my Pro packing cubes that I like a lot, they’re super colorful, super durable, I’ll pop links in the bottom. But yeah, here we have the main compartment, as you can see it is just minimalist man, like there’s no other pockets, it’s just a big carbs out Canyon of a compartment and that’s it. And because it’s good, because there’s less stuff that can interfere, there’s less friction, it’s just a big-ass space for you to fit all your stuff. Aer really recommends this bag for modular travel. Back in my young days of being a dirty backpacker around the world, I would just have clothes and I’d be like “these are clothes and this is a backpack” and I would just shove in them in, no organization, no reason or rhyme just….. Now, I’m getting a little bit older, a little bit of wiser, wise Aaron is enjoying the kind of feel of modular travel. What is modular travel? Traveling with stuff like this. So if you’re into the idea of kind of packing with these modules, Aer has packing cubes, they have pouches all of which fits seamlessly with their products. This is like the tech pouch right here, you could see same Felicity nylon kind of a vibes, like everything kind of works together and it looks good and it feels good.
On the flip side we have a mesh compartment here. Now I do not like Aer’s mesh, this webbing is super stiff like if I were to cut this out, I could like throw it as a Frisbee, it’s really stiff man. I like my webbing to be like soft and more malleable, that’s a preference thing because I’m not saying that it’s bad quality, its high-quality, just that I like a softer mesh. But it’s a good compartment with a good zip and this is good for things like you know if you got a book or a notebook you know, it’s just an additional compartment. You can also put like socks in there, underwear in there, travel towel in there, a ton of options but yeah for the main compartment like that’s it and I love the simplicity. I just took this backpack for days in Hong Kong, traveling from Ho Chi Minh and using this compartment, like there was more than enough space, this pouch was really useful and it’s nice because there’s not really much else to distract you. That’s all you got to work with and I like that minimalist sort of a vibe man. But aside from the main compartment, let’s take a look at the other parts of the middle of Aer Capsule pack. Let’s start with this quick access compartment which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand I love the idea, so these zips pull down on either sides giving you access to this quick access compartment and it’s really cool man because you have this really nice like elasticy sort of a pocket right here. This is great for things like wallets, spare cash, passport, and then on the flip side you can see we have a large pocket here which I always used for my notebook and some smaller elastic pockets, great for an external battery, then you’ve got some Aer pods. Whatever you got, the whole point of this compartment is quick access you know like a life-changing inspirational bolt of lightning strikes my brain boom… notebook. But on the flip side while I do like the compartment and the general idea around it, it’s kind of the flimsiness to it and it’s not as fun to interact with as it looks. I want this to be like sturdy man, this side is legit, this side though like I wish it was tighter, like I wish it was like easy like this you know. Love the idea but don’t love the execution of this area.
Moving on a few more things, we have this pocket right here. This is like a quick access pocket, this pocket is an ideal place for things like your cell phone, also it’s a great spot for sunglasses but I don’t have my sunglasses because I broke them yesterday. Here look at this material, super soft material, really fuzzy it’s good because it’s scratch free. So if you have things like sunglasses or a phone, anything that’s a little more fragile that you want to be extra secure, this is a perfect spot for it. I love this pocket man, it’s got such a nice feel to it like it’s a really really awesome pocket. The sunglasses were perfect…. they’re my sunglasses…. did not break in there, I pulled them out and I dropped them and they shattered.. but this pockets fantastic. Moving up, we have this handle similar to the Aer travel backpack. I don’t love this handle, it’s got a little bit of a weak vibe to it and then the top part has like a plasticy, cardboardiness to it, it’s like hard and when you’re grabbing the bottom part, jets out and it’s like kind of… it’s uncomfortable to hold. It’s got a nice look to it and fortunately it’s got an easy grab, that’s very important for a handle. You want to be able to like just slide your fingers right and grab and move. It’s the whole point of this thing, is quick, grab, quick access, quick movement, but it’s also supposed to be comfortable and I think that it failed pretty miserably there. We also have a handle here on the side. Same consensus that I had for the top handle, I have for the side handle. Looks good, quick access, but not very comfortable.
Now let’s chat though about this, the Aer Capsule is advertised as a backpack/duffel and it’s really cool to use as a duffel or the most part. On one hand this duffel strap is so freakin comfortable man like, so there’s other backpacks that can be turned into a duffel, the Menaul carry on 2.0, Osprey Farpoint 40, both of which provide you a duffel strap that is basically just a nylon strap, this material the whole way through and that’s it, and this material not very comfortable. But Aer man they give you this little padded guy right here, which is perfect for your shoulder. It’s super comfortable it’s super light like it’s really awesome to wear. This is cool man because I’m getting more and more into like backpack duffel experience you know cuz you’re waiting in line at the airports, so you put your bag down, you’re flipping through your phone then all of a sudden the guy in front moves five feet, you don’t wanna have to like pick up your backpack and put the whole backpack on just to walk five foot. You gotta use the bathroom real fast, it’s about a minute walk, do you want to put the whole backpack on? No man. You just want to grab the duffel, slide this thing on and just be on your way and that’s what I love about the duffel experience. It just feels great, and the good thing is though is if you’re not into the duffel experience you can just unclip it right here, the straps are easily removed and easily attached. But here is why the duffel experience is compromised, the water bottle holder.
Now first off, let’s just shout about the water bottle holder in general, I love the water bottle holder. This is Aer’s technique or mechanism for all their water bottle holders. So as you can see, it’s a little zip system which means that it’s nice and smooth and sleek when you’re not using it, but then when you unzip it, you got this little elastic guy and you can just pop and slide your water bottle right in. It’s a fantastic solution and it works seamlessly man, I’m a really big fan of it. But here’s the problem, this is not the most secure water bottle of spots. In fact you’re moving around your traveling and this thing can just slide right out. Now we reviewed the Aer travel backpack which has the same water bottle holder, but what it has (it’s awesome) is the compression straps and you can buckle the compression strap right over the water bottle to help keep it in place. But for better or for worse, this bag ain’t got no compression straps. But the other negative part about the water bottle holder is the way that it compromises the duffel experience. So you wandering through the airport, you slide the duffel thing on and you got a water bottle in there and you’re trying to put this thing down and the water bottle is in the way the entire time. An easy solution; remove the water bottle, zip this guy up, carry this thing, you can place it down and it’s like in duffel mode 24/7. I always travel with the water bottle so I’m always gonna have this guy right here. That’s going to be for later okay, cuz I’m gonna go on about this water bottle holder. You see that you see? that happened to me like 15 times while I was traveling with this bag this weekend. I was walking with it, it’s in duffle style, water bottle’s just sliding out and falling all over the place.
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about the back of the pack. First up, we got this little nylon strap thing right here, I assume it is for hanging up the backpack, never used it, forgot all about it, “you’re pointless to me”. Next up we chat about straps. Now remember, earlier I said that the comfort level of this thing was next level and the straps are one of the biggest contributing reasons as to why they’re super padded, they’ve got a nice little web system to them so that means that they’re ventilated, overall man they’re just great straps. On the northernmost part of the straps, we have a suspension system so you can go ahead and tighten this if you’re a little bit smaller and you want to take a little bit extra weight off of your back. Moving down you have a removable sternum strap. Love me this sternum strap for two reasons. 1) like I said, it’s removable 2) it’s just got a nice little buckle to it but 3) if you tighten this bad boy and you’ve got excess dangle right here, boom dangle. “You don’t know? they call me Aaron Radcliffe, the dangle hater”, but thankfully we have our dangles stopper right there and boom you just pop it into place and then boom, the dangle is dead. I wish there was a nylon strap that I could use on the Boston Celtics. The sternum strap is removable, like I said I’ve used this system before, usually pretty easy also on the bottom of the shoulder straps we have another dangle stopper, “thank you for your service sir” and here’s where it gets interesting. You’re like why is there a buckle right there at the bottom? Boom… because this straps can be unbuckled. Duffle mode 2. Let’s go, so what you do is you unbuckle these bad boys, you have a little flap and you can just go ahead and stow away these bad boys, then we’re “uno and numero dos”. Now many backpacks have this sort of panel transition morphing system, but they’re all different. Out of all three systems, this is far in a way the cleanest, the easiest and my favorite, and the ability to do that quickly and seamlessly, to go from backpack to duffel, it’s awesome. Thinking contrasts, you have other backpacks that try to do this like the Nomatic travel pack or the Nomatic backpack. I love both those backpacks, but God going to duffle mode’s a nightmare man. In contrast this is super easy, super simple and its fun.
Now that we’re in duffel mode, let’s take a look at the actual back panel which yet again contributes massively to its comfort. Look at how padded that is, we have only one single gap right here for the ventilation, so for a back panel to be comfortable you need two things; need padding for comfort and ventilation so you can fight back sweat. If there’s one thing that I hate, it’s back sweat and this ventilation system is good enough. Other back ventilation systems will have like cuts in here, this just kind of have this one strip. I’ve been wearing this throughout ho chi minh, where it’s hot as balls and my back sweat hasn’t been too bad. Few little things too is we’ve got this guy right here. This was a mystery to me until I realize that it’s for sliding your luggage through. So you actually have like a suitcase you know it’s got the expandable handle, you can go ahead and lift the handle up and slide that right into this, your backpack just kind of pops right on top and yeah that’s that. Good thing too about these guys is that when you’re in duffle mode, you have this little stowaway slit and you can go ahead and pop the excess buckle right into there, okay.
And the last thing to discuss about the back of this pack is the tech compartment, now one thing to note about the tech compartment, the zippers are a lot less sticky here which is nice so you can get quick access to your laptop. You only get 3/4 access so this one while this zipper goes down basically all the way to the bottom of the pack. This zipper is gonna stop right there so you got from here to here zipper access. Sometimes this annoys me, they compromise your ability to actually get inside this compartment. So that would really be my only criticism, is the limited access because aside from that, this is a fantastic laptop compartment guys. You want two things; quick access and security and with security, I mean you want your laptop and your tech stuff to be secure and safe there. And the quick access is great man, like kind of sit back and get some work done, check the emails boom… I mean the laptop’s out and power it up in like 4 seconds. So for the quick access, it’s awesome and the security part to this material is fantastic man. I did talk …. about the interior materials before, but the interior materials in this compartment are great man like this whole back padding is really nice really padded which means that your laptops gonna be in there. I love too that the panel itself is actual slit, it’s tight, I don’t like it when a laptop is like flopping around like one of those Arab balloon people you know, though it’s gonna be nice and compact. We have the laptop holder which I believe is good for up to a 15-inch MacBook Pro. Next we have a tablet holder, I don’t have a tablet so I use that for one of my eight trillion notebooks and then if you look, you’ve got some extra storage space deep down inside so I usually put things like a mousepad in there, keyboards fit in there, extra notebooks, it runs pretty deep but unfortunately because of this limited access stopping right there, it’s not easy to get to, but everything else is great about this laptop compartment and I guess you don’t really want to stuff too much stuff in there anyway, it’s really well done.
Let’s wrap this review up Pros/Cons, who it’s for, who it’s not, let’s go. Okay so for the first Pro, it’s the fact that it’s an Aer pack. What do you mean by that Aaron? So if you’re getting an Aer pack chances are that it’s made with Cordura ballistic nylon, high quality YKK water resistant materials, with a dope-ass matte finish plus other awesome things and guess what, this backpack has Cordura ballistic nylon, those YKK zips I was talking about and all the other awesome stuff. So you’re getting an Aer backpack which means it’s gonna be Aermazing. Just made that up. Pro number two for this pack is going to be the versatility of going from a backpack to a duffle bag. Because of the location and complications of the water bottle holder, like you didn’t fulfill my duffel pack desire, this was so close to being it, but it’s not quite it. But having said that, going back. And forth from backpack to duffel on this guy is as seamless as functional as it gets and overall Pro number 3 is going to be the tech compartment. As to where I was a little underwhelmed with the travel pack from Aer, their tech compartment? Not the same feelings with this guy. It’s got the padding, it’s nice and secure, a little bit of space for it to breathe and put some other stuff, like it’s one of my favorite tech compartments. And Pro number four is going to be this quick access pocket on the top right there. Most backpacks have a quick access pocket; I think this one is one of the best I’ve ever used. I love the zip, I love the interior materials and although it kind of feels like it’s tight, it’s not. It’s like this perfect little safe cocoon for your sunglasses and all your other fragile gear. It’s so well done.
Let’s talk about the Cons as well. Con number one is the compromised duffle experience. You got the duffel strap here, you got the water bottle holder there. When you’re carrying the duffel strap and you got a water bottle on the bottom, that is sliding out like a little baby seal sliding all over the place. And it sucks because it was so close to being perfect and also the strange thing is that on the Aer duffle pack they have is elastic band system to help keep the water bottle in the water bottle holder. You think they just would have utilized that on this one as well, but they didn’t, so close. My second thing to talk about are the handles, just like the Aer travel pack these handles have like a plastic lining or something on the top, when you grab it it’s kind of uncomfortable. They look dope you’re like “dude sweet handle”, but then when you try and grab it, you hold on to it for a while, I find it very uncomfortable. And the last Con, the last thing I’ll talk about is this top compartment. Now it’s like 90% perfect, love the idea, I love the implementation, love accessing it, love using it, but the interior materials like I said, feel a little bit flimsy like I just like a tightness in my interior materials. I know that when they’re loose it means that you can put more stuff in it but sometimes you just gotta draw the line then you gotta say “listen I can be able to fit everything so let’s have them nice and tight”, just make sure that everything works in a way that’s like more harmonious and I just think they kind of missed the boat with that.
So the final score that we give the Aer Capsule pack is 4.5 out of 5 which is like one of the highest scores we ever give. I think 4.6 is the highest that we’ve given yet. It’s just a few things that I wish they would have tightened up, but more or less this backpacks a masterpiece. So before we wrap this thing up let me tell you who I think this pack is for, I think that this pack is perfect for you, yes you, if you want a 35 or a 48-liter backpack that also can double as a duffel. Like I said out of all the backpacks that are like a duffel combo, this one’s probably my favorite, this pack is also gonna be totally sweet as for you if you’re looking for a large travel pack whether you are looking for a large travel pack for week trips, month trips, or you’re going around the world for a year, the 35 or the 40 liter can handle you. 35 is a little bit more minimalist travel, 40 is like, I like to pack a few extra fun things in there, but more of a less, either pack is gonna be great. This pack is also perfect for you if you just love the look man, like I’m a huge huge fan of aesthetics and maybe that makes me a ….. but I don’t give a damn man like I think this backpack looks cool. You’re looking for something smoothly and if you’re looking at this bag and you’re like “dude that looks so cool” then we’re like backpack soulmates cuz I agree. Aesthetically this is like my favorite looking pack on the market, one of them. So if that’s you, you’re digging the vibe then you’ll love this pack, use the links below. This pack is also for you if you are a digital Nomad. From one digital Nomad to another, I’m telling you guys this thing is fantastic, it will protect your laptop, it will give you, enough space to pack other stuff. I had my Bluetooth keyboard, laptop stand, tech pouch, my bathroom pouch, whole bunch of clothes in there and it was perfect. So if you were digital nomads, and your vibe into this, use the links below and get this next to great backpack. But while I love this pack it would be ridiculous to say that it’s for everybody.
Let’s talk about who this pack is not for. This pack is not for you if you’re looking for like an extra-large travel pack. At NomadsNation, we love to encourage minimalist travel, but at the end of the day some people can’t travel the world on 40 liters. If that’s you, you got more gear then check the links below. Down there I highlight some of my favorite like extra-large travel packs, they’ll give you an extra 5 or 10 liters of capacity which means you can carry all your stuff. This pack is also not gonna be for you if you’re looking for a day pack. I know what you might be thinking like “oh 35 liters, that’s like good for a trip but I can also use them like my day-to-day activities as well”, while technically you totally can, I don’t recommend it. 35 liters is gonna be way too big for a day-to-day sort of pack. I always recommend around 25 liters for every day carry, maybe you can go a little lighter, maybe you got a little more gear, well regardless 35 is just gonna be too big. If that sounds like you, you need sort of an everyday carry pack for the office, for the gym, for work, whatever it is then check in the description below, where I’ll link you to some of the best day packs in the game.
And finally this backpack is not the pack for you if you need a backpack with a ton of organization. While we have some good organization in this pack, its kind of minimalist. You got the main compartment, you have the top compartment, you’ve got the quick access pocket, you’ve got the laptop compartment, that’s it. If you are the kind of person who likes a ton of pockets or like some nook and cranny for all your stuff, this might not be the bag for you, but worry not, I’ve got some awesome recommendations from other backpack companies like Nomatic and Tortuga and even Aer themselves. So if you just want something that’s a little bit more feature heavy then dude I totally get that, check the links below where I’ll link to some of the more feature heavy backpacks. I want to be honest I really love this backpack and really love the whole experience of interacting with it. And if you’re still here, it means that you loved watching me love on this guy… like a little triangle of love…. If that’s the case, then do yourself a favor and hit the subscribe button. Then you’ll know anytime that we launched a new video, we’ll know that we’re doing a good job, you too will know we’re doing a good job. Cheers, we’ll see you guys next time.”