It’s been five trips, so it’s time to finally talk about the Aer Travel Pack. Bags are already pretty personal, but my time with this backpack has really driven home how silly all these ‘The ULTIMATE Bag for Travel’ posts are.

This bag is almost perfect… for me. It may be terrible for you. It just depends on your priorities, and how you like to travel. Here are the things that I consider when purchasing a bag, more or less in order of importance to me.

  1. Style / Quality
  2. Organization
  3. Comfort / Weight
  4. Price

I would say that it’s like dating. You have all these grand ideas about what you want, but you have to try lots of things (people? bags? hmm that just sounds wrong…) to see what’s really important to you. And you never really find ‘the one.’ But you find ‘good enough’ and you decide if you can live happily with the tradeoffs.


I can’t say that I drool over the look of the bag. It’s big and black and burly, kind of handsome in a utilitarian way. But at least it’s not hideous like some bags out there *cough cough*. Some people may be drawn to this look. Ryan in fact has bought quite a few bags that fit the ‘black cordura utilitarian urban man bag’ description. So of course he likes Aer a lot. I think he has like 5 of their bags.

All Aer everything

I may be on the fence about the style, but the quality is top-notch, no doubt. This bag is so well thought out for my particular style of travel (one bag/backpack/usually air travel/using under the seat space only). They’ve made this bag tough, with foam padding everywhere, which really gives the bag some structure, along with protecting the goods. OMG no more floppiness!!! And there are compression straps too! And a zipaway water bottle holder! But with all these rugged materials and padding comes weight…


Time with other travel packs has made me realize that organization is the most important thing to me. I fucking love this bag’s pockets. Man, there are a lot of pockets. There’s so many that at the beginning I forgot where I put stuff, which sounds bad for traveling. But once I had used the bag for a bit and had mentally established a place for every item I normally pack, ooooh it feels so good. Here’s how I use my pockets:

  1. Bottom shoe section -This section is lost on me. I wrap it up and totally ignore it. If I did use it, I would complain about the positioning, because it makes it awkward to use packing cubes. Maybe this would be a good place to put dirty clothes or swimsuits, like a built in laundry bag? Only caveat here is that there are two holes in the bottom to let stinky shoes air out so things can get wet if you put this bag down in a puddle.
  2. Front bottom pocket – My computer charger brick goes here, along with various charging cords. It’s a tight fit.
  3. Front top pocket – This pocket goes all the way down to the front bottom pocket. My clutch size wallet goes here. I also stuff teabags in here.
  4. Top stash pocket- My cell phone and headphones, passport.
  5. Organizer panel – This is the droolworthy section. Keys, magazines, pens, snacks, NintendoDS… This section is large and deep, going all the way to the bottom of the bag. Aer’s official photo of this panel really shows its potential, so here. Look at those pockets.
  6. Computer panel – Just my laptop, occasionally a magazine. I forget if this area is off the ground, but it’s definitely cushy.
  7. Inside – I throw my packing cubes and toiletries here. On the panel zipper you see to the left – I usually throw my Nintendo DS game cartridges or my contacts there. No particular reason why, they just seem to fit well.

All the crap I normally pack.


This is the only bit to give me pause, and it’s a biggie. This bag is heavy at 3.7 pounds just for 33L of space. And it’s bulky AF. I’m five two, and according to Aer’s website photos, this bag is for tall super hip tech bros going about their urban lives. And even on them the bag looks a bit much*.

There are so many ways they could lighten this bag up without sacrificing features. Mostly by removing a lot of the cushion. I don’t need this thing to be bombproof. Maybe the laptop section, but everything else can go. Like the top grab handle is just overengineered. I don’t need all that. The sides of the backpack don’t need foam padding all the way around. The entire organizer panel does not need to be foam padded. My clothes will be fine.

Fitwise, the only thing that I really noticed was that the straps are about a half inch too wide for me. It bugged me at first, then I forgot about it. Oh, also the top adjuster straps are basically useless. They kept coming undone. This bag would be golden if it had some sort of hip belt to distribute the weight, but alas… Let’s just say that you will feel the weight of this bag. It’s not terrible, but it will slow you down.

Too much going on here and these straps should be much more comfortable than they are. Super rigid and anti-boob.


Okay I got this as a birthday present, but I think the price of $220 is totally reasonable for a bag like this. I have no idea whether or not this is an ‘ethically made’ bag like Cotopaxi, but it is a San Francisco company, so yay?

What it’s like to use

The travel pack doesn’t hide away its straps like many travel bags do, so it makes it not ideal for checking. But I don’t check bags anyways.

Most important to me – it fits underneath the airplane seat!! The computer panel and stash pocket are accessible from the top, which is important when stuck on a plane. When I took my Cotopaxi bag, the computer zipper was on the side, and it was a nightmare getting things in and out, which I do like every 20 minutes.

Whenever I got to my destination, I would take my items out of the front organizer panel and pockets, then leave the bag unzipped like it was my own dresser drawer. That was nice.


It’s not perfect, but I think I can deal with a little weight for all the organization happiness that this bag gives me. Maybe in the future Aer will make a lighter, possibly smaller version with a hip belt.

*An aside: Aer you need some more women on your site. With these super masculine brands (DSPTCH also comes to mind), not seeing any women modeling the bag is unwelcoming and made me question whether or not the bag would fit my body. I honestly would have bought this bag a long time ago if I had a better idea of fit. 

Style, Travel

Kate Spade Saturday Weekender Bag: Itching for a Trip

After about a month of hemming and hawing, I finally took the plunge and bought some luggage. I’m sure it’s no surprise that I got the Saturday Weekender.

While I was doing “research”, I could barely find any real life (non sponsored) photos or reviews of this bag. Very curious. Did no bloggers buy this bag? So I thought I might as well do a review.

I was torn on which size to get as the dimensions had me stumped for a long time:

  • Regular size: Height: 16″ Width: 19″ Depth: 8″
  • Small size: Height: 14.75″ Width: 14.75″ Depth: 7″

The small looked rather wimpy in the online photos, so regular size it was. Shipping was fast, and I was really pleased with the packaging. Like previous Kate Spade bags I’ve bought everything was carefully packed and protected, from the zippers to the straps. I’m sure I pissed off my coworkers as I was doing my very loud and very lengthy unboxing. I couldn’t help it- the bag was just so well packaged!


It’s pretty big on me. Side note: I think the only time I see myself in a decent full size mirror these days is either shopping or in the work bathroom. This explains a lot.


When I took it home, I did a test packing run. WHOA NELLY. This thing holds a ton when fully loaded! And yep the straps really do stand up.

What I Fit in the Bag:

  • 3 pairs of shoes (bottom zone)
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 8 shirts
  • 3 dresses
  • Underwear
  • Toiletries
  • Canvas jacket
  • Swimsuit
  • Water bottle

And there was still space for more. But to be fair, it was heavy as hell. Oh right, that’s why I don’t like duffles 🙂


It’s a fairly lightweight bag.The bottom compartment is going to be awesome for storing my shoes and dirty laundry. The inside organizer is well thought out and detachable. The bag holds a TON. The zipper pulls are leather, which seemed strange to me at first, but then I realized that they don’t clink. Heaven. Minus points for the plastic zippers however.


I knew this from reading the handful of reviews from the website, but it’s not completely obvious due to the dearth of photos- this is a floppy bag with NO structure whatsoever. It will never look like a cute half circle unless you stuff it to the heavens, and then it will probably be be too damn heavy.

While the bottom shoe/dirty laundry compartment was the seller for me, you have to have something in there or the bag collapses upon itself. UGH. Also, two of the side pockets are a bit too shallow to be useful. The only thing that I could think of to put in there is trash. I’m not so sure how comfortable this bag will be in handling real weight. This is probably nitpicky, but when I use the shoulder strap, the two handles hang very awkwardly upright since they are so stiff. I imagine this will lessen in time.

Looking back and knowing my personal packing patterns (minimalist), I should have gotten the smaller bag. Because no doubt that that bag could have held a ton too.


Despite all the cons I posted, I’m still smitten with the bag. Why? I have no clue. Love is strange like that. It’s just such an easy cheerful bag. Looking forward to taking it for a trip soon, perhaps this Saturday?

Shopping, Style, Travel

Luggage Lust

Some may spend their lives dreaming of their wedding day. I dream of the day when I step off the plane with my perfectly quirky, perfectly lightweight and perfectly badass carry-on approved bag. My soulmate, hahaha. I normally travel with a big ass backpack, but it would be nice to have some proper grown up luggage.

Luggage shopping is intimidating. There’s just so damn much to learn and so many choices. What size? What material? Soft sided, hard shell or mixed? Duffel bag? Suitcase? Wheels? Spinners? WTH. That’s not even getting into style options.

I have a few mini trips in the hopper for the upcoming months, and while I don’t absolutely need it, I’ve been having fun checking out luggage options. Here’s a few pieces that I’ve been eyeballing and dreaming of…

Lugguge Lust

From the top, clockwise:

  1. Everlane Weekender– At only 95$, I can’t believe that I’ve wanted one for so long without getting one. I worry that the straps might be a little long on me. Also, it’s kind of duffle baggy, and I don’t do duffles. Decisions, decisions.
  2. The Small Weekender from Kate Spade Saturday- It has a separate compartment for shoes! How cool is that? This could make a great gym bag.
  3. Lipault Plume 22″ 4 wheeled carry on- When I first saw this in a travel shop I thought that no way it would be able to take a beating. However the Amazon reviews for it are A+++, and in person the bags are gorgeous. I wish I had a real reason to buy this luggage.
  4. Tumi Vapor International Carryon– I love Tumi bags, and occassionally see them in Marshalls stores at like 75% off. Fingers crossed this one shows up.
  5. Eagle Creek DS3 hardshell– I’m a fan of Eagle Creek’s packing systems. I imagine their suitcases are quality too.
  6. Samsonite Cityscapes 20″ hardshell- I know this bag is cheesy, but I don’t care. When I saw it at the mall it just made me smile.

My New Bag: The Cambridge Satchel

Lately I’ve been feeling dumpy. I’ve been commuting to work via bicycle consistently since February now… and wearing a backpack every day (while practical) makes me feel less than stylish. Even though might I add the backpack in question is a limited edition North Face SUSHI backpack (hello there are Kikkoman labels and sushi zipper pulls and everything)… it’s still a backpack.

My first thought was that I should attach a basket to my bike so that I could carry whatever purse I wanted (more of a long term fix). So I got a rack and installed a rear folding  basket. It worked wonders, but still didn’t fill the need for a bag. I obsess over bags (I daydream about them, draw them…), so once I got started thinking about getting a new bag it was kind of unstoppable.

I knew that I wanted a cross body bag, because that’s just what I reach for most often. After quite a bit of internet trolling, I finally made the leap for The Cambridge Satchel 15″ in Green.

I’d seen these around online and in Urban Outfitters. They’re super popular in blogland, but I have yet to see one on somebody’s arm.

Pros: Really classic style, well made product, great leather smell (if you’re into that), comes in many different colors and sizes, also you can monogram a catchy saying or your initials for about 5 pounds a letter

Cons: Well, this bag doesn’t come cheap-$$$. Also, this leather is STIFF. No joke. When I got my bag at work I took off my shoes and jumped up and down on the damn thing- it popped back up. This is either good or bad- just depends on your bag style. For me it was a little infuriating. The break-in period will be substantial.

The way the stitching is done, each face of the bag caves in (see below) so that you really cannot carry as much as say, a messenger bag of the same dimensions.Yes, you are lugging around a huge bag that can’t carry that much. Let’s not think about it too much. No bueno.

Another con is that there is no lining on the bag, and it is probably not waterproof. I knew this going into my purchase, however.

Here is my satchel open. Inside I’ve got: wallet, keys, phone, MUNI bus pass, digital camera, camera cords, makeup compact, zip loc of tea and random stuff, rollerball perfume, planner, sunglasses, Tupperware, and a t-shirt. If I stuff things up top, I can also pack in a pair of shoes and a dress. I know, that sounds like a lot, but it is NOT by my standards. : )

The satchel in action at Critical Mass. I will forgive it for not carrying everything and the kitchen sink because it is so handsome and so “me.” Also it’s bright enough that it will probably prevent me from getting run over while I’m riding.