There are a few features that make a bag better suited for runners than other users. The most important of those is a separate compartment for shoes and wet clothing. There’s nothing worse than having to store dirty, smelly running shoes with other items like clean clothing and food.
After putting them to the test, we found the Active Collection from Aer, a San Francisco based company, more than fits the bill. The company’s Active Collection, includes two bags, the Fit Pack 2 and the larger Duffle Pack 2. Both proved perfect for runners.
Review: Aer Fit Pack 2
The Fit Pack 2 is a clean looking bag with a simple and functional design. Aer advertises the pack as a work/gym bag for an urban setting, but I found its design and carring capacity suitable for any day at the track, trail, or race.
Up-close look at the 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon
Aer uses a durable, abrasion resistant fabric called 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon for the bag’s exterior. Using a ballistic weave originally developed for military body armor, this densely woven, high strength fabric makes the bag resistant to tears and abrasion. Even during a puncture test during which I took a sharp kitchen knife to the outside of the bag and applied mild pressure, the fabric did not yield.
If you are ever caught in a rainstorm, the fabric is also highly waterproof. The Cordura ballistic nylon resisted water seepage into the bag, keeping the interior completely dry. The only sign of weakness in protection against wet conditions are the zippers, which is pretty standard. Between the four zippers on the bag, only the front-loading zipper is fully taped.
For a small looking bag the Fit Pack 2 has a large storage capacity easily fitting everything shown here
The Fit Pack 2 has four separate compartments for a total capacity of 18.8 liters, which is plenty of space for most outings. Each compartment is accessible via YKK Japanese coil zippers and heavy duty Duraflex plastic hardware. I was impressed by the hardiness of the zippers, as I often have issues with backpack zips breaking.
The shoe compartment with vented mesh
As mentioned above, it’s the separate shoe compartment that makes a bag more suitable for runners over those without. The Fit Pack 2 has a bottom-loading vented shoe compartment capable of holding up to men’s size 13 shoes, larger than any other bag I’ve used. I was able to fit both my size 9 trainers and a pair of racing flats in the bottom shoe compartment without issue.
Main front-loading compartment
The main storage in the Fit Pack 2 is a front-loading compartment accessible via a full-length, taped dual zipper. I really liked this duffel-style access design for the main compartment. It allowed the bag to easily lay flat on the ground while accessing the main storage, eliminating the need for the pack to stand upright. Capacity-wise, the front-loading compartment accounts for about 85% of the bag’s total storage, however, it does share the same space as the shoe compartment. This shared space design greatly impacted the main storage area’s capacity.
Top loading compartment
The bag’s second largest storage area comes from a top-loading compartment, which resembles a typical school/work backpack. The top zipper accessing this storage spans roughly three-fourths of the bag’s circumference, making it easy to access items deep in the bottom, and includes a padded laptop sleeve (fits up to 15.6 inches), one zippered mesh pocket, and several open pockets. While the intended usage is clearly for work-related items (laptop, charger, books, etc.) I found it well suited as overflow storage when the main front-loading compartment was full.
Small storage space for quick grab items
The smallest compartment sits along the top of the bag and is perfect for small items that need to be accessed quickly such as keys, phone and wallet. However, there was one feature I was disappointed not to find on the Fit Pack 2 – an external water bottle holder.
Initially the bag carries rather stiff, but isn’t uncomfortable. The back and shoulder straps are nicely padded, with roughly 3/4 inch of breathable mesh. The shoulder straps are attached to the bag with what feels like rock climbing grade webbing and a single sternum strap provides added security.
Overall, the Aer Fit Pack 2 is a nearly indestructible, stylish backpack every runner should consider. Purposely designed as a work/gym bag, it is well suited for the urban athlete and those looking for an essential running bag. | aersf.com | $135