Ever since Aer launched its first crowdfunded project back in 2014, the San Francisco-based minimalist bagmaker has continued to put out exceptional products. We’ve been a big fan of the brand since day one, as it consistently finds the right balance between price, performance, and overall presentation. Earlier this year, Aer overhauled several staples within its lineup as part of an all-new fall City Collection. Given the success of bags like the Fit Pack and the Gym Duffel, we had to get hands-on to see how it fared.
Above all else, though, we were interested in seeing what Aer had done with the City Sling 2. As the second iteration of the best-selling City Sling, the bag certainly had a tough act to follow. Could it follow through on the original’s execution? Would it actually bring anything new to the table, or is the update only in name? Is it worth picking up the City Sling 2 if you already have the OG? If you find yourself asking these such questions, we’ve got you covered. What follows is a deep dive into everything the Aer City Sling 2 has to offer — specifically, in its ultra-premium X-Pac flavor.
Video Review: Aer City Sling 2
If you’d like to get a closer look at the sling, be sure to check out our stunning, in-depth Aer City Sling 2 4K video review.
One look at the City Sling 2 is all you need to see that it’s a bag from Aer. Like other offerings from the brand’s catalog, the sling avoids anything excessive or unnecessary in the pursuit of absolute functionality. It’s simple and understated, yet in a way that’s unquestionably sharp. That is to say, you can tell that function comes before form with the City Sling 2, but Aer’s characteristically minimalist execution works to the bag’s advantage.
A lot of this comes from the City Sling 2’s compact design. Measuring just 4.75″ by 13″ by 3.5″, it’s large enough to hold bigger items like phones, water bottles, and packable jackets, yet small enough that it won’t inhibit your motion. And here’s the thing: despite weighing in at under a pound, it offers a spacious 2.5L of storage capacity. Around the outside, the bag comes decked out with Aer’s trademark oversized YKK zippers, a set of tasteful anodized aluminum hardware, and a cutting-edge Fidlock fastener. The City Sling 2 may be rugged in build, then, but it’s also incredibly refined in its appearance.
Materials & Hardware
The Aer City Sling 2 comes in a variety of different fabrics, including 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon, 900D Ecoya eco-dyed polyester, and VX-42 X-Pac sailcloth. Of the three, the Cordura and the X-Pac are — by far — the most popular; however, you can’t go wrong with the muted grey of the Ecoya option either. It’s also worth noting that the only differences the X-Pac model brings lie in its use of material, interior lining (subtle grey nylon vs. high-vis orange ripstop, respectively), and reflective pulls. What’s more, it features an additional AquaGuard zipper at the main closure.
With the X-Pac bag by Dimension-Polyant (like the one we had in for test), you’re not only getting a lighter base fabric but also improved weather resistance. When combined with the waterproof zips at the front and top of the bag, the result is a sling that offers a nearly iron-clad defense against the elements. In any case, the X-Pac exterior and high-vis orange interior give the City Sling 2 an elevated aesthetic that’s on-trend with much of what’s currently popular in streetwear. It’s an ultra-premium look that feels even better in-hand.
On the other hand, the 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon used in the ‘standard’ City Sling 2 is an equally respectable option in its own right. Sure, it doesn’t offer quite the same degree of element-proofing as that of the X-Pac bag, but it’s chock full of performance benefits, too. For one, it’s the same textile used in military body armor, so you better believe that it boasts superior long-term abrasion resistance and hard-wearing dependability. We’ve used some of Aer’s Cordura bags as our personal carry for some time now, and we can confidently say that they’ll stand up to practically anything you could possibly throw at them.
Regardless of which material your bag is made from, know that Aer has fitted the City Sling 2 with some of the toughest hardware in production today. With each bag, you’re getting waterproof YKK AquaGuard zips, aircraft-grade aluminum tension locks, and a handy magnetic Fidlock fastener. Compared to the traditional buckle and plastic snaps used in the original City Sling, the new hardware makes for a marked upgrade. Beyond giving the City Sling 2 a classy look, it’s a combination that’s far more durable, promising years of reliable wear.
An Intuitive User Experience
The City Sling 2 may be small in size, but that’s not to say that it’s lacking in capacity. On the contrary — Aer revised the original design such that it now boasts a generous 2.5L of storage. While a mere 0.1L extra might not sound like much on paper, the bag now features a wider footprint that makes it much more accommodating — especially of bulky or oddly-shaped items like water bottles. And besides, it comes with organizational provisions aplenty.
Inside the cavernous main compartment, the City Sling 2 features a series of elasticated dividers for keeping your carry safe and secure. On one side, Aer has fitted a single sleeve that’s perfect for packing away delicate items such as phones and sunglasses. In the middle, the bag offers a spacious cavity that’s large enough for everything from notebooks and pens to camera lenses and bottles of hand sanitizer. Rounded out by a set of stretchy mesh pouches for cords, charging banks, and headphones, it even comes with a small zippered pocket that’s great for stowing smaller essentials like SD cards, knives, and other easy-to-lose items.
Feel around the outside and you’ll find that Aer has fitted the City Sling 2 with a hidden back pocket for stashing valuable essentials such as wallets and passports. In addition to some extra security, it also gives the bag some added convenience — you can quickly reach these items without having to fumble through the inside of the sling or risk upsetting your organization. One of the best aspects of the City Sling 2, though, is that it sports a zippered front pocket with a built-in lanyard. Simply clip your keys to the beefy carabiner and you have almost instantaneous access — a game-changing feature for those who are constantly on the go.
Hiding In Plain Sight
As impressive as the City Sling 2 is from an organizational standpoint, it’s arguably even more comfortable to wear. For though the webbing strap doesn’t sport any additional padding, the bag’s small size and low weight (even when packed) mean that it rests against your body without getting in the way of your movement. Whether it’s worn front or back, it’s an easy sling to set and forget. There was absolutely no rubbing or pinching to speak of.
This is largely due to the anodized aluminum sliders found on either side of the buckle, as they make it effortless to achieve the right fit. A quick pull is all it takes to have the bag sized to your torso. As if that wasn’t enough, though, Aer has also designed the strap to cinch down for storage in the sleeve on the back of the sling. Because of the quick-grab handle found atop the City Sling 2, this means that the bag can conveniently double as a small tech organizer.
The most ingenious part about the strap, though, has to be the tension locks located on each side of the bag. No matter if you’re only bringing along the bare essentials or you’re stuffing the sling to full capacity, they make it quick and easy to compress the size. For those who find themselves in urban environments, the locks also make for an added element of theft protection — you can keep the bag tight and low-profile against your person.
More of an iterative refinement than it is an out-and-out overhaul, the City Sling 2 is nevertheless an exceptional EDC-ready bag. For even though it’s not a drastically different silhouette, Aer has given its best-selling sling some subtle but impactful upgrades. The wider design greatly improves the bag’s storage potential, and the thoughtful internal organization means that it fares far better when carrying larger items. Moreover, the new hardware gives the bag some added aesthetic appeal as well as some extra long-term durability. Whether you consider the extra coin of the X-Pac model ($109 vs. $89) worth it will depend on your particular needs and tastes. However, we’ll be the first to tell you: the City Sling 2 is a certifiable buy in our book. A fitting successor to an EDC icon, Aer’s bag is a sling that still reigns supreme.
The 15 Best Sling Bags For Everyday Carry
While you can’t go wrong with the Aer City Sling 2, we do understand that your needs may vary. If you’re interested in checking out more compact carry solutions, head on over to our guide to the best sling bags for EDC.
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