Review: Aer’s CORDURA-Clad Gym Duffel 3 Combines Brains & Brawn


If you’re even remotely serious about your workouts, then you almost certainly own a gym bag. These vessels allow users to neatly organize and carry their exercise garb and gear from home, to the office, and back again, day in and day out, all while adding convenience and utility to the routine. With that said, some do this job markedly better than others — a fact that became increasingly clear throughout the duration of our time recently performing a hands-on test of the third iteration of Aer’s purpose-built workout bag, the Gym Duffel 3. Read on to learn about what we uncovered.

Video Review: Aer Gym Duffel 3

Want an even more in-depth look at the latest generation of Aer’s purpose-built workout bag? Then be sure to check out our hands-on video review of the Gym Duffel 3 in stunning 4K.

The Warm Up

First Impressions

At first glance, Aer’s third-generation Gym pack doesn’t resemble your average duffel, with a boxier and less cylindrical form than most workout bags on the market. As per usual, on the aesthetic side, Aer’s San Francisco-based team has delivered a minimalistic merging of form and function, with a monochromatic, blacked-out colorway, and zero visible branding whatsoever save for a single small Hypalon Aer logo patch. At nearly three pounds, the bag is on the heavier side, albeit this is almost entirely owed to its hardwearing materials and construction coupled with its fairly generous dimensions, with the 24.1-liter duffel standing at 11.5” high, 17″ long, and 9” deep.


Ballistic-Grade Bag-Making

Materials & Construction

In typical Aer fashion, the third-gen Gym Duffel has been crafted around a shell composed of ultra-hardwearing, heavily water-resistant, 1,680-denier CORDURA ballistic-grade nylon — a material that was originally developed for military-use body armor. Like its predecessor, the Gym Duffel 3 features a pair of mesh ventilation panels on either end of the bag, allowing its contents to breathe and preventing odor from building up. What’s more, the latest version of this gym bag’s interior lining has been bestowed with an antimicrobial coating that further mitigates odor and bacteria growth, something we certainly appreciated when stowing away our spent sweaty gym gear.


Surface-Level Details

Exterior Elements & Features

For a bag with such a spartan and understated appearance, the exterior of the Gym Duffel 3 sports a surprising number of noteworthy elements. On top of a removable, padded, adjustable, crossbody shoulder strap and a pair of beefy, connectable, padded grab handles, the outside of the pack also boasts heavy-duty, oversized YKK zippers with custom Aer-branded pulls, Duraflex hardware, an exterior water bottle pocket, a luggage handle pass-through, and a single, Velcro-equipped MOLLE webbing strap adorning the back of the bag — the latter two of which are new additions to the third-generation of Aer’s gym bag. These new additions add even more versatility to what was already a feature-packed gym bag, helping to further separate Aer’s bar-raising gym duffel from the pack.


Interior Amenities

Internal Storage & Organization

Designed specifically to accommodate an amalgamation of essentials for both work and working out, the Gym Duffel 3 features a ventilated main compartment that’s accompanied by a stowaway design shoe compartment that can fit gym sneakers in sizes of up to men’s 13 and now features new laser-cut ventilation holes to prevent odor buildup. The interior also still sports the second generation bag’s interior water bottle pocket, a bevy of organizers, and its padded and soft-lined laptop sleeve, though it can now fit notebooks of up to 16”. Additionally, the vertical-zip quick-access front pocket on the bag has been supplemented via a horizontally-zippered quick-access pocket on the back of the bag for smaller items like phones and keys; a helpful feature that kept us from having to rummage through our clothes while checking our phone during workouts.



Firsthand Knowledge Successfully Applied

We would love to see the Duraflex hardware jettisoned in favor of rifle clips or some other alloy-construction buckles, and we miss the second-gen bag’s separate compartment for dirty clothes — our only real gripes with the bag, as insignificant as they may be. Still, Aer’s third-gen Gym Duffel is a fantastic workout bag and without a shadow of a doubt is one of the best gym bags money can currently buy.

The robust and immensely durable materials and craftsmanship also mean one can easily transport oversized water bottles, plate carriers, and other incredibly heavy items without ever having to worry about the bag’s walls or seams tearing or failing. Aer also gives buyers peace of mind, with a warranty that protects the quality and performance of the bag for the lifetime of the product. And, thanks to the inclusion of a separate front pocket for housing gear and tech for work, as well as two quick-access pockets for frequently-used essentials and a padded laptop sleeve, the Gym Duffel 3 can easily replace your work bag on gym days. All in all, while not perfect, the Aer Gym Duffel 3 is an incredibly impressive gym bag with a design that only reveals itself to be more and more calculated the longer you spend using it.

Purchase: $169

The 15 Best Gym Bags for Workouts

Want to check out a further selection of top-tier workout packs? Then be sure to head over to our guide to the best gym bags for more than a dozen models engineered specifically for exercise.