The NOMATIC backpack line is supposed to offer the bags to end all bags. That’s what they want you to think, anyway. If raising $2.2 million on Kickstarter for their Travel Bag is anything to go by, they’re pretty convincing.
They make three different backpacks:
The NOMATIC backpack names are way too similar. While the design might be good, NOMATIC desperately needs some help with naming their bags.
I don’t usually dive into criticism so early, but the names are a major pain point when you’re trying to research which NOMATIC Travel Pack, Bag, or Backpack you want. So, I’m going to set the differences straight in this NOMATIC backpack review.
There are a few fundamental differences that you need to know about all three bags in order to make the right decision.
NOMATIC bags are brimming with features—they’re definitely in the running for one of the best backpack brands on the market! Each NOMATIC backpack comes with 20+ features. They’re supposed to have a place for everything. On top of that, they all meet the specs for carry-on luggage regulations.
On paper, NOMATIC travel backpacks seem to be the sure winners for the most functional bags ever, especially for travelers.
But features aren’t everything. My first impressions of these NOMATIC bags? They’re very high quality and innovative, but they’re a little over-designed. I’ll take a look at the ins and outs in this NOMATIC backpack review so you can decide for yourself.
NOMATIC Backpack Review: Quick Answers
- Three designs are available:
- All three bags are carry-on approved for pretty much every airline.
- Super innovative and organized.
- Sleek and modern design.
NOMATIC: Who Are They?
NOMATIC is an entirely crowdfunded company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They only started in 2014, but they already have a vast range of products. In addition to three styles of backpacks that range from commuter-size to travel-friendly, NOMATIC offers everything from wallets to notebooks.
Their backpacks bring an element of style to the backpacking world. They’re much sleeker than your average backpack. They steer clear of exaggerated colors and designs that scream “I’m a backpacker!”
NOMATIC is committed to impeccable quality and highly-functional design. People trust NOMATIC to make great products. That’s why they ended up raising $2.2 million on Kickstarter to get their first bag off the ground. The NOMATIC Travel Pack and NOMATIC Backpack came along next.
And did you know…
Their target was only $20,000? That was one successful Kickstarter.
NOMATIC Backpack Overview
The NOMATIC Backpack is a perfect everyday backpack. It’s marketed as a commuter bag. However, it’s still a decent size if you want to go somewhere overnight.
But that does mean it’s limited as an everyday backpack. It doesn’t have the specialized features that the NOMATIC Travel Pack and Bag have.
Its many pockets are perfect for organization geeks and commuters with laptops (including students). Several features make it perfect for commuting or a day trip, including cord pass throughs so you can do things like recharge your phone while still using it.
At its smallest size, the NOMATIC backpack is 20L, but you can use the built-in expansion zippers to add a generous 4L to the main compartment. (Keep in mind that even this size isn’t ideal for one-bag travelers who are setting out on longer adventures.)
It is stylish as heck. If you’re a fashionable human, you’ll love this sleek look.
- Carry-on approved and makes for a great everyday backpack.
- Next level day-to-day organization.
- Comfortable shoulder straps with a sternum strap.
- Strong security, especially the RFID safe pocket.
- The cord pass-through is a fantastic idea.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Laptop sleeve fits a 15″ laptop.
- No waist straps on the NOMATIC Backpack. Maybe I’m just used to traveling with a traditional backpack with traditional backpack straps (and the usual sternum strap), but I feel like some basic waist straps could come in handy here.
- Unjustifiably expensive for an everyday backpack.
- Not ideal for one-bag travel.
- Not suitable for long walks or treks.
NOMATIC Backpack Specs:
|Dimensions||18.5”H x 12”W x 5-7.5”D|
|Capacity||20L (normal size) to 24L (expanded size)|
NOMATIC Travel Pack Overview
The NOMATIC Travel Pack is a better option for you than the Backpack if you’re looking for a short-term, one-bag travel option. It’s specifically designed for people who need to pack for one to three days of travel.
If you’re a light packer, you could push it to a week. The NOMATIC Travel Pack shares a bunch of features with the other backpacks, but it has some unique features that make it well-suited to a weekend away, including a nifty shoe compartment separate from the main compartment, and top access points.
The NOMATIC Travel Pack also gets the carry-on tick of approval. It fits under the plane seat perfectly. When you’re traveling, it’s always nice to have a bit of extra space. The Nomatic Travel Pack is a very compact 20L at its smallest size, but you can expand it to 30L when you’re carrying more travel gear.
The NOMATIC Travel Pack is also built for city travelers who zip around public transit in style, not for hikers or trekkers. There’s no real harness system here. The design is sleek and minimalist, so if you’re a design nerd, you’ll love it.
If you’re also a digital nomad who doesn’t need a whole lot of space in the main compartment for extra travel gear except for a laptop, the NOMATIC Travel Pack is a great option. Not so much if you’re a photographer or videographer.
- The NOMATIC Travel Pack meets global carry-on requirements.
- The expandable system adds a very generous 10L to the capacity of the main compartment. This is great if you accidentally buy a few too many gifts on your trip.
- Hyper-organized for stress-free travel.
- Comfy backpack straps with a sternum strap.
- The NOMATIC Travel Pack has waist straps.
- Magnetic water bottle pocket.
- Thanks to a perimeter zipper, the mesh divider in the NOMATIC Travel Pack acts as an additional pocket in expanded-mode, so it keeps everything extra organized.
- Excellent security. Again, the RFID pocket is genius.
- Lifetime guarantee.
- Laptop sleeve fits a 16″ laptop.
- The laptop sleeve isn’t easy to access on the go.
- For me, the NOMATIC Travel Pack is an awkward size. I can usually get away with taking a regular commuter backpack for a weekend away. Do you really need this pack for such a short trip? The NOMATIC Travel Pack is just not different enough from the NOMATIC Backpack.
NOMATIC Travel Pack Specs:
|Dimensions||18.5″H x 12″W x 6-9.5″D|
|Capacity||20L (normal size) to 30L (expanded size)|
NOMATIC Travel Bag Overview
The NOMATIC Travel Bag is the biggest NOMATIC backpack in the series. It comes in two sizes: 30L and 40L. It’s slightly roomier than the NOMATIC Travel Pack—NOMATIC says that it’s made for trips up to four days, but I can easily travel with the 40L for 10+ days if I pack with maximum efficiency.
Again, this backpack comes with many of the same features as the smaller iterations, but it also adds a bunch more. There’s space for everything, even an underwear compartment separate from the main compartment, and a bag for laundry (but only with the 40L bag).
Both the 30L and 40L options are carry-on sized. They fit snugly under an airline seat, but the 40L is better in the overhead. You can also quickly alter the shoulder straps to go from backpack mode to duffel mode.
This bag isn’t for long-term travelers who travel with a lot of stuff. And while the main compartment is roomy, it’s not ideal for photographers for videographers. If you’re carrying camera gear or other photography tech gear, you may want to try to check out the WANDRD PRVKE.
Who is this NOMATIC bag for, then? Long-term travelers who are masters of packing light. Laptop-based digital nomads. Airport/bus station/train station to hostel-style travelers. In my opinion, it’s the most functional and most impressive of all the NOMATIC bags.
- Carry-on approved. It’s unusual to find a 40L bag that easily meets global carry-on rules, so this is a huge plus.
- Superb organization. The shoe compartment, magnetic water bottle pocket, tablet sleeve/tablet pocket, and bag for laundry are outstanding details that solve the worst packing problems.
- Comfy shoulder straps with sternum strap.
- It has a hip belt with pockets!
- Like all the NOMATIC bags, the security is excellent.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Laptop sleeve fits a 16″ laptop.
- This bag tries to do too much in a small amount of space. It feels cluttered.
- The backpack straps to duffel bag strap transition is a little clunky.
- It’s a wide backpack, so when you switch from backpack mode to duffel bag mode, you have to hold the straps too far from your body. This makes it a pretty cumbersome experience.
- The laptop sleeve/laptop compartment is buried, so it’s hard to access it quickly. It can also make it hard to close the bag if your laptop is bigger than 13 inches.
- If you have a long torso, the waist straps sit at your stomach rather than your hips. This can be very uncomfortable.
NOMATIC Travel Bag Specs:
|Small Size||Large Size|
|Dimensions||9″ H x 19″ W x 13″ D||9″ H x 21″ W x 14″ D|
|Weight||3.3 LBS||3.42 LBS|
Each NOMATIC backpack has a lot of features in common, but they’re made for very different types of travelers. I’ll go through what they all have in common, and then I’ll break down the key differences for each travel pack.
Innovative Stow-Away Strap System
Every NOMATIC backpack allows you to snap away the shoulder straps when you don’t need them. This is an excellent option if you ever want to check your NOMATIC backpack for a flight. The snap-away shoulder straps system also lets you hold the bag by its side handles without the hassle of dangling straps.
Retractable Key Leash
Both the NOMATIC Backpack and the NOMATIC Travel Pack have a retractable key leash, which is a fantastic feature for serial key-losers. You can easily keep your keys in one place. Simply hook your keys on to the in-built retractable key leash and pull it out whenever you need to unlock your door.
I know a retractable key leash seems like a basic concept, but you’ll never fumble around for your keys again!
Magnetic Water Bottle Pockets
The NOMATIC Backpack and the NOMATIC Travel Pack both come with a magnetic water bottle pocket. It’s perfect if you’re paranoid about water leaking all over your laptop.
Personally, water bottle pockets are important for me—I can’t imagine not having hydration while on the go. But a pocket is also not as accessible as your typical water bottle holder, so keep that in mind.
If you’re still on the wired headphones, you can keep your phone in your bag and run the headphone cord through the cord pass through. It also makes for easy charging. This is especially good if you’re low on juice in a public place where you want to keep your phone and other gadgets secured.
Roller Bag Sleeve
If you’re traveling with a rolling suitcase, it always pays to bring an extra bag with you. It’s all the more convenient if you can loop the extra backpack over the roller bag handle. Every NOMATIC backpack has a purpose-built sleeve so you can do just that without having to do any on-the-spot bag engineering.
Unlike the smaller backpacks, the NOMATIC Travel Bag and the NOMATIC Travel Pack has adjustable waist straps. They’re an excellent addition to a purpose-built bag. You really need that extra back support if you’re walking a fair distance with all your travel gear. The waist straps are thick and well-padded. They have built-in zippered pockets, too.
A Ridiculous Amount of Pockets
Big ones, small ones, NOMATIC sure does love their pockets. All the NOMATIC backpacks have a dazzling amount of mesh and zippered pockets.
Here are all the different types of pockets that all of the NOMATIC packs have.
Laptop Sleeve/Laptop Compartment
A laptop sleeve/laptop compartment is pretty much mandatory these days. NOMATIC is on top of all the current must-haves in backpacking, so it goes without saying that all three backpacks come with a laptop compartment. You can expect to fit a 13” laptop in each NOMATIC backpack.
Quick Access Fleece-Lined Pocket for Breakables and Valuables
It’s important to have a safe place for your expensive possessions. Each NOMATIC backpack has a soft, fleece-lined pocket that will keep your valuables intact and scratch-free. It’s super easy to access, too.
RFID-Blocking and Lockable Pocket
NOMATIC has thought long and hard about keeping gear secure. Each NOMATIC backpack has a theft-proof pocket that you can lock. It’s also lined with RFID blocking material, so you don’t have to worry about someone skimming your card through your bag. An RFID safe pocket is a must for any digital nomad.
Hardshell Pocket to Store Glasses
Sunglasses are the number one thing I break or lose when I’m traveling. It’s just so hard to find a good place to store them. Those cases you get at the optometrist don’t hold up to the demands of travel either.
NOMATIC has solved this dilemma for you with a built-in sunglasses case. Every NOMATIC backpack has a sunglasses case pocket protected by the hardshell where you can stash your shades.
Have you ever had a notebook and thought, “I wish I had a pocket for this notebook?”
Yeah, neither have I.
Somebody at NOMATIC did, though. They’ve put a purpose-built notebook pocket in each travel pack. I am not convinced that a notebook pocket is something anybody needs, but an extra pocket is always good to have. Maybe you’ll need to frantically scribble down the email address of the person you just met in the hostel. Who knows?
Hidden Pocket for Valuables
NOMATIC does bag security very well. As well as the RFID blocking pocket, each NOMATIC backpack has a hidden pocket where you can store even more valuables. It’s the perfect place to stash your gold and Swiss passports.
That’s a quick rundown of the features each travel pack has in common; now, I’ll dive into the key differences.
NOMATIC Backpack vs NOMATIC Travel Bag vs NOMATIC Travel Pack
These three NOMATIC bags are super versatile and include plenty of organization options. They’re all made for very different travelers, though. Next up in this backpack review we’ll discuss some of the differences between all three backpacks.
- Simplicity. Simplicity is what the NOMATIC Backpack is really all about. It doesn’t have the super technical features of the NOMATIC Travel Pack or Travel Bag. It’s more basic than the others, so it’s ideal as an everyday backpack or day bag for short trips.
NOMATIC Travel Pack
- Shoe Compartment. Shoes are disgusting things if you think about it; you really don’t want them near your fresh clothes in the main compartment. It’s always a hassle to find a place to store shoes when you’re on a trip, but not with the NOMATIC Travel Pack. The NOMATIC Travel Pack has a section separate from the main compartment where you can slip your shoes in.
- Zippered Mesh Divider. The mesh divider in the main compartment seems pretty useless at first, but once you expand the NOMATIC Travel Pack, it all makes sense. When you expand the bag, it adds a whole lot of depth to the main compartment. The perimeter zipper around the mesh divider can be used to create a new pocket.
NOMATIC Travel Bag
- Underwear Pocket. There is a special pocket to keep your underwear. I really like this feature when I get into my accommodation late and just want to grab the basics without unpacking my whole bag.
- Hip Belt. This bag comes with a padded hip belt with a pocket to stash your phone or other valuables!
- Ventilated Shoe Pocket. If you’ve ever experienced stinky shoe shame (don’t pretend you haven’t), then you’ll love this feature. If you’re prone to smelly feet, it’s super unpleasant if you have to stash your shoes with your clean clothes. Somewhat like the extra compartment on the NOMATIC Travel Pack, this backpack lets you keep everything separate with a shoe pocket. It comes with ventilation holes too, so you can let those kicks breathe.
- Use it in Backpack Mode or as a Duffel Bag. Sometimes it’s easier to carry it like a duffel bag when traveling short distances. With the Travel Bag, you can quickly snap away the waist and backpack straps and carry it by the additional duffel bag straps.
- Laundry Bag. It comes with a removable mesh bag that you can hook over a door. The days of stuffing all your dirty clothes into a disintegrating plastic bag are done.
What Materials Are the NOMATIC Bags Made Of?
The NOMATIC bags are all made from extra-durable tarpaulin. The stitching is reinforced too, so these bags can take a beating.
They’re all water-resistant, well, sort of. Here’s the strange part: the back panels are made of ballistic weave. This material doesn’t have any water resistance whatsoever, and can potentially leak through to the main compartment.
The lack of water resistance seems like a strange decision, especially for the NOMATIC Travel Bag. If you’re using it as a duffel bag, you set the bag down on the back panel. But if you accidentally drop it in a puddle, you can say bye-bye to dry possessions.
This seems like a pretty significant oversight. Especially because water resistance is one of the key selling points of this bag.
Aesthetics: How Does it Look?
A major point of difference with the NOMATIC backpacks compared to other backpacks is their sleek, modern design. The boxy simplicity reminds me of the Tortuga Outbreaker, or the Peak Design Travel Bag (you can read a full comparison here).
They only come in black. If you want something more vibrant, you’ll need to look elsewhere. I personally love black. It’s timeless and doesn’t get dirty. They also look very professional, so these bags can double as something you can take to work.
If you don’t like the look of bright, traditional backpacks and you like to be stylish but low-key, the NOMATIC backpacks are a great option for you.
Comfort: Is it Easy to Wear?
The NOMATIC bags are pretty comfortable to wear, with well padded shoulder straps and a sternum strap. But, the harness system (or lack of a harness system, really) on each is very basic. They’ve got nothing on a traditional trekking backpack. However, this is not what the bags are for. They’re designed to be worn between hostels and bus stations or airports like an everyday backpack, so they don’t need a whole lot of extra support.
Due to their bigger size, the NOMATIC Travel Pack and the Travel Bag come with detachable hip straps to add a little extra support to your back. They are well-padded and durable. However, if you have a long torso, the straps sit at your stomach rather than your hips, so that can be a bit uncomfortable. But they are detachable, so simply remove them if they don’t work.
The backpack’s back panel is made of ballistic material. While it does nothing to stop water from getting in, it does a decent job of absorbing back sweat.
And if you travel, you know how annoying back sweat is.
Organization: How Does it Stack Up?
The organization that NOMATIC bags offer is their biggest draw in my opinion. NOMATIC backpacks are some of the best in the world for organization freaks!
All three bags offer more compartments and pockets than you could ever dream of. The compartment for shoes and the pocket in the NOMATIC Travel Pack and NOMATIC Travel Bag are great details. There’s nothing worse than having to stuff your dirty, stinky shoes in with your clean clothes in the main compartment.
The extra bag for laundry in the NOMATIC Travel Bag is a game changer too! The only problem with the bag is that it’s made from mesh. If your clothes are particularly stinky, they might spread their stench onto your clean clothes. You may want to wrap your clothes up in plastic too. But if that’s the case, you may as well wash your clothes.
The sunglasses case/glasses case is another really cool feature. I’m constantly losing and/or breaking sunglasses while I’m on a trip because I never have anywhere to keep them. The purpose-made pocket has solved a major problem for me.
I also appreciate that they all incorporate an anti-theft secure pocket, as well as a hidden one. It’s pretty hard these days to travel without any valuables or technology at all. However, thieves are getting better at thievin’ our precious possessions, so the extra layers of security are excellent for peace-of-mind.
The designers at NOMATIC thought of everything when it comes to organization. It’s almost like they were showing off for the sake of it. In many ways, the bags try to do too much with too little space. Bottom line, they often feel clunky, but organized nevertheless.
Durability: Will a NOMATIC Backpack Last?
Each NOMATIC travel pack is extremely durable. They’re made from water-resistant material and have reinforced stitching. This makes them almost indestructible.
For general travel use, your NOMATIC backpack should see you through to old age. Even if they don’t, they come with a lifetime warranty, so the company will fix any issues for you, provided you didn’t throw your bag into a geyser or something.
Admittedly, they won’t hold up to the challenge of a tough hike through the Himalayas. But that’s definitely not what they’re made for. You’d be facing more serious problems than a hole in your backpack if you tried to climb Everest with a NOMATIC Travel Pack (for example).
Price How Much Does a NOMATIC Backpack Cost?
The price tag is certainly high for these bags. They are outstanding quality and well-designed though, so you really do get what you pay for.
Personally, for a small, everyday backpack, I think the NOMATIC Backpack is overpriced. However, the travel-oriented backpacks (the NOMATIC Travel Pack and the Travel Bag) are reasonably priced for what they can achieve. You’d be paying around the same price for an Osprey of similar functionality; however, you’d be using it for different purposes.
The kicker is the cost of shipping. The shipping cost is high if you’re buying a NOMATIC Travel Pack, Bag, or Backpack outside of the United States.
Warranty: What Kind of Warranty Comes With the NOMATIC Backpack and Travel Bag?
All NOMATIC products come with a lifetime warranty. They will repair anything that becomes defective or non-functioning due to normal wear-and-tear or a production issue. They do not repair cosmetic wear.
The customer has to pay for shipping costs back to the factory, but NOMATIC covers all the repair costs. So even if you accidentally tear a big hole in your NOMATIC Travel Pack, they’ll take care of it. They also send the bag back to you free of charge. If it’s beyond repair, they will replace the whole bag for you.
Shipping: Does NOMATIC Ship Their Backpacks and Travel Bags Internationally?
NOMATIC ships their bags to every country in the world (except war zones). But NOMATIC is not very upfront about their shipping costs. Unlike other travel pack companies that have really clear grids for shipping costs, you have to dig around a lot on their website to find out how much you’ll pay.
I saved you from doing the hard work by plugging in some random addresses from around the world. When I saw the shipping prices, I realized why NOMATIC hides them away!
For many regions in the world, the shipping costs are insanely expensive. In a world dominated by free or cheap shipping, they would turn almost everyone off from buying a NOMATIC bag.
Here’s what I found.
Standard shipping prices for Canada, Europe, and the UK are $15-$30. That seems reasonable!
I then looked at shipping prices for Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. If you live in the Asia Pacific, you will be paying $100+ for shipping alone. It’s barely worth it when you’re already paying over $250 for the bag itself.
But wait, it gets worse. If you’re in Mexico or somewhere in Latin America, you’ll pay around $250 in shipping costs. That’s crazy!
I have no idea what NOMATIC’s distribution channels are, but these costs are outrageous. Nobody in their right mind would pay that much for shipping. This is something that Nomatic really needs to work on. I bet they miss out on a lot of sales because of this.
NOMATIC Backpack Accessories
There is a range of accessories specially designed for each NOMATIC backpack.
Toiletry Bag 2.0
Just like each NOMATIC backpack, the NOMATIC Toiletry Bag has a pocket for everything. There is a small and regular size, so you can choose the size that works for you and won’t take up too much room in your bag’s main compartment. It’s broken down into three sections and even has a special spot to keep your toothbrush.
It comes with a hook so you can hang it over the bathroom door or towel rail. The small bag is $49.99, and the regular is $69.99. I’ve got a toiletry bag that looks exactly the same, and I bought it for $10.
Packing cubes are always a good thing to have, even in an already hyper-organized bag. You could just get a few generic packing cubes, but the advantage of the NOMATIC packing cubes is that they’re purpose-made for every travel pack. They compress your clothes by a few good inches.
They’re $29.99 each, and that’s fairly reasonable.
If you’re going on a business trip, it can be a hassle to keep your work clothes wrinkle-free. NOMATIC’s shirt organizer will keep your shirts well-pressed. It holds up to five shirts. It’s $29.99. That’s a smart investment.
The 40L travel bag comes with a bag for laundry, but the 30L version doesn’t. If you want the 30L but you’re set on the this bag, you can pick one up separately. You can squeeze it into the NOMATIC Travel Pack too, but it’s not ideal. Laundry bags are handy when you’re on the road and need to either drop off your separated dirty clothes, or spend some time at the laundromat. It’s $29.99, but honestly you could probably pick up a mesh laundry bag for a fraction of the price and it’ll do the same job.
The NOMATIC vacuum bags are fantastic because they don’t require a vacuum to suck the air out. They come with an air valve that you can use to push the air out from your clothes and soft items. In a pinch, you can also store your wet or dirty clothes in them. I’m a big fan of packing cubes, but I’m an even bigger fan of vacuum bags. I highly recommend these. The vacuum bags are $29.99.
If you really want the extra support of waist straps for the NOMATIC Backpack or NOMATIC Travel Pack, you can purchase some separately. The waist straps are compatible with each NOMATIC backpack.
They’re also $29.99 too, which isn’t too bad.
NOMATIC Backpack Review Summary: My Final Thoughts
There has been a lot of chatter about the NOMATIC Travel Pack, Backpack, and Travel Bag. They’re supposed to change the game of backpacking.
Now, don’t get me wrong, they are great products.
The bags are all very robust, high-quality, and well-thought-out.
And sure, each NOMATIC backpack has tons of features. The NOMATIC backpack is a dream backpack for people who love to be super-organized, but are they the be-all and end-all?
I don’t think so.
In my opinion, and as I’ve mentioned several times in this NOMATIC travel bag review, these bags come across as over-designed. When you’re researching NOMATIC bags, the features are very appealing. When you dig down, you can’t help but doubt if some of those features are even beneficial.
It’s important to remember that the more features you cram into a small space, the more clunky and heavier the travel pack becomes.
On top of that, the price tag is very high. This is particularly true if you’re based in the Asian Pacific or Latin America, and you have to pay those astronomical shipping rates.
The NOMATIC products fit in a strange space in the cosmos of bags. They do too much for a short vacation, but they don’t provide enough space (or back support) for a serious backpacking journey.
So, while they look nice and have a laundry list of features, the bottom line is they aren’t perfect. I honestly think they’re better for traveling professionals and digital nomads who need a well-organized carry-on bag.
But to each their own, right?