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.
The 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 bag 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. All three backpacks come 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 the NOMATIC bags? They’re very high quality and innovative, but they’re a little over-designed.
So, are NOMATIC travel backpacks as good as they say? I’ll take a look at the ins and outs in this NOMATIC backpack review so you can decide for yourself.
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 Travel Bag off the ground.
And did you know…
Their target was only $20,000? That was one successful Kickstarter.
NOMATIC Backpack Overview
The NOMATIC Backpack is for everyday use. 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. It doesn’t have the specialized features that the travel-specific NOMATIC bags have. However, it does have a few unique features of its own that make it perfect for commuting or a day trip, including a cord pass-through area so you can do things like recharge your phone while still using it.
Its many pockets are perfect for organization geeks and commuters with laptops (including students).
At its smallest size, the NOMATIC backpack is 20L, but you can use the built-in expansion zippers to add a generous 4L. (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.
The NOMATIC Travel Pack is a better option for you than the NOMATIC 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. It shares a bunch of features with both the NOMATIC Backpack and the NOMATIC Travel Bag, but it has some unique features that make it well-suited to a weekend away, including a nifty shoe compartment.
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 gear.
It’s built for city travelers who zip around public transit in style, not for hikers or trekkers. 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 for extra gear except for a laptop, the NOMATIC Travel Pack is a great option. Not so much if you’re a photographer or videographer.
Meets global carry-on requirements.
The expandable system adds a very generous 10L to the capacity. This is great if you accidentally buy a few too many gifts on your trip.
Hyper-organized for stress-free travel.
The mesh divider acts as an additional pocket in expanded-mode, so it keeps everything extra organized.
Excellent security. Again, the RFID pocket is genius.
Laptop compartment fits a 16″ laptop.
No waist straps. Maybe I’m just used to traveling with a traditional backpack, but I feel like some basic waist straps could come in handy.
The laptop sleeve isn’t easy to access on the go.
For me, this pack is an awkward size. I can usually get away with taking a regular commuter backpack for a weekend away. Do you really need a special travel backpack for such a short trip? It’s just not different enough from the NOMATIC Backpack.
The NOMATIC Travel Bag is the biggest backpack in the series. It comes in two sizes: 30L and 40L. 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 one comes with many of the same features as the smaller iterations, but it also adds a bunch more. There’s space for everything, even a separate underwear compartment, and a laundry bag (but only with the 40L bag).
Both the 30L and 40L options are carry-on sized. They both fit snugly under an airline seat, but the 40L is better in the overhead.
This bag isn’t for long-term travelers who travel with a lot of stuff. And while it’s roomy, it’s not ideal for photographers for videographers.
Who is this 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, and laundry bag are outstanding details that solve the worst packing problems.
It has a hip belt with pockets!
Like all the NOMATIC bags, the security is excellent.
Laptop compartment fits a 16″ laptop.
This bag tries to do too much in a small amount of space. It feels cluttered.
The backpack to duffel bag strap transition is a little clunky.
It’s a wide backpack, so in 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.
These bags have 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.
Innovative Stow-Away Strap System
All three backpacks allow 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 backpack for a flight. The snap-away system also lets you hold the bag by its side handles without the hassle of dangling straps.
Retractable Key Leash
The NOMATIC bags all have a retractable key leash. This 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 leash and pull it out whenever you need to unlock your door. You’ll never fumble around for your keys again.
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. The NOMATIC backpack has a purpose-built sleeve so you can do just that without having to do any on-the-spot bag engineering.
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 bag.
Quick Access Fleece-Lined Pocket for Breakables and Valuables
It’s important to have a safe place for your expensive possessions. Each 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. All of the NOMATIC backpacks have 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.
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. Every NOMATIC bag has a 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 all of their backpacks. I am not convinced that a notebook pocket is something anybody needs, but an extra pocket is always good to have.
Hidden Pocket for Valuables
NOMATIC does bag security very well. As well as the RFID blocking pocket, all of the NOMATIC bags have 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 all the NOMATIC backpacks have 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. Here are some of the key differences between all three backpacks.
Magnetic Water Bottle Pocket. The NOMATIC Backpack comes with a magnetic water bottle pocket where you can store your water bottle. It’s great if you’re paranoid about water leaking all over your laptop.
Cord Pass-Through. If you’re still on the wired headphones, you can keep your phone in your bag and run the headphone cord through the 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.
NOMATIC Travel Pack
Shoe Compartment. It’s always a hassle to find a place to store shoes when you’re on a trip. Shoes are disgusting things if you think about it; you really don’t want them near your fresh clothes. The NOMATIC Travel Pack has a section in 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 mesh divider can be zipped around the perimeter to create a new pocket.
NOMATIC Travel Bag
Waist Straps. Unlike the smaller backpacks, the NOMATIC Travel Bag 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 gear. The waist straps are thick and well-padded. They have built-in zippered pockets, too.
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.
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. The NOMATIC Travel Bag lets you keep everything separate with a shoe pocket. It comes with ventilation holes too, so you can let those kicks breathe.
Use It as a Backpack or a Duffel Bag. Sometimes it’s easier to carry it like a duffel bag when traveling short distances. With the NOMATIC Travel Bag, you can quickly snap away the shoulder and waist straps and carry it by the additional duffel bag straps.
Laundry Bag. It comes with a removable mesh laundry 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 isn’t water-resistant at all.
This 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 the Travel 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.
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. But, the suspension systems are 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, so they don’t need a whole lot of extra support.
Due to their bigger size, the 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 shoe compartment and 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.
The laundry bag in the NOMATIC Travel Bag is a game changer too! The only problem with the laundry 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/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. Overall, they often feel clunky, but organized nevertheless.
Durability: Will a NOMATIC Backpack Last?
The NOMATIC backpacks are extremely durable. They’re made from water-resistant material and have reinforced stitching. This makes them almost indestructible.
For general travel use, the NOMATIC backpacks 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 backpack.
Price How Much Does a NOMATIC Backpack Cost?
The price 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 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 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. 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 backpack 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 Travel Bag Accessories
There is a range of accessories specially designed for the NOMATIC Travel Bags and Travel Packs.
Toiletry Bag 2.0
Just like the backpacks, 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. 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 their travel backpacks. 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 NOMATIC Travel Bag comes with a laundry bag, but the 30L version doesn’t. If you want the 30L but you’re set on the laundry bag, you can pick one up separately. You can squeeze it into the NOMATIC Travel Pack too, but it’s not ideal. It’s $29.99.
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 Travel Pack, you can purchase some separately. The waist straps are compatible with all NOMATIC backpacks.
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 NOMATIC backpacks. 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, the NOMATIC backpacks have tons of features. They’re the dream backpacks 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, they 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 bag becomes.
On top of that, the price 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, they aren’t perfect. I honestly think they’re better for traveling professionals and digital nomads who need a well-organized carry-on bag.