12 June 2018
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You’re probably reading this because you’ve Googled the Nomatic series of bags. It’s no secret – Nomatic makes great backpacks. They’re one the most funded travel backpacks in the history of Kickstarter with good reason.
We spent 3 days reading every single article and watching every review video made about the Nomatic bags. Here’s a distilled summary of everything we've learnt.
A – THERE ARE 3 NOMATIC BAGS IN EXISTENCE
You’re probably as confused by the product names as we were. The close sounding names were really not well thought out.
There are actually 3 Nomatic backpacks in existence.
|Product Name||Capacity||Initially Launched||Use Case|
|Nomatic Travel Bag||40L||2016||All-in-one luggage replacement (compacted into a carry-on). ⠀ >7 days|
|Nomatic Travel Pack||20L. Expandable to 30L.||End 2017||Everyday carry + short trips. ⠀ 1-3 days|
|Nomatic Backpack||20L. Expandable to 24L.||End 2017||Everyday carry. ⠀ Daily|
[Sept 2019 Update] There is also a 30L version that was launched sometime start of 2019.
(1) Nomatic Travel Bag (40L)
What It is
This was launched on Kickstarter in 2016 as a large (but cabin-sized) backpack that had tons of cool and useful pockets/compartments – especially a shoe compartment! The 40L Nomatic Travel Bag is made of a high-quality tarpaulin leather-like material that is water resistant and features comfortable well-padded straps.
The Most Successful Backpack Kickstarter
When it launched, the 40L Nomatic Travel Bag quickly became the most funded Kickstarter travel backpack in history, rasing USD1.7M from 9,067 backers (yes outdoing even the Bobby Backpack, which only raised £640,923 from 10,665 backers).
Following this success, Nomatic launched two new products in 2017 – the Nomatic Backpack and the Nomatic Travel Pack.
(2) Nomatic Backpack (20-24L) and Nomatic Travel Pack (20-30L)
What They Are.
(Take note, the 20-30L Travel Pack is not to be confused with the 40L Travel Bag.) The first 40L Nomatic Travel Bag was made to carry enough stuff for 3-7 days.
In contrast, the expandable 20-24L Nomatic Backpack and 20-30L Nomatic Travel Pack were made to be the everyday carry / short-trip (1-3 day) versions of the original 40L Nomatic Bag.
B – FEATURES
All 3 Nomatic bags pack a lot of cool and useful features. As a gauge, Nomatic's YouTube reviews last at least 30 minutes! We'll be focusing on the everyday carry 20-24L Nomatic Backpack and 20-30L Nomatic Travel Pack today.
Here's a quick summary of the features of the 20-24L Nomatic Backpack and the 20-30L Travel Pack.
Nomatic Travel Pack
|Internal Organization||Mesh-divided central compartment and shoe compartment. Compressible packing cubes.||Swappable inside panels|
|Expansion||Full perimeter expansion zippers||Expansion zippers that end at sides|
|Laptop Compartment||Top-open.||Separate zipper compartment, opens fully flat.|
|Magnetic Water Bottle Pouch||√||√|
|Durable Waterproof Materials And Zipper||√||√|
|Hidden Pocket Behind Straps||√||√|
|RFID Safe Pocket||√||√|
|Retractable Key Leash||√||√|
|Roller Bag Sleeve||√||√|
|Cord Pass Throughs||√||√|
|Full Perimeter Zippers For Easy Packing||√||√|
|Top Access Pocket||√||√|
Product update (20 April 2018)! Nomatic has decided to eliminate the shoe panel due to low demand for that panel. Furthermore, they have combined the tech panel and the paper panel into 1 combined panel.
Nomatic's email: "We also have some great news! We have updated the NOMATIC Backpack panels! After receiving feedback from our customers we have realized that we can offer more functionality to the NOMATIC Backpack by combining the tech pocket and the paper organizer into one pocket. We also realized that the shoe pocket panel was not in high demand and will not be including that panel with the Backpack any longer. We are really excited for these changes."
C – REVIEWS
Paper features are one thing. The real question is – how do the 20-24L Nomatic Backpack and 20-30L Nomatic Travel Pack measure up in actual use over a few months?
We turned to third-party independent YouTube reviews, professional review websites and the comments section of various places (from the everyday man) to find out.
Comment 1 – Top handle is well-padded and comfortable to hold
Many backpack handles are thin and cut into your hands after holding for some time. Not the Nomatic’s. Reviewers love that these are so luxuriously padded – one even waxed on about how much a pleasure it was to hold them.
Comment 2 – Well padded straps, ventilated backing
Reviewers note that the Nomatic bag straps are well padded. The back panel (part pressed against your back) material dissipates heat well, and its ventilation grooves increase airflow for even better cooling. Overall the Nomatic bags are comfortable to carry for hours (a couple of YouTube reviewers actually did so).
Comment 3 – Side grab handles
Reviewers love the fact that there are grips for you to hold the bags by their sides (like a briefcase). This allows a better distribution of weight (and are overall easier to carry) when packed heavy, as opposed to holding by the top handle. Not all felt comfortable going as far as using it as a briefcase given the "backpack" look however.
Comment 4 – Magnetic Water Bottle Pockets
Everyone who reviewed the Nomatic absolutely loved the magnetic external water bottle pouches on each side. It expands when needed, and satisfyingly snaps shut when empty to maintain the Nomatic’s sleek profile.
Comment 5 – Trolley Luggage Slide-On Sleeve
The Nomatic bags are designed with a back panel gap that allows you to slide the bags onto the handles of trolley luggage. Reviewers thought the ability to drag your trolley bag and the Nomatic together was a nice touch.
Comment 6 – High quality Tarpaulin Material and Sealed Zips
Reviewers like that the Nomatic bags are made of a quality rubbery/leather-like Tarpaulin material that is very water-resistant. They also were pleasantly surprised at the Nomatic's weather-sealing zipper (has a sealing layer on top of its teeth) that further improves water-resistance.
PS: No zipper-based backpack can truly be absolutely waterproof / submersion proof. For that, you’ll need those roll-top bags).
Comment 7 – Top Quick Access Compartment
Reviewers generally think that this fleece-lined compartment is super convenient. This is especially for small delicate items that you might want to easily reach. Some of them feel it could have been made deeper however.
Comment 8 – Full Perimeter & Side Access
This was one of the most loved features of the Nomatic bags. You can fully open the main compartment – 180 degrees flat – for easy packing.
Comment 9 – Quick-access laptop compartment
Reviewers like that the Nomatic bags have full-open laptop compartment – separate from the main one – that opens flat. This makes airport security checks a breeze.
Comment 10 – Many, MANY mesh elastic pockets
If there was one thing all reviewers agreed on, it was that the organisation design was brilliant.
There are so many mesh elastic pockets – of every conceivable size – strategically placed all throughout the Nomatic bags.
You’ll definitely find one that works for any item you want to pack. The only downside is that you may sometimes forget where you kept an item.
Comment 11 – Protective Sunglasses Hard Case
Reviewers like that a fabric-lined removable hard case was included for glasses / sunglasses. They thought it is a little bulky, but not really an issue since it is removable anyway.
As with all products, there are the fans and the haters.
PS: Based on our experience, one has to be careful with one-off negative comments. Creators of competing products sometimes post false “complaints” to ruin their competitors’ products. It’s unethical, but it happens more often than you'll think.
That being said, we want to transparently deal with these negative comments, and let you form your own judgement.
Issue 1 – Some commenters have noted that after 40 minutes of heavy snow/rain, the insides felt damp.
Analysis: Nomatic explicits states that the bag is NOT submersion proof. Exposing it to heavy rains for 40 minutes is really almost like submerging it in water, so this dampness is actually quite understandable.
Despite so, professional reviewers – who have their reputations on the line – specifically noted that they had no such problems under normal rain / snow conditions. "Normal" likely means less than 40 minutes exposure – which, let's be honest, is more normal and reasonable to expect.
Some commenters have also noted that the zippers have to be properly closed, as there is a tenancy for it to spring up a little when zipped to the bottom. This could explain why the insides of the Nomatic got wet under heavy rain.
Issue 2 – Some commenters note that the zippers do not close as smoothly, and sometimes get stuck.
Analysis: This is odd as YouTube reviewers have said and shown on camera that the zipper work pretty smoothly. It is likely the person who made this complaint received a mildly defective product. There have been no complaints since Jan 2018, so if this was an initial production problem, it's gone now.
Issue: Nomatic Travel Pack unable to stand on its own without laptop inside.
Analysis: Frankly this is understandable. It’s hard to design a bag that stands on its own even when its center of gravity changes – especially when there are things like an expandable zip and a laptop’s weight to take into account. Given that the Travel Pack stands on its own either when (1) a laptop is inside, and (2), the expandable part is extended, we don’t see this as a big problem. If this is a deal breaker to you, skip this bag.
Issue 3 – There have been a couple isolated comments that the quality does not feel as great as they thought it should be.
Analysis: There are many people whose comments disagree with this and stand by the high quality of the Nomatic bags. All YouTube reviewers we came across for instance thought the rubbery Tarpaulin material felt great and was of a good quality. Many YouTube comments also agree with Nomatic's quality claim. What likely happened was that the complainers were used to a different type of "rugged" material, and incorrectly assumed the Tarpaulin material is inferior. So far the evidence suggests the Nomatic bags are well-made and great quality for its price point.
Issue 4 – A YouTube comment noted that the bottom of the bag got scuffed after a few months of usage.
Analysis: This shouldn’t come as any surprise if the bag is treated roughly in everyday usage. Dragging the bag across sandy or concrete floors could cause shallow scratches to the bottom part. What’s important is sensible care in everyday usage. Incidentally, you may want to check out our Heroclips to avoid leaving bags on the floor.
In conclusion, we spent hours pouring through tons of reviews to bring you this quick summary, but it is really meant as a starting point for you to do your own research.
We've included links from our research so you can form your own opinion based on firsthand evidence :)
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