Nomatic 40L: Smartest Backpack Ever or Just Needlessly Complex?

October 17, 2018

Nomatic 40L Travel Pack: Check for the latest price at Nomatic’s website.

Is travelling one of your biggest passions? Or are you on the road constantly for work?

If so, then you definitely know the importance of having a reliable travel bag that helps you stay organized, where you can put all your travel essentials and be ready for the road instantly. While it may not be the ideal backpack quite for everyone (as we’ll cover in a minute), the Nomatic 40L Travel Bag could be just what you are looking for.

In this review I’ll aim to answer these key questions:

  1. Are all the features truly as handy as they seem?
  2. Is the Nomatic just a business travel bag?
  3. Is this backpack worth the price?

First, a little background: this bag is brainchild of Nomatic, a company that creates innovative travel products. Their Travel Bag was a big hit on the crowdfunding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo, raising an impressive $3 million before becoming more generally available for purchase.

This top-of-the-line travel bag is advertised as “the most functional bag ever”, and the promo videos are simply bursting with demonstrations of smart features and clever compartments. But while convenience, efficiency, and comfort are important to me as a traveller, I’m also wondering if overindulging on too many features could be a bad thing. Usually there are trade-offs at play: for example, even the sturdiest backpack materials can still make it too heavy, and having the greatest number of storage spaces can also make organizing more complex and items harder to find.

So, what is the story with the Nomatic 40L?

Features

Let’s ask ourselves if this is truly the “most functional bag ever” by looking at all of the features one by one.

Compartment and Pockets

Laptop and Tablet Pockets – I used to be very quite hard on my gadgets and electronics when my old backpack didn’t have any seperate compartments. Clothes, shoes, and toiletries — you name it — everything went in in the same place. That’s not a problem here as the Nomatic 40L has a separate and well-padded laptop or tablet sleeve that keeps your electronics secure.

Shoe Compartment – This is a relatively rare feature on a travel bag. I know the Aer Travel Pack 2 has it, but not many others. At first, I was sceptical as to whether I really needed this, as I normally just keep my shoes in a tote bag in the main compartment. But it’s actually pretty neat to be able to store them separately, and when it’s not in use it doesn’t take up any of the main compartment’s space.

Water Bottle Pocket – This is something I see in a lot of bags, but usually on the outside on the side. Nomatic has chosen to make this an internal pouch for some reason, lined with a water-proof material. I would personally prefer to keep a water bottle on the outside or carry it in some other way, as in thid design it infringes a little on the available space in the main compartment.

Nomatic also has designed the bag to include additional pockets for specific items – Valuables Pocket, Underwear Compartment, and Cord Management. They are all functional and useful.

Material and Design

Durable Materials – Made of very durable tarpaulin material, this bag can easily withstand water, rain, snow, or harsh conditions. The material is not just water resistant but waterproof. It feels very rugged and strong. Even the zippers are water- and rust-resistant, so you don’t to worry about your things getting wet.

Color and design – I love that Nomatic kept the color choices to shades to black only. Nothing too bright and too dull, which makes the bag more appealing. The triangular patterns are nice touch. It looks stylish but professional, and highly suitable as a backpack for work.

In terms of outer design, the bag vaguely resembles a Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack. It’s a little boxy, but since it comes with a sleek minimalist design, it still gets a thumbs up from me.

Weight and size

Carry on size – By far, the Nomatic 40L Bag is the largest of all Nomatic packs. (They also have 20L Nomatic Backpack and the 30L Nomatic Travel Pack.) The important question is, “Does the 40L travel bag qualify as a carry on?” Drumroll, please…

With dimensions of 21″ x 14″ x 9″ it will definitely pass as carry-on luggage. So, YES, it is a carry on bag! It will fit in the overhead compartment as well as the under seat as storage in flight as long as you don’t overfill it.

Weight – this is unfortunately a key weakness of this bag, as the durable materials and plethora of pockets and accessories make it weigh at least 4 lb or almost 2 kg. Given that some airlines restrict carry-on luggage to as little as 8kg, this really eats into your carry-on weight budget. There are always trade-offs in backpack designs, and the overall weight definitely supports from the huge number of features on this backpack.

Suspension system and optional accessories

The harness is in a slightly unconventional position, namely in front of the main compartment opening rather than at what normally would be considered the ‘back’. This restricts access just a little bit, though not so much that it becomes annoying.

Waist strap – The bag is reasonably comfortable to wear. The suspension system is pretty basic though with just two straps connected by a sternum strap. A detachable waist strap is available but comes as an add-in accessory.

Roller Bag Sleeve – Nothing can be cooler than having a bag that has roller sleeves. And apparently, Nomatic 40L continues to impress with its roller bag sleeve you can use in situations that you travel with a roller suitcase. It was designed to have built-in durable sleeve to fit over the handle of a roller bag.

Laundry Bag – this expandable laundry bag can be attached to a door knob in your hotel room. It’s pretty neat, although being backpacker myself (often staying in small rooms) I don’t see myself using this a lot. I probably prefer to have my stinky laundry in a closed bag already, instead of in a mesh bag. But for business travelers staying in a hotel, this could be a great little addition.

Shirt Organizer – pretty neat, keeps your shirt free from wrinkles

Vacuum bag – let’s you vacuum seal some clothes to increase available space

You can view a complete overview of all the available accessories on Nomatic’s product site.

Conclusion

Yep, so this backpack is ridiculously clever and innovative. You’ll find way more packing features on the Nomatic Travel Bag than virtually any other backpack. You can even pimp it with optional accessories, all designed to work as one integrated system.

But… I also have a nagging feeling it’s not quite for everyone.

Firstly, many of these features probably look better in a demonstration video than they might work in practice. It’s worth keeping in mind that the more features you add, the more compartmentalized, cramped, and heavy the backpack also becomes. Do you really need a separate ‘book compartment’? A dedicated ‘underwear compartment’? The jury is out on this.

Personally I do like all the clever bells and whistles, but I also think you’re probably in the best position to use them well if you’re a regular business traveler, which seems to be the core target audience for this backpack. If you travel for short bursts often, you can optimize the way you pack and make the best use out of every nook and cranny in this thing. I can see it being a good bag for digital nomads as well, perhaps in addition to another piece of rolled luggage.

This bag is probably overkill for just a holiday, and it’s probably a bit too clever and a bit too heavy for anyone who’s just backpacking or going on a world trip. If you’re in that category, then my favorites are still the Tortuga Setout or the Osprey Farpoint.

Where to buy: you can buy it from Nomatic’s store, which ships internationally to (almost) every country

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