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Is traveling one of your biggest passions? Or are you on the road constantly for work? Then the Nomatic 40L Travel Bag could be just what you are looking for.

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.

This bag was a big hit on the crowdfunding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo, raising an impressive $3 million before becoming more generally available for purchase. But is it as good as the videos make it seem?

One thing I’ve noticed in reviewing backpacks is that overindulging on too many features can also 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.

Recently, I purchased the Nomatic backpack to take a critical look at its convenience and comfort.

 

Features

Before I get into my overall impressions, let’s look at 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 this 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

I have to agree: this backpack is ridiculously clever and innovative. You’ll find more packing features on the Nomatic Travel Bag than virtually any other backpack. You can even add on many optional accessories, which are all designed to work as one integrated system.

But is this a backpack for everyone? Maybe not.

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 becomes. Do you really need a separate ‘book compartment’ or a dedicated ‘underwear compartment’?

I do like all the clever bells and whistles. If you’re a frequent business traveler, you can probably make the best use of them. If you travel for short bursts often, you can optimize the way you pack and make the best use out of every little feature. This bag seems to be great for digital nomads as well, perhaps in addition to another piece of rolled luggage.

For just a holiday, this bag would probably be overkill. And while it’s extremely functional, I do like the more streamlined design of the Tortuga Setout or Peak Design backpacks.

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

Price $260

Pros

  • Brimming with clever features
  • Made of very durable tarpaulin material, this bag can easily withstand water, rain, snow, or harsh conditions
  • Pass-through sleeve to fit over the handle of a roller bag

Cons

  • Water bottle pocket is oddly in the inside of the backpack
  • Weighs at least 4 lb or almost 2 kg.
  • Ideal for business travelers, but less so for budget or holiday travelers