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NOMATIC Travel Bag Review

NOMATIC continues its expansion of the product line and moves into bigger travel bag territory. Can it deliver in the expanded space....space? Woof, sorry about that.

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Introduction to the NOMATIC Travel Bag Review

NOMATIC has come a long way. After their "blew the doors off" Kickstarter original backpack they've now expanded into all sorts of different products (we love their toiletry kit, check out our NOMATIC toiletry bag 2.0 review ). They do rollers. They do accessories. They do multiple backpacks. There's even another Kickstarter for a new line. Whew - they've been busy. Today we're looking at their 40L travel bag - a size that I tend to find is a good sweet spot for "onebag" travel.

For this bag, while they use some of the same materials and design cues, it's much more of a duffel/backpack combo bag vs a traditional backpack. Mostly because of the size. 

Like most of their packs, the NOMATIC Travel Bag promises to be a well made pack, with some nice design features thrown in. But how it works in practice, we'll find that out.


This is my NOMATIC Travel Bag review. For full transparency, I had no interaction with NOMATIC for this review. I purchased this bag on my own after many hours of personal research into it first. Further, this page does use affiliate links to help run the website. If you click them and purchase I do earn a small commission, but there is no additional cost to you and you have no obligation to use these links.

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NOMATIC Travel Bag Product Overview

The bag continues NOMATIC's very distinct design language. Mostly all black, some graphics on it playing with their logo (2020 Note: The updated versions of this bag have removed this graphic ). 

 

This bag is boxish (which some might like and some might not) and it's designed to be packed more like a duffel bag that can be worn on your back. 

It's made out of heavily water resistant material, and the zippers are all sealed (though I do not believe they are YKK from what I can tell). 

There's also a sleeve for your laptop and tablet, as well as a concealed water bottle pocket.  Top and bottom have grab handles, but the sides do not.

 

Most of the zippers on the outside are lockable with loops they've implemented, but they are not the made-to-lock "kissable" zippers you see on many bags. (Heard an Aussie reviewer say that recently, gonna steal it. Thanks, Oz).

Quick full shot of the bag.

Something interesting to note is the strap system. This is a feature they highlight as pretty innovative, and theoretically it is. The straps for the duffel style carry, are actually attached and all part of one mechanism with the backpack straps. So as you pull on one strap, the other strap loses slack and tightens against the bag. I think your best bet is to view the video on their site - hard to explain other wise.

The bag retails for around $279.00 USD, but can occasionally be found on sale, so keep your eyes peeled.

Next up we'll get into more of the features.

NOMATIC Travel Bag Features List

There are a lot of different items on this bag and I think they are all pretty functional. You can see here the opening is definitely a duffel style. You'll get a big central area to put your stuff. On each side, you've got some pockets for various things. One side there are two basic, but big, pockets of different sizes, good for whatever you want. On the other, is your "tech" organization section. Like the other NOMATIC bags, there is a specific area to organize your tech vs. a pocket with its own volume to put something like a Bellroy tech pouch. But in this pocket, there are enough spots for pretty much everything I would put into a pouch or tech kit, which is good to see if this style fits you. The tech side has an RFID safe pocket too. All of these pockets have sealed zippers on the outside. Worth noting.

The backpack straps on this bag are decent. I didn't find anything good or bad with them in  terms of wearing them, which when talking about backpack straps, that's fine for me.

The "Functional" Features - There are still a lot of functional pockets to cover on this one and they all are pretty solid and don't seem frivolous. You can see the laptop pouch here also has a tablet sleeve which is good.  The top of the bag has a pocket that goes into the internal volume and they say is designed to hold your socks and underwear. Basically, it's a built-in packing cube that you can use for whatever you want of course. They aren't the boss of you! What's interesting is in THAT pocket, there is volume dedicated for a water bottle. It's made from water proof tarpaulin which is pretty cool. Since I don't often travel with a water bottle, this is a good pocket to use for dirty socks and underwear to keep them separate from the rest, or even wet clothes if they aren't dry by the time you need to pull up anchor.  Finally on top of the bag there is also a small "slash" or quick access pocket for those things you need fast. It's lined with felt so you could put sunglasses in here, your phone, etc. and it won't get scratched by default. 

Further, the bottom of the bag has a shoe compartment. I go back and forth on these because they take up internal volume which I don't love. I like to control what in my bag takes up space (like different packing cubes). I did use this one here, and frankly found it to be good. I was able to change my way a bit and essentially used this as its own packing cube (like the top pocket) and that allowed it to fit into my style. As a short dude, for reference my sneakers are a size 7 US, so I admittedly have more flexibility here. I could easily have fit another pair of Toms in this space as well. 

Lastly, while there are only 2 grab handles on the bag, they are both nicely made. I think the top one, while built for comfort, is overkill and too bulky. The one on the bottom is perfect in my mind. 

So I lied, I have one more point. The bag comes with some additional accessories, which I do think is a great value add. They provide waist straps that you can attach, a collapsible laundry bag which could be good for extended travel, and finally a luggage lock.

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The Good Parts Of The NOMATIC Travel Bag

Design, materials, and features. This is a common point of feedback for NOMATIC. They are all top notch and they really do put some thought into what they put in their bags. Especially with the updated bags, the look of these bags is pretty subdued. It's going to fit in well with most styles of travel and won't look really out of place. In fact on this bag, I like the features better than the Travel Pack. I found that bag kind of over designed. There were so many features, and while they were actually cool from a pure design and engineering standpoint,  I just found it too hard to take advantage of all at once. This bag doesn't suffer from any of that. I like the features in here, they are well laid out, and they are actually usable in practice. Good stuff there. More on this point, the bag is bomb proof. I don't see, under normal conditions, how you could really damage this bag. 

Another thing I really like about this bag, is the shape. Oddly enough, I've seen some reviewers putting this as a negative. And yes, it's boxy. That's one hundred percent true. No arguments here. But here's the thing - it's a travel bag. Meant to go in all sorts of places and trains and planes, and compartments, etc. Well, the majority of the luggage out there is rectangular. Plane overheads are meant mostly for square and rectangular options. This fits really well in plane overheads. It fits great in car trunks (Boots, mate) because those are rectangular too for the most part. It's not the most compact on your back, I get that - but I still think it's PRACTICAL. So, I like it.

Space is also great on this bag. 40L is in the Goldilocks Zone for onebag travel bags for me. 35-40L is gonna work well for most people.

The Bad Parts Of The NOMATIC Travel Bag

Now on the side where I wasn't too into some aspects of this bag. The big one for me, and this is kind of more about my style of travel, is the  lack of a front or side pocket with its own real volume.  I've said before that for my travel style and needs (that is, mostly airplanes in a normal world) I need a quick access portion of my bag to hold my tech kit and maybe headphones. None of the NOMATIC bags have this as they are designed for you to not need the extra pouch - and I get that. But when your bag needs to go somewhere that you are not, then you need to take those items out. And having them inside all these little pockets means it's slower and more cumbersome to take them out. If I can put my tech kit in a pocket, and just take that out when I get to my seat, it's more convenient and saves time. So NOMATIC bags will always be a miss on this for me until that changes. The AER Travel Pack 2 was an example of a bag doing this well.

I think the zippers are all kind of stiff and annoying on this bag, I will say. It's mostly to do with the materials used and how they are all sealed for weather protection, so you need to take that into account. I don't think NOMATIC did anything wrong here. But, they are a bit cumbersome to use when opening and closing repeatedly. 

I've also said this before about NOMATIC  on the Travel Pack (NOMATIC Travel Pack review here) - the straps featured in their marketing video are really just that: Marketing. I don't find them that slick in practice, nor do  I think they really work at all here on the Travel Bag. It could be because of my short height, that when I adjust the backpack straps there isn't enough slack for the duffel straps to work properly. In my mind, that's a design flaw and need to call that out. A pair of fixed duffel straps with a snap closure work fine. This version, does not. I also had the stiff material digging into one shoulder while wearing the bag, but your mileage may vary here and there can be a lot of  reasons for this including body type, what's in the bag, etc. Something I noticed.

The Improvement Requests for the NOMATIC Travel Bag

I would try and use YKK zippers and maybe up the gauge of them as well to try and get them to operate more smoothly. I would also consider eliminating the goofy strap system. It might in fact work for some, but I'm willing to bet there's a huge group it doesn't work for. I'm not sure if a 50% feature is something you want to gamble with when it's that big of a part of the bag.

While I'm not sure the materials allow for it, adding an outside pocket with some volume to be able to put a tech pouch or headphones case in would be great.

A small final one would be to tone it down a little on top grab handle. It's comfy, but it's too bulky and can actually get annoying when carrying it on your back.

Packing the NOMATIC Travel Bag

This bag should have enough room for pretty much any normal trip. I say normal meaning like, maybe not a full-on adventure trip or any trip that requires specialty gear and what not. Come on, don't semantic me you knew what I meant ;). You should be able to pack for 7 days in this thing, or longer if you take the smart path and do laundry while traveling (I always recommend that vs. over packing). 

Below is an example set of clothes and things I packed to give you an idea. Not fully optimized with travel-made materials, but a mix and match to represent someone that maybe hasn't gone full-on into the travel packing scene. I packed: 1 pair of Bluffworks Ascender pants,  1 pair of Aviator Travel Jeans, 4 button down shirts, 1 pair of brogues, 1 pair of travel dress socks, 5 daily t-shirts, 1 shirt to sleep in, 6 pairs of underwear, 1 pair of Darn tough socks, 1 Mystery Ranch In and Out pack, 1 Matador NanoDry towel, 1 tech case, 1 headphones case, and 1 laptop. As you can see, this packed up no problem into this bag with room to spare. Oh, I also put my mirrorless camera in here (Fujifilm X-T20) in the Ape Case that I use for travel, as well as my NOMATIC Toiletry Bag 2.0.

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Final Thoughts on the NOMATIC Travel Bag Review

Overall, I think NOMATIC has a great bag on their hands in this case. It's made with their typical "can't be destroyed" build quality and their usual design aesthetic. So, if you already like the look of their lineup, you're going to like the look of this one. Some have commented it's a bit boxy (and it is) - but I find that a positive from a travel perspective of fitting it into trunks and overhead bins, etc.

From my testing, there weren't too many things I didn't like about it. Some usability stuff with stiff zippers, the strap system is kind of unnecessary (but didn't get in my way since I just didn't use it), and it lacked an outside pocket that usually helps me carry my tech kit (like all NOMATIC bags lack). That said, these things might not be something that affects you much depending on your carry style.

I definitely think this is worth considering for purchase, especially if you've been eyeing NOMATIC bags for a while and weren't sure. I would recommend this or the slightly smaller version over their backpacks any day of the week. The travel bag is a win, but their backpacks just aren't really for me at the price point they sell them at.

Here’s the link if you want to grab one or learn more:

 

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