Last Updated on August 23, 2020 by eattalktraveljapan
If you want a real, in-depth review of the NOMATIC Travel Pack or one of NOMATIC’s other bags, this is the article of your dreams. I’ve now spent more than two years with the Travel Pack, use it on most days, and have explored two continents with it.
I’ve used it on the trains of Tokyo and Osaka, ventured into the sweltering heat of Bangkok and Singapore with it, and even used it in the ice cold winters of the US East Coast.
Read on to learn about how the NOMATIC Travel Pack has worked out over the last year. Also, they have released a new travel bag recently, which you may want to compare to the Travel Pack.
(Disclaimer: We DID NOT receive this for free. We bought the NOMATIC Travel Pack ourselves during the Kickstarter campaign and Joshua has been using it for over a year. However, the links in this post are affiliate links so if you buy through the links we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.)
Why the NOMATIC Travel Pack?
I was immediately drawn to the Travel Pack when I saw the Kickstarter campaign. Since I travel so much, I was looking for a backpack that was stylish, functional, weather-proof, and built to last. This is surprisingly hard to find…
I liked the minimal design and the attention to detail blew me away. It’s well organized with multiple compartments and pockets to store all your gear. The full-perimeter zippers and the material appeared to be high-quality.
But, I wondered if the actual product would be as good as it looked online…
(Spoiler: it is)
This review will focus on the NOMATIC Travel Pack, but NOMATIC has now successfully funded, manufactured, and delivered on multiple travel products with more in the works, so be sure to stop by their website to see the different travel bags available.
NOMATIC Travel Pack basics:
This bag has the best combination of quality, style, and function that I’ve seen in a travel backpack.
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Price: $259 (Buy here)
So, what is the NOMATIC Travel Pack?
After making a wildly successful travel bag, NOMATIC created a smaller version based on the customer feedback they got. Rather than simply making one backpack, they decided to create two: The NOMATIC Travel Pack and the NOMATIC Backpack.
The Travel Pack is meant for 3-day trips, while the Backpack is meant for daily use (However, I use the Travel Pack as a daily backpack, which I’ll discuss more below).
The two bags look very similar on the outside, but the Travel Pack is a little bigger because it has a separate laptop compartment and expands from 20L to 30L. On the inside, the Backpack has three interchangeable inserts that give you many options on how to use the space, while the Travel Pack has a mesh divider and compartment.
Personally, I chose the Travel Pack because I travel a lot and I like having the ability to carry heavy loads when on trips. Choosing the Travel Pack adds some bulk, but I don’t find it to be enough to be a problem.
High-quality waterproof materials:
The material of this bag really stood out to me. Pretty much every bag claims to use high-quality materials, but the Travel Pack actually delivered. The material is really thick and the recently updated YKK zippers are well sealed. I also really like the matte finish of the material.
Extremely functional with multiple pockets and compartments:
Functionality is NOMATIC’s main claim and they have really gone above and beyond on this one. It’s almost obsessively functional with multiple zippers, pockets, and compartments to store virtually anything.
You can tuck the shoulder straps into the back to make the Travel Pack more like a briefcase. I’m not sure if I would use it as a briefcase replacement, but I’ve really come to appreciate this feature. When walking through crowded areas, it’s very helpful to be able to hold the side straps and tucking in the straps makes it easier to store under the front seat on airplanes and in other luggage compartments.
Expansion from 20L to 30L:
One of my favorite features is the huge expansion capabilities. The extra space makes a huge difference when you’re packing to maximum capacity. I was also surprised by how well the expansion is integrated into the design. The Travel Pack is just as functional when zipped as when unzipped and the expansion zipper blends into the bag so well that you probably wouldn’t notice it if you weren’t looking for it.
Two magnetic water bottle holders:
This is another cool feature. There is a holder on each side and each combines a mesh interior with a magnetic top and bottom. This allows the holder to blend into the side when not in use, but also stretch out when you want to add a bottle. Having one on each side is also helpful if you want to carry both a water bottle and an insulated thermos or something else.
Easy access laptop storage:
The laptop compartment is completely separated from the rest of the bag with its own full perimeter zipper meant to make airport checkpoints easier. It also keeps your laptop near the back of the bag and provides extra cushioning.
Cord pass-through easy access pocket:
There’s a small top pocket for things like a phone that you want to reach easily. It also features a small hole to pass through a cord if you want to use a portable charger.
Easy access key holder:
There are multiple mesh pockets inside and the bottom one has a key ring attached to a retractable cord. You can easily reach your keys, unlock the door and put your keys back. I’ve found this to be really useful, especially with larger sets of keys.
Who is the NOMATIC Travel Pack for?
The Travel Pack and the other NOMATIC bags are for people who want a rugged, high-quality backpack and care about function and design.
All the bags have a minimal look to them and are only available in black. They are extremely functional and hold a lot of stuff without wasting space.
Who is the Travel Pack not for?
When researching this bag and comparing my experience with others, the main complaint I found was the style.
The material is thick, waterproof and made to hold it’s shape really well. But, that makes it boxier than some other backpacks, which some people don’t like.
So, if you want a smaller, lighter style of bag, the Travel Pack may not be right for you…
Downsides of using the Travel Pack daily
Rather than try to make the perfect backpack, NOMATIC made two slightly different bags that work in different situations.
The Travel Backpack is meant to be an everyday bag and the Travel Pack is meant for 1-3 day trips. I use the Travel Pack as both a travel bag and a daily backpack and while this works great for me, there are some disadvantages.
There isn’t a huge difference in size, but the expansion system does make the Travel Pack a little bulky for daily life. Since I travel so much this is a worthwhile trade-off for me, but if I didn’t, I’d strongly consider going with the Backpack instead.
The downside to all the pockets and compartments is that they complicate using the bag. If you forget where you put something there will be a lot of zipping, unzipping and searching in order to find it. I can see how the organizational system of the Backpack would be a lot more useful in daily life.
Will it last a year… or more?
Like I mentioned in the intro, I’ve used the Travel Pack for more than a year now and have traveled with it A LOT. I’ve traveled around the US and Southeast Asia with it, plus, I’ve spent a lot of time in Japan with it.
(By the way, if you’re interested in Japan, be sure to check out our introduction).
It’s great for carrying on airplanes and it can usually fit under the seat, even with both bottles inside. Once, when I had it expanded out and totally full it was too big to fit under the seat so I just put it in the overhead compartment.
For the most part, I’ve been amazed by how well it’s held up. The thick material is great for keeping out the rain and all the organizational features make it easy to carry electronics and daily essentials with me. The material doesn’t have any significant scuffs or scratches yet, despite heavy use.
Really the only issue I’ve had was basic condensation from extreme rain and humidity in Thailand. It was slightly damp in a few places after that and this was really heavy rain for an extended period of time. So, I’d say it’s about 98% waterproof.
After about 2 years of heavy use I damaged the zipper (common with every backpack I’ve owned). However, the latest version of the Travel Pack has new, improved YKK zippers which are likely to prevent this.
So, should you get the NOMATIC Travel Pack?
Hopefully, I’ve given you a good idea of what makes this bag unique.
For me, it’s the closest that I’ve found to the perfect travel bag. I love the design and appreciate the quality materials. But, I also travel a lot more than normal and bring a variety of electronics and daily essentials with me.
If you like the style and are willing to pay a little more for quality, then you’ll love the NOMATIC bags. They really deliver on the quality and functionality promised. There’s also a 30-day return policy if for some reason you don’t.
I’d recommend really comparing all their travel bags, though. The slight differences between them make it easy to choose the one perfect for your circumstances.
Where to buy it?
The best place to get the NOMATIC Travel Pack, Backpack or any of their other bags is through their website.