Is Nomatic’s Travel Backpack Worth Buying? I Tested One to Find Out
Nomatic’s Kickstarter-famous Travel Pack backpack is absolutely rife with pockets. There is a pocket for everything. For your notebook. For your glasses. For RFID protection. For your laptop. For your shoes. For your pens. Possibly even for your cat.
The initial May 2017 campaign for the Backpack and Travel Pack raised more than $2 million, so clearly the backpack world was ready for some pockets. I tried out the Travel Pack, which expands from 20 liters to 30 and is not to be confused with the Backpack or Travel Bag — the Nomatic naming system can get a little confusing. This particular model is designed for one to three days of travel, ideally a weekend where you aren’t going to need to change your shoes too often. But if you’re on a budget airline that only lets you bring a personal item, this should be able to pass muster as underseat luggage if you don’t overstuff it. (So, no cat.)
There are also so many zippers. Almost more zippers than there are pockets, and that is a high bar. You can make about four or five (depending on what you consider a sub-compartment) vertical slices out of this backpack if you unzip all of them, like a peacock tail, but this means that you may have to do some strategic maneuvering to fit in any particularly large items. The padded back laptop sleeve comes apart from the rest of the bag for TSA scans, though it doesn’t fully fit into a bin when you do that, so it may be unable to pass depending on how the checkpoint is set up. (I couldn’t try it out on a recent flight out of JFK that required all bags to be binned, even carry-on rollaboards).
All that engineering does come in handy on the outside, though. You can tuck the back straps in and use the back pass-through sleeve to secure it on to the handle of a rolling bag. If you’re going backpack-only, the straps are comfortable and it comes with waist straps for when you’re really hauling, though I never felt like I needed them, comfort-wise. There are two short handles on the top and side for when you have to take the bag off or if you choose to carry it as a briefcase, though the design of the bag’s top will keep it from completely passing if you’re trying to go straight to a business meeting.
The bag's cord pass-through is in a convenient spot for headphones or a battery pack, and the magnetic water bottle pockets are nice and sleek when tucked away rather than floppy mesh. I also liked the water-resistant exterior, especially when traveling to places where it was snowing.
The thick black fabric looks high-end, though it leans a little techy, a possible downside if you prefer a more sophisticated look. Nomatic mentions durability a lot in its campaigns, and while I haven’t put the bag through an extended travel wringer just yet, it feels solid and like the build quality would hold up. I’m not at all hesitant about loading it up or throwing it around.
Personally, I’m inherently opposed to a bag that makes me feel like I need to watch a video to fully utilize its 20-plus features. But if you like the look of this bag and prefer a set pocket arrangement to an excess of unstructured space, then it’s worth the investment.