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Nomatic 40L Travel Bag Review

This travel bag offers space and organization, and converts from a backpack to a duffel in seconds, making it the perfect option for those who travel for work
Nomatic 40L Travel Bag
Photo: Nomatic
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $280 List | $279.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Duffel to backpack carry, very roomy, shoe compartment, waterproof
Cons:  No compression straps, no back panel padding, heavy and stiff material
Manufacturer:   Nomatic
By Hayley Thomas ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 25, 2021
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 4
  • Features - 25% 8
  • Packing & Accessibility - 25% 9
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 15% 6
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The 40-liter Nomatic Travel Bag comes with a complete organizational system and convertible straps. It converts from a casual backpack to a business duffel in seconds making this carry-on compliant pack perfect for the travel-for-work type. It is made of durable, water-resistant tarpaulin, ensuring your belongings are safe, rain, or shine. The clamshell opening and deep main compartment make packing a breeze, not to mention, everything has its place. The small electronics organizer and protective laptop sleeve reiterate that this bag was made with the traveling professional in mind. From a shoe compartment to a waterproof pocket, the Nomatic is every organizational junky's dream.

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $279.99 at Amazon$299.95 at REI
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Pros Duffel to backpack carry, very roomy, shoe compartment, waterproofComfortable, innovative, feature rich, sturdy, great for camera gearTapered for easy loading, comfortable harness system, adventure friendly, very lightVersatile, sleek, camera box, vented wet shoe compartmentVersatile, duffel-like ease of use, simplistic features, max volume carry
Cons No compression straps, no back panel padding, heavy and stiff materialHeavy, expensive, finite amount of spaceDoes not sit upright, laptop sleeve unpaddedNo waist belt or sternum strap, no water bottle holder, back panel not very breathable, tallSoft body sags when not stuffed, harness system not fit for long adventures
Bottom Line This travel bag offers space and organization, and converts from a backpack to a duffel in seconds, making it the perfect option for those who travel for workThis beautiful and comfortable pack will have the weekend getaway enthusiast, business traveler, or avid photographer swooningWith its tapered shape and backpacking pack structure, this is the perfect bag for the outdoor adventurist that doesn't want to spend an arm and legWith its convertible camera cube, ventilated shoe compartment, and padded device sleeve this travel bag was made for the outdoor photographer on the goA well thought out, user-friendly, and versatile pack fortified by an Ironclad guarantee and cutting edge company ethics
Rating Categories Nomatic 40L Travel Bag Peak Design Travel 45 REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Mammut Seon Cargo 35L Patagonia Black Hol...
Comfort (25%)
4.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
Features (25%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
Packing & Accessibility (25%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Volume To Weight Ratio (15%)
6.0
6.0
10.0
9.0
8.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Nomatic 40L Travel Bag Peak Design Travel 45 REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Mammut Seon Cargo 35L Patagonia Black Hol...
Volume of Main Compartment 40L 45L 40L 35L 45L
Measured Weight 4.05 lbs 4.51 lbs 2.10 lbs 2.10 lbs 3.35 lbs
Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better) 9.88 9.98 19.05 16.67 13.43
Detachable Daypack? No No No No No
Dimensions (inches) 21 x 14 x 9 21 x 13 x 6.5 24 x 13 x 10 24 x 14 x 9 22.8 x 8.6 x 14.5
Carry-on Size? (22 x 14 x 9 in) Yes Yes No Yes Yes, if squished
Dimensions When Stuffed (inches) 21 x 14 x 9.5 21 x 10 x 14 22 x 9 x 14 24 x 14 x 9 22 x 14 x 10
Fabrics Tarpaulin 400D nyon and polyester recycled nylon ripstop and recycled polyester lining (bluesign approved) 600D waterproof polyester, 840D ballistic nylon Polyester ripstop with TPU laminate
Frame Type Foam padding Foam padding Ventilated mesh Foam padding Foam backpanel
Access Type Panel Loading Top and panel loading, zips all the way open Top loading Panel loading Clamshell design
Number of Pockets 1 main, 2 small outside zippered, 1 waterproof, 1 shoe compartment 6 zip, 2 watter bottle 6 zip, 7 no zip, 2 water bottle 3 small zippered, 1 ventilated, 1 camera comparment, 1 main 9 zip, 8 no zip
Laptop Sleeve Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Waist Belt Type N/A N/A Padded None None
Sternum Strap Yes N/A Yes Yes Yes
Different sizes? No No Yes No Yes
Volume Options 40L 45L 18L, 28L, 40L, 65L 35L 26L, 45L

Our Analysis and Test Results

Safe electronics pockets, high-level organization, and ample space make the Nomatic Travel Bag the perfect option for the business traveler. The laptop sleeve is placed close to your back, ensuring optimal security and the small device organizer on the side makes traveling with cables a breeze. The designated shoe pocket, waterproof pocket, and felt pocket are just three of many useful packing options this bag offers and the 40 liters of carrying space allows for up to a week of travel. Items like the mesh laundry bag and removable waist strap are just the icing on the cake.

Performance Comparison


The Nomatic is the perfect choice for the business nomad.
The Nomatic is the perfect choice for the business nomad.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Comfort


The Nomatic Travel Bag comes with a removable waist belt, adjustable sternum strap, and comfortable shoulder straps. Not only is the waist belt completely removable, but it is padded with breathable foam and comes with a nifty zipper pocket on each hip. The padded shoulder straps are slightly curved to avoid any pinching or unnecessary contact with your armpits and the sternum strap can be adjusted in length and position via a sliding rail.


The material is stiff which offers the pack structure and the laptop sleeve is located closest to your back which helps keep bulging items from poking you. Considering this bag is not built with ample back panel support and can be switched to duffel carry in seconds, we were pleasantly surprised with the level of comfort the harness system provides. In the duffel position, the handle is comfortable, however, if this 40-liter pack is bursting at the seams it may be pretty heavy to carry one-handed.

The convertible duffel handles are comfortable, but this pack can...
The convertible duffel handles are comfortable, but this pack can get pretty heavy.
Photo: Matthew Blake

While we consider the Nomatic to be a comfortable bag, it simply cannot stand up to some of the others in our test suite due to its lack of ample padding and heavy-duty hip straps. The back panel fabric is not breathable, so a sweaty back is inevitable if the weather is warm. The shoulder straps do not have load lifters and the hip belt is very stiff at first — although after a few wears it softened up and formed nicely to the body. Wearing this travel bag through the airport, on a quick walk to your hotel, or even around the city for a short time is a non-issue, however, if you're planning on spending countless hours roaming to your heart's desire you will want to explore some of our long-wear comfort packs.

The harness system is comfortable, but the back panel lacks in the...
The harness system is comfortable, but the back panel lacks in the breathability department.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Features


The Nomatic Travel Bag was clearly designed with the business type in mind, but it is not without its fun gadgets. It is a simple pack but scored highly in this department because of the minimal yet helpful features.


First and foremost is the innovative patented strap system which allows you to go from duffel to backpack carry in seconds. The way the straps come together in the middle of the bag distributes the load evenly. This may seem trivial, however, 40 liters of carrying space can get heavy quickly, and an ill-placed strap can cause a rather imbalanced carry. It is nice to carry as a backpack while traveling but switching to duffel mode once you've put on your freshly pressed suit for that important meeting makes all the difference.

The centered duffle straps ensure that it doesn't tip left or right...
The centered duffle straps ensure that it doesn't tip left or right when in duffle mode.
Photo: Matthew Blake

The backpack-to-duffel feature isn't the only thing to write home about. The Nomatic comes with a hangable laundry bag, removable waist straps, solid tech organization, and a back panel that slips over your rolling suitcase handle. It is also carry-on compliant, but be careful, because this bag is very stuffable. It's always a good idea to weigh and measure your travel bag once it is packed to ensure it complies with airline specifications. Overall, our biggest bone to pick with this pack is the lack of compression straps. It is advertised as a travel pack that can accommodate 3-7 day trips, but it would be nice to be able to compress the bag down for your shorter travels.

The Nomatic comes with a laundry bag and a removable hip belt.
The Nomatic comes with a laundry bag and a removable hip belt.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Packing & Accessibility


This pack shines brightest in this metric. The full perimeter zipper allows access to the entire main compartment with ease and the thoughtful pockets offer optimal organization.


On the sides, you will find two easy-access pockets and one larger electronics organizer. The top of the pack has a felt pocket for more fragile items like your cell phone or watch. There is also a waterproof pocket which is advertised as a water bottle pocket. Unfortunately, this compartment is not the right dimensions for a larger water bottle like a 32oz Hydro Flask, but it may fit a smaller one. That being said, this is a great spot to put your makeup, shower goodies, or snacks that you don't want spilling all over your clothes and electronics. Happy accident? We're not sure, but this pocket definitely came in handy.

The waterproof pocket is a great spot for your toiletries.
The waterproof pocket is a great spot for your toiletries.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Underneath the waterproof compartment, you will find another easy access pocket. It is large enough for a book or even larger over ear headphones. On the bottom of the pack, there is a designated shoe compartment. We love this packing feature, however, it is worth noting that while the shoe compartment opens from the outside, it spills into the main compartment, so a pair of big chunky shoes in there will limit the amount of space you are left with. The back panel opens up to a padded laptop sleeve and tablet pocket — large enough for a 15" laptop and a 13" tablet.

The laptop and tablet sleeves are located on the back panel.
The laptop and tablet sleeves are located on the back panel.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Like the shoe compartment, the pockets found on the top of the pack open from the outside but take up main compartment space when filled. The waterproof pocket is inside the compartment for your book or clunky headphones so it is important to take a moment to strategize where you want all your items since not every area can be stuffed to the gills at once. This may bother some people, as they will feel that one pocket's use renders another unusable, but we appreciate having the options, and because the liner is so thin, an unused pocket doesn't take up much space.

The many pockets offer optimal organization, but it's best to pack...
The many pockets offer optimal organization, but it's best to pack with a plan because you cannot use all the pockets simultaneously.
Photo: Matthew Blake

One big issue we have is that to access the laptop sleeve, you have to open the main compartment. If there are any personal items you would rather your fellow travelers not see — like your undergarments — you will want to tuck them away. Lastly, hydration is important, especially if you are going to be bouncing around from meeting to meeting the second you set foot at your destination. The lack of a water bottle pocket is disappointing and the waterproof pocket is just too small for anything over 16 ounces.

Unfortunately, to access the laptop sleeve you have to open the main...
Unfortunately, to access the laptop sleeve you have to open the main compartment, so make sure to hide your undergarments!
Photo: Matthew Blake

Volume to Weight Ratio


The Nomatic weighs roughly 4 pounds and has a fill capacity of 40 liters. This is one of our heavier bags and we are not surprised. The heavyweight material that makes this pack durable, plus all the smaller compartments and their accompanying zippers definitely weigh this bag down. This doesn't make us like the Nomatic any less, it simply reiterates the fact that this travel bag is not meant for extended wear time.


On the plus side, this bag is 21" x 14" x 9" and will most likely pass for carry-on luggage, so while its size in volume by weight may not be the most desirable, its length, height and depth are something to be desired.

The Nomatic is a little on the heavier side, but it was made for the...
The Nomatic is a little on the heavier side, but it was made for the business traveler, not the backpacker.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Durability


The Nomatic is not only a pack that is built to last, it is also built to weather a storm. It is made of Tarpaulin which is commonly used on expedition bags because of its ability to endure abuse and keep gear dry. This waterproof material paired with water-resistant zippers ensures that rain or shine, your clothes will remain dry and your electronics safe.


We are not brand junkies but we do appreciate it when the gear we test is made with trustworthy hardware. The Nomatic does not sport YKK zippers. This is far from a deal-breaker and we did not experience malfunctioning during our hands-on testing, however, there are some reports of failed zippers after extended use.

Unfortunately the zippers do not have the YKK name backing their...
Unfortunately the zippers do not have the YKK name backing their performance, but we didn't have any issues with them.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Value


This 40-liter pack is an expertly crafted bag for those who travel for work. It comes with several pockets and usable features that make your packing experience truly unique, however, these added perks don't come cheap. The Nomatic Travel Bag clocks in at one of our higher-priced travel bags but as long as the zippers do not fail, you won't need to buy a new one any time soon.

Conclusion


The general design of the Nomatic 40L Travel Bag makes it a great option for the business traveler. With the full perimeter zip and clamshell opening, packing and unpacking is a breeze and the main compartment provides enough space for a 3-7 day trip. The easy-access pockets provide a safe place for your on-the-go items and the more specialized areas like the shoe compartment help to keep your work clothes fresh. The laptop sleeve, tablet sleeve, and cable organization pockets seal the deal for those traveling with electronics. This travel bag is the perfect size for overhead storage or under the seat in front of you and complies with most carry-on rules regarding the size. If you travel for work and don't want to check your bag, this is a solid pick.

With organization like this, it's no wonder the Nomatic scored well...
With organization like this, it's no wonder the Nomatic scored well in our review.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Hayley Thomas