The Navigator 15L travel pack and the Carry-on Classic are all we travel with per each person. We bought these bags at the beginning of 2023 and put them to the test while traveling full-time in Europe. Here is what we found out.
Nomatic Navigator 15L Travel Pack
Here are the features that we especially value in this slick backpack.
1. Extension from 15L to 21L
This Nomatic travel pack is 15L in volume. But, a zipper around the bag transforms it into a 21L backpack in seconds. We use this feature often, as it gives us flexibility in various situations.
When the Navigator travel pack is 15L, the backpack works as a personal item on airplanes. The bag fits perfectly under the seat with no questions asked from the crew. But, when we explore cities or go on hikes, we often extend the backpack to 21L. This allows us to pack more items (e.g. cameras, drinks, food, clothing).
2. Durable Water-Resistant Fabric
The Navigator 15L travel pack is made of so-called ballistic nylon. This fabric is not only water-resistant, but also very durable and scratch-resistant. We got into heavy rains with these Nomatic travel packs many times and nothing got wet inside of them. Moreover, the backpacks dried up pretty fast.
The Nomatic Navigator 15L travel pack preserves its shape even under pressure. We especially like this feature as it gives the backpack its signature slick shape and look.
3. Tamper Resistant Zippers
This Nomatic travel pack comes with reliable zippers that are tamper resistant. They can be fed through each other using pull tabs. We often do so in situations when having our items secured is a concern. Overall, the zippers are very durable. We put them under a lot of stress during our travels and they withstood the test very well.
Also, the zippers to the main compartments have synthetic rubber coverings. Thanks to this feature, it is almost impossible for moisture to get inside the bag.
4. Straps and Back of the Nomatic Travel Pack
The main shoulder straps on this Nomatic travel pack are firm, but comfy. There is also a sternum strap that prevents the main straps from sliding. You can adjust the position of the sternum straps as desired. Moreover, it is almost impossible to lose the straps. They have very secure attachments to the shoulder straps.
The back of this Nomatic travel pack has special carvings for ventilation. While it may help, you will still get sweaty wearing it in hot weather, as with any other backpack. Overall, the back padding of the Nomatic Navigator 15L pack is more on the firm side. But, it provides good support for our backs.
There are also two straps that form an X shape at the front.
Not everyone likes them. If you don’t, the straps are removable. We do not mind them and use them to hold our sweaters and coats in airports.
5. Interior and External Pockets
This Nomatic travel pack features 11 pockets that we use for different purposes. The interior fabric in the Navigator 15L backpack is very durable and tear-resistant.
The Nomatic Navigator 15L travel pack comes with 3 external pockets. The first one is at the top that we use to store our phones and other things.
This pocket has a special cable hole that can accommodate cables for charging devices on the go.
The other external pocket is at the front. We often put napkins, flashlight or phones. Anything flat goes well inside this pocket of this Nomatic travel pack.
Kristina likes to put her phone there, as she can reach this pocket by taking off only one shoulder strap. Also, there is a key chain holder and hidden zippered pocket inside of this external pocket. The hidden zippered pocket is perfect to stash away any important documents or money.
There is also an external water bottle pocket. After unzipping it, you can take out a mesh holder and fit your water bottle into it. When we travel, we most often either do not take water bottles with us (such as in airports), or we take big bottles and put them inside the backpack. For this reason, this pocket of our Nomatic travel pack is irrelevant for us.
But, one drawback of this pocket is that you will have to place your water bottle outside of the backpack. You cannot fit the water bottle inside the pocket. It is called “external water bottle pocket” for a reason.
The main interior compartment has 5 mesh pockets and 2 zippered pockets. The mesh pockets are extendable, meaning you can fit quite large items in them and they will hold well. We often put batteries and USB hard drives in them.
As for the zippered pockets, one of them is the RFID safe pocket. It is great to store credit cards. This prevents thieves from scanning and stealing your financial info. While this is an unlikely scenario, the pocket is there to guard against it.
The second zippered pocket is made of mesh. We sometimes use it to store our wallets or passports when we do not need them.
6. Laptop Compartment
The laptop compartment accommodates a laptop up to 16 inches in this Nomatic travel pack. The compartment has a a divider that lets you store laptop and tablets separately.
Nomatic put a lot of thought into this compartment. It has an ample amount of padding from all sides to protect our gadgets. Moreover, the Nomatic Navigator 15L has a so-called false bottom. This means that when we put a laptop inside, it does not slide all the way to the bottom. There is about inch and half of padding underneath it. This false bottom protects devices when this Nomatic travel pack accidentally falls on the ground.
Cons of the Nomatic Navigator 15L Travel Pack
There are certain cons to buying the Navigator 15L travel pack.
This backpack is not cheap. We thought twice before hitting the buy button. If you are on a budget, the Navigator 15L travel pack is probably not worth it. Or, if you are infrequent traveler, maybe it is better to buy something less expensive too.
The mitigating factor for the higher price is the durability. We had many backpacks and all of them were structurally flawed, which led to their demise fast. Some of them weren’t cheap, either. The Nomatic Navigator 15L has a solid build with extra strong materials that will last us for years. We will have to buy either multiple cheap bags or just one Nomatic travel pack for a long period of time.
Moreover, all Nomatic travel gear comes with a lifetime warranty. Of course, it will not cover normal tear and wear. But, the fact that Nomatic stands behind its products was a big factor in our decision to make a purchase.
For now, Nomatic sells only one color of the Navigator 15L backpack, which is black. This may be a con for color conscious travelers. As for us, we actually like it. This Nomatic travel pack blends well and does not stand out, which is good if you want to avoid unnecessary attention from thieves.
We bought this backpack since it is small enough to qualify as a personal item on airplanes. But, it can be extended to 21L to serve in situations when we need extra space. The 15-21L size may not work for everyone.
Nomatic offers larger size backpacks, such as the Navigator 32L travel backpack (expandable to 41L).
Nomatic Carry-on Classic Luggage
Our next luggage we travel with is the Nomatic Carry-on Classic bag.
Nomatic also has a Pro version of this carry-on bag. The main difference is that the Pro version has a dedicated compartment for tech devices. But, this comes at the expense of smaller space for everything else. Because we like to choose how to use space in a travel bag, the Carry-on Classic luggage was a better match for us.
Nomatic Carry-on Classic Bag Specs
The Nomatic Carry-On Classic bag has a capacity of 30L. With its dimensions of 22″ H x 14″ W x 9″ D, we won’t have any trouble passing the size test at check-in counters.
This Nomatic bag weighs 7.46lb, which is pretty standard. Nomatic offers this travel luggage bag in three colors: black, almond and deep olive. We chose the black version.
1. Outer Shell Review
Nomatic used Makrolon for the outer shell of the Carry-on Classic bag. Makrolon is one of the strongest polycarbonate materials in its class.
There are videos on the company’s website where a man slams the bag with a sledgehammer. The Nomatic carry-on bag flies away, falls many stories down and hits the concrete. With a few scratches and a dent, the bag remains mostly intact. While this is extreme abuse, it attests to the strength of the material this bag is made of.
2. Hard Shell vs. Soft Shell Debate
We used to think that these hard-shell bags were inferior to the soft-shell ones. But this Nomatic travel bag changed our minds. First of all, it is weather proof. Soft-shell bags can withstand a certain amount of rain, but they will get soaked at some point.
Hard shells will never get permanently dirty. We just wipe our Nomatic travel bag off with a cloth and it is sparkly clean again. This is not so with soft shell bags. Additionally, soft shell bags will offer less protection for fragile items.
But most importantly, what we hate most about soft shell bags is that they are pliable. When we start jamming stuff into our old soft-shell bag, it starts bulging out from all sides.
We used to think that this is good thing, as we may fit more items into it. But, it can become a problem at the check-in counter when the bag exceeds the allowed dimensions. Even after passing the check-in, it becomes a headache on the airplane. These soft-shell bags can be a nightmare to fit into an overhead compartment.
3. Silent Hinomoto Wheels
The Nomatic Carry-On Classic luggage comes with the top-of-the-line silent Hinomoto wheels. When they roll, they roll like butter with barely any sound. Moreover, the wheels can rotate 360 degrees. This makes it effortless to navigate around the airport with just a touch on the handle of this travel bag. We do not have to even recline the bag.
We were also impressed with the durability of the Hinomoto wheels. At some point during this summer, we walked through some rough roads, such as one for over a mile on Ikaria island in Greece. The Hinomoto wheels on the Nomatic Carry-on Classic passed the test with flying colors.
But, this was not so with our other soft-shell bag we had with us. One of its wheels shattered into pieces. Now, this luggage is barely rolling and we have a broken bag on our hands.
4. TSA Locking YKK Zippers
The Nomatic Carry-on Classic bag comes along with the YKK zippers. Sliders and pull tabs of these zippers are made of durable metal with no plastic components. We can tell that the zipper is built to last.
This is not so with our other soft-shell luggage that we plan to recycle when we return home. Its zippers’ pull tabs are made of flimsy thin aluminum that is about to break. A zipper is one of the weakest points of any travel luggage. Nomatic took great care to make sure that it is the best in its class.
We also really like how you can use the TSA-compliant combination lock. From now on, we do not have to deal with those dangling locks and keys that are easy to lose.
5. Three-Stage Aluminum Handle
Nomatic made these handles to last. They have a solid feel and are very easy to extend. As we mentioned above, the Nomatic Navigator 15L pack has a strap on its back. You can use it to slide through the Carry-on classic handle. The backpack stays attached to the luggage, making it easy to roll around the airport with just a touch of your hand. The Hinomoto wheels will do the rest.
The handles are also a weak point on carry-on luggage bags. Unfortunately, our soft-shell bag that we mentioned did not withstand the test of time. While its handle is not broken, it gets stuck and is very hard to work with when you are in a hurry.
6. Hinomoto Handles
The carry-on classic comes with two Hinomoto handles at the top and at the side. They are very durable and slick.
They extend when you need them, but collapse close to the bag when you are done using them. This prevents things from getting snagged in them.
Nomatic Carry-On Classic Interior Review
The Nomatic Carry-on Classic travel bag has a minimalistic interior, but it packs a punch with a few things.
1. The Main Compartment
First, the main compartment has a mesh screen with a zipper. The screen has two zippered pockets as well. Also, the main compartment’s interior is minimalistic with 2 mesh zippered pockets. We use these pockets to store flat, but fragile items.
You can also buy Nomatic compression packing cubes that can go into the main compartment.
This will allow you to compress and potentially fit even more items into the Nomatic luggage bag. We do not use any packing cubes. Instead, we pack our clothes in rolls, which provides good enough compression for what we have.
We like how we can close the main compartment with the zippered screen. This prevents stuff accidentally falling out when you open this Nomatic bag.
2. The Smaller Compartment
The other compartment has a folding compression panel and magnetic compression straps. Once we pack our items in this compartment, we put the compression panel on top.
Then, we lock the magnetic straps and tighten them. The magnetic straps are very easy to use and we love them.
Cons of the Nomatic Carry-On Classic Bag
There are not that many downsides to the Nomatic Carry-On Classic travel bag. But, if we can think of a few, here they are.
Same as with the Navigator bag, the Nomatic Carry-on Classic bag is not cheap. If you are on a budget, you may have to look somewhere else, such as Ross or Burlington discount stores. But again, we view this price as an investment since Nomatic bags will last years of intense use. Also, the Nomatic lifetime warranty helps a lot. Most travel luggage manufacturers offer a limited warranty, at best.
As we said, our other soft-shell bag started breaking down while we were traveling. The most annoying thing with luggage is that it likes to fall apart when we really need it to work. Once a wheel, handle or zipper breaks, the luggage is done. And, we have to buy a new one again. But, buying new luggage may not be an ideal situation while traveling, especially if traveling full-time like us.
2. Visible Scratches
This is another thing that we noticed. Small scratches become visible on the Nomatic Carry-on Classic with time. But, it is a cosmetic nuisance for us. Moreover, we use damp cloths to wipe the bag’s outer shell off. Once we clean it, the scratches are barely visible.
Final Thoughts on the Nomatic Travel Pack and Carry-On Bags Combo
This year we made a conscious decision to travel light with carry-on luggage and a backpack only. Such a minimalistic approach may not work for everyone. But, we discovered many benefits of traveling light.
First, you do not have to check in your bags. If you love going to airport lounges, like we do, you will likely understand why this is an advantage. Airline counter check-in typically opens 3-4 hours before the departure at most. But, with carry-on only, we can check in 24 hours before the flight. Moreover, we can get through security checks long before the gate opens.
Also, if you have a long layover, you will have to get your checked bags and recheck them, as well as go through security again. That is a lot of unnecessary hustle. When we have a long layover, we instead just spend time in the airport lounges.
We used to hate going to airports. But now, we arrive there at least 4-5 hours before our departure and spend time in airport lounges.
Check out our post on the best credit credit cards for international travel. Some of these cards grant you access to airport lounges. This is an awesome perk we discovered this year.
Also, with carry-on luggage only, we do not have to pay for checked luggage or wait to pick it up later. Also, lost or damaged luggage is always a concern too.
After we tried the Nomatic Navigator 15L travel pack and Carry-on Classic luggage bag, we think that they are one of the best travel luggage combos. If there is one phrase we can summarize our experience with Nomatic, it is this: “Built to Last”. Although we paid a high price now, we see it as an investment in durable travel gear that will serve us for years.