Senior Editor
Nomatic bag

A bombproof bag that fits in the overhead. And actually fits all your stuff. Image: AH

The Inertia

If you are anything like me, there’s a good chance you love to travel lightly.  There is almost nothing worse than landing in some far-flung paradise with an open-air airport, the breeze redolent with tropical flowers and liquor-laced fruit juice, and having to sit and sweat while you wait for your bags to show up with all the other stinky, jetlagged travelers. Oh, my kingdom for a carry-on bag designed to actually carry everything I need! “Our life is frittered away by detail,” Thoreau said. “Simplify, simplify.” Enter Nomatic, a company that built a bag basically with me (and you, if you’re anything like me) in mind. Full transparency: Nomatic sent me a bag for free. I did warn them, though, that Gear We Test isn’t always sunshine and rainbows — if there’s something I don’t like, I’m going to air that dirty laundry.

I have spent a large portion of my life trekking through places that ruin things. Since I am terrible at caring for things — except for my dog; I care for him better than I care for myself — a large portion of my things are quickly ruined. As I’ve gotten older, I generally look for traveling gear that is two things: tough-as-nails and practical. Bells and whistles are fun for a day, but bells and whistles eventually get boring and are ultimately useless. Give me something that will stand up to sand, sun, moisture, and being violently thrown from the back of a pickup truck, and I’ll give you my money.

I recently got a bag from Nomatic that hits every single mark that I could ever check off for a bag. It’s water-resistant. It has one million pockets, all designed specifically for things a person needs on a quick trip to somewhere awesome. A waterproof pouch for water bottles or soggy trunks. A vented shoe pocket that holds two pairs of shoes (four, if you’re my girlfriend and you’re going to a bachelorette party), a main pocket that is weirdly large for a carry-on bag, and best of all, a laptop pouch that’s actually accessible when you’re going through security. In fact, if I were to have a complaint, it would be that there are too many pockets—I was asked to extract my keys from my bag and I could not, for the life of me, find the pocket they were in. I could feel the keys from one pocket, but for a good five minutes, I was convinced that, by some dark magic, my keys had been transported into the space between the liner and the bag.


Let’s talk straps for a second. Nomatic’s 30L (the one I have) has straps upon straps upon straps. Want a backpack? You got it. Want a duffel bag? You got it. Want to attach it to your roller bag? You got it. Want to grab it by the top strap and sling it onto the roof racks? You got that, too.

Straps? You have options. Images: Nomatic

Take, for example, a real-life scenario. Last week, I flew from British Columbia to Los Angeles for our second annual EVOLVE Summit (a very good time; mark your calendars for next year!). It was one of those awkward trips that’s too long for a plain ol’ carry-on but too short to check a giant suitcase and risk losing all my stuff into the void that air travel creates. Four days means more than a few pairs of socks, a few pairs of pants, a few pairs of shorts, a couple of pairs of shoes, and five shirts (one for each day, plus an extra for the inevitable spillage). Throw in a toothbrush a laptop, and whatever book you’re reading, plus all the stupid dongles that Mac has created, and you’re not generally looking at a carry on bag. But Nomatic, with their design geniuses working hard to make your life easier, built a bag that could easily hold enough stuff for a week-long trip, especially if it’s to a beach somewhere that only requires a few pairs of trunks, a few shirts, a few bars of wax, and a couple of liters of sunscreen.

And before I go, there’s one more thing: it has a lifetime warranty. Nomatic will repair anything that makes your bag nonfunctional. If you’re feeling handy you can order one of our DIY repair kits for a $10 handling charge, or you can ship it to one of three US repair centers.


So, after a long battle to find the perfect bag for a strike mission, I have found the Holy Grail of travel bags, and it is called Nomatic.

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