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NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L Review

The NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L may be handy for your next trip, though it doesn’t compress as small as other packable bags and is floppy to fill.

Our Verdict

7.0 /10
Good info

Form

77/100

Design

67/100

Value

67/100
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Pros

  • Easy to pack up and zip closed
  • The hard shell provides some back panel padding for carry comfort
  • More organization than in other packable bags

Cons

  • It lacks structure and is extremely floppy
  • A laptop in a protective case doesn’t fit in the sleeve
  • Filling the top pocket causes it to sage into the bag, making it harder to get gear in the main compartment

Technical Details

86 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 125/145 Airlines

88 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity

    16.5l

  • Weight (lb)

    0.87 lb (0.4 kg)

  • Dimensions

    19 in x 10.5 in x 6 in (48.3 x 26.7 x 15.2 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    Polyester, Nylon, YKK Zippers, YKK Buckles

  • Manufacturing Country

    Vietnam

  • Laptop Compartment Size

    16"

  • Warranty Information

    Lifetime Warranty

Buying Options

Brand
Price
Deal
Amazon Logo
$89.99 
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Full Review

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When packing up a big travel backpack or rolling carry on luggage, it’s easy to focus more on your vacation packing list and less on how you’ll carry snacks and other gear throughout the day once you reach your destination. But you may not want to haul a travel daypack through the airport (especially if there’s already a bag on your back), and your favorite may take up too much space to toss in that larger bag. That’s why we like packable bags. The best ones pack down small but still have enough space for the everyday essentials.

NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L Side
NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L | Bring another bag in your bag without breaking your back.

NOMATIC says it optimized the Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L to take up the least amount of space possible when not in use, but how small does it pack up, and is it something you want to bring on your next trip? Let’s find out.

External Components

The Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L is primarily constructed with lightweight nylon, with an EVA foam back panel that serves as the exterior of the bag when it’s packed away. The NOMATIC name is printed in light gray in the center of the top of the bag, and there are two reflective strips on the front, as well, to help you stick out when you’re out exploring in the dark. If you’re familiar with the brand, you’ll recognize the look, and if it’s new to you, welcome! This is the style of many NOMATIC bags. Since this is an all-black bag with no option for a brighter color, you’ll be pretty incognito even with those small reflective details.

NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L Brand
NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L | The NOMATIC logo is fairly subtle.

YKK zippers on the bag have wire pulls that end in a plastic rectangle stamped with the NOMATIC logo. That makes them pretty easy to grab, and it also allows you to lock them together with a travel lock for more security by feeding a lock through the loops on both pulls to hold them together.

NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L Handle
NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L | A small handle is best for hanging the bag when you’re not using it.

There is a skinny handle at the top of the bag, but it’s so narrow that it’s really best to use for hanging the bag up on a hook. Another longer handle is between the two foam sections to give you a place to carry it when it’s collapsed. Luckily, it lays pretty flat against the foam, so it doesn’t get in your way when you’re wearing the bag (since that turns into the bag’s back panel). Instead, it provides a little accent since NOMATIC’s motto, “Life on the move,” is printed on the strap.

NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L Strap
NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L | Attachment loops on the shoulder straps allow you to connect small gear or feed through a hydration tube.

The shoulder straps have two attachment points each where you can connect a carabiner to carry keys, hand sanitizer, or a tiny Bluetooth speaker. They also serve as loops to hold a hydration bladder tube in place if you want to carry one in the interior pocket. It’s easy to make this into a de facto hydration backpack since there’s a pass-through right under the hanging loop at the top. It’s definitely a bag to consider if you plan to hike on your trip.

We’re happy to see a sternum strap that connects with YKK buckles. While we don’t use it all the time, or even most of the time, it’s a handy feature for when we want to carry heavier things around longer. A water bladder can get heavy fast on a hot, steep hike, so it’s nice to have the option for extra support. It clips onto a daisy chain of loops on each strap, so while you can’t get quite as granular of adjustment as you can with one that slides on a rail, NOMATIC still gives you a lot of options to help you find the best fit. And if you don’t want to use it, just take it off!

NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L Harness
NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L | EVA foam creates a stiff exterior for the packed bag, as well as back panel padding, and the thin shoulder straps attach in a yoke style at the top.

The shoulder straps have very, very thin padding and join the bag with a rounded yoke at the top. Since they’re so thin and flexible, we don’t find that they pull much at the traps, an issue we’ve had with yoked shoulder straps on other bags. They’re lined with breathable mesh to help cool things down when you’re out in warm weather, although the back panel lacks any aeration, so you may still get a sweaty back. The only padding on the back panel comes from the exterior EVA foam of the packed-up bag, so the top third of the pack lacks any cushion. Whether or not that bothers you will depend on what you’re carrying. You’re unlikely to feel any discomfort if you’re using this bag for a packable travel jacket or other layers, but you may feel the outline of a book if you have it stacked toward the top of the bag.

Fit Notes

NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L Side by Side
Left: Eric Hergenreder, Height: 6’0″ (183 cm), Torso: 18.5” (47 cm) | Right: Kristyne Defever, Height: 5’5” (165 cm), Torso: 17” (43 cm)

Wearing the NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack is not uncomfortable, though it’s not the same cushiony experience you’d find on a more built-out bag. The two panels of foam padding do a decent job of blunting the feel of gear pressing against your lower back, which is nice, although the thin shoulder straps are so minimal that they’re easy to twist and bunch as you put them on. We smooth them out quickly enough, but it’s a daily occurrence if you put them over bulkier coats and hoodies. However, while they do an OK job of supporting the load, we can feel the edges digging in slightly on our shoulders, which isn’t ideal.

For the most part, we don’t feel a need to use the sternum strap on such a small bag, though it’s nice to have it available as your mileage may vary.

As for aesthetics, this backpack is similar to most packable bags in that it’s quite casual and fits best in outdoorsy and touristy destinations. It’s not wrinkly looking since it doesn’t pack down nearly as small as some other bags, but it has a definite sag unless you stuff it with lots of soft items like clothing. Using the top pocket weighs things down, and the generally floppy nature of the bag allows gravity to take over, especially when you’re trying to pack it but also when you carry it around.

Inside The Pack

Sagginess aside, we like the organizational options around the Navigator Collapsible Pack, as some packable bags lack those extra features.

NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L Top Pocket
NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L | A top pocket is great for our quick-grab gear, but it sags the bag down and can get in the way when you want to pack the main compartment.

That top pocket we mentioned above is pretty convenient. It opens with a zipper atop the bag and is a decent size for all our small travel essentials, from a phone and a minimalist wallet to a passport, lip balm, and hand sanitizer. There’s a little loop on the left side where you can connect a carabiner or keychain to quickly grab what you need, although there’s no built-in leash or key clip.

NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L Water Bottle
NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L | Between two bottle pockets and an internal place to stash a water bladder, you’ll have no trouble staying hydrated.

There are also two travel water bottle pockets made with stretchy mesh and topped with elastic. They’re a good size for standard-width bottles, though they’re not wide enough for larger bottles, like a Nalgene. Also, since the bag itself is so flexible, anything you have packed in the main compartment has the potential to protrude and interfere with the bottle pocket. It’s not a huge deal, but sometimes we have to jostle gear around and shake the bag to one side or the other to get a bottle in. Once it’s in, they stay in place, even when the bag is lying down, so we don’t worry about losing our favorite Stanley, Hydro Flask, or YETI.

NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L Zipper
NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L | Be careful not to block the main compartment zipper with a water bottle.

The zipper to enter the main compartment runs around the top of the bag from bottle pocket to bottle pocket. That’s great for access, and you get two zipper heads so you can open it anywhere along the track, but you risk blocking the zipper with your water bottle if you keep the heads at either end. Sure, that can happen with other bags, too, but we like to point it out so you remember to leave them toward the top of the pack instead.

NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L Laptop
NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L | A sleeve fits up to a 16-inch laptop, or a hydration bladder, but lacks any padding for device protection.

Inside the pack, you’ll find a slip pocket that can fit up to a 16-inch laptop or a hydration bladder. You’ll have to flip the top pocket out of the way to access it, but you’ll find a loop that sticks with a hook-and-loop fastener to hold the bladder in place, with the pass-through right behind it. We think a water pack is the best fit for this pocket because it’s not padded to protect your tech. It is suspended from the bottom, so it’s got that going for it, but we decided to add a laptop sleeve to our pack-out for extra protection. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to fit even a smaller 13-inch computer in the pocket if you do, mostly because the material is so flexible that it’s hard to keep it flat enough; it keeps buckling as you try to slide anything in.

NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L Packing Cubes 2
NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L | There’s plenty of space for everyday carry essentials when you’re on a trip, though it doesn’t work as well for daily use.

The rest of the 16L capacity is open to use as you like, whether we’re packing clothing in packing cubes, lunch in a small cooler, or a swimsuit and towel for a hike that ends at a waterfall. While that means you could use it as your personal item bag on the plane, we like packing it away and pulling it out once we reach a destination instead.

NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L In A Bag
NOMATIC Navigator Collapsible Pack 16L | While it packs away, it’s still pretty large.

It’s easy to do: push all the material and straps into the center to line up with the EVA foam, fold the foam in half, and then zip it up. There are two zippers to work with here, which we find helps when closing it since you can start from either side and then meet in the middle once you push everything together. It has a rather large footprint when packed this way, though, and ends up bigger than many toiletry bags and tech pouches, so you’ll have to decide if this is the right packable bag for you. We find it more useful when traveling with larger pieces of luggage, like the Monos Carry-On, but you’ll struggle to find space for it if you’re using a smaller, more streamlined travel backpack.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • A good size to bring along daily adventures
  • Very lightweight, though floppy
  • Minimal organization
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Material shows dirt and scuffs
  • Depending on how tightly the straps are adjusted, you may feel the outline of the foam
  • Comfortable for daily use as long as it’s not packed full of super heavy gear
mm
By Kristyne Defever
Created February 27, 2024 • Updated March 26, 2024
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