NOMATIC Navigator Lite Sling 1L Review
The NOMATIC Navigator Lite Sling has ample space for storage with its expansion, though a lack of continuity between fabrics leaves something to be desired.
- Expands from one to three liters
- Hard exterior keeps its shape
- Strap is wide and comfortable
- Expansion material is stretchy, allowing items inside to bow outwards
- Not much internal organization for size once expanded
- Gets warm quickly in hot weather
0.6 lb (0.3 kg)
10 in x 6 in x 2.5 in (25.4 x 15.2 x 6.4 cm)
YKK Buckles, Nylon, Polyester, Melange Fabric
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The NOMATIC Navigator Lite Sling is designed to be a lighter version of the Navigator, which we reviewed reasonably positively due to its expandability and unique cable pass-through system. Coming in at a little less than three-quarters of the weight of its big sister, we’re curious which details made their way down to the Lite model and which were scrapped in the name of saving weight. Let’s find out!
Materials & Aesthetic
The main pack material is 400D Nylon, and there’s 330D Polyester Melange fabric in use as well. The exterior shell has a semi-rough texture–like there are a few fabrics wound tightly together, but it still feels comfortable to the touch. It’s relatively water-resistant, so spills and light rain aren’t an issue, but it’s best you get to cover fairly quickly in a downpour.
There’s a good amount of structure to the pack—which means that even when it’s empty, it looks the same as when it’s full. The structure can be manipulated with your hands, but it usually stays locked in its standard position. If you bump into something with the sling, it can push inward and get stuck, like a gallon jug of milk, but it pops out easily and often does so on its own accord.
The zippers have NOMATIC branding on them and work as we expect. The track is smooth, and the corners are easy to pass, which makes for easy opening and closing. The zipper pulls start with a thin paracord-like material and have hard plastic tabs on the ends. They’re easy to grasp even when wet and make getting your gear easier.
The strap buckle is from YKK and snaps together with ease. We think it’s a little large for a one-liter sling, but it works well for the job it’s tasked with. It pops open with little effort, but we don’t have any issues with it opening while on the move.
The strap keepers are a clip design, and they’re also from YKK. They’re a little clunky, especially when looping the strap through more than once, but they do a good job keeping extra fabric out of your way. You can sometimes feel them on your back or side while wearing the pack in sling mode—not uncomfortably, but noticeably.
At the time of writing, there’s just one colorway option: dark gray. There are a few colors within the fabric, from a lighter gray to black, which adds texture to the look. It looks professional but is a little desaturated if you’re into vibrant colors.
The NOMATIC logo is large and in charge on the pack’s front, and it’s crafted from rubberized plastic. It blends nicely with the pack material but is pretty hard to miss from a minimalist perspective.
The sling’s strap is pretty thick for its literage, but we find it comfortable no matter how much gear we stow inside. The strap is durable and contrasts nicely with the gray pack material. It feels like a brand new version of an old car seatbelt or a secondary belt that they have you wear on a rollercoaster that goes upside down.
If you’re wearing the pack sling-style, we think it’s more comfortable to wear on your back than your front. The pack’s structure doesn’t make for a cozy front carry, especially if you have it tight.
There are what we affectionately call hip-huggers where the strap meets the main sling body. They’re pieces of fabric that act as a transition between the two, and it feels like the sling is hugging you while you wear it, which is a plus, we think.
At the transitionary point between the strap and the hip-hugger on the left side is a small loop, which is nice for hanging and attaching the pack to or onto things, like a daypack. The loop can be hung directly onto some hooks but is small, so adding a carabiner like the Nite Ize S-Biner SlideLock is ideal for hanging it to larger things like a chainlink fence or the exterior of your daypack.
The back panel has no mesh or airflow channels, so things get a little sweaty when the temperature picks up or you do something more active. We found this to be especially true in the sun, as the colorway is dark and gets warmer as more light hits it. The material wasn’t too hot, but it did feel sweatier on days when the sun was out.
The back panel does have padding; however, it’s very rigid. It’s almost like they tried to make padding that felt like hard cardboard. This isn’t necessarily bad, as it offers structure wherever you have the pack on your body, and it stops things from poking into you from the main compartment. We don’t mind a little structure, but we can see how some folks might not enjoy it as a feature. It makes it harder for the back panel to conform to your body, making it feel more like a brick than a piece of malleable material.
Inside The Pack
Coming in at just one liter, there’s no surprise that the NOMATIC Navigator Lite Sling has just one compartment. The inside of that compartment feels big—almost too big for it to only be a liter—which is an excellent problem to have.
The front side has two pockets: one that spans roughly two-thirds of the width and another that resides in the last third. The larger pocket is a nice spot for charging cables, a battery bank, or even a small point-and-shoot camera. The smaller one is more suited for a wallet or a power brick.
On the opposite side are two more pockets split down the center to be the same size. These sit directly on the back panel, so they’re ideal for flat items like a passport, cell phone, small papers, or a little notebook.
All of the aforementioned pockets are made of snappy mesh. It bounces back quickly and holds items nicely, though the tops aren’t very tight. This allows smaller items to bounce out occasionally, however, it suits more oversized items well.
There’s a fair amount of space between the front and back sides of the sling to fit extra gear, and we’re even able to stow a packable jacket like the Patagonia Storm10 here, too.
If there isn’t enough space for your gear, the Navigator Lite expands from one-liter to three-liters, which is pretty astronomical when you think about it percentage-wise. We often see daypacks in the 30-liter range expand another five liters or so, which is relatively small compared to the Lite Sling’s bonkers transition.
Statistics aside, additional space is welcome while traveling. You never know when you’ll need some extra space for more gear on a journey across a new city, so two extra liters is excellent. It doesn’t come without faults, though.
The material with which the expansion is crafted is similar to the mesh pockets we mentioned earlier but with smaller holes. You can’t see through it, and items won’t sneak out, but it stretches. This is perfect for stuffing more gear inside, though the hard-shelled exterior is no longer. The bottom of the sling is now stretchy and looks a little goofy when packed out, because any items resting on the mesh material can cause it to bow outwards. Lighter items don’t have as much of an issue with this, but heavier items do.
Don’t get us wrong; we love the extra space. However, the extra literage changes the dynamic of the pack altogether. If you like this sling, odds are you’re a fan of structure and hard exteriors, and the expansion doesn’t offer that. It isn’t the end of the world, but it’s a change.
Overall, we’re happy with how much the NOMATIC Navigator Lite Sling can stow before it’s expanded and even happier with the amount it can hold once you’ve unleashed the mesh bottom. That extra space doesn’t have the same hard outer shell, which is something to consider before purchasing this sling.
- Ample internal organization, albeit reasonably small in size
- Expanding the pack from one to three liters is easy but looks a little awkward
- Shell has a sturdy feel to it, although expansion doesn’t
- Materials show no sign of wear
- A few loose threads, but nothing noticeable
- The sling can get pretty hot on warm days