NOMATIC Navigator Sling 10L Review
The NOMATIC Navigator Sling 10L is a capable sling pack with thoughtful organization for everyday carry, though it’s not the most comfortable for long-term use.
- Shoulder strap comfortable even with a full pack
- Includes pocket for stabilizer strap when not in use
- Easy-to-use strap keeper prevents excess dangling
- Buckle can rub chest uncomfortably
- Front pocket too large for quick-grab gear
- Stabilizer strap difficult to attach
1.9 lb (0.9 kg)
17.5 in x 11 in x 4.5 in (44.5 x 27.9 x 11.4 cm)
Nylon, Polyester, EVA Foam, YKK Buckles, Zoom Zippers
Laptop Compartment Size
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If you look up “NOMATIC Navigator Sling” on Pack Hacker, you’ll see plenty of options. Suffice it to say, NOMATIC’s Navigator line of slings is varied in size and shape, with many between 1 and 3 liters. What happens when you need a little more space, though?
Enter the NOMATIC Navigator Sling 10L. With that much volume, you have room—and dedicated sleeves and pockets—for your everyday gear, whether carrying it daily to the office or needing to work on the plane. And if your work includes streaming Disney Plus, who are we to judge?
So how does it stack up when compared to its smaller siblings? Let’s get to the review and find out!
This bag certainly looks like it belongs in the NOMATIC family photo. NOMATIC’s Navigator lineup has a distinct design, with rounded corners, clean lines, and a well-structured, solid look. Even the Navigator Collapsible Sling 3L has the same polygonal look when compressed as the back panels on the other bags, and the Navigator Sling 10L gets the same treatment.
Also, NOMATIC says the 10L sling is the same 80% nylon and 20% polyester as the rest of the Navigator line, and the durable and water-resistant materials come together to create a smooth exterior. Unlike some other products, though, you’re not confined to just Black! The Navigator Sling 10L also comes in a “Tiger Stripe” colorway at the time of writing, which is not orange and black, as you might guess. Instead, it’s a green, brown, tan, and black camouflage pattern, with the black acting as the tiger stripes and the green, brown, and tan creating the camo pattern.
There are two padded carry handles, one on the top and one on the right side, making it as easy to pull out from a car trunk as the overhead bin on a plane. Plus, there’s a luggage pass-through on the back panel running vertically to the bottom of the bag, so it sits horizontally over the handle of a rolling suitcase or briefcase. Printed along the strap is NOMATIC’s motto, “Life on the Move,” oriented toward the side carry handle, which also helps you pull it off when you reach your destination.
In addition to the padded handles, there’s a thin webbing loop along the top of the back panel to hang up the sling. It’s a welcome inclusion since the padded handle is pretty wide to fit on some hooks.
You’ll find a slightly raised rubbery material atop the front panel bearing the NOMATIC brand name. There are also two horizontal stripes of reflective material, so you’ll be seen if you take this biking in the dark.
There are tamper-resistant Zoom zippers to open the bag. A plastic-coated wire winds through the heads and ends with a large plastic pull that’s easy to grab. To slow a thief from entering the main compartment, you can slide one plastic end through the other zipper’s wire so they stick together. It’s not a lock, but it won’t be as easy to open. The zippers function as expected and also have water-resistant coatings to keep water at bay, which is excellent for something that can carry your computer.
And as to hardware, a chunky YKK buckle connects the padded portion of the strap to the adjustable part. While it works well, it is quite large and can rub against your chest uncomfortably. More on that below in the fit notes.
First, let’s talk about the rest of the strap. The wide, single strap looks more like something you’d find on a backpack than a sling. We’ve seen something similar on other sling packs, like the ALPAKA Bravo Sling Max V2 and Cotopaxi Chasqui 13L Sling (Cada Dia), likely because—as with the NOMATIC Navigator—they’re designed to carry your laptop.
The well-padded strap is extremely wide at the top, at 3.5 inches (88.9 mm), and tapers to about 2.75 inches (69.85 mm) at the buckle, with the bottom half a 1.5-inch (38.1 mm) wide satin webbing strap that feels like a seat belt. Because it’s so smooth, it’s easy to adjust the fit, and there’s a clip at the bottom where you can slide in the extra strap so you don’t have any flopping around.
Toward the bottom of the padded portion, you’ll find a reflective bar and a slim pocket where you can slip a bus or metro pass to have it close at hand. Below is a piece of Hypalon-like material with two slots cut in where you attach the stabilizer strap and another thin strap to hook a carabiner.
The Navigator Sling 10L doesn’t have ambidextrous carry; you can only carry it on your left shoulder. Doing so enables you to swing it around to your front while keeping both the front pocket and main compartment zippers facing up, so you can reach inside and grab something, though it doesn’t save your shoulder if it gets tired from bearing the load.
The strap runs from the right side diagonally down the back panel to attach to the left. There’s a small slip pocket at the bottom right of the back panel. Reach inside, and you’ll find a satiny, thin strap with a hook. This stabilizer strap keeps the bag from slipping if you’re riding a bike or a scooter. Hooking it in takes some practice, especially when you’re already wearing it, though it’s not extremely difficult. We don’t find it necessary when just walking around, but your mileage may vary.
Now to the back panel, where you’ll find six panels of dense padding in various shapes and sizes, divided by paths of air channels for breathability. The back panel and the underside of the shoulder strap both feature a micro-mesh similar to athletic wear, so it’s pretty breathable while you’re wearing it. That said, this isn’t a sling you’ll take on a 5-mile hike unless that’s the length of your commute from home to the office, so it doesn’t need to be the most breathable harness system ever.
With its clean lines and structure, this is a professional-looking sling you can easily carry to the office, a business meeting, and other semi-formal situations, provided you’re bringing the Black colorway. Even with the sling’s professional design, we don’t think the Tiger Stripe will fit in as many situations.
However, it’s not the most comfortable sling pack we’ve encountered. The padding on the shoulder strap and back panel is stiffer rather than squishy, but the larger issue is the strap’s big buckle. It hits some users right in the center of the rib cage, rubbing uncomfortably against the sternum. Not everyone has this issue, yet it’s still something to keep in mind. Plus, the entire weight of the pack and your laptop weighs against your left shoulder without any load lifters or other assistance with the weight, so it’s better for shorter trips than longer hauls.
Inside The Sling
Before we head inside the sling, there are two extra pockets to chat about on either side of the sling.
On the left is a 9-inch (22.86 cm) zipper revealing an elastic-topped stretchy mesh pocket for a travel water bottle. It easily fits a Standard Mouth Hydro Flask, though you’ll have to work hard to shove in something wider.
The protruding bottle impacts the bag’s aesthetics, but we think it’s worth having the option to carry hydration. And if you don’t need a drink? It easily tucks away.
On the right side of the bag is an 8-inch (20.32 cm) vertical zipper to get into the front quick-access pocket. It’s the only place to stash gear you want to grab without opening the main compartment. It contains a pass-through for a cord, so you can charge your phone from a battery bank stored in the main compartment while the device is in the front if you like. However, this is a big pocket, spanning three-quarters of the bag’s front, so it’s difficult to use for small gear like AirPods, lip balm, or hand sanitizer without later digging deep into the pocket to find it.
Instead, we rely on a small pouch to contain tiny toiletries. However, even if you stick that pouch, your phone, earbuds, and perhaps a minimalist wallet in the pocket, you have to take care when packing it and try to leave what you want to grab most often at the top near the zipper. Of course, when you have to pull something out, your other gear shifts around, wrecking your careful packing. Instead, we wish there was another smaller quick grab pocket toward the top. Even if that meant cutting this large pocket’s capacity in half, it would be easier to get what you need at any given moment than it is digging through the 72-inch-square area of an 8-by-9-inch pocket.
Luckily, there are plenty of pockets inside the main compartment. It opens via a dual-sided zipper spanning like a backward C from the left side of the bag and around the right, so it opens like a brand-new book— only part way instead of laying flat. Doing so makes the Navigator Sling 10L act more like a briefcase or a messenger bag than a sling, and it means you have to be sure to zip it up completely, or there’s a potential for gear to fall out the bottom.
Against the front of the main compartment are a trio of pockets made with the same stretchy mesh and topped with the same elastic as the water bottle pocket. They hold your gear pretty tightly so it doesn’t usually slip out while you’re on the move. Because of the bag’s sideways orientation, all the pockets open to face the right side, making every opening vertical when the sling is on your shoulder and requiring all the pockets to lock down your gear. These pockets do that well.
If you’re taking advantage of that pass-through from the main compartment, slide your battery bank in either the far right (top) or center pockets since they’re closest to the tiny hole connecting the two compartments.
On the opposite side are two larger zipper pockets with a pen slot in between. Take care when hooking a pen’s clip over the side of the slot, as it can get accidentally caught when you pull something out of the center of the main compartment, especially if you don’t completely open the bag. It’s a small detail, but one we feel is worth mentioning.
The zipper pocket on the left is—you guessed it—stretchy mesh! So it easily holds bulkier gear like USB hubs, a mouse, or the brick portion of your wall charger. The right pocket is the same liner fabric as the remainder of the bag’s interior and is marked “RFID Safe,” so you can use it for your travel wallet and passport to protect your data from digital theft.
Behind those two pockets is the padded sleeve for up to a 13-inch MacBook Pro or any other computer or tablet that will fit in a 14.25-by-9.75-inch space. It accommodates our laptop easily, although you should be aware that storing bulky gear in either of the adjacent zipper pockets can protrude into the sleeve. However, it doesn’t prevent us from sliding our computer in, and there’s padding between the pockets and your device, so you don’t have to worry about scratches.
The organization eats up most of the main compartment’s volume, with only a couple inches of space along the bottom (or left side, depending on how you hold it) to fill with other gear. If you have a slim tech pouch, like the Aer Split Kit, you can toss that inside, along with a packable travel jacket or gloves.
All in all, if you’re looking for a capable way to carry your everyday gear to the office or coworking space, the Navigator Sling 10L could fit the bill. We’re not huge fans of how it feels pulling it over our head to put it on or take it off, especially if you have longer hair, but of course, you can unbuckle it if that’s truly an issue. And it’s hard to argue with the protective structure of this bag. Your gear will likely make it safely wherever you need to go, provided you zip it completely!
- Interesting tamper-resistant zipper pulls
- Super sleek design
- Curious to see how stiff this sling feels when carrying it for a while
- Good for carrying everyday gear for short trips
- Orientation of compartment zippers allows you to open them with bag still on shoulder
- Strap catches on long hair while putting sling on