Finding a good backpack as a digital nomad is a tricky proposition. First up, of course, it has to have space for your laptop. And then it’s all about access, extra pockets, capacity and durability.
Looking for a great digital nomad backpack can be an arduous task, with lots of options. With the Nayo Smart EXP, we think this might be the bag you’re looking for. The EXP in that title stands for expandable and we’ll find out why soon…
I’ve been using the Nayo Smart EXP as my standard bag while working in Valencia, Spain for the past few weeks. And, I have to say, it’s been a revelation.
The Nayo Smart EXP is a 25L bag, but wait…. It EXPands to a 40L pack just by unzipping it! Now, if you’re a regular business traveller looking for a versatile travel bag, this could be a game changer…
Pockets and space
First things first, the EXP has plenty of space for a laptop in a padded compartment at the back. It’s designed to fit a 17.3″ laptop, with a nice padded compartment to keep your computer safe.
There is a quick access pocket on the front of the bag, with a sturdy zip, and the a compartment that has lots of space for papers, books, pens, gizmos and chargers. Having mentioned the charger, the front pocket also has a USB connection, allowing you to put your battery pack inside the bag and charge your phone on the go. A nifty touch…
But, it’s the central compartment that is where things get interesting. The Nayo Smart EXP converts into a bigger bag with a handy fully zip around opening. Once expanded, this central compartment acts like a standard suitcase, with a large main pocket ideal for keeping all your clothes and bits and bobs. On the opposite side are two elasticated pockets, perfect for keeping toiletries, cables/adaptors and other bits that you may need to keep apart.
This expandable bag feature is one of the best selling points of the EXP and what takes it from just another rucksack to a great digital nomad backpack.
The compressed measurements for the EXP are:
- 50 L x 15 W x 31 H (cms)
- Weight (unpacked) 1.1kg
- 50 L x 25 W x 31 L
This is equal to a standard sized carry on bag. In short, we think its the perfect business travel bag, especially for those who don’t want to carry multiple bags.
Packed full of features
I’ll be honest, when I received this bag I just started using it. I didn’t really inspect it so much, until I came to write the article and this is when I started to find all the extra cool little extras.
For example, in the padding of the rucksack, there is a hidden pocket to keep your travel documents and money safe. Genius!
And, there is also an elasticated strap which can be used to tether the EXP to a bigger suitcase. Who would have even thought of that? A nice touch…
There are also small pockets in the shoulder straps, ideal for quick access to your money or travel pass. It really is the little things that add up to make a bigger picture and the EXP is packed full of cool little features like this…
Sturdy in the real world?
Of course, a good digital nomad backpack also needs to be able to stand up to the stresses and strains of daily life. Us digital nomads don’t just use a bag once a month, they’re in daily use, and normally quite high impact too. Thrown into overhead lockers, stashed under tables, rained on, opened and closed constantly and stuffed to capacity.
So how does the EXP stand up?
So far so good… I have only made a few public transport journeys with it, and it’s only rained once since I’ve been using the bag (hey, I’m in Spain! It doesn’t rain that often). But after several weeks of constant use, my Nayo Smart EXP still looks like new!
The zippers have a premium feel, and I think they won’t be coming off in a few weeks (as happens with many a bag!) – and there aren’t too many bits that might catch or rip off easily.
Oh and it’s a nice looking minimalist bag too. In fact, there isn’t much to distract the eye, with a simple but premium looking finish.
If I had to pick one gripe about the EXP from the point of view of a digital nomad backpack… It doesn’t have any handy external netting pockets. You know, the type you can quickly stash a bottle in. This means that if you use a reusable bottle like me, you’ll need to keep putting in the front pocket.
Could I use a carabiner? Well… There aren’t many points where you could clip on a carabiner, save for the handle.
Is this the ideal digital nomad backpack?
You know what, it’s pretty damn close. It is definitely the most versatile backpack I’ve owned, and that expandable interior really is very clever. The zips and padding are pretty solid and the construction in general feels good quality.
I will come back and update this review in the future with more observations, so check back again soon!
Price and shipping
Oh and the price? The list price for the Nayo Smart EXP is £109.85/$142/€128.20. That’s a damn good price for a very versatile and premium feeling bag. At the time of writing, there is currently an very generous discount on the EXP and all of Nayo Smarts travel bags, so take a look.
In terms of shipping. My bag was shipped directly from China and took around 10 days to arrive. The cost for shipping to Europe was a very reasonable $4.99/€4.50 – which also includes the tracking number and updates.