DIGITAL NOMAD BACKPACK SERIES: Nayo Smart Backpacks

Digital Nomad Backpack Series - Nayo Smart Backpacks
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Nayo EXP Backpack in Dalat, Vietnam

To start this year, I’d like to begin with a backpack review from a company that is passionate to bring smart and safe travel backpacks in the travelling world. Before 2019 ended, I was contacted by Nayo Smart to give their backpacks a spin and deliver my review.

I’ve been backpacking since 2015, I’ve had my fair share of trying both budget backpacks and branded ones. I love reviewing backpacks because I’ve been living on it for years.

Despite that I’ve stayed in some places longer than 3 months, you will always see me with a backpack the moment I leave the country and head onto a new adventure.Before we start with the juicy parts, let’s know Nayo Smart first:

WHO IS NAYO SMART

Nayo Smart aims for a minimalist but smart products to bring in the travelling world. They create backpacks that are anti-theft, great for outdoor activities, while still producing a brand that fits any type of traveller.

WHAT ARE THEIR PRODUCTS

Nayo Smart has six (6) backpacks. Four of them are cabin-sized backpack, and two of them are laptop/business backpacks. Both of these types of backpacks suits me as a traveller.

I travel with a cabin-sized backpack and have a laptop bag since I carry my laptop everywhere I go – even just for a weekend trip away.

For this collaboration, Nayo Smart sent me four of their backpacks to try out and review; Nayo Defensor, Nayo Anti-Theft Shell, Nayo EXP Backpack, and Nayo Almighty.

If you’re ready, let’s talk about these packs!

Laptop / Daily Backpacks

Nayo Defensor

My first impression with this backpack is how minimalist it looks. Then I opened up the backpack and saw all the amazing features. Here are the specs of Nayo Defensor:

  • Capacity: 20L
  • Weight: 1.23 kg (2.7 lbs)
  • Size: 45 L x 14 W x 30 H cm (17.6 x 5.5 x 11.8 in)
  • Laptop: fits 15.6″

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Nayo Smart’s Defensor

Here are the features that I like most:

OUTSIDE:

  • minimalist look
  • built-in zip code locks
  • a USB port for charging
  • zip on and off water bottle holder
  • secret pockets at the back for passport, bank cards, wallets, and other valuables
  • two small pockets on the lower shoulder strap (quick access for keys, bank card, cash)
  • padded back support
  • can be slip on top of a wheeled suitcase
  • built-in but removable keychain or key holder
  • the outside fabric looks very sleek and is water-resistant, you can push back the front of the backpack to make it slimmer or pop it up for more spaces inside without making it look too bulky

INSIDE:

  • laptop pocket with secure strap
  • tablet/ebook pocket with secure strap
  • two tight pockets for camera, chargers, and other valuables
  • pen holders
  • zipped pocket
  • another regular pocket
  • you can place your power bank inside and connect it through a built-in USB cord
  • Velcro tapes on the side to minimise the opening size of the backpack

This backpack has great pockets and features just enough of what one needs. I like how it doesn’t have features that are useless or worse, making the product harder to use or heavier to carry. This pack is straightforward.

Now, let’s talk about what I don’t enjoy that much from Nayo Defensor. There aren’t a lot of things I don’t like about this backpack, but I can only imagine that to some travellers, this issue might be a deal-breaker, so here they are:

  • how the inside fabric is sewn – they look, I feel like Nayo Smart could have sewed them tighter, so it doesn’t give the “cheap” look
  • useless buttons – there are two buttons on the back support that I don’t understand the purpose 
  • laptop pocket safety strap is only suitable for 15″ – I wish the safety strap of the laptop pocket can be adjusted to accommodate smaller laptops, I use a 13″, and when I place my computer on the inside pocket, it’s too loose and unsecure
  • No hip belt – like what I mentioned on my previous reviews, the hip belt is probably something you don’t care for a laptop bag, but personally, I always opt for one

Nayo Anti-Theft Shell

Between two laptop bags, I definitely like this one better. Nayo Smart Anti-Theft Shell has a sturdy, smart, and minimalist look. The “shell” design gives me an assurance that my valuables inside will be safe.

Here are the specs of this backpack:

  • Capacity: 22L
  • Weight: 1.2 kg (2.7 lbs)
  • Size: :46 L x 15 W x 30 H cm (18 x 4.9 x 11.8 in)
  • Laptop: fits 15.6″ 

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Nayo Smart Anti-Theft Shell

Here are the features I like most:

OUTSIDE:

  • built-in zip coded lock
  • the shoulder strap is attached to the front of the bag, so when you open the backpack it doesn’t open all the way, or it stands on its own
  • zip in and zip out for a bottle holder
  • slip-on strap for a wheeled suitcase
  • safe compartment for passport, bank cards, phone, and another valuable right on the back, which also well-padded that help as a back support
  • 2 small pockets by the shoulder strap to place bank cards or keys
  • padded back support
  • USB-charge port

INSIDE:

  • laptop pocket with safety straps
  • iPad / tablet / ebook pocket with safety straps
  • pen holders
  • USB cord for charging
  • secure pockets for valuables
  • built-in keychain/holder
  • extra pockets
  • Velcro tapes to stick two sides of the backpack together to avoid opening it up all-day

Every time I use this backpack, I like how to fits my back, it feels secure, and the back support does a decent job. It has plenty of space for all my stuff when I bring my work to a coffee shop or packed for a flight with them compared to my past laptop bags. I’ve never had a built-in zip coded locks, so, I’m pretty excited to try this one out.

Digital Nomad Backpack Series - Nayo Smart Backpacks
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Digital Nomad Backpack Series - Nayo Smart Backpacks
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Digital Nomad Backpack Series - Nayo Smart Backpacks
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Here are some things I don’t like a lot about this backpack and features that I wish are available:

  • again, a loose sewn fabric – it made the backpack look cheap and unattractive inside
  • laptop pocket best fit for 15″ – I have 13″ laptop
  • laptop safety straps can’t be adjusted – with this, it feels like this backpack only accommodates those who have 15″ laptops and leave the smaller laptops unsafe
  • hip belt – I wish Nayo Smart have thought about adding a hip belt even a removable one
  • some small pockets in the front of the backpack – where I can put pens, wired headphones/earphones which I can easily access without opening the entire backpack

Weekend / Carry-On Backpack

Nayo EXP Backpack

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Nayo Smart’s EXP Backpack

Nayo Smart’s EXP Backpack is a great daily backpack and a weekend backpack. The most important feature of this pack is how you can quickly expand it to a bigger backpack, from 25L to 40L one.

You can easily do this through zipping off some parts of the backpack, and voila, you get extra spaces. When I’m moving from the Philippines to Vietnam, I put my Anti-Theft Shell backpack inside this backpack to save some space!

Here are the specs of EXP backpack:

  • Compressed size – Volume: 25L
  • Weight: 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs)
  • Dimensions: 50 L x 15 W x 31 H cm (19.6 x 5.9 x 12.2 in)
  • Laptop: fit 17.3”
  • Full-expanded size – Volume: 40L
  • Dimensions: 50 L x 25 W x 31 H cm
  • Equal to a standard carry-on size suitcase

Here are the things I like about Nayo EXP Backpacks:

OUTSIDE:

  • the fabric has a waterproof coating – made of polyester and polyurethane
  • it has a spacious pocket on the front
  • USB charging port
  • side straps – I’ve always found a use for side straps; attaching tents, yoga mats, and other things
  • padded back for back support
  • safety compartment on the bottom of the back for easy access of passport, bank cards, and other valuables
  • 2 small pockets for on the shoulder straps

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INSIDE:

  • main compartment zipper opens up nicely so you can pack easier
  • two mesh pocket – you can pack here your underwear, socks, smart shirts, it works great like a packing cube (but can’t be unattached)
  • the main compartment is meshed up and spacious – from here, you can access the expanded area of the backpack
  • I like how the main compartment is all mesh – it’s easy to see where things are so you can unzip whatever you need from the backpack conveniently 
  • front compartment has all the pockets for everything – from here, you can also access the USB charging cord
  • the back compartment is for the laptop – a 17″ laptop can fit here nicely, it also has an extra pocket for chargers and other work accessories

I honestly think that Nayo EXP Backpack is a great one; it’s a double purpose backpack. Either you are a person who carries your backpack everywhere, or if you go on a weekend trip once in a while, it’s a great pack to consider having.

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Nayo EXP Backpack’s inside

Now, here’s the features that I didn’t appreciate from Nayo EXP Backpack or features I wish it has:

  • better laptop compartment – it’s great that it has a big compartment, but it doesn’t do any excellent service for smaller laptops, safety-wise
  • it doesn’t have a hip belt – personally, I always want a hip belt to help my back carry the weight
  • wish they sew the inside fabric tighter or better to make it look nicer
  • water bottle holder – I personally don’t use the water holder for bigger backpacks but I think many travellers may find it useful

Nayo Almighty

This one might be the best backpack Nayo Smart has. The features it has perfectly fit to today’s type of traveller; bringing lots of gadgets, space for plenty of clothes, lots of pockets for better organising when packing. You can find them in either normal size or a Larger one.

Here are the specs of this backpack (Large):

  • Capacity: Volume: 32L  
  • Weight: 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)
  • Dimensions: 51 L x 17 W x 35 H cm (20 x 6.7 x 13.8 in)
  • Laptop: fits a 17.3”

Digital Nomad Backpack Series - Nayo Smart Backpacks
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Digital Nomad Backpack Series - Nayo Smart Backpacks
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Here are the things I like about this backpack:

OUTSIDE:

  • high tenacity polyester with waterproof coating
  • front pocket – for any stuff that you want to access easily like headphones, eye mask, pen, paper, wet wipes, tissue, etc
  • second front pocket – with two small pockets and main pocket, pen holders
  • third front pocket – I’ve used it for laundry clothes, handy cam, contact lense and oral hygiene accessories
  • USB charging port
  • on the right side, an insulated pocket – you can place anything that you’re afraid might cause a mess (liquid) without ruining the rest of your things
  • left side pocket – zip on and off water bottle holder
  • back pocket (right at the bottom part) – a great place for passport, bankcards, wallets, and other valuables
  • sunnies holder
  • built-in whistle on the chest strap
  • 2 pockets on the shoulder strap – a great place for keys, bank card, cash
  • a decent padded back support

INSIDE:

The inside main compartment has two parts; meshed with built-in Velcro pouches (where you can pack your clothes) and the laptop or electronic gear area.

  • 2 Velcro tape pouches – one has zip mesh, and the other is an insulated pouch (great for toiletries, in case you have an accident from any bottle or liquid, it won’t affect the rest of your stuff, this also have a small hook so you can hang it on the wall or bathroom)
  • pocket for underwear or small accessories
  • two side pockets – good for flip flops or water shoes
  • USB charging cord
  • more space for clothes
  • the zipped mesh that separates two compartments can help very well on packing
  • laptop pocket with safety strap – 15.6″
  • iPad /tablet / ebook pocket with safety strap
  • two expandable pockets – for laptop charger, camera lenses or chargers, extra battery, extra cords

I like how many pockets while still leaving lots of spaces for clothes and other accessories, I love that the fabric is soft, hence, easy to squeeze more stuff inside. The bottom base is hard enough to support the weight of the backpack.

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Digital Nomad Backpack Series - Nayo Smart Backpacks
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Here are the things I don’t like a lot about Nayo Almighty backpack:

  • loose sewing of the fabric inside the pockets and main compartment
  • no hip belt – I always prefer hip belts
  • laptop safety strap can’t be adjusted- only suitable for 15.6″ laptops since it you can’t adjust it, smaller laptops might not be as secure there
  • expandable zipper – I wish there is an expandable zipper link EXP backpack even just 5cm wider
  • built-in zip coded lock – it’s designed to carry expensive things like laptops and camera, it would be smart if Nayo added their built-in zip coded lack

NAYO SMART CABIN-SIZED BACKPACK VS OTHER CABIN-SIZE BACKPACK THAT I’VE USED

So far, I personally used and travelled with North Face Surge (2015-2019), Cabin Zero 40L (2017), Standard Luggage Carry-On (2019-present) and now with Nayo Smart EXP Backpack and Nayo Almighty (2019-present).

Cabin Zero 40L vs Nayo EXP Backpack

I’ve already given up my Cabin Zero two years ago because it feels like their version at that time was a beta, it was missing a lot of features, pockets, and sustainable features for backpackers. Nayo EXP Backpack definitely wins this round easily (in terms of features and price).

Cabin Zero 40L vs Nayo Almighty

Again, Nayo Almighty wins this round for its features, prices, and over-all durability. Cabin Zero is just a backpack when you can pack everything inside without having today’s features that are must be needed.

Standard Luggage Carry-On 40L vs Nayo EXP Backpack

Here’s the thing, I’ve only started travelling with Standard Luggage’s Carry-on backpack this year. Still, I’ve already taken it to three countries. That backpack is excellent for a full-time or long-term trip, but it’s too big for a weekend holiday.

While Nayo EXP is excellent for a short vacation but too small for a long-term trip. I’d say they are not comparable as you can use them for different kind of trips.

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Digital Nomad Backpack Series - Nayo Smart Backpacks
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Standard Luggage Carry-On 40L vs Nayo Almighty

Same goes for Standard Luggage Carry-on vs Nayo Almighty, they are backpacks for an entirely different type of trips. Since I’m living in Vietnam now and planning to stay for a while and will do weekend or short-trips local and internationally, I’m keeping my Nayo Almighty and use it for those type of holidays.

NAYO SMART LAPTOP BACKPACK VS THE OTHER THAT I’VE USED

In my first year of travelling, I was using a Haglofs hiking backpack as a laptop backpack, last year, I got a Standard Luggage laptop bag and been using it since (although I still have my Haglofs, because it has a hip belt!).

Now, I’m comparing Standard Luggage laptop backpack vs Nayo Smart’s laptop bags.

Standard Luggage Laptop Bag vs Nayo Defensor

To be honest, Nayo Smart’s Defensor is my least favourite between 4 backpacks I ha from them. It didn’t impress me as much due to lack of pockets and how you the fabric is not expandable. It feels like it’s too limited and I’ve had a hard time placing all my Standard Luggage laptop backpack’s accessories and necessities inside the Nayo Defensor.

In this part, I recommend Standard Luggage laptop bag instead of Defensor.

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Standard Luggage Laptop Bag vs Nayo Anti-Theft Shell

The moment I used Nayo Smart’s Anti-Theft Shell backpack, I knew I’m going to let go of my Standard Luggage laptop bag. Although I wish Shell backpack has more pockets like Standard Luggage, I think I’d prefer to use the Shell bag instead because of how nicely it fits on my back.

UPDATE: In the beginning I thought I want to keep the Shell backpack but after taking it for a day, it doesn’t fit my backpack but I can see that many might find it a good backpack.

SHOULD YOU BUY ALL NAYO SMART BACKPACKS

I don’t think you need to buy all of them, but if you are weekend tripper, get their carry-on backpacks which are super high for this kind of trip. If you work online or carry your backpack daily, I highly recommend you try out their laptop bags. I honestly think Nayo Smart is onto something here, they target modern travellers offering all features that are useful today.

VERDICT FOR NAYO SMART BACKPACKS

Nayo Smart’s backpacks are honestly suitable and are being sold for high prices too. Although it’s not great for long-term trips, for a weekend holiday or a short trip, it’s honestly a great deal.

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The design of Nayo Smart’s backpacks are on point, it’s sleek, smart look, and minimalist, something that is in-trend right now. During my moving between the Philippines and Vietnam caused my Nayo backpacks to be on the floor, collecting dust always. Still, with a quick tap here and there, the dust marks are gone – I sure love that!For digital nomads like me, I think you’ll like their laptop bags, although I understand if you feel that their carry-on backpack needs improvement, I think the same way.

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Overall, I’m satisfied with Nayo Smart’s backpacks, they are affordable, well-designed, and high for organised packing. Like what I mentioned in my past reviews, it will take some time (or trips) before I can make a great judgement. I’ll have to take it out on a couple of trips for even for at least a year to see its durability.

I’ll keep this post updated once I have more to add.That’s it from me on this Nayo Smart Backpack review. I hope you found some insights useful and help you decided if these backpacks fit your need as a traveller or digital nomad.

If you have any questions or insights, let me know in the comment section below.

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Mary is the founder of amaryroad and one of the experts when it comes to travelling in Southeast Asia. Mary has been travelling around the world since 2013, she have extensively travelled and lived in Southeast Asian countries. She also has been featured in popular publications in the Philippines such as GMA Network, When in Manila, and Tripzilla. Today, Mary continues her round-the-world trip with no final destination. She travels in her own terms and tries to build her own world whilst pushing herself into every corner of life, breaking limit beyond her capabilities.

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