Review: the Nayo Rover — a sleek, minimalist, well-built urban travel backpack - Reviews - travel backpack

Whatever your age, you’ve probably figured out that a backpack is the best way to carry a fair bit of stuff while getting around. (I’m still a fan of a leather manbag I’ve had for almost a decade when a backpack seems like overkill, but that’s beside the point.)

Disclosure: a complimentary backpack was sent to me for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

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This is the Nayo Rover, one of several models of backpacks available over at nayosmart.com. Made of 600 denier high density polyester with a matte, waterproof, polyurethane coating, it’s more than up to whatever nature might throw at you. It’s also very lightweight — 1.1 kilograms, or 2.42 pounds — and is ergonomically designed to keep the weight closer to your back. The result: whatever you’re carrying almost magically feels lighter.

Since marketing speak sometimes gets in the way of understanding the quality of something, ‘denier’ is essentially a way of measuring how thick a fabric is. Without getting into a bunch of technical stuff, 600 denier is of the heavy duty variety commonly found in backpacks, rugged bags, and so on. Higher numbers are available, but they’re heavier and stiffer — two qualities you probably don’t want in a backpack.

What’s inside this travel backpack?

Review: the Nayo Rover — a sleek, minimalist, well-built urban travel backpack - Reviews - travel backpack

Like a lot of other backpacks, there are internal pockets for days. The main laptop sleeve holds up to a 15.6″ laptop, and the elastic straps help keep it in place to prevent bouncing around. Right in front of it is a sleeve for a tablet — it’s the perfect size for my iPad 9.7″, but use the computer sleeve for anything larger — and a Velcro strap to secure it.

While the website calls this a ‘large capacity backpack’, the 33-liter size feels more like a medium. Exact dimensions are 50cm (19.7″) long by 32 cm (12.6″) by wide by 16cm (6.3″) thick). Need something larger? Nayo’s EXP (for expandable) goes up to 40 liters, which is honestly about as big as a backpack can get before it begins to look bulky.

What about the outside?

Review: the Nayo Rover — a sleek, minimalist, well-built urban travel backpack - Reviews - travel backpack

The internal pockets are fine and all, but the external pockets are the highlight for me. This small-but-long pocket along the top is a great size for a smartphone, tickets, a passport, and so on. The zippers and pulls are all smooth and high-quality, like they’re going to last a long time. They normally tuck into the little lips above and below the zipper — I pulled it out and stood it straight up to make it more obvious. A larger pocket across the front of the backpack unzips north to south, and is fine for all the minutiae people seem to store in backpacks.

Review: the Nayo Rover — a sleek, minimalist, well-built urban travel backpack - Reviews - travel backpack

Now looking at the padded back of the backpack (the part that would sit against your lower back), there’s a well-hidden pocket that’s great for holding some money, your passport, or anything like you’d like to have secured right next to you. My hand is covering a strap designed to fit around your luggage’s pull handle. No need to carry it on your pack when you can wheel it around.

Review: the Nayo Rover — a sleek, minimalist, well-built urban travel backpack - Reviews - travel backpack

This will be a highlight for some — this USB port connects to a built-in cord that connects to your power bank. It actually took me a little while to find this cord — I could feel it through the fabric, but actually accessing the cord requires looking for a very well-hidden pocket and a small zipper pull deep in the backpack.

Once you’ve found it, your power bank can either go in that pocket (making it difficult to access or turn on) or might just bounce around on the floor of the backpack. It’s a bit of a letdown, personally, since you’d probably want easy access to it to charge it or turn it on…

Not pictured along the other side (on the right as you’re wearing it) is a pocket that’s basically the perfect size for a water bottle. No zipper to close the top, but it’s pretty well hidden when not in use. This is basically the story for the entire bag — sleek, functional, minimalist, and decidedly un-flashy. Also not pictured is a chest strap with a built-in whistle and small compass — while I highly doubt my survival would ever come down to these, they’re a nice little touch

Drawbacks

It’s very un-flashy, which to me is a perfectly fine thing. It helps me blend in, and lacks any sort of ‘bling’ or blaring colors.

Nayo’s backpacks are entirely monochromatic, and black is the only color they come in. Even the  Dress them up with stickers, patches, or whatever else you might like — the front of the backpack is a smooth surface and a blank slate.

The price may also be a factor for some — dropping over $100 on a single backpack isn’t for everyone. (it’s on sale as I type this, though I can’t know their future pricing plans)

Final verdict

Highly recommended. It’s a solidly-built, general-use urban backpack that I’ll be using well beyond this review. Go pick it up here.

Review: the Nayo Rover — a sleek, minimalist, well-built urban travel backpack

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