Nayo General Backpack Review
A smart backpack for travelers that are bursting with innovative features and clever design.
The introduction of the smart backpack is something we’ve seen crop up a lot more in recent years. Typically, a smart bag has some clever features included in the design like external charging ports, solar charging capabilities or unique organization options you wouldn’t find on your run-of-the-mill backpack.
Though the term “smart” can often be used loosely without any real truth to back it up, there are a number of solid bags out on the market worthy of this designation. One such company that’s relatively new to this area is NayoSmart. Despite their young age, the inventive group has put out a huge series of smart bags that truly deserve the claim — sporting some awesome features across their lineup.
We recently got our hands on one of NayoSmart’s bags (the General) and took it out for a spin, traveling with the pack to Iceland and using it to commute around NYC. Our first impressions were solid, and after a month of use, we are thoroughly impressed to say the least.
Nayo General currently comes in two sizes, a 25-liter and a 32-liter variant, but they’re both mostly the same aside from the difference in capacity.
Read on for our full review and breakdown of Nayo General and see if it’s the right bag for you before pulling the trigger.
Design: They really did think of everything
It’s rare that we say a backpack is nearly flawless in design, but Nayo General comes pretty damn close. Right off the bat, the pack is a bit subdued and minimal with a sleek overall design that doesn’t feel too flashy — unlike some other smart packs that are downright gaudy.
The bag is constructed with a waterproof, rubberized matte black PVC material that feels durable and solid. We did test this bag out in the rain and found it to indeed be waterproof. At the base of the bag’s front pouch, there is a single logo that’s not too jarring and meshes with the bag’s minimal design. The zippers are solid and have a rubber coating on them for improved grip, and we experienced no issues with them getting snagged or stuck.
At the side, you’ve also got a USB Type A port for quick access to charging electronics, but we’ll touch more on this later.
Moving up to the top, there is an interesting choice for the carrying handle, which utilizes a solid metal bar fitted into the backpack. While it does work well and didn’t give us any trouble, it can slip out from the retainers and fall out if you mess with it too much. Though this won’t affect most users, we feel it’s the one weak point of the pack as it’s possible it could slip out or become loose. This could be easily remedied by adding some sort of anchor inside the slot that keeps the handle from popping out, but isn’t a deal-breaker by any means.
For the straps, they’re not the most padded or cushioned we’ve tested, but they’re sufficiently comfortable and thick enough for a snug fit. It’s also nice to see the addition of a chest strap, which can keep the backpack comfortable on longer commutes or hikes, helping to distribute heavy loads. The straps are packed with handy features like zippered pouches on both sides, a slot for carrying sunglasses and plenty of adjustment to suit your body’s shape.
One thing we love to see on backpacks that are becoming more common is the inclusion of a luggage strap. This allows you to slip the pack over your suitcase handle for a secure carry if you want to give your back a break during travels. In addition, there’s a hidden compartment in the back for storing sensitive items you want to keep ultra-secure.
“It’s rare that we say a backpack is nearly flawless in design, but the Nayo General comes pretty damn close.”
With the overall design of the outside out of the way, let’s take a look at the Nayo General ’s internals and dig into the organization in this next section.
Organization: Smart is an understatement
If you’ve ever had a backpack with poor organization, you know how important this area can be. A bag can do everything right in the design department, but if you’ve got a bunch of loose floating gear inside, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Fortunately, the folks at NayoSmart have done it again with a home run here. To be completely honest, this might be the most well-organized backpack we’ve ever used. Now before we go making claims like that, let’s open this thing up and back up our statement.
Beginning at the front of Nayo General , there’s a little pouch on the top of the bag for placing some smaller items you want quick access to. Also on the face you’ve got a small zippered pocket for things like papers or books with a hidden zipper.
Below this, there’s a larger front compartment with lots of organizers for smaller items. This partition has slots for things like pens or pencils and two other organizers about the size of a smartphone. There’s also a keychain at the top here with a quick-release button if you’d like to store your keys inside Nayo General.
Before we pop open the massive main compartment of Nayo General, there are two more pouches on the sides of the pack we should take a quick look at. On the side beneath the USB port, there’s an expandable pocket for storing bottles. This is a clever design because we’ve often found that many bags don’t work with a range of bottle sizes (only fitting a standard 12 or 16-ounce water bottle), whereas this one can be zipped open to expand the slot for larger bottles of all sizes.
On the opposite side, there’s another cool pouch, quite literally. This one is lined with the same material you’d find on a cooler and can keep food or drinks either cold or hot. While you might not use this every day, it’s definitely nice to have when you want to store that cold beverage for a long journey.
So, onto the central compartment where the bulk of Nayo General stores your stuff. First off, this is a big backpack no matter which of the two sizes you pick, but it doesn’t feel unwieldy like some bigger packs we’ve tested. Another smart choice here is that the bag unzips and unfolds in a complete 180-degree angle, similar to what you’d see on a suitcase. This not only allows for easy access to things deep inside the bag but also lets you really pack and organize gear for longer trips.
NayoSmart claims the bag can hold three to five days worth of clothes depending on the size you go with, and we had no issue even surpassing these claims during a weeklong trip to Iceland. Once you’ve had a backpack that splits open like a suitcase, it’s hard to go back to something that forces you to dig around in the dark, blindly searching for items stuck at the bottom.
“To be completely honest, this might be the most well-organized backpack we’ve ever used.”
This bi-fold design is also handy for keeping things separated, as one side holds your clothes in a mesh compartment and the other securely stores electronics like laptops and tablets. The side that holds clothes is quite deep and we had no issues fitting in several days worth of gear. The opposite side is loaded with padded slots and pockets for storing up to a 15.6-inch laptop, a tablet, chargers and accessories for all these and more.
Though we wouldn’t trust these electronics pouches to protect your expensive tech from a serious drop, they seem more than capable of protecting things from minor impacts with no problems.
One last thing of note is that Nayo General comes with two removable containers that can be velcroed inside. These can be used as either a nifty overnight kit or a separate pouch for small accessories and cables. You might opt to remove these for increased space inside, but they’re perfectly implemented if you choose to use them.
Comfort: Comfy for all-day wear
Much like organization, a bag can look great, but if it’s not comfortable, well then it’s not a great pack after all. Comfort is key, and we’ve experienced many poorly designed backpacks that feel like they were never actually worn before heading off to store shelves. Nayo General, however, performs solidly in this realm as well.
“Even with a week’s worth of gear stuffed into it, Nayo General remained comfortable while trekking through airports and hiking trails alike.”
In order to run the backpack through its paces, we took it with us on a hiking trip to Iceland, as well as using it while commuting about NYC. In both of these settings, we used a range of loads and never found it to be cumbersome or uncomfortable.
Even with a week’s worth of gear stuffed into it, Nayo General remained comfortable while trekking through airports and hiking trails alike. During our commute in the City, the bag’s clever features and sleek form really shined, and after a solid month of wearing the backpack around, we can confidently tout its comfort.
Key Features: Innovative features
So aside from the smart design and organization, there are a few key features we particularly enjoyed during the extensive testing of Nayo General we’d like to highlight.
One such feature is the waterproof material of the bag. While some bags claim water resistance or proofing and don’t actually deliver on those claims, Nayo General kept our gear dry in all wet conditions. Walking inside waterfalls and being misted with spray during our trip in Iceland, the backpack never allowed moisture inside. Even during some rain storms while commuting in NYC, the backpack lived up to its claims and kept its promise.
Another excellent feature is the charging port. While this has become a much more common thing to find on backpacks these days, not all are created equally. With Nayo General, the port is easy to access and worked well during our travels. The best way to use this port for us was to plug in an external battery on the inside and then juice up our phones or cameras as needed from the outside. This keeps you from having to dig out your portable battery every time you need it.
“While some bags claim water resistance or proofing and don’t actually deliver on those claims, Nayo General kept our gear dry in all wet conditions.”
While it’d be nice to have one included in the backpack straight from NayoSmart, most people already have one these days, so no negative marks there.
Price: Affordable and durable
If all this sounds perfect to you so far, you may be wondering just how much one of these bags will actually cost you. Luckily, both sizes of Nayo General are fairly priced in our opinion.
For the smaller variant, you can pick up the backpack from NayoSmart’s website for about $88 at the time of this review. The larger 32-liter bag will run you $92. With such a small difference between the two, we’d recommend going with the larger version, but pick whichever you think will best suit your particular needs.
“We can confidently say you’d be hard-pressed to find a similar bag with all the same features at that price point.”
While these two aren’t the cheapest bags out there on the market, the smart features and innovative designs combined with the durability of Nayo General make for one heck of a backpack for the price. In fact, we can confidently say you’d be hard-pressed to find a similar bag with all the same features at that price point.
Final Verdict: NayoSmart puts the “art” in “smart bags”
All said and done, Nayo General is one of the best smart backpacks we’ve ever tested, bursting with ingenious features and well-thought-out touches and organization. If you’re currently hunting for a backpack that hits all the marks, Nayo General from NayoSmart is a wise choice.