Welcome to my in-depth Nemo Vantage Backpack Review. In this post, I will take a deep and detailed look at the brand-new backpack from NEMO and put it well and truly through its paces.

The Nemo Vantage backpack is part of the NEMO brand’s new 2024 collection. Excitingly, the Vantage (along with the Resolve Pack) marks the highly-rated brand’s first-ever foray into the world of backpacks. Personally, I was super pumped when I got a chance to check this unique pack out on my recent trip to Indonesia.

NEMO is well known and respected for its epic outdoor gear like tents and sleeping bags and has just recently added the Vantage backpack to its product line. The bag, alongside the rest of its range, focuses on sustainability and recyclability.

The Vantage pack is primarily intended as a commuter backpack or a day pack, and comes in 3 different size options; 20L, 26L and 30L. This review will look at them all and let you know the best uses for each one.

Make sure you put suncream on your head when you’re out and about with the Nemo Vantage!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

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About The Vantage Pack

Let’s take a closer look at the NEMO Vantage Pack.

Capacity & Design

As I said in the intro, the Vantage backpack is available in three sizes: 20 litres, 26 litres, and 30 litres. It’s designed to be primarily used as a commuter pack although the 30 litre it could be pushed and used as an overnight bag or maybe even a weekend bag for the lightest of packers.

In fact, I took this bag to Indonesia with me to mostly carry my work gear including my laptop and computer accessories. I found it to actually be one of the best laptop backpacks I’d used.

When I came to road test this pack last year, the first thing I noticed about the Vantage was its highly unusual opening and storage system. Basically, the front of the pack consists of a sizable compartment that zips all the way down to open, kind of like a duffel bag. In fact, the design is pretty similar the best hybrid duffel backpacks I tested recently also.

This means that it can fit inside much more than I first thought and the clips on the top and bottom also help to keep things nice and compressed.

Arnie from Wish dot com was impressed!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

There are then 2 other main compartments. The first is the rear one which zips half the way down. Inside is a decent-sized laptop sleeve and a large mesh pocket for keeping things organised. There’s ample room for a journal or tablet in here too. The other pocket closer to the front includes a key hook and internal organisation pockets.

I then found a novel “front” compartment which I presume is intended for shoe storage or stuff in a jacket, although I do wonder whether this would actually accommodate a pair of size 9’s on the 20L version. Having said that, it’s a useful feature that I found I used mostly for throwing in my poncho on those rainly Indonesian days.

The design here is rather unorthodox but is intended for those who like to compartmentalise their lives. For example, gym gear could go in the front compartment, a laptop and lunch box in the rear one, and then a spare pair of footwear in the front compartment.

Muscles sold separately, but it does come with ample organisational space.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Note that the laptop compartment is slightly elevated from the bottom of the pack meaning if you do drop it, the base of your laptop won’t smash on the ground. The laptop sleeve can also be used to hold a hydration bladder, so it’s a pretty versatile backpack.

This layout did take some getting used to as I am more comfortable with a classic “one main and one secondary” compartment design like on the Osprey Quasar. Having said that, once I got used to all the unique compartments and openings, I did find that this bag felt way more usable in a wider variety of scenarios. I can even see myself using it for an up coming climbing trip.

Materials and Aesthetic

The Vantage is part of NEMO’s ‘Endless Promise Collection, which emphasises products that are made from 100% recyclable materials. This does mean that the material is kinda rough to the touch and a bit heavier than similar-sized packs but it does also feed rugged as hell.

The zips and mesh pockets all feel solid (a lot better than those found on many Osprey products to be honest) and the stitching (a frequent point of failure amongst backpacks) all looks sound.

In terms of aesthetics, I already said that the backpack’s design and layout is unorthodox. Still, it is well executed and the pack manages to look modest and sleek. At the time of writing, it seems to be available in both Greyer-Blue and Yellow.

As rugged as our tester!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Best Uses

The Vantage is designed for daily use. It is primarily intended to be used as a commuter backpack and I previously pointed out that the unusual layout means that everything you may need in a workday and indeed for activities on the way home, has its own place.

It could also be used effectively as a general non-commuter day pack (ie, trips to the gym, trips to the supermarket) and as a carry-on backpack for airlines. As I previously said, I did use it myself as a day pack on my working holiday to Indonesia.

However, in my opinion, this pack is not ideal for day hikes – it lacks a proper water bottle pouch (Nemo preferenced hydration reservoir compatibility and you can add one if you like) and its weight could start to feel kind of heavy after a few good miles. (If that’s what you’re looking for, check out the 12 best hiking packs instead) Likewise, I wouldn’t use for city days out and bike trips, though I could see it working well for hauling climbing gear to crags close to the road.

As a travel pack, the NEMO Vantage 30 litres is suitable for overnight trips and even weekend breaks if you pack light enough, or as a day back to go alongside your larger backpack or suitcase.

Indonesian jungle approved… just ignore the sun loungers!
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short

Alternatives To The NEMO Vantage

The NEMO Vantage is an innovative and unique backpack and as such, it does not really have any direct competitors. However, there are plenty of other commuter/daypacks out there and let’s look at some of these and assess how they compare to the Vantage.

Osprey Quasar

Osprey Quasar

The Osprey Quasar 28 is a versatile daypack known for its durability and functionality, ideal for both urban and outdoor settings. It features a 28-litre capacity, a padded laptop and tablet sleeve, a front organisation compartment as well as a front bungee compression system.

In comparison to the NEMO Vantage, the Osprey Quasar 28 has a slightly larger capacity and is designed with a focus on diverse functionality, suitable for both everyday urban use and light outdoor activities.

This is my personal favourite backpack and I use it pretty much daily. I use it for commuting, for hikes and for travel. It’s pretty much my go-to multi-use pack, it does it all and it does it well.

Nomatic Travel Pack 14L

Nomatic Travel Pack

The brilliant Nomatic 14L Backpack is a compact, highly organised pack designed for everyday use and short trips. It features a sleek, minimalist design with a 14-litre capacity, making it smaller than both the Osprey Quasar 28 and the NEMO Vantage.

The Nomatic Travel Pack 14L is known for its exceptional organisation, including multiple compartments and pockets for tech gadgets, a notebook, pens, and other essentials, along with a removable panel for custom organisation. It also boasts a durable, water-resistant build and a focus on functionality for urban commuters.

However, the Nomatic 14L is not really suitable for hikes or outdoor uses and does come with a hefty $200 price tag.

Gregory Rune

Gregory Rhune 20L

The Gregory Rune is a versatile daypack known for its robust construction and practical features, making it suitable for both urban commuting and outdoor adventures. It’s one of the best small backpacks on the market at the moment if you want something that just works and works well.

Gregory packs are recognized for their ergonomic design and comfort, often featuring well-padded straps, a ventilated back panel, and a range of capacities to suit different needs. The notable thing about the Rune is its “top lid” access system which opens into a single large main compartment making it a true “love it or loathe it” pack.

Final Thoughts

Well, that’s it! I hope you found this NEMO Vantage backpack review useful. As you can see, the first backpack release from NEMO is a unique, innovative and memorable piece that offers a well-made, carefully designed commuter pack fashioned from fully recycled materials.

I really enjoyed taking it for a spin whilst on a recent working holiday over in Indonesia. It worked well for me as my smaller backpack when paired with my larger pack. I loved all the organisational features built into the bag as well as the ability to keep my different bits of gear separate. The bag did work well when I also took it out and about with me to the various trendy cafes of Bali as well as on some day trips to the rice terraces.

Take a look at it over at the NEMO store by hitting the button below if you think it looks like the backpack for you.

The Nemo looks good from any angle.
Image: Nic Hilditch-Short