Cian Byrne reviews the Gomatic Navigator Carry-On 37L and finds it a step in the right direction.
Wheeled cabin luggage was never something I was really interested in. I’ve always thought that a travel backpack is more adaptable and can be used far more regularly, so I’ve never had the need to use a case. But with more and more city breaks and work trips lately, I’ve been trying to shake the sweaty backpacker look and become a more relaxed traveller.
There are oceans of choices out there when it comes to luggage, from ultralightweight pieces with heavy weight prices through to smart cases that charge your devices on the fly. The Gomatic Navigator Carry On 37L caught my eye and I’ve been testing it out for the past few months.
The Gomatic Navigator Carry On 37L is a softshell 37L case that can expand to 44L. Opening the case, there are two interior compartments, one large compartment and one smaller compartment tucked away behind a zipped mesh panel. On the exterior, there is a very wide opening and a choice of pockets for all your smaller bits. Gomatic say it’s the right size for a three to five day trip and I’d have to agree.
One of the first things to keep in mind when shopping for luggage is to decide if you want a soft-shell or hard-shell case. Soft-shells, like the Navigator Carry-On 37L , are generally lighter and more flexible than hard-shell cases, though they’re often not waterproof and are less durable. This case uses a 100% Makrolon polycarbonate shell and weather-resistant materials, so it’s a happy medium in my eyes.
Inside the main compartment, Gomatic uses stiff straps with a metal hook that can be cinched down to keep everything secure. This is a huge improvement over the stretchy fabric that some manufacturers use. On the other side of the main compartment, a mesh barrier further divides the interior and makes for a handy dirty clothes section. The fabric is quite stiff as well, which again makes the whole thing feel very secure.
This section is quite shallow but when the case is extended, this is the area where you get the extra 7L of storage. On my most recent trip, I used a pair of packing cubes from Peak Design and was able to comfortably pack enough clothes and tech for a week.
Front compartments on a case are always funny things, they’re generally very deep but with smallish openings that makes getting anything out of them a bit tricky and losing things very easy. On the Navigtor Carry On 37L, the front compartment zips all the way down to the bottom, making the opening easily accessible. Inside this section, there’s a laptop sleeve that fits a 17” laptop, it’s not padded though so keep that in mind when putting it into the overhead bin.
The top pocket has RFID protection, which blocks contactless cards from being skimmed. One thing that’s sorely missed in my opinion, is a front external pocket, having a small one here would make it much quicker to grab your passport when running around the airport.
The Road Test
Wheeled luggage usually has two points of failure – the wheels and the handle. I took the Navigator Carry On on a test drive on the streets of London to see how it held up. Overall, the wheels feel rock solid. Roll them on a smooth surface and they spin silently, take them onto a cobbled street and there’s very little rattling around or being pinged off course, the case feels very well weighted. This case uses two wheels, though some on the market have four. Honestly, beyond being more manoeuvrable in tight spaces like an elevator, I don’t see the benefit of having more wheels – they’re just more things that can break.
The three-stage aluminium handle is just as solid as the wheels. There’s no wobbling and can even be pushed forward without the handle sinking back into the case. The handle is grippy and thick with a clicky button to move the handle up and down. No complaints here whatsoever.
Depending on how much you normally spend on luggage, the Navigator Carry-On 37L may seem like incredible value or may make you take a second glance. Available for just under £370, it’s firmly placed in the mid-range of pricing. The Tripp Holiday 7 is a budget competitor and is consistently well reviewed. Coming in the same volume and at £50, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular, but users have reported flimsy wheels being damaged and the exterior getting scuffed quite easily.
On the other end of the luggage spectrum are pieces like the Rimowa Cabin. This sturdy 35L, hardshell, aluminium case costs a mighty £1,070 thanks to the premium materials used and the ‘Made in Germany’ appeal. The Cabin is heavy though, both in price and weight, tipping the scales at 4.3kg, while the Navigator Carry-On 37L is over 22% lighter at 3.5kg.
I got the Navigator Carry-On 37L hoping that it would make city breaks a bit more relaxed and less sweaty than they normally are, and it’s certainly done that. For flying visits and city breaks, this is the case I reach for more times than not. The quality and sturdy feel elevate it above the budget options out there and with one or two additions and refinements, it could be perfect.
Tell Me More About The Gomatic Navigator Carry On 37L
The Navigator Carry On 37L costs £369 and comes in black.
Buy online from gomatic.co.uk
Keep in mind that Gomatic operates as Nomatic in North America and many reviews online are from North America.