Arc’teryx Veilance apparently had plans to change their Nomin backpack to a v3 and to expand to a whole line of luggage pieces, also including a Nomin briefcase and a Nomin carryall.
Now, it’s a curious thing.
Only samples of these products ended up being made. And they just appeared in Arc’teryx outlets, including the one near me.
- Veilance Nomin Backpack (v3?)
- Veilance Nomin Briefcase
- The Nomin Carryall
- A Lot to Like… and Wonder
My performance menswear fascination thus led to a closer look at carry items that make for learning more about a brand’s business, and not just aesthetics and functionality…
The Nomin v3 backpack was meant to be simplified – cue the “streamlined” label – and reduced in price. All three pieces were to be made in the Philippines.
Naturally, I had to get them and give you a look.
Veilance Nomin Backpack (v3?)
The Nomin backpack has been a staple in the Veilance range for a long time. It is one of the few carry pieces among all the menswear that is Veilance.
It has always been a minimalist pack, at least in terms of sleek look with few distractions from the tough, waterproof AC2 shell and waterproof zippers, and the worryingly thin – but highly functional – shoulder straps.
The Nomin Backpack Versions (So Far)
Over the years, the Nomin changed from a first to a second version (possibly, with some smaller gradation in materials used within v1).
Nomin Backpack v1
Nomin v1 was rather more angular. It had almost no stitching on its front at all, shoulder straps attached (at the bottom) with textile flaps going into the pack and with visible adjusters for the shoulder strap length.
The top grab handle was attached to the shoulder straps (if I see correctly), and there was a side handle for carry like a briefcase.
There are two zippers running around the outside of the bag, opening two bag cavities with only the basic metal pulls. The outer zipper does not go all the way around the bag, however.
Nomin v1 had a removable document holder, held off the bottom of the pack, working as laptop carry.
Up, there was a floating pocket inside.
From the sounds of it, in spite of the two zippers, it was possible to open the bag to one big cavity (when removing the document holder) – or there was one zipper for a/the small cavity.
Nomin Backpack v2
From v1 to v2, the backpack became rather more streamlined, with small differences in stitching pattern / construction and a change in material (to a thinner, softer, AC2).
Some stitching in the front part gives a bit of a tortoiseshell structure to the bag, and the top was also a bit more rounded.
The top handle was integrated into the padding of the bag; the side handle disappeared. The shoulder straps go straight into the bag and have adjusters that disappear into the straps.
There are still two zippers, this time with smaller metal tabs and textile pulls.
The zipper closer to the pack only goes down one side, over the top, and slightly down the other side of the bag to open to a dedicated, rigid, laptop compartment with padding… that is, iirc, infamous for letting a laptop shift and knock back and forth when it has room to do so.
The top of this zipper also opens to an “easy-access stash pocket” sewn onto the back of the pack and the partition between front and back (laptop) compartment (which reduces access to this compartment).
The main compartment is enclosed by the zipper running around the top and both sides of the bag, with a small pocket (with key hook) sewn in at the top.
This version of the Nomin backpack is still the current one, available for EUR/USD 800.
Nomin Backpack Sample (v3?)
The sample, which was perhaps meant to become the Nomin backpack v3, simplifies the design yet again, in a way that I at first thought was rather cheaper, but may actually be a sensible streamlining:
The whole look of the bag is rather more angular again, with the only stitching in front not technically at front, but at the edge where the material forms the top of the pack.
On this version, there is only one zipper running along sides and top of the bag, going diagonally from the outer part of the bottom to the inner edge (well, almost edge) of the top.
This way, one can open the backpack widely, have things at the bottom held in while things at the top lie in the open on the back panel.
And this is a back panel, now.
The rigid panel that is glued onto the back material of the backpack (rather similar to the construction I know from an Arc’teryx LEAF backpack) reinforces the back, protects one’s own back from anything in the backpack, and holds one larger elasticized pocket with a divider, going almost all the way to the bottom of the pack, and a smaller elasticized pocket in front of it.
This works relatively well as a minimalist laptop carry. Well, a notebook carry.
A large laptop might not fit into this mesh sleeve quite as durably (or at all) as one would want; my usual 13″ slender notebook fits beautifully, with protection afforded by the rigid back plate (and divider) and without any potential for rattling.
A nicely sized zippered organizer pocket with key hook inside, also made of somewhat elastic material, is taped onto the front fabric inside.
The carry handle at the top remains, still nicely integrated with the bag’s top.
The shoulder straps continue to be utterly minimalistic (and amazingly good at carrying the load), with hidden adjustments only slightly protruding from the ends of the straps.
Flaps have returned to attach the straps into the bag’s… well, actually, sides, if at the very bottom, and I very much like the way the backpack is cut there, also with slightly different materials, here easily visible, for the back versus the front and sides.
Loops to hold the overhanging parts of the strap adjusters have gone missing; the textile zipper pulls remain.
I’ve just come back from a day out with this backpack, and my opinion of it has gone from critical to enthusiastic.
At first, with just the one zipper for just one main compartment, little in the way of organization for a laptop inside, I thought that it was mainly an attempt at cost cutting.
Having used this Nomin – I have dubbed it No-Nomin, since it’s no Nomin yet to be seen anywhere (and maybe never to come) – I like it. You do need some packing cubes or similar for internal organization, but you can fill it up very nicely, lay it on its back and open it up completely to get at things (or open it less and grab your notebook or tablet from the sleeve at its back.
Documents, money, keys are rather nicely reachable in the pocket attached to the front.
To me, it just works. We’ll have to see if it makes a wider appearance, if there really were manufacturing issues – whatever comes.
Oh, and not the worst: It was planned that this version of the Nomin backpack would cost EUR/USD 600. Still a high price, but not the outrageous 800 of the current version.
Organizational opportunities and price points would have risen with the Nomin Briefcase.
Veilance Nomin Briefcase
The Nomin Briefcase was planned to come out for EUR/USD 650 retail.
As a briefcase, it’s meant for wear in-hand or on the shoulder, looking like a… well, briefcase. Or messenger bag.
Here, the Veilance appeal becomes quite peculiar, because I’d see something made of leather or truly rigid material as a briefcase. The nylon (ripstop or probably AC2) here makes for a look that reminds me more of a messenger bag.
Then again, this adds to the stealthy look of the Nomin briefcase, which would be utterly Veilance in how it would disappear from notice to anyone but people in the know.
The construction has its similarity with the other pieces in this collection.
The stitching is, again, reduced to the functional minimum: in the front, only to the part where the front becomes the curved top; otherwise, wherever there is a zipper or another necessity for the construction. No stitch in excess.
The Nomin briefcase comes with a top carry handle, of course.
It’s nicely integrated with the top, back from the zipper.
Opening and Padding
The zipper goes around the top and sides of the case, again – see what I’m saying about shared construction (design) cues? – to the bottom in front.
With a half-clamshell of a reinforcement and padding on the back and sides inside (again glued to the back, loose otherwise) following the shape of the zipper, the bottom and back of the briefcase is relatively rigid while the front is more supple.
Thus, you can let the briefcase stand on its bottom or lie on its back, open up the front and let it hang (or turn it back/down to have easy access to everything inside).
Organizationally, the top of the front fabric features a small zippered, elasticized, pen pocket glued in, a larger (zippered, elasticized) pocket with a key hook inside partly glued to the front fabric, with the lower part of it hanging loose.
At the inside back, there is a rigid divider in an elasticized sleeve which can be closed with a hook-and-loop closure.
The front of that sleeve has two more, slightly smaller, pockets. These are smaller mainly because they are attached to the sleeve in the middle; they offer nice space for a mouse, power cord, phone, or the like.
The large sleeve could let a notebook knock back and forth if the briefcase isn’t filled enough, but not anymore if it’s simply put between the rigid back of the case and the rigid divider.
The top handle is not the only option for carrying the Nomin briefcase, there are also two small loops on the sides of the case to which a shoulder strap attaches.
Of course, that shoulder strap is very minimalistic in its design, yet functional, with adjusters that hide in its end, the overhanging parts of the strap adjustment here featuring loops to keep them from dangling and flapping, and hooks for attachment to the loops that let one attach or remove the strap quickly and easily.
The only thing not to like, small niggles as fans of Veilance tend to have them, is that the designers didn’t come up with a way to let the loops for shoulder strap attachment disappear (especially when using the briefcase without the shoulder strap).
What I find a bit peculiar about the briefcase is that it is not all that much smaller than the backpack (if thinner).
In the other direction, there’s a step up…
The Nomin Carryall
If you think that the Nomin backpack (or briefcase) isn’t small, wait till you see the Carryall.
Trying to figure it out, I keep looking at my hiking backpacks and thinking that it must easily equal their 40 liter volume. But, if the Arc’teryx Covert C/O was best in its lack of features, the Carryall has it beat. By a lot.
Meaning, by little:
I can never decide if the Nomin Carryall should work as a carry-on piece of luggage. Or even if it looks small or massive because of its look.
The nylon (AC2) and lack of bells and whistles seems to be playing tricks so that the size of this bag is hard to judge.
What we most certainly have is a bag that uses the same material as the Nomin backpack and briefcase, constructed in a similar cut.
Again, there is stitching only where absolutely necessary for the construction, for the general shape or the zippers.
On the Carryall, even more than the other pieces, the zipper itself is a major part of the construction, as it basically forms the upper front of the bag before moving down diagonally towards the lower/inner back.
The lower front of the bag is formed through a seam connecting the front and long (lower) side.
The corners on all sides are reinforced with material, often also as an overlay where the bag’s handles are attached.
The back/bottom is the only part that does not have any stitching.
The only things that break the pure expanses of AC2 nylon, aside from the carry handles, are the loops for shoulder strap adjustment.
On the Nomin Carryall, there are carry handles on the longer top side (or what I’d call that because it has a handle and the zipper’s longest side in front) and one of the short sides.
The same two sides also feature the loops for attaching the shoulder strap, again with a minimalist design with hidden adjusters, loops attaching the straps to their inner parts, and hooks that are easy to slide in or off the loops.
With the two sets of loops, this easy removal or switch is more important than it is on the briefcase, as the whole Carryall could be worn (with the shoulder strap) in a long-side down or short-side down configuration, with carry handles and/or the one shoulder strap.
When not being carried around – and this is not a bag of a size and volume to carry far – the Carryall is clearly meant to rest on its bottom (which is, the way I’ve been talking about carrying it, the back).
Then, the zipper can be opened along the front edge and towards the bottom, diagonally, again so that the front can be turned over to stay away and open access to pretty much all the inside of the bag.
Here we, again, find a structuring padding inside, but this time it is shaped like a whole rectangular half-case and only pushed inside, not attached.
I would not recommend removing it (in use) as the bag would be basically shapeless without it, but being able to remove it could be useful e.g. for cleaning it.
Having it in there, the Carryall presents everything inside and keeps everything together.
The front again has an elasticized, zippered pocket glued onto it. It’s small for the size of the bag, but plenty large; I could almost fit my mid-sized tablet in there.
Otherwise, there is no more organization provided by the bag, but then, this is basically a Veilance interpretation of a duffel bag.
If you want organization, there’s the briefcase for that… or there isn’t, given the non-release of this collection.
Given its size, the Nomin Carryall would also have been the most expensive piece with a RRP of USD/EUR 750. Still less than a current Nomin backpack!
A Lot to Like… and Wonder
All in all, it’s a bit too easy to assume that there were manufacturing quality issues that occurred with the switch to production in the Philippines; I find that imaginable but a bit too biased to immediately believe it.
Between potential production issues and the general situation in 2020, with supply chain disruptions and, especially, where travel was concerned (height of the Corona pandemic!), it is not entirely surprising that this collection was pulled back from release.
As usual with Veilance, it is not an immediately appealing collection (unless you just like the minimalist looks), it does take some getting used to and gives some puzzlement at points.
Ultimately, however, I like what I’ve seen of it and, with use, keep liking it more and more.