The world of Apple accessories is pretty great, as there’s something that can either protect or enhance your experience. One brand that has continued to release great accessories is Nomad, a company based out of California, along with being around since 2012.
Over the years, we have used many of their different accessories, but the new AirPods Pro and Pixel Buds gave us a chance to try something new. The same goes for a new band for the Apple Watch lineup.
AirPods Pro and Pixel Buds Rugged Case
While the AirPods Pro launched late in 2019, Nomad didn’t jump on the scene with a new case until earlier in 2020. The Rugged Case comes in two pieces, while being made of the classic Horween leather which is the signature material from Nomad.
On the front, there’s a tiny pin-hole cutout which gives you the ability to view the LED on the front of the AirPods Pro case. At the bottom is a slightly-oversized cutout which is suitable for just about any charging cable you would want to use.
The inside of the case features a microfiber lining, which will help protect your AirPods Pro case if dust or particles happen to make their way in. This is a nice touch, and one feature that goes to show how much Nomad pays attention to all scenarios.
Nomad even went so far as to include a cutout on the side for those who want to use a lanyard attachment. This will come in handy if you want to clip your AirPods Pro somewhere in your bag, and with a quick-release, you can grab them in an instant and clip the case back.
Unfortunately, Nomad stopped short of giving everyone all of the pieces to the puzzle, as there is no lanyard included in the box. Instead, you need to head over to Nomad’s website and pick up one of those separately.
Over the years, Nomad has decided to stretch its reach outside of the world of Apple and move into providing accessories for other devices and brands. One such brand is Google’s Pixel lineup of smartphones, and now, the new Google Pixel Buds headphones. These are Google’s answer to the AirPods, and have been a surprising competitor in the market.
Nomad jumped on the bandwagon with the Pixel Buds and released a series of new Rugged Cases for these new headphones. While the versions that we have are the Black and Brown models, Nomad partnered with Google to provide a special “Blue” case for the Pixel Buds, which we haven’t gotten our hands on yet.
As for the traditional options, Nomad’s Pixel Buds case also comes in two pieces, while being made from the same Horween leather. There’ also an oversized cutout on the bottom for the charging cable, along with a pin-hole cutout on the front for the LED status light. And on the back, there is an indentation around the pairing button, so you can easily pair your Pixel buds with other devices.
What we like
The benefit to having a case made from leather is that it will develop a “patina” over time. Essentially, the leather will show its use, and in many cases, will look absolutely gorgeous. Both the Pixel Buds and AirPods Pro case are made from Horween leather and will get this specialized look the more that it’s used. Since these cases are going to be used less than an iPhone case, it may take more time for the patina to develop.
We also like Nomad’s attention to detail with these cases. Installation is extremely easy, and when done, your AirPods Pro or Pixel Buds case will look seamless. The use of Horween leather gives a soft texture to the case itself, and after the patina begins to develop, your cases will have a personalized look.
Speaking of attention to detail, the oversized charging ports for both cases is a welcome addition. Not all charging cables are made the same, and these cases ensure that you can use just about any cable, if you decide to forgo wireless charging your headphones. Another great addition is the microfiber lining found on Nomad’s cases, because nobody wants to deal with micro scratches from dust or debris getting in between the case and your AirPods or Pixel Buds case.
What we don’t
On one hand, we greatly appreciate the lanyard cutout that is present on both the AirPods Pro and Pixel Buds cases. This adds an extra layer of usefulness, especially when it comes to your EDC (Everyday Carry). However, Nomad made a rather head-scratching decision with the AirPods Pro case, as the company opted to not include the lanyard in the box.
Instead, you’ll have to purchase a lanyard separately from Nomad’s website, or try to find something different that will work on Amazon or something. The problem arises when you discover that the same lanyard has been included with the Pixel Buds cases, so we’re left wondering exactly what the reason is for including it with one case, but not the other.
Other than that, the Nomad cases are fantastic, and are a great idea for anyone to keep their AirPods Pro or Pixel Buds protected.
Active Strap for Apple Watch
As we’ve already stated previously, Nomad’s bread and butter is to provide fantastic products primarily made with leather. There are a few “active” watch bands that are made from the traditional silicone material, but Nomad decided to offer something that is functional, while keeping that leather look and feel.
That’s where the Active Strap comes into play, as this is still made from leather, but is a bit different. Instead of being made from Horween leather like its other products, this watch band is made from a waterproof leather which was developed by a German company by the name of “Heinen”. This tannery has been making leather goods since 1891, and infuses the leather to create a hydrophobic watch band to pair with your Apple Watch.
And if you’re worried about this being available for Watch Series 5 owners, don’t fret, as this band is compatible with all versions of the Apple Watch. As someone who wears a lot of hats at home, it’s important to have a watch band that can keep up with whatever tasks I’m doing, and the Active Strap does exactly that.
There are a total of four different versions – two with the Black Hardware, and two with Silver hardware. This means that two versions have Black or Silver metal at the points where it connects to your watch, along with matching traditional buckles. There aren’t any special instructions that you need in order to install the Active Strap, as it slides right in just like all of your other Apple Watch bands.
What we like
After the first few days, the Active Strap starts getting a bit worn, at which point, you can actually forget that your Watch is on. I haven’t experienced this with any other Apple Watch bands, with the exception of Apple’s Sport Loops. So having the same feeling with a watch band that is made from leather and is much more rugged than other leather bands, was a pleasant surprise.
Another benefit of this band is that you really can do anything you want, and don’t have to worry about much deterioration in the band itself. Performing some yard work, doing the dishes, or doing some work to the car and you just wipe the band down and everything just disappears. And the best part is that it still looks classy enough for if you’re dressing up, or just lounging around the house or doing some grocery shopping.
What we don’t
This is not a detriment specific to the Active Strap, but until the band is worn for 3 or 4 days, it’s rather stiff on your wrist. It can create an uncomfortable feeling, as it feels like the band is just digging into your wrist, but after a few days, you’ll end up barely noticing the strap is even there.
One other issue, and we aren’t sure if it’s limited to just our test unit or if it affects all Active Straps, but there are essentially “wear points” that show up. This has happened in a couple of different areas, but given the darker color of the band, it just makes the Active Strap look “wet” in those spots.
Nomad is one of the best in the business when it comes to providing some great accessories, and that includes the Active Strap and cases for the AirPods Pro / Pixel Buds. The company continues to make sure that the latest and greatest products can be protected, and have partnered with other great companies like Moment for some unique cases.
If you’re interested in the Rugged Case for the AirPods Pro and Pixel Buds, you can get them from Nomad directly for just $35 with free shipping. As for the Active Strap, this is also available from Nomad for $70. Let us know what you think about these and if you’ll be grabbing them for yourself or a loved one!
Andrew is a freelance writer based on the East Coast of the US.
He has written for a variety of sites over the years, including iMore, Android Central, Phandroid, and a few others. Now, he spends his days working for an HVAC company, while moonlighting as a freelance writer at night.