I use Tim Pope's vinegar.vim, which shows a file list whenever
- is pressed. I don't use project drawers anymore, and for some background on why you should check out Oil and vinegar - split windows and the project drawer.
If you agree with that article, but still like the way NERDTree handles files, you could compromise with Dhruva Sagar's fork of vinegar.vim. This triggers NERDTree whenever
- is pressed instead of the built-in
I found this fork in Why does NerdTree exist? What's wrong with netrw? on reddit, where Dhruva said:
IMHO NERDTree has a much cleaner API. Manipulating the tree is a lot saner using NERDTree than Netrw. Although I too agree to this vimcast, and since I like nerdtree better, I have my own fork of vinegar