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Minaal Carry-on 2.0 Review

If business travel is your gig, this is an excellent travel backpack.
Minaal Carry-on 2.0
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Price:  $299 List
Pros:  Sleek, comfortable, durable, thoughtful travel specific features
Cons:  Expensive, business travel specific
Manufacturer:   Minaal
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 17, 2016
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 15
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Features - 25% 7
  • Packing & Accessibility - 20% 6
  • Durability - 15% 9
  • Weight Per Volume - 15% 5

Our Verdict

The Minaal Carry-On 2.0 is an excellent travel specific backpack. The features are very streamlined for airport travel, and even more so for the business traveler. This is an outstanding bag for a business professional looking for a travel backpack that can be dressed up for meetings without compromising comfort in transit. It is a very thoughtful backpack, though less versatile than several of the packs in this review. However, if business travel and spiffing up is a frequent routine in your life, this is an excellent pack. It is pricey, but if it fits your needs, you'll be stoked. The Minaal is advertised for office, trail, and urban use. We concur, though the features are not optimized for daily office use, nor for hiking.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Minaal Carry-on 2.0
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $299 List$139.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$191.50 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$119.19 at REI$99.00 at Amazon
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Pros Sleek, comfortable, durable, thoughtful travel specific featuresGood suspension, lightweight, affordable, gobbles gearVersatile, duffel-like ease of use, just the right balance of travel featuresVersatile, durable, comfortable, intuitiveLightweight, durable, affordable, highly versatile, can become a daily use duffel
Cons Expensive, business travel specificSquare design protrudes from back, too big for some airlines checked baggageBackpack straps not comfortable for long distances, gear sags in soft structure when not fullSmall hip belt, not best for long distances with heavy loadsLess organization features, not set up for traveling with electronics
Bottom Line If business travel is your gig, this is an excellent travel backpack.The Porter 46 is a durable, easy to pack travel backpack, but may be bulky for some airlines or uses.Another stellar product from Patagonia; thoughtfully designed, rugged, easy to use, and fortified by the Ironclad guarantee and cutting edge company ethics.The Overhaul is an excellent, versatile, and intuitive travel backpack with well balanced features.A great small duffel with shoulder straps for a variety of travel purposes.
Rating Categories Minaal Carry-on 2.0 Osprey Porter 46 Patagonia Black Hole MLC The North Face Overhaul 40 Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler 45L
Comfort (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
6
Features (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
5
Packing & Accessibility (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Durability (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
Weight Per Volume (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
9
Rank (%)
10
0
5
10
0
1
10
0
2
10
0
3
10
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4
Specs Minaal Carry-on 2.0 Osprey Porter 46 Patagonia Black... The North Face... Eagle Creek Cargo...
Volume of Main Pack Not stated 46 L 45 L 41 L 45 L
Measured Weight 3.25 lbs 3.23 lbs 3.35 lbs 3.78 lbs 1.61 lbs
Dimensions (Inches) 21.7 x 13.8 x 7.9 21 x 14 x 12 22.8 x 8.6 x 14.5 21 x 12 x 7 22.75 x 8.75 x 12.5
Carry-on Size? 22 x 14 x 9 in Yes Must be cinched down Yes, if squished Yes, if not stuffed Yes, if squished
Volume of Daypack N/a N/a N/a N/a N/a
Measured when stuffed (inches) 21x14x9 22x14x12 22x14x10 21x13x10 22x13x9
Fabrics 600D, 1000D nylon 420D Nylon Hex Diamond Ripstop, 420HD Nylon Packcloth Polyester ripstop with TPU laminate 420-denier ripstop nylon Bi-Tech Armor Lite
Frame Type Padded backpanel with 4-point load balancing system Stiff foam Foam backpanel Molded padding None
Access Type Panel loading Panel loading, zips all the way open Clamshell design Panel loading Top and panel loading
# of Pockets 3 zippered 5
Laptop sleeve Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Waist Belt Type Sold separately Padded None Unpadded strap N/a
Sternum Strap Yes Yes, whistle Yes Yes No
Different sizes? No No No No Yes
Volume Options N/a 30L, 46L, 65L N/a N/a 60L, 90L, 120L

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Minaal was born of a Kickstarter campaign by two Kiwis who wanted to design the perfect travel backpack. As with most things from New Zealand, the clever humor comes without extra charge, mate.

Performance Comparison


The Minaal Carry On 2.0
The Minaal Carry On 2.0

Comfort


This pack was a strong performer in the comfort category, stemming largely from its sleek fit and very clever design. It is important to note that we were not able to fit all of our "test load" of gear into it: the foam sleeping pad was too bulky to go inside, and also too large to be strapped to the outside of the pack. But this is not by any stretch of the imagination a travel pack that you would take on an overnight backpacking trip. That does mean, however, that this pack scored very highly in the comfort category with roughly the same weight as the rest of the packs (because that foam pad weighs hardly anything).

Minaal Carry On 2.0 travel backpack
Minaal Carry On 2.0 travel backpack

When we measured the comfort range of this pack, we found that it maxed out around 25 pounds: a proud achievement for such a streamlined travel pack with no hip belt. Minaal's "four point harness adjustment system," along with a stiff but moldable back panel, make this pack contour to your body, thus keeping the load close to your center of gravity by careful design, rather than forcing it to happen with elaborate suspension including load lifter straps on the shoulders.

The Minaal is not the most versatile pack in this review, but it shines in its intelligent design: it is the fast-and-light travelers' dream, running with the concept that sometimes comfort means trimming down and focusing on simplicity. Their attention to pack shape, light weight, and a simple suspension system add up to make this a surprisingly comfortable pack despite its seeming simplicity.

Features


The Minaal is a very sleek and streamlined travel backpack. It excels especially on business trips, due to the professional and sophisticated look. You can zip the shoulder straps behind a flap of fabric to make it look like a soft briefcase. This also doubles to protect the straps if you had to check it in at the airport, but we doubt this is a pack you will be checking—it is very compact and makes most sense as a carry on.

The Minaal 2.0 Carry On has a flap to zip over the backpack straps  making it briefcase-like for a business meeting.
The Minaal 2.0 Carry On has a flap to zip over the backpack straps, making it briefcase-like for a business meeting.

The pack has an easy-to-access rain cover zipped in the bottom of the bag. This is a very fitting feature on this bag, as it allows you to brave the weather and arrive at the office looking pro, with your pack and all its contents dry.

Minaal Carry On 2.0 travel backpack comes with a rain cover zipped in the bottom.
Minaal Carry On 2.0 travel backpack comes with a rain cover zipped in the bottom.

There are a few pockets inside the main compartment, best used for shoes and socks, and perhaps toiletries, with clothing layered on top. There is a separate and easily accessed laptop sleeve which has a very clever adjustment system, so you can size it to keep your electronics secure. It also has excellent padding to protect your laptop during transit.

Minaal Carry On 2.0 travel backpack has excellent travel-specific features for the techy traveler.
Minaal Carry On 2.0 travel backpack has excellent travel-specific features for the techy traveler.

The only downfall of the features is that they were fairly specific to business travel. If you have a computer, some clothes, a pair of shoes, you're headed out for a long weekend and you want to look presentable (and have your clothing and shoes arrive presentable, as well), this is your bag.

Minaal Carry On 2.0 travel backpack.
Minaal Carry On 2.0 travel backpack.

The Minaal is more of a specific use bag and less versatile than our award winners, notably The North Face Overhaul 40 which looks very professional but is much more versatile, from office and school to outdoor and every day use.

Packing & Accessibility


The capacity of the Minaal Carry On 2.0  travel backpack: the water bottle and sleeping pad didn't fit in the pack  and the sleeping pad could not be strapped to the outside--the straps were too short. (The standard set of gear  top  was packed into each bag to compare capacities with an actual load rather than relying on the company's reported volume numbers.)
The capacity of the Minaal Carry On 2.0 travel backpack: the water bottle and sleeping pad didn't fit in the pack, and the sleeping pad could not be strapped to the outside--the straps were too short. (The standard set of gear, top, was packed into each bag to compare capacities with an actual load rather than relying on the company's reported volume numbers.)

The Minaal is a champion of accessibility for a carry on pack. The laptop sleeve is separate from the main compartment, with its own zippered access panel. Very easy to remove and send through security.

There are a couple of smallish external pockets which carry valuables and things you might need to access (or stow) quickly (or frequently), like a passport or phone. For more organizational and packing features, you'll likely enjoy the Patagonia MLC or the Cotopaxi Allpa

The compartment theme of this pack is definitely more plane/office/hotel-ready than outdoor-ready. The main compartment opens wide like a soft suitcase, so you can lay the contents out easily, but that main compartment is not the easiest to get in and out of, say, for a visit to the gym after work.

Durability


This travel pack is simple and streamlined, with little to fail. The buckles and straps were very strong, and the materials rugged and durable. The zippers and pockets opened with ease, and even when jam packed, we did not find any areas of obvious strain to zippers or seams, similar to the Cotopaxi Allpa. The Minaal is a very thoughtfully designed pack that will last through a lot of use.

Weight & Capacity


Minaal does not advertise the Carry On 2.0's capacity, claiming that the industry is rife with misrepresentations of volume. It's true that there is no standard for how a backpack manufacturer measures the volume of the pack: with or without certain pockets? With or without extension features? By pouring beans into the compartments and then counting them? Or…? We don't necessarily know. In this review, however, you can compare each pack with our images of what we could/could not pack out of a standard set of gear and clothing.

This pack has been criticized for losing volume because of its rounded shape. This is certainly true; however, the benefits from the contoured design and simplicity add to its light weight and carrying comfort. So: trade offs.

Value


The high price point of the Minaal demands that you be absolutely sure this is the best pack for your needs, otherwise you'll be out $299 for a pack you hardly use.

A busy night at the airport: you'll be stoked you picked the Minaal Carry On 2.0
A busy night at the airport: you'll be stoked you picked the Minaal Carry On 2.0

Conclusion


Sussing out the travel backpack scene on a recent trip to Moscow  Russia.
Sussing out the travel backpack scene on a recent trip to Moscow, Russia.

The success of this travel pack is easy to miss on first glance: it is so thoughtfully designed that it slides effortlessly into your travel life, and you might never notice how much thought was put into it. But the Kiwis (New Zealanders) who designed the pack insist that it has been a long and at times painful ordeal perfecting this bag, with lost sleep, and even a black eye.

Thanks for the thoughtful travel pack, Minaal. We won't ask.


Lyra Pierotti