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Minaal Carry-On 3.0 Review

This sleek and durable pack ensures that your laptop and tablets are safe, making it a perfect option for the digital nomad
Minaal Carry-On 3.0
Photo: Minaal
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Price:  $349 List
Pros:  Comfortable, durable, thoughtful device storage
Cons:  Expensive, not very versatile, small water bottle pocket, works best with packing cubes which are sold separately
Manufacturer:   Minaal
By Hayley Thomas ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 25, 2021
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Features - 25% 7
  • Packing & Accessibility - 25% 4
  • Volume to Weight Ratio - 15% 7
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The sleek and minimal Minaal 3.0 is the digital nomad's dream pack. The DeviceNest, which allows you to adjust the laptop and tablet sleeves to your liking, is easily accessible and very protective. This pack will slide under the seat in front of you and can accommodate a 3 to 7-day trip, depending on the weather. The 35-liter bag works best with packing cubes, but its soft outer shell is fantastic for stuffing. If you're taking a shorter trip the sleek compression straps do a great job of keeping all your belongings close to your midline. This pack was clearly designed for the traveling techy.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Minaal Carry-On 3.0
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $349 List$299.95 at REI$149 List
Check Price at REI
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Check Price at Backcountry
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Star Rating
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Pros Comfortable, durable, thoughtful device storageComfortable, innovative, feature rich, sturdy, great for camera gearTapered for easy loading, comfortable harness system, adventure friendly, very lightVersatile, sleek, camera box, vented wet shoe compartmentGood suspension, lightweight, affordable, gobbles gear
Cons Expensive, not very versatile, small water bottle pocket, works best with packing cubes which are sold separatelyHeavy, expensive, finite amount of spaceDoes not sit upright, laptop sleeve unpaddedNo waist belt or sternum strap, no water bottle holder, back panel not very breathable, tallSquare design protrudes from back, too big for some airlines checked baggage
Bottom Line This sleek and durable pack ensures that your laptop and tablets are safe, making it a perfect option for the digital nomadThis beautiful and comfortable pack will have the weekend getaway enthusiast, business traveler, or avid photographer swooningWith its tapered shape and backpacking pack structure, this is the perfect bag for the outdoor adventurist that doesn't want to spend an arm and legWith its convertible camera cube, ventilated shoe compartment, and padded device sleeve this travel bag was made for the outdoor photographer on the goThis is a durable and easy to pack travel backpack, but may be bulky for some airlines or uses
Rating Categories Minaal Carry-On 3.0 Peak Design Travel 45 REI Co-op Ruckpack 40 Mammut Seon Cargo 35L Osprey Porter 46
Comfort (25%)
7
9
9
8
7
Features (25%)
7
9
8
7
7
Packing & Accessibility (25%)
4
9
7
8
7
Volume To Weight Ratio (15%)
7
6
10
9
8
Durability (10%)
9
9
8
9
9
Specs Minaal Carry-On 3.0 Peak Design Travel... REI Co-op Ruckpack... Mammut Seon Cargo... Osprey Porter 46
Volume of Main Compartment 35L 45L 40L 35L 46L
Measured Weight 3.12 lbs 4.51 lbs 2.10 lbs 2.10 lbs 3.23 lbs
Volume to Weight Ratio (bigger is better) 11.22 9.98 19.05 16.67 14.24
Detachable Daypack? No No No No No
Dimensions (inches) 21.6 x 13.7 x 7.87 21 x 13 x 6.5 24 x 13 x 10 24 x 14 x 9 21 x 14 x 12
Carry-on Size? (22 x 14 x 9 in) Yes Yes No Yes Must be cinched down
Dimensions When Stuffed (inches) 21.6 x 14 x 8.5 21 x 10 x 14 22 x 9 x 14 24 x 14 x 9 22 x 14 x 12
Fabrics 600D Picton 400D nyon and polyester recycled nylon ripstop and recycled polyester lining (bluesign approved) 600D waterproof polyester, 840D ballistic nylon 420D nylon hex diamond ripstop, 420HD nylon packcloth
Frame Type Foam padding Foam padding Ventilated mesh Foam padding Stiff foam
Access Type Clamshell Top and panel loading, zips all the way open Top loading Panel loading Panel loading, zips all the way open
Number of Pockets 2 main, 2 top zippered, 1 water bottle, 1 dimensional zippered mesh, 1 dimensional zippered opaque 6 zip, 2 watter bottle 6 zip, 7 no zip, 2 water bottle 3 small zippered, 1 ventilated, 1 camera comparment, 1 main 7 zip, 8 no zip
Laptop Sleeve Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Waist Belt Type N/A N/A Padded None Padded
Sternum Strap Yes N/A Yes Yes Yes, whistle
Different sizes? No No Yes No No
Volume Options N/A 45L 18L, 28L, 40L, 65L 35L 30L, 46L, 65L

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Minaal 3.0 is the new and improved version of its predecessor, the 2.0. It covets the same priorities as the 2.0, placing device safety above all else. It is not lacking in space or specific use pockets and the thin but firm foam makes for a comfy carry.

Performance Comparison


The Minaal 3.0 is a great option for those who travel for work.
The Minaal 3.0 is a great option for those who travel for work.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Comfort


The Minaal has what they call a "UnifiedHarness", made up of thin but dense foam, facilitating a supportive and comfortable carry. While it does not come with a hip belt, it does come with designated attachment points for one — sold separately. The lack of a hip belt is only noticeable when carrying heavy loads and walking long distances. The internal foam frame is lightweight and flexes with your every move and the DeviceNest on the back panel provides additional structure. The 4-point harness system is completely adjustable. The sternum strap glides easily on a rail to ensure it fits most body types while the magnetic load lifters help distribute the weight evenly.

The comfortable harness system comes complete with load lifters.
The comfortable harness system comes complete with load lifters.
Photo: Matthew Blake

The flexible back panel is great but it is rather thin, so if you are not traveling with a laptop there is no hard barrier between you and your belongings. If you are sporting bulky gear like a camera or shoes, it is important to pack strategically or the comfort of this travel bag will noticeably suffer. The foam cut-ins on the back panel help with breathability but they are no match for air mesh and heavy padding. This is not a deal-breaker but if you tend to travel to warmer weathered places this pack will make you sweat. Overall the Minaal is a perfectly comfortable bag when packed properly, and if you decide a hip belt is what you need, Minaal can provide you with one at an additional cost.

The small cutouts in the back panel offer a little airflow, but the...
The small cutouts in the back panel offer a little airflow, but the Minaal is not particularly breathable.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Features


The minimal design of the Minaal 3.0 is a positive feature in and of itself. Everything seems to have a place, giving it a very sleek and put-together appearance. The harness system is stowable if you decide to check your bag, and the load lifters are magnetic, which makes tucking them in a breeze. The G-hook compression straps are expertly placed with two spots to hook them to. When compressed, the straps go over the zipper which offers security, but if no compression is needed the zipper is left unobstructed. Even the sternum strap can be tucked away when not in use. Each zipper comes equipped with an easy-pull Hypalon tab, which comes in handy when you are in a rush or trying to make use of every liter of carrying space. Additionally, Minaal also provides two conveniently placed loops on the shoulder straps to hook a small carabiner to as well as a snug-fitting rainfly that tucks neatly away in its own compartment at the bottom of the bag.

The compression straps have two separate loops, one of which crosses...
The compression straps have two separate loops, one of which crosses the main compartment zipper, adding a security measure.
Photo: Matthew Blake

While the Minaal 3.0 is equipped with some thoughtful features, there is always room for improvement. The rain cover is an extremely useful tool, but the dedicated pocket takes up too much space in the main compartment. The fly itself is not attached to the bag so it's best to leave it behind if you don't think you'll use it. Many bags that offer briefcase-style carry will have some sort of reinforcement around the handle to provide support under the weight of a heavy pack. Unfortunately, the Minaal does not have this extra padding and slouches as a result. This bag also comes with a lot of attachment options but it does not come with any of the attachments. Everything from the hip belt to the shoulder strap is sold separately.

The Minaal carry handles are not reinforced, which means they sag a...
The Minaal carry handles are not reinforced, which means they sag a bit when carrying this pack briefcase style.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Packing & Accessibility


The claim to fame for the Minaal 3.0 is its DeviceNest. Both the laptop and the tablet sleeve are adjustable, ensuring that your expensive and fragile gear is securely strapped in at all times. The sleeves fit laptops up to 16" and tablets up to 11". The DeviceNest is strategically placed smack dab in the middle of the back panel, ensuring that your gear is safe from bumps and bruises, even if it gets tossed around by TSA. It also opens separately from the main compartment ensuring that no one gets a peek at your undergarments in the security line. On the other side of the device compartment is a small flat pocket, perfect for paperwork or a notebook, as well as a shallow zippered compartment for your pens and charger cables.

The adjustable DeviceNest is truly where the Minaal 3.0 shines.
The adjustable DeviceNest is truly where the Minaal 3.0 shines.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Our second favorite pocket is the secret pocket located inside the back panel. While it is easy to access by the wearer, it is both hidden and close to your body, making it difficult for anyone to gain access without you noticing. This makes it a safe spot for your cash, passport, or other small valuables.

We love a secret pocket, and this one is easy to access while...
We love a secret pocket, and this one is easy to access while wearing the pack.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Most of the pockets are 3-dimensional, like the main compartment, which allows for more room to stuff them to your heart's desire. Generally speaking, this is a positive feature but it leads us to our biggest gripe with the Minaal 3.0. There is zero structure to the main compartment, also referred to as the clamshell scoop. This makes packing loose clothing very difficult in the absence of packing cubes, even when expertly rolled. With the cubes, however, the scoop can fit a surprising amount of wardrobe. We do not recommend purchasing this bag without packing cubes.

The main compartment is very difficult to pack without packing cubes.
The main compartment is very difficult to pack without packing cubes.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Another bone we have to pick with this bag is the dang water bottle holder. This was something we struggled with on the 2.0 and no changes were made for this version. The pocket is small and slightly stretchy, so fitting a larger bottle like a 32-ounce Hydro Flask is a struggle. It is also rather shallow so something short and narrow would be a better fit for this dinky little bottle pocket.

Unfortunately the water bottle holder is subpar.
Unfortunately the water bottle holder is subpar.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Volume to Weight Ratio


The Minaal 3.0 does pretty well in this category. It weighs in at 3.12 pounds, which is a little lighter than its predecessor, the 2.0. It has a carrying capacity of 35 liters and is a great pack for roughly 3 to 5 days, depending on what you need to bring along.

This pack is rather flimsy, which is not necessarily a bad thing here. The general lack of structure on the outermost shell keeps things light, but it's important to note that you will most likely want to use packing cubes in the clamshell scoop. Depending on the type of packing cubes you purchase or already have, the overall weight may increase a significant amount.

The Minaal is lightweight but requires packing cubes, which will add...
The Minaal is lightweight but requires packing cubes, which will add to the overall weight of the pack.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Durability


This pack is both durable and economical. The 600D Picton fabric, which is what makes up the outer shell, is made from recycled yarn. High abrasion areas, like the bottom, are reinforced with 1200D Picton. The Minaal is equipped with trusty YKK zippers and even though it will do just fine in a light drizzle, it comes with a handy rain fly to ensure your belongings stay dry in a downpour.

The combination of 600D and 1200D Picton fabric ensures that this is...
The combination of 600D and 1200D Picton fabric ensures that this is a durable pack.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Value


The Minaal 3.0 is one of the highest-priced packs in our test suite. It also gets pricier when you take into account that it works better with packing cubes and accessories like the hip belt which are sold separately. This is why we appreciate that Minaal offers a 90-day no-stress return policy so that you can try the pack out before fully committing.

Conclusion


After getting some one-on-one time with the Minaal 3.0 it's clear that the design was well thought out. It is an expensive option and its efficiency improves significantly with the addition of separately sold items like packing cubes. However, because of this, it is not what we consider a budget-friendly option. That being said, the DeviceNest does a wonderful job of keeping your most expensive possessions safe from the dangers of travel, making this a great option for the digital nomad. This is a thoughtful pack that is backed by a company that cares, and that takes a lot of pride in what they do.

The dimensional pockets allow for optimal stuffing.
The dimensional pockets allow for optimal stuffing.
Photo: Matthew Blake

Hayley Thomas