Minaal Carry-on Bag Review: a stylish solution for ugly backpack syndrome by Anna Ge of Slightly Astray

Minaal Carry-on Bag Review: A Stylish Solution to Ugly Backpack Syndrome

For years, I traveled with a nondescript, cheapo bag that I found at the local bargain store. I never considered the importance of good, functional luggage until I was getting ready for long-term travel. All of a sudden, I needed a bag that will efficiently carry everything I own. I had only a few requirements:

  • It must be carry on size (waiting at baggage claim? No thanks!)
  • The bag itself must not weigh too much (as I’ll be filling it with heavy junk)
  • And most importantly, it must not make me look like a backpacker

When shopping for a bag, it seemed like the only options were those brightly colored nylon backpacks with a million dangling straps that just scream “Hey! Look at me! I’m a backpacker!” Yuck. Not to be totally snobby, but I refused to wear one. I wanted something more stylish.

Enter: The Minaal

photo courtesy of Minaal

photo courtesy of Minaal

I first heard of the Minaal backpack on Kickstarter. Right away, it looked like the perfect answer! Actually, that is because this backpack literally is the perfect answer for the two New Zealand travelers who created this after they were unable to find the perfect bag. This backpack was created with the savvy traveler in mind.

And now, after over 6 months of wearing it across two continents, I’m convinced this is my perfect backpack as well. Here are a few of my favorite things about it:

A LOT of space for the tiny size

At only 35L, this pack doesn’t sound like much. But I am amazed at how much stuff I can fit into it. Before using this, I was using a larger 50L roller bag. It worked fine but I felt like I was stretching it to its limit. Fitting everything neatly inside was a struggle each time.

When I got the Minaal, I took one look at it and thought, “no way is that tiny backpack big enough.” But as I loaded my stuff into it, I was shocked at how easily everything fit inside. Briefly, I carry with me:

  • 1 large packing cube (clothes)
  • 1 medium packing cube (undies/swimsuits, etc.)
  • one small packing cube (electronics)
  • one yoga mat (folded)
  • one extra pair of shoes
  • one makeup/toiletries bag
  • laptop and iPad
  • miscellaneous bottles and tubes of girliness.

minaal unpacked

Many purpose-built pockets

Everything has its own place. The laptop and iPad each have their own suspended padded pockets. Important documents will no longer get folded and wrinkled in the flat back pouch. Passport, cards, pens all have their own pockets. Two small top zip pockets in front are great for storing items that you need to reach quickly. This is great for someone who’s allergic to organization!

back pocket

So unbelievably sleek

This backpack fits within just about all the airlines’ carry-on restrictions. And the absolute best part? It looks small. With all my stuff loaded in, my bag weighs approximately 11 kilo, which is over the allowable weight limit for a lot of small budget airways. But since getting it, I’ve been on a dozen budget flights, and nobody ever bats an eye at it. It just looks so small that there’s no way it could be that heavy. This has saved me so much money and hassle by not needing to check in a bag. Score!

wearing minaal

Keep in mind that I am only 5 feet tall (read: really short). My boyfriend is almost a foot taller, and on him, this looks practically like a regular school backpack.

Other features:

– black rain cover that pulls out from a tiny pocket at the bottom
– main compartment zips all the way around for lie flat packing
– hideaway straps for carrying duffle-style
– easy access to laptop compartment for airport security scanning
– adjustable straps for your custom fit

Downside: The only downside is that this backpack is just a bit too large to be a functional day pack. But I do carry a separate purse with me so it’s not a problem.

Where to buy:

This bag is currently only available on the official website. These are hot so go grab yours! At $299 a bag, the Minaal is certainly not cheap, but it is a good investment and worth every penny to me. I promise you, the Minaal will be the sleekest, most classy backpacker’s bag you’ve ever seen!

Are you in the market for a stylish bag like the Minaal? What bag are you using that you’d recommend?

Author Profile

Anna GeStylish Travel Expert
Anna worked as a construction manager in Los Angeles… until her life got flipped upside down when she met a boy with big dreams to travel the world. She’s since shed the hardhat and now can be found gobbling down strange street food, taking too many pictures, and squealing at anything furry. On her blog, she writes about her favorite travel memories, love, food, and making sense of life as a new full-time traveler.

Follow Anna's personal travels on Facebook, Bloglovin, or at slightlyastray.com