After my carry on challenge a few years ago when I spent a few months in Asia travelling on nothing more than 25 litres of hand luggage I’ve become mildly obsessed with the art of travelling light.
I am however the first to admit that lately I suck at it!
Although I maintain it’s the fact I’m lugging around surf kit and dive kit!haha!
I also know heaps of you guys are looking to explore the world without the confines of a large rucksack on your back – especially when it comes to a stint of travelling in a single area or for less than 6 months.
So I was stoked to be able to test out the Minaal carry on rucksack over the last few weeks, a 35 litre rucksack that fits most airline carry on size limits.
I’ve packed it to the limit, taken it on hikes, got caught in a tropical storm with is and even taken it along to a job interview…so it’s safe to say I’ve put it thorough its paces – here’s how I rate it…
The Kickstarter Story
I’ve followed the Minaal story since stumbling across them on Kickstarter last year. The story is pretty simple – two Kiwi guys travel the world, see the need to combine lightweight, practical travelling with the option to “business it up” occasionally.
They can’t find anything that fits the purpose so they decide to simply make it themselves!
…I like their style!
$341,393 later they smashed their $30,000 target goal and successfully funded their idea and the Minaal carry on rucksack is officially born.
Having chatted to co-founder Jimmy whilst they were in funding stage I was stoked when he emailed me to see if I wanted to test it out and it arrived just as I’d landed in Australia to travel with my parents…and I’ve been using it ever since!
Built For The Long Haul
The first thing I noticed with the Minaal backpack was the quality. Now I’m a sucker for beautifully crafted, quality products – but the Minaal went well beyond what you’d expect from a bag.
It’s light but feels solid.
It’s sleek yet packed full of features.
And most of all its comfortable to wear.
In fact it’s the small things I’ve discovered which really take it to the next level – like the buckle which neatly streamlines and hides away the chest strap when not in use.
Or the custom moulded back pad (which is ridiculously comfortable even when fully loaded) which contains one of the 4 subtle parts of branding throughout the bag.
Or even the discreet rain cover which tucks neatly into the bas of the bag when not in use…something I gave a solid test when I got caught in a storm whilst walking to the Byron Bay lighthouse!
You can tell that the team have avoided cutting corners in the creation process and their passion and attention to detail has sure paid off.
A Backpacking Tardis!
Despite the fact it flattens out like a pancake (I actually packed it within my main rucksack for a few parts of the trip without any worries!) the Minaal is like a backpacking tardis – you can fit sooooooo much stuff in it!
To put it into a real world example if I was planning on hitting up Asia for 2-3 months (or anywhere where you’re not jumping through random climates!) this would be my
rough kit list;
- 4 x t shirts
- 2 x boardies/shorts
- 1 x flip flops
- 4 x boxer shorts
- 1 x towel
- 1 x flannel shirt
- 1 x sunglasses
- Laptop + charger
- iPhone + charger
- GoPro + accessories
- Toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, shaver, suncream etc)
- Snorkel + mask
Now for most people that list is more than enough and lets face it not everyone is going to have a laptop and charger to lug around (or a snorkel for that matter!) so you can easily substitute those for shoes, more clothes or whatever you fancy!
And did it all fit?!
Surprisingly yes it did!
There’s also some great inbuilt organisation pockets and external pockets which allow you to have easy access to the thing you need and tuck away those you don’t.
…so you really can travel with carry on only – no more waiting at baggage belts or loosing your luggage en route!
I also took it as my only luggage on my recent trip to Fiji and loved it. I could easily jump off ferries and check into my beach hut whilst other people faffed with luggage, I was the first through border control when we landed and some people didn’t have their luggage taken off the ferry so it was taken back to the mainland….not me though!
Business v Pleasure
For me and anyone who either works on the road or goes on frequent business trips one of the best features of the Minaal is the fact it’s found the balance between business and pleasure.
To achieve this the Minaal team have been pretty clever about a few things…
Firstly as I’ve already mentioned the bag is pretty covert in its branding and the black/grey colouring mean it looks damn swarve! No glaring logos or backpacker slogans here, just sleek, minimalistic design.
One of the biggest additions though is the fact the backpack part of it neatly tucks away and can be completely hidden. It’s quick and easy to do – there’s a flap which simply zips over the carry straps and you can then use the briefcase like handle instead.
The other awesome part – especially for a tech geek like me – is the separate laptop/business part of the bag. This contains a laptop and tablet padded compartment as well as heaps of pockets for more professional use – like pens holders, business cards and all that other boring stuff!
For the business traveller this means you can access all your work gear without having to dig through all your boardies and snorkelling kit in front of your boss or client – genius!
But this also makes travelling easier too for everyone as this section is quickly accessible from the side, allowing you to quickly and smoothly remove all your tech from your bag during the security part of check in.
The Bottom Line
The only real negative I can pin against the Minaal bag is the fact that all these features and quality come at a cost.
The Minaal Carry On Rucksack will set you back $299USD – which places it firmly at the high end of the backpack market, especially for a carry on pack.
For some people I know this will immediately rule it out as an option for their trip, which is fair enough.
However I firmly believe if you’re travelling a lot for either business or short – medium term adventures it’s a solid choice and a great investment and a bag that will serve you well.
I can’t wait to use it as my only pack on some mini trips in the next few months!
Check out the official Minaal website for more info and some greta videos on how much you can pack into it!
**PLEASE NOTE – I received a free bag to test out courtesy of the Minaal team – but rest assured all opinions are honest and my own**
- Heaps of organisational compartments
- Covers business and pleasure
- Easy access laptop compartment
- High price tag
- 35 litres may not be enough for everyone
- …that’s it!