The Minaal 2.0 Carry On: A Minimalist Packer’s Dream and a Backpacker’s Worst Nightmare

On the spectrum of carry-on travel backpacks, the Minaal Carry On 2.0 Backpack is one of the higher-end options available to you. In fact, compared to the Incase EO travel backpack, that’s also a carry-on laptop bag, the Minaal costs over $100 more. And while it’s not in the Tumi price range, it can still leave a dent in your wallet.  But to spend that much money on a backpack, you need to know what you’re paying for, right?

So, why does the Minaal Carry On cost so much? Because it’s bigger? No. In fact, even though the Minaal Carry On 2.0 travel bag is smaller than most, it costs, if not more, than other bigger travel backpacks on the market.

No, as it turns out the Minaal Carry On 2.0 was built specifically to reduce how much you can pack. Why would a backpack company do that? Here’s why.

Who is the Minaal 2.0 Travel Backpack Built For?

Depending on how you travel and what you pack, this backpack can either be a nightmare or a miracle bag.

The Minaal Carry On is for people who want to travel with a single backpack and don’t mind minimalist packing. And just to be clear, minimalist packing applies to both clothes and electronics. It’s a convenient pack that can fit up to four days worth of clothes and can easily fit under the seat in front of you on a plane.

If are someone who prefers to travel with up to two bags at a time, the Minaal Carry-On is unnecessary because you won’t be carrying the majority of the weight on your back, I’m assuming. Instead, a small backpack as your personal item will do just fine.

Also, if you’re someone who needs backpack space to carry up to 7 days worth of clothing, this backpack isn’t for you. If you were to pack that much into this backpack, it would defeat the purpose of the bag, which is to reduce how much you pack. On that same note, if you are looking for a tech-gear backpack, you may not find enough room for that here.

Next up, in an in depth Minaal 2.0 review of all the features that this backpack has to offer.

Features of the Minaal Carry On 2.0 Travel Backpack

This backpack was designed with simplicity in mind, which is why you won’t find any useless features on this bag.

Side Compression Straps

Convenient custom compression straps allow you to clip the strap above the zipper in “access mode” or over the zipper, in “secure mode.” “Access mode” means you can compress the main compartment of the bag, while still having access to it. Even the compression strap sticks out from the bag, it’s not as obnoxious as other backpack compression straps. It’s minimal.

Water Bottle Pocket

On the side you’ll find a small water bottle pocket with an elastic clip inside to keep your bottle from falling out. The pocket is not as deep as a typical water bottle pocket and quite honestly an elastic mesh pocket would’ve worked fine.

Built In Back Strap Cover

In the back of the pack, at the very top, there’s a fold where you can tuck and untuck the back strap cover to turn your backpack into briefcase-mode. Pulled out all the way, you simply zip up the strap cover over the back of the backpack to hide the straps.

To carry your backpack briefcase style, the Minaal Carry On 2.0 has smooth, durable side handles, one at the top and one on the side. These aren’t cushioned, but they feel soft and smooth to the touch.

4 Point Load Balancing System

The Minaal Carry-On 2.0 features a 4 point load balancing system, where you can adjust the straps at the top and the bottom. Load bearing straps at the top helps to redistribute the weight of the pack over your back and not just your shoulders. The straps are reinforced with magnetic clips that stay clipped, no matter how heavy the backpack is. The bottom straps are also adjustable, reducing the strain on your shoulders and neck after a whole day of carrying your backpack.

Adjustable Sternum Strap

An added feature of comfort is the adjustable sternum strap that you can move up and down to the ideal height you choose. If you don’t want to use the sternum strap and want to keep it from snagging on other things, there’s a securing buckle right above the strap.

Built In Rain Cover

At the bottom of the pack is an attached rain cover that you can pull out and drag over the pack for full rain coverage. When not in use, you can store it away in the pocket and zip it closed.

The Compartments of the Minaal Carry On 2.0 Backpack

Even with the few compartments and pockets that this backpack has, don’t let that fool you. You have enough room to pack up to four days worth of clothes, comfortably, using all the compartments provided.

Top Pockets

Two pockets at the top of the backpack, one small one with a zippered mesh pocket and one medium one behind it. These are great to store your headphones, phone, charger, plane ticket, pretty much anything you need on hand. The medium pocket in the back is good to store other valuables like your passport.

Main Panel Load Compartment

The main compartment opens up all the way and lays flat, with two sides for you to work with.

On one side is a scope side and on the other is a pocket side. For easier packing, it’s better to use packing cubes and to pack them in the scope side of the bag, first.

On the other side are the built in 3-D pockets, one mesh and one nylon. Whatever you don’t pack in your packing cubes, you can fit into these pockets. For instance, your toiletries bag, or 3-1-1 liquids bag can go in the mesh pocket.

L-Zip Device and Laptop Compartment

Located at the back of the bag is the laptop compartment. The L-Zip opening lets you slip your laptop in and out from the top or from the side. Your laptop suspends in the compartment by the neoprene device suspension system that’s adjustable. It keeps your laptop safe from impact no matter how your backpack falls. On top of the laptop is a separate sleeve that can fit a tablet or thin journal. On the opposite side of the laptop is a document sleeve, passport pocket, and a zippered pocket for your pens.

A Few Concerns That People Have Had With the Minaal Carry On 2.0 Travel Backpack

When a backpack is too full it makes it harder to get into the small pockets on the outside. Some people don’t like this, but it happens to all backpacks when packed too much.

Another concern is the lack of padding on the shoulder straps. Compared to other travel backpacks with robust, thick straps, these may be a little slim. While it may dig into your shoulder a little more because of this, it keeps the bag looking sleek and feeling more flexible. Also, since you’re not carrying as much as you normally would in larger travel backpacks, the weight of the pack won’t be as severe and therefore the lack of padding won’t be that much of a problem.

Also, although this may seem like a technical travel bag, it’s not. Or at least not as much as other laptop backpacks that I’ve seen. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but something to keep in mind if that’s what you’re looking for in a backpack. Besides a laptop compartment, there isn’t much organization capacity for someone who travels with a lot of technology.

Final Verdict: You’re Not Paying for Space, You’re Paying for Quality and Streamline Travel

I want to emphasize that there are travel backpacks out there on the market much bigger at less of the cost. But if you want to travel with a solo backpack, maybe big isn’t always better. Whether you choose the Minaal Carry-On 2.0, or a more affordable slim travel backpack when it comes to solo backpacking you want a bag that you can walk around with all day without issues. That way you’re focusing on the sights and not on how your back is killing you.

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