When it comes to travelling light and one bagging it, the Minaal Carry On 2.0 and Minaal Daily often come up in conversation. But are these bags as reliable and robust as the company would want you to think?
Here are my thoughts on how the Daily has held up over the last few years. Yes you read that right, this is a LONG term review. Often you’ll see reviewers showing a bag after 2 weeks of use – of course it still looks like new, most bags will last a couple of weeks. But you’re going to have to drop a fair amount of cash on this bag so what does it look like after almost 3 years? Let’s find out.
The Daily is the small brother to the Carry On 2.0 but still has enough room to pack enough clothing for a weekend trip. I’ve also used it as a daily work bag as it allows me to carry my gym clothing and towel as well as keep my work stuff separate in the back compartment. It does have some weak areas though as you’ll see.
The Daily has two main compartments; a slim, briefcase like compartment near your back which can hold a laptop, tablet as well as some documents. The built in document sleeve can hold A4 size documents and also has pockets for your passport (or at least they are passport sized) and business or other similarly sized cards. One thing to note is that while it is certainly nice to have dedicated place to store papers, the bag itself has very little support and can easily crumple. On more than one occasion I have opened the document sleeve only to find my papers crinkled around the edges and I now mainly use it for storing magazines I’ve grabbed from the airport lounge. A hard insert would definitely be welcome but as a work around I have taken to keeping papers inside a document holder inside the sleeve to keep them safe.
I love the passport holder though, especially the one with a zip. Knowing that your passport is safely tucked away and takes off a bit of stress when travelling. I also keep a spare emergency Revolut card in the business card pocket in case I accidentally lose my wallet, though thankfully this has not happened while I have been travelling…yet.
But just be aware of keeping all your valuables in one place, in fact my biggest loss was in the UK when I accidentally left my entire Minaal Carry On 2.0 on a train at Victoria Station as I dashed off. Not only did it have all my clothes and documents but it also had both my passports which taught me a valuable lesson about keeping everything together. But as long as you are less forgetful than me you should be fine, it is nice to at least have the option of storing your passport securely.
The document sleeve has held up really well over the years, and there is practically no damage apart from the occasional loose thread here and there.
The outside of the bag is clean and minimal with only one outside small pocket on the top, and a rain cover pouch at the bottom of the bag. The top pouch has a fair amount of room, enough to hold your keys, a battery charger, pens, gum, ear plugs or any other small items that you may need to reach easily. I found the top pocket particularly useful when flying as the pocket is easily accessible even when the bag is tucked underneath the seat in front of you.
The exterior has held up remarkably well, with only a few scuff marks betraying the absolute beating that this bag takes. I’ve filled it till I was sure the zippers would break (they didn’t), squashed it into overhead bins and under seats, sat on it as a make shift chair, used it as a hiking bag on more than one occasion and yet I am fairly certain that with a quick wipe down with a sponge would have it looking like new again. The only other thing betraying its rugged lifestyle is the Minaal logo which has started to peel very slightly.
The back padding, something that I am notorious for roughing up as I walk to work in a scratchy jersey or jacket has also held up extremely well. It’s hard to get a gauge on durability when the item still looks like new so as a comparison, here is my Thule backpack (also not a cheap bag) that I used for 6 months before purchasing the Minaal. Within 6 months I managed to destroy the back padding on my rough jacket and almost break one of the bands on the shoulder strap.
You’ll notice that the Minaal back has MUCH less airflow, this does translate to a very sweaty back unfortunately.
The Daily shoulder straps by comparison have robust, non-elastic bands on the right shoulder strap that can carry plenty of weight. I often use it to clip my bluetooth speaker to when travelling (I’m not one of those people that walk around like a mobile boombox and assault people with their taste in music, so it stays off unless I’m alone) and I’ve had no issues with it bearing that weight.
I did notice that there is a bit of damage at the join of one strap. A few of the threads that connect the strap to the bag have snapped, but nothing that has effected the usability of the bag (yet). Interestingly, this has only occurred on one of the straps, I obviously carry my bag more on one shoulder than the other.
The straps of course unclip and can be stored behind the back padding if you are checking your bag in or using it as a messenger bag or are just worried about the straps snagging on things. I don’t feel the need to tuck them in often but it is nice to have that option. The straps and clips have all lasted and have never come unclipped accidentally.
Accessories – Are they worth it?
The Minaal Daily has straps that tuck away and ayou can turn it into a messenger bag by attaching a sling accessory. In practise I found that it was a little too big for a messenger bag and rarely use it like that. As for the hip pad accessory that I also purchased – I used them once to test it out and they have stayed in top of one of my cupboards ever since. I just didn’t find the bag to be heavier enough to warrant them even when it was fully loaded. Personally I don’t think either of these accessories are worth it, they are good quality but likely won’t get used.
One accessory that I did actually end up using and quite liked was the shirt holder. It clips into the interior loops in the bag which stops it from sliding down and it does a decent enough job at keeping my shirts crease free-ish.
The other accessory that I use fairly often is the toolbox, this is really useful for all the cables, chargers and a Chromecast that I like to bring along with me. It has velcro compartments that have held up well so far.
I also have the packing cubes which I use regularly. They are strong and lightweight and I have not had any issues with the zips, an area that I was initially concerned about.
The top handle, which gets the most use, is made out of the same material as a seatbelt and only has a little bit of fuzzing around the edges. The side handle, which I generally only use if I am trying to take my laptop out my bag while in the airport security queue, still looks like it did the day it arrived.
The biggest potential accident that I had with this bag was actually caused by the way the laptop section unzips. It has been intentionally designed to unzip so that it can fold completely flat – the idea being that you can pass your bag through the scanner at the airport without taking your laptop out. In practise, I’ve found that most airport security still wants you to take your laptop out and doesn’t like you having it in a laptop sleeve let alone still in a compartment in your bag.
One night as I was running through the Dubai airport to catch my connecting flight the entire back section unzipped all the way down. This is not something that you want to happen to you as you are dashing towards the gate, luckily most of my stuff stayed in the document pouch but having to stop and look for your backup bank cards after they have fallen out your bag onto the airport floor at 2am did make me a bit wary about running with this bag and I now tie the zippers together if I have the time.
Now on to the main pouch which is where I have my biggest gripe with the bag. You’ll notice immediately that there is only a deep netted compartment with a canvas compartment underneath, as well as a water bottle holder.
As I was using this bag as an office bag I often put my keys and a couple of pens inside the main section. I’m not sure which one is the culprit but they managed to break a sizeable hole in the netted section. This netting is by far the weakest material used in the bag and I really do wish that they used more canvas instead. The hole makes putting anything small inside this compartment impossible which limits me to using the pocket on the very top of the bag. The top pocket also has a mesh pocket, but after my experience with the main mesh pocket I now put my keys inside another bag before putting them in here.
This does the trick but I feel like this is not something that I should have to do.
The bottom canvas pocket is much more robust and there is no noticeable damage to it despite me using it as a place to store my Flip Flops.
The water bottle holder is nice, in the UK I often used it to hold an umbrella or thermos and even an extendable selfie stick at one point. But I do find myself wishing there was another bottle holder on the outside. I can understand the desire to keep the design clean but my $10 backpack from Amazon has a bottle holder that can be unzipped and I can’t help thinking that they missed an opportunity here.
The holder is made out of an elastic material which stretches slightly to fit most water bottles and has not frayed or suffered any damage over the years.
The rain cover and pocket are pretty indescript and you don’t even notice that it’s there until you need it. Being in the UK I used it a fair amount and was thankful for having it built in. I’ve noticed no damage or any mildew forming on the rain cover either which is great. I also like that it is detachable so if it does get torn or break I can replace it.
So knowing what I know now, would I still buy the Minaal Daily in 2020?
Yes, I definitely would. While it is not a perfect bag and it can be a little hard to get things from the main section, overall I like the sleek look and minimal branding. The durability, baring the internal mesh, has been fantastic and I have never worried about the bag breaking on me when travelling. While it is definitely not cheap, it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the design of this bag and it will last for years.
It’s also fairly rare, I’ve only ever noticed 3 other people with this bag and I think one of them may well have been one of the founders.
While the Daily is light, I still find it a little large for a day bag and generally take another bag with my that was also launched through a kickstarter. The Travelmore Jetpack takes up practically no space (it’s so light that it can fit in the laptop compartment of the Daily), is durable and has a laptop section and enough space for towels, shoes, drinks and whatever else you need to take with you on a day outing. It’s not the most stylish of bags but it has accompanied me to over a dozen countries so far and holds a firm place in my packing list.