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EPIC Minaal Carry On 2.0 Review [2020]

Minaal carry on 2.0 review

  • The best Minaal Carry On 2.0 review on the web!
  • Written by Digital Nomads
  • Who the Minaal Carry On is perfect for
  • If it’s not the pack for you – we’ll show you which pack IS for you

Minaal Carry On 2.0
Overall Score

Our Take – This backpack looks great, feels great, and is made of super durable materials. We give it a score of 4.5/5. 

If you are looking for a larger minimalist backpack for weekend travels or longer term travel and don’t mind leaving a lot of stuff at home – then the Minaal 2.0 is as good as it gets.

This backpack is currently #6 on our top backpacks for Digital Nomads. 

4.5/5
NN Overall Score - 4.5/5
Style
Comfort
Functionality
Durability
Value

Minaal 2.0 Specs

Available in 35 L

Minaal Carry On 2.0

  • Capacity: 35 litres
  • Dimensions: 21.6in x 13.7in x 7.87in
  • Fits: 16-19″ torso
  • Weight: 1.415kg / 3.12lb

At 35 liters, the Minaal Carry On backpack will be 100% carry on compliant, which is why it’s perfect for anyone interested in one bag travel.

The Minaal Carry On 2.0 is PERFECT for you if...

  • You need an amazing travel backpack

At 35 liters, the Minaal Carry On 2.0 is more than sufficient to be your (super light) primary world-travel backpack. 

  • You are interested in one bag travel

Big enough to fit all of your stuff, but small enough to be 100% carry on compliant, the Minaal 2.0 is a dream backpack for the minimalist traveler. It will challenge you, but you will grow from it!

  • You're a Digital Nomad

Digital Nomads rejoice! As long as you aren’t a gear-heavy Digital Nomad (photographers, I’m talking to you) then The Minaal Carry On 2.0 should have a place for all of your Digital Nomad gear.

  • You want a travel backpack that has an urban aesthetic

This backpack is NOT a hiking backpack. It’s meant for urban travel, and it’s sleek aesthetic plays its part so you won’t look out of place in any urban environment. 

  • You want a backpack that can double as a duffel

The Minaal 2.0’s ability to transform into a duffel in less than 10 seconds is freaking awesome, and gives the backpack the ability to transform as you so need it. More on this later. 

  • You want a light travel experience

The Minaal Carry On backpack is light beyond its liters. The Minaal team kept unnecessary features to a minimum, meaning you can travel with less weight and less drag. It feel freaking amazing. 

The Minaal Carry On 2.0 is NOT for you if...

  • You want an everyday carry backpack

At 35, the Minaal Carry On 2.0 is NOT a solution for a daypack. Too big!

→ If you want a daypack, check out these masterpieces…

  • You have TONS of stuff

At the end of the day, 35 liters is going to be way too small for a lot of people. The Minaal Carry On backpack really forces you to sacrifice what you bring, so if you are the type of traveler who likes to travel heavy – look elsewhere

→ Looking to pack more stuff?

  • You are looking for a hiking or outdoors backpack

While this backpack is a great adventure pack (I took it for 3 weeks motorbiking in North Vietnam) this is a non-hiking backpack.  

→ Some of our top hiking backpacks can be found below…

  • You want to save money

At $299, this is one of the more expensive packs on the market. And here’s the bad news – that doesn’t cover your waist strap!

→ Want to save some cash? These are better options…

  • You want a photographer backpack

While this will get the job done, this backpack is not specifically designed for your camera and photography gear

→ Want a camera backpack?

Pack Style

Super sleek, minimal and sexy – this backpack’s design is easily one of its strongest selling points. 

The backpack is somewhat of a remix on a classic. It gives off vibes of old school backpacking backpacks (like Osprey) but is done in a way that feels completely new and fresh.

And while being both, its design is not too tech-y and neither too backpacker-y. Which is why the pack is perfect for Digital Nomads, to adventure travelers, and everyone in between.

How it Feels

Materials

The bag is made of high quality 600D nylon fabrics, and is augmented with 1000D nylon for long term durability.

In plain talk – it’s made of great fabrics, and it feels awesome. The materials feel scratchy (but not in a bad way) and although the materials are thin and light they feel STRONG. 

Our one criticism of the fabric is that it’s a bit… clingy.

By that we mean things have a tendency to cling to cling to the outside of the pack. Think hair, dust, and other such hitchhikers. 

But, while this can be a bit annoying, it’s really not that big of a deal and is a small tradeoff for such a great feel.

Zippers

Loaded with a variety of strong YKK zippers – the zipper-experience on this bag feels extremely smooth and extremely satisfying.

The larger zippers (which give you access to the main compartment) are lockable, and the smaller zippers (which give you access to the laptop/tech compartment) are also lockable. 

 

Comfort

This. Pack. Is. COMFY! 

But while it is comfortable, it is not without its flaws.

Traveling with a 35 liter backpack will always feel light and relieving – and Minaal’s design makes it even better with a really impressive and enjoyable back panel. 

The back panel breaths well and provides support. The hip straps (sold separately) are also light and super comfortable.

If we had to nitpick, we’d say that the shoulder straps are average. Minaal really cut down on the weight of this backpack, which includes padding, and it came at the cost of having super comfy straps. 

But we’ll cover this more in detail later…

Front of the Pack

The front of the Minaal Carry On backpack 2.0 has two things worth noting – and they are both pockets. 

Larger Pocket

The top pocket is the larger of the two

The first thing to note at the front of the pack is the top pocket – or what we refer to as the ‘Tech Pocket’. There are no other forms of organization within this pocket – no fancy pocket within a pocket – this is simply a nice, easy to access pocket

We refer to this as the ‘Tech Pocket’ because it’s deeper than the ‘Quick Access Pocket’ (up next) and is a great place to store chargers, cables, portable batteries or larger headphones. 

Smaller Pocket

The bottom pocket is the smaller of the two

Next up is the ‘Quick Access Pocket’.

This pocket is below it’s larger sibling and has a bit more organization as it has an internal mesh pocket with a zipper and a key ring inside of it. 

Which is exactly why we call it the ‘Quick Access Pocket’!

Given it’s smaller size and the extra organization it offers, this is a great pocket for travel-valuables such as your passport, boarding pass, wallet, and other things you need to quickly get a hold of.

Middle of the Pack

This is where we examine the main compartment of the backpack, as well as the sides of the backpack. There are a few CRUCIAL things to understand in this section about the Minaal Carry On 2.0.

Side Handles

Great side handles on this bad boy

The side handles are a work of art.

Comfortable yes strong. Not too small yet not to big. Light but just enough padding. 

These side handles are especially important when converting this backpack into a duffel – which we will break down soon. 

Water Bottle Pocket

There are pros and cons to the water bottle holder.

Cons – it’s not that great. This is easily one of the worst water bottle holders we have encountered. It is based on a flimsy flap that has an elastic string to help support your bottle. Yes it’s light and simple, but almost to the point where it seems like it was neglected.

The water bottle holder is weak sauce

It’s one of our least favorite aspects of the pack.

But all is not lost!

Pros – While the water bottle holder leaves much to be desired – it’s only on one side of the backpack!

Lots of large travel backpack put two water bottle holders on their packs, and we personally think this is overkill. Double the features = double the drag, and Minaal again have identified something that is unecessary for the sake of cutting down weight and drag. 

They deserve a clap emoji for that. 👏🏻

Compression straps

We aren’t huge compression strap groupies – but if you are then guess what – these compression straps work just fine!

Also, fun fact, Minaal’s compression straps have multiple loop options, meaning if you want to compress your backpack you can do so at 50% or 100% compression.

Main Compartment

If you crack the Minaal Carry Open, this is what you shall find…

Clamshell opening is life

We are a huge fan of clamshell style bags, and the Minaal Carry On 2.0 does not disappoint. 

Clamshell style backpacks allow you to open your pack to its full width like a suitcase.

It’s awesome. Packing your shit is easier, and most importantly accessing your stuff is ten times easier. 

2 Large Interior Pockets

These pockets are on the back panel of the main compartment

These pockets are simple but great!

The top is mesh, the bottom is not. But are easy to open, feel great, and have an impressive depth to them so you can fit a ton of stuff.

We recommend using these pockets for your socks, underwear, towels, and other clothes that you want to keep separate from your other clothing. 

A special note to keep in mind – these are the ONLY pockets in the main compartment!

A lot of Minaal’s competitors provide pockets galore in the main compartment so you can organize your stuff to your heart’s content. 

But not Minaal. 

Minaal’s perspective is that less is more, and these two main compartments are a firm representation of that belief.

But don’t worry, you’ll still have plenty of space to fit everything on your Digital Nomad packing list.

Back of the Pack

Ventilated Back

This pack has a nice back system. It feels strong and has plenty of support and ventilation without being too heavy or bulky.

The back is comfy, while also feeling very light

You’ll feel plenty supported by this back panel – which is all that you can ask for from the back of a pack!

Padded Waist Straps (Not included!)

This is HUGE problem with this backpack.

The waist straps are both a) grossly overpriced and b) just average.

We have no problem with a backpack company charging extra for waist straps… but we do when the pack is already $300.

We also have no problem with a backpack company charging $50 for waist straps… but we do when they are just average.

Ultimately this only matters if you like waist straps. Not everyone does!

But if you like that extra support (believe us, they go a long way during long travel days), having to pay $50 USD for average waist straps is not fun.

Harness Adjustment

The pack has a nifty magnet system at the top of the pack that will allow you to redistribute weight off your back.

It’s a nice feature, especially if you are on the shorter side as it will allow you to adjust the pack in a way that is more comfortable for you. 

Plus magnets are always a fun experience!

Shoulder Straps

We’ll just get right out there and say it – the shoulder straps on this pack could be more comfortable. 

They aren’t terribly uncomfortable, and we understand it was a conscious decision to cut down the overall weight of the pack… but it’s worth noting.

Aside from the comfort, the straps are pretty bare-bones and look really, really, really nice. 

Sternum Strap

Big sternum strap fans here!

Sternum straps really help gain control over a heavy pack and provide a TON of support.

And the Minaal Carry On sternum strap is solid!

Worth noting is a cool clip for the right half of your sternum strap. Go ahead and clip it in there when you aren’t using it. It will be out of the way, which is a nice feature because sometimes the sternum strap can just be dangling around all annoying and shit. 

Also fun fact – the sternum strap has a hidden whistle feature. Super useful in dangerous situations and when you are hammered and want to write a new song. 

Zip Away the Shoulder Straps!

Where did the straps go?!?

It’s magic!

Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s true, the shoulder straps can be zipped away and it is EASILY a top 3 feature of this backpack.

The feature is easy to implement (admittedly easier without the waist straps on), and takes less than 10 seconds overall.

When the back panel is unzipped, simply roll it up and tuck it underneath the dedicated slit.

This is another reason why having such badass handles on the top and. side of this pack is so great. Going to duffel mode is not only easy, but it feels great. If you haven’t tried it, you’ll quickly learn it’s one of the best part about this pack. 

Great Tech Compartment

It’s basically an expectation these days for non-hiking backpacks (of every size) to have a laptop compartment. 

And the Minaal laptop compartment does not disappoint!

The compartment is well padded and secure, while keeping with Minaal’s commitment to lightness. Your Digital Nomad laptop will be protected!

There is also a tablet sleeve, but if you don’t travel with a tablet don’t worry – it also works great for medium-sized notebooks or even a small external keyboard.

The one gripe we have with the tech compartment is that it only opens 3/4’s of the way!

This decision we do not understand. Probably because it cuts down on unnecessary zippers, which further helps shed weight, but it’s extremely unsatisfying to try to open it and get unexpectedly snagged every time. 

Further recommended reading – The best laptop backpacks for Digital Nomads

Tech Compartment (back side)

The back side of the tech compartment only has two things. 

1. A small pocket on the top. We found this pocket to be a devastating letdown. It seemed like a perfect, secure pocket for a passport – just for us to find out the pocket is too small!

This pocket is good for cash and pens, but that’s about it as it’s only about 3 inches tall. 

2. Document sleeve. We also, find this useless. Are you carrying documents on your world travels? No, neither are we. 

Overall Pros

  • This backpack is light and minimal
  • It's made of super durable materials and will last for years
  • It will always work as a carry on
  • Ability to seamlessly convert to a duffel is amazing

Overall Cons

  • It's freaking expensive (and add ons aren't cheap)
  • Sub par water bottle holder
  • 35 liters is going to be way too small for some travelers
  • Some nitpicky design choices

Other Minaal Products

While the 2.0 is Minaal’s flagship product, the company has done a fantastic job creating a whole line of backpacks, wallets, and other travel gear. 

#1 - The Minaal Daily Bag

While it looks like a Carry On mini me – this backpack actually stands on it’s own as an amazing product!

The Daily Bag is just that – Minaal’s effort to create a smaller backpack for day to day use. While it has the same aesthetic as the Carry On, it has a ton of unique features.

#2 - Minaal Rolltop Bag

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but rolltops are ALL the rage right now, and Minaal have created an amazing version.

The Minaal Rolltop is great as it a) look sweet and b) allows you to access your stuff from the actual roll TOP, of from the center zipper which opens the bag like a surgeon cutting open his patient. 

Too much?

#3 - Minaal Crossbody Bag

The sling revolution is fully here, and this is one of the best money can buy. 

Like all of their products, Minaal was able to draw the line between minimalism and functionality. The sling looks sleek and sexy, but has a decent amount of organization once you open it up. 

Like all Minaal products, it’s on the pricier side, but it’s a sling that will last you years.

FAQs

How many liters is the Minaal Carry On 2.0?

35 liters which is the perfect size if you want to travel light and always be able to carry your bag on a plane.

Where to buy the Minaal Carry On?

There are a few places to purchase Minaal products, but we only recommend using the links in our articles as they will deliver you right to the best price!

What to pack in the Minaal Carry On for 7 days?

The Minaal Carry On 2.0 is designed to easily fit enough for a 7 day trip. Pack your clothes in the main compartment, and your tech stuff in the dedicated tech compartment. 

How many packing cubes fit in the Minaal Carry On?

This depends on the size of the cubes you have – but at least 2 to 3. If you. use Minaal’s packing cubes then 3 of them will fit comfortably

Conclusion

That’s the end of it!

Did our Minaal review satiate your needs? Do you have any other questions?

If you’ve made it this far then please give us a shout below. Whether it’s to ask a question or just to say hi,  I personally respond to every comment. 

Travel on Nomads…

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Written by Aaron Radcliffe

City dweller. Dumpling crusher. Aaron is a serial entrepreneur, and the founder of Nomads Nation. Connect with Aaron Radcliffe -