Everyone wants to travel light really. No one wants to be loaded with all their techie gear. At the same time, who wants to turn up in a new city looking like you’ve got your entire home on your back? You probably don’t need most of the stuff you pack anyway.
So enter Minaal. Their 2.0 backpack is a 35 litre extravaganza of smart packing, a ton of features and all round stylish design that means you won’t LOOK like an out-of-place backpacker. What’s more is the durability of this one – it’s definitely got a lot of good materials going on.
It may look simple and low-key, but man, there’s ALL SORTS of stuff going on in the Minaal 2.0 – from easy packing solutions to being able to stash it on a plane as carry-on luggage. Simple and well done.
But don’t just take our intro and go off to buy one. We’ve gone all in on this epic review of the Minaal 2.0 so you can really make your mind up with all the info you’ll need.
Ultimate Minaal 2.0 Review
Quick Answers – The Minaal 2.0 backpack IS for you if…
- You’re all about style – This backpack is compact and cool with its minimalist design. There aren’t a load of toggles or straps flapping around in the breeze here, no siree. It’s neat, tidy and won’t look out of place in a city. Comes in either ‘Aoraki black’ or ‘Vancouver grey’, which is cool.
- You want a durable backpack that’s going to last – Materials, materials, materials – this backpack is built to LAST, that’s for sure. High quality materials like YKK zippers, 600D and, yes, even 1000D nylon. Top that off with high-end Woojin & Duraflex buckles that won’t be breaking anytime soon. One sturdy bag.
- You want to fly with one bag – Size-wise, the 35 litre Minaal 2.0 is perfect for one bag travel: it complies with US and European carry-on limits. You can stow away the straps, so it slips neatly into the overhead lockers on a plane. It can EVEN fit under airplane seats – it’s that slim.
- You love a bit of organisation – Love compartments? You’ll love this bag. There’s a TON of stuff going on inside the Minaal 2.0. A reliable laptop and tablet compartment, mesh pockets for your socks or whatever, and a lot of other pockets, too. Add packing cubes for even MORE organisation.
Quick Answers – The Minaal 2.0 backpack is NOT for you if…
- You want to use this as a daypack – When it’s not packed out to the max, the Minaal 2.0 can be a bit floppy and shapeless. Which means that it’s not best used as a daypack – especially if you’ve only got a water bottle and a guidebook, let’s say. Instead take a peek at the Nomatic Backpack.
- You’ve got a tight budget – Yeah, this backpack is not exactly on the budget-friendly side of things. To be exact, the price hovers around the $299 mark – and that’s WITHOUT packing cubes! It’s an investment, we figure, and a bag that’s going to last, but those on a budget may find the price a little steep. If you like the aesthetic of this backpack but want something cheaper – read our Osprey Farpoint 40 review.
- Your laptop is bigger than 15” – Anything above that will not be fitting in the Minaal 2.0’s laptop compartment. And to be honest, it’s kind of cramped too. When the bag is full to the brim, it can be a bit of a pain to extract your laptop from the bag.
- If you travel with a lot of small items – Yes, though the organisation side of things IS good, if you’ve got small things with you (e.g. charger wires, keys, earphones, USB sticks, etc.) they can pretty easily get jumbled up together. Basically, it lacks those small interior pockets that the Tortuga Setout, Tortuga Outbreaker and Nomatic Travel Pack have.
- You are looking for a hiking backpack – While this bag sort of has a hiking aesthetic – this is not a sporty backpack. Check out our Osprey Talon 33 review, or Osprey Atmos AG 65 if you are looking for a more outdoorsy bag. Or check out our Osprey Aether AG 70 review if you need something HUGE.
Different Minaal Backpacks
There’s more to Minaal than the 2.0, however. This Kickstarter company has a couple of other backpacks under its belt, each one as cool, sleek and minimal as the last. So if the Minaal 2.0 is already looking like something that MAY not be completely up your street, then don’t worry: here’s what else is on offer from this vibrant company.
#1 – Minaal Daily Bag
If you’re looking for something a bit more on the daily use side of things, then the Minaal Daily Bag is the sort of thing you should be looking at. It’s got a similar low-key and minimal design to the Minaal 2.0, but is even more city-friendly and easygoing.
The Minaal Daily Bag is lightweight and still packs a punch with its capacity, being 21 litre, and also has a shockproof laptop compartment. Plus you can tuck those shoulder straps away and turn this baby into a little briefcase for a professional vibe. There’s even a raincover to keep things dry if you get caught in a downpour.
#2 – Minaal Rolltop Bag
Fulfilling that hipster-friendly rolltop aesthetic that everyone’s loving right now, the aptly named Minaal Rolltop Bag is one for the style-conscious among you – it’s black, funky, minimalist and an all-round urban-friendly bag. There’s no fussy straps or buckles to get in your way and the interior is pretty simple too.
It’s streamline: roll the top up and unzip the front for some seriously easy-access baggage here. It’s only 15 litres, but if you’re after something compact that can still fit a surprising amount in (with an added hidden pocket in the back), this is is a great choice.
#3 – Minaal 2.0
So this is the Minaal 2.0, the one we are reviewing right now, and it’s pretty much the granddaddy of the Minaal family. It’s the biggest, with the most capacity and pockets, and is the most feasible option for an ACTUAL travel bag rather than a day pack. One bag travel, here we come!
Did we mention that it’s got a clamshell opening system so you can get to your stuff without rifling through everything? That’s a major plus. And it never feels too big and bulky even when it’s at full capacity. It’s comfy, too. Yep, the straps are very comfy, plus there are chest straps, making it good to carry a heavy load.
Minaal 2.0 Features
The Minaal 2.0 wouldn’t be a modern backpack if it DIDN’T have a load of features, let’s be honest. And thankfully, this cool backpack does boast a nice amount of nifty things that give it extra points for comfort and clever design.
The biggest of all the features is that the Minaal 2.0 has been thought out with one bag travel in mind, so you can hop on short trips pretty easily – or longer ones if you’re prepared to wash your clothes pretty often. And all done with STYLE, too!
Let’s have a more in-depth look at just what those features are exactly – and whether or not we reckon they actually add value to the bag.
Rather than letting your laptop sitting at the bottom of your bag in some sort of pocketed slip situation, the Minaal 2.0 actually holds your laptop safely in what is basically a harness. This makes it one of the best business backpacks!
It’s suspended a couple of inches away from the edge of the bag, all the way around, meaning there’s not going to be a lot of worry for smashing your laptop by dropping your bag – or someone else throwing it around.
PS – if you are looking for an Osprey Laptop bag, read over our Osprey Porter 46 review
- Pro – You’re REALLY not likely to damage your laptop with this in place
- Con – Can be fiddly, with velcro and stuff, and actually tricky to access your laptop
With that one bag travel dream in mind, the straps on the Minaal 2.0 can be stowed away. How this works is by unrolling a piece of material from the top of the bag and then zipping it down over the straps. Simple. No dangly straps sticking out anywhere, meaning you can shove your bag in any sort of locker without stuff getting caught.
This is the carry-on version of the Minaal 2.0, basically.
- Pro – It’s smooth and easy to use and turns your bag into more of a briefcase
- Con – Still takes time to unroll, and even LONGER to roll it neatly back up again. And who has time when you’re trying to get out the airport quickly?
Like we just said, when the straps are stowed away the Minaal 2.0 basically becomes a kind of briefcase. And all good briefcases have handles.
There’s one at the top, so you can pull it out from under your seat easily or whatever, and there’s one on the side: this is the briefcase handle, pretty much. Feel free to carry it around like this if you’re not packing too much weight. They’re also durable, which is a plus.
- Pro – Easy to grab the bag from pretty much ANY place it’s been stowed
- Con – The side handle can get in the way of the water bottle compartment
Like the cover that unrolls to hide those straps, the built-in raincover on the Minaal 2.0 sits inside a pocket (on the bottom of the back) and unfolds to cover the whole pack. It’s a snug fit, which means it shouldn’t be letting in any water.
On top of that, the company claims that the raincover 100% rainproof. It can even be removed completely and will save you about 2 ounces if you know it won’t be raining anytime soon.
- Pro – The pocket itself where the raincover is located is barely noticable
- Con – Doesn’t look all that good when you’ve got it on. Why can’t the bag itself be waterproof?
The Minaal 2.0 opens up all the way, on three sides, so it’s like a clamshell. The best way to do it is to lay the bag on its front and lift the BACK of the bag up, not the other way around.
This means you can get to all your goods inside and pack it pretty well, too – pretty much like a suitcase, and those are much easier to pack than backpacks.
- Pro – Makes it simple to REALLY utilise all the space inside the bag
- Con – It’s best used with packing cubes; if you don’t have those it makes this feature seem not as well designed (the top gets floppy)
Magnetic Water Bottle Holder
This nifty feature sits at the side of the backpack itself. The magnetic part of it means it can snap flat to the bag when it’s not in use – handy! There’s also a bungee cord involved at the top of the holder, meaning it can fit quite a few different water bottles. Simple design that really makes sense.
- Pro – Easy access – and it basically stows away if you haven’t got a bottle
- Con – Seems a bit like an afterthought (the side strap gets in the way of it, too)
This is a no-brainer, but lockable zips are STILL a feature. And the ones on the Minaal 2.0 are YKK brand, which are pretty much the best zips you can get. And they’ve been designed so that they fit together nicely you can fit a lock through them, making it a great antitheft backpack.
No one wants a bag with a broken zip and this is unlikely to happen with these in place.
- Pro – Top quality and gives added security if you’ve got a padlock
- Con – Loops aren’t massive so you’ll need a small (equally GOOD quality) padlock on this one
Minaal claim that they have designed this bag with men AND women in mind. So it shouldn’t matter what size you are, how tall you are, whether you are male or female…
The Minaal 2.0 will fit you in any case and you’ll still be able to use all the functionality of this backpack to its fullest. Plus there’s nothing aesthetic that’s obviously pointing towards male or female – but what does that mean anyway? It’s just a cool bag.
- Pro – Anyone can use this bag. Adjust the chest strap accordingly and you’re away
- Con – Because it’s not designed for certain shapes, it might not offer the best possible fit
The nylon going on here is pretty thick, we have to say. Ranging from 600 all around to 1000D on the bottom of the bag (that’s THICK), the Minaal 2.0 is designed to be durable.
But not just the fabric of the bag itself: everything feels quality and solid. Breaking handles, forget it. Buckles snapping, no sweat. It won’t be happening any time soon because the Minaal 2.0 is designed to last.
- Pro – It’s sturdy, and can take a lot of stress and strain without looking typically “rugged”
- Con – The material attracts fluff and dust pretty easily meaning the sleek look soon fades
The exterior pockets on the Minaal 2.0 are small and discrete. There are two situated at the top of the bag, these are easy access and makes it a good place to hide a phone, travelcard or a pair of headphones. The kind of things you want quick access to.
One is larger than the other, but in the small one there’s a small mesh pocket for keys.
- Pro – Handy for things you want to have access to without going through all your stuff
- Con – Not very big at all and can be hard to access if the bag is packed full
Durable clips and material on these straps mean you can slim down the size of the bag. It’s all well and good being able to fit 35 litres worth of stuff into a bag, but then you’re left with the bulk of it.
So using the compression straps – which are metal and unfussy, which we like – is the thing to do to make the Minaal 2.0 more slimline. There’s a neat system where they hook over the zip to compress, and hook into a slot out of the way when you don’t want to use them.
- Pro – Make the bag look less bulky. Simple
- Con – You can’t REALLY overpack the bag anyway, so they’re not that useful
Additional Extras Available
There’s actually a TON of things you can add on to the Minaal 2.0. You might not need it all, which is why we guess they’re add-ons rather than included, but you can really make use of the pack to its fullest by utilising a few of them.
Packing cubes (a pack of three) sit perfectly inside the bag and are ideal to fill out the space of the Minaal 2.0 – good for fans of minimal travel. Then there are things like the attachable hip pads, which add to the comfort of carrying the bag – especially if you want to go hiking (takes the weight off your shoulders). Clip on and remove these easily.
There’s also a shoulder sling, if you want to carry it like a messenger bag. There’s even a hassle-free tool case so you can fit in a load of electronics, GoPros, extra batteries.
- Pro – It’s great that there are all these added extras to make the most of the Minaal 2.0
- Con – With each add-on the Minaal 2.0 gets more and more expensive. We wonder why they’re add-ons at all, since some are pretty integral
The harness system, which is to do with the shoulder straps and back panel, makes the Minaal 2.0 SUPER comfortable. It’s a bag that feels nice to carry. The shoulder straps themselves are contoured with foam padding that forms to the shape of your body. It feels high quality. And the areas that touch your body are lined with airmesh, meaning there’s a bit of space for things to breathe.
The back panel is lined with the same neoprene material and is moulded for airflow. Even with all this involved, the backpack still looks stylish. There’s also an adjustable sternum (chest) strap and load lifter strap for your waist – all of this without the bag looking too fussy.
- Pro – Simple system that means you can carry a fair bit of weight and remain comfortable and balanced
- Con – Could be more breathable… No one likes a sweaty back, right?
Final Thoughts on the Minaal 2.0
One bag travel. We’ve said it a few times, but this is basically what the Minaal 2.0 is good for. This is definitely the bag for people who don’t want to stick out like a backpacker in a city situation. This is a bag for professionals who want to look cool, and for people who HATE having to check in luggage at the airport.
Whizz through the terminal, with your bag on your back, jump on the airplane, stow away the straps and stick it under your seat or in the overhead locker. It really does make plane travel easy.
The Minaal 2.0 is all about travelling with your essential items. There are some pretty genius organisational pockets and additional elements for you to do just that. It might not be the cheapest bag out there – there’s a pretty high price tag involved – but think about it…
How much you’d have to spend on checking luggage, on replacing your laptop that’s been smashed around in a less well designed bag, and on replacing a cheap old bag itself. Think about that and the stylish Minaal 2.0 makes a lot more sense. This is a stylish investment of a bag that is built to last.
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