I love traveling light. There's a real freedom that comes with being able to carry everything in a small backpack, to walk straight off the plane and be halfway to my hotel before everyone else's suitcases have hit the baggage carousel.
When I'm out exploring or working from a cafe, though, even that small piece of luggage is often too big. I don't want to spend all day with a 40 liter bag on my back, or find space for it every time I sit down somewhere, and it's too bulky to take to a client meeting.
Minaal, the makers of one of my favorite carry-on bags, thinks it has the answer. After a second successful Kickstarter campaign, the company has upgraded its main bag and come out with a new, smaller version as well. The founders sent me a Minaal Daily to check out, and I've been putting it through its paces for the last few weeks.
Features and Specifications
As the name suggests, the bag is intended for daily use. It's made from the same hard-wearing black Cordura fabric as its big brother, and looks similar at first glance. It's noticeably smaller, though – at around 17” x 13” x 6”, you can carry it with one hand or slide it under even the narrowest of seats.
When empty, it's designed to fit inside the Minaal Carry-On, so you can take both bags without needing to check any luggage. Furthering the modular approach, the company offers a small range of optional accessories, including a shoulder strap, mobile toolcase for organizing cables and accessories, and a shirt protector for, well, doing exactly that.
The Daily converts between a backpack and briefcase, and if you buy that shoulder strap, a messenger bag as well. The front of the bag has a single zip pocket for smaller items like phones and keys, and the back is padded foam, behind which sit a pair of straps. Pull them out and clip them to the bottom buckles for backpack mode, tuck them back in when you'd prefer a briefcase.
There's a chest strap, but no waist strap. Unless you're planning to carry bricks or gold bars on your travels, though, it would be hard to get enough weight into a bag this size for that to be a concern.
On the inside, the Daily is split into two compartments. This was a smart move, as it gives more capacity than the exterior dimensions might suggest. Both sections fully open out, for ease of packing and unpacking.
The rear compartment is intended mainly for electronics, although you can store whatever you like in it. There's a neoprene section that can separately hold both a 15” laptop and 11” tablet, with straps to keep them secure, and an organizer with several pockets for documents, passports, business cards and the like.
The main compartment is deeper, with a pair of zipped pockets at the back and a stretchy pouch on the side for water bottles or similar.
The external fabric can handle a light shower, but for when the skies really open, there's an integrated rain cover that pulls out from a pouch on the bottom.
I used the Daily as my go-to bag for a couple of weeks, both in normal life and while traveling out of town. I took it to the gym, when exploring the city, while working in cafes, and on a weekend trip away with friends.
Minaal clearly intends this to be a premium product, and it shows. It's stylish, in an understated way, and the attention to detail is impressive. From little touches like lockable, quality zips and a clip to keep the chest strap from flapping around, to the slick electronics holder and organizer sections, plenty of thought has gone into the design of such a small bag.
My 13” laptop sat securely in its holder, even after I let the bag hit the floor one afternoon with a little more force than was perhaps intended. There was more than enough room in the main compartment for gym clothes and a water bottle, with enough space left over for the couple of bottles of wine I picked up from the supermarket on the way back. Don't ask.
The rain cover got a workout during my testing, after I got caught in a downpour fifteen minutes from home.
I ducked into a shop, dropped my phone in the front pocket, and pulled the rain cover into place. By the time I got home my clothes were completely drenched, but everything inside the bag stayed bone dry.
Given its diminutive size, it performed even better as a briefcase than the Carry-On model I reviewed previously. It was easy to lift and carry by the side handle, and remained well-balanced even when stuffed with electronics, a water bottle and rain jacket. It was a ten minute walk from my accommodation to my workspace for the day, and carrying my "briefcase" there wasn't a problem.
Packing for my two nights out of town, there was enough space for a couple of changes of clothes, toiletries and electronics like a laptop, Kindle and chargers. Even when full, the zips closed without force, and the bag stayed comfortable on my back. Crammed into a taxi with several other people, I appreciated the Daily being small enough to slip onto the floor between my feet.
I was very impressed with this new addition to the Minaal range. It's rare to find a bag I'm equally happy using around town as I am for a multi-day trip, but this one managed it.
Initially, I was concerned that the design was trying to be a bit too clever – the multitude of pockets, clasps, attachment points and pull-out bits and pieces seemed overkill on a day bag. The more I used it, though, the more I appreciated all of those little features. They didn't get in the way of using the Daily for everything from co-working to light hikes, but were there when I needed them.
It's not a cheap piece of luggage, so won't be for everyone. If you travel regularly, or are otherwise happy to spend a little extra for a high-quality, versatile day bag equally useful at home and on the road, though, you'll be more than satisfied with the Minaal Daily.