Review of the Minaal Daily Backpack as a Working Mom’s Bag

In 2015, I kept seeing post after post about how the Minaal backpacks had the best minimal design of any backpack out there. Since I am every marketer’s wet dream, those targeted Facebook ads worked like a charm and left me with just one feeling – Lust. It was at the very beginning of my minimalist journey, and I ironically started into minimalism by purchasing this bag (at least I donated all of my other bags!). Minaal was running a Kickstarter campaign for the Minaal Daily and Carry-On 2.0 backpacks. I backed them both and have been using the Minaal Daily almost every day since May 2016. In the last 15 months, I have learned a lot about the pros and cons of this pricey bag.

Before we get started, you should know that this is my unsolicited opinion and I was in no way compensated for writing this review.

How I use the Minaal Daily

  • Work bag
  • Diaper bag
  • Adventure bag

I shelled out $399 for the Minaal Daily and Carry-On 2.0 bundle during their 2015 Kickstarter campaign. Today, the Minaal Daily costs $249. The only reason I was willing to pay this much is that I thought the Minaal Daily was sleek enough to be appropriate as a work bag but functional enough to also behave as a diaper bag. I had been searching for the perfect double-duty bag for months and thought I had finally found it!

As a mom who drove to daycare and work, the Minaal Daily was everything I hoped it would be. I found it especially functional since I also purchased the shirt protector and a set of 3 packing cubes. Toddler peed through his diaper while I was carrying him into daycare? No problem, I have an extra shirt pristinely stored in the shirt protector in my Minaal Daily! Along with one packing cube full of diapers and wipes, one packing cube filled with snacks, and one packing cube with a change of clothes for him and a spare pair of pants for me. Plus a water bottle in the inside pocket made for bottles. Not to mention a laptop protected by the cushioned pocket, a tablet protected by a smaller cushioned pocket, a notebook, file folder, business cards and pens in the lay-flat pocket. Oh yeah, and did I mention I have my lipstick, personal cell phone, work cell phone, wallet, mirror, and a small bottle of Excedrine stashed in the easy-access exterior pocket?

As a mom who now takes the bus to work, the Minaal Daily is a disaster. My stop is the third to last stop on the route, so it is frequently standing-room-only by the time I board the bus with my toddler. If no one offers us their seat and he wants a snack or a drink, I sometimes don’t even have enough room to swing the backpack around and rummage for whatever he’s looking for. I also wish there was a second outside pocket for some of his items like toys or a book so I wouldn’t have to rummage in the large main compartment for them. The packing cubes in the main compartment are a dream when you can lay the backpack flat and unzip it all the way to find what you want, but if you try doing this while standing on a bumpy bus ride, you are just asking for trouble because the awesomely lightweight fabric just flops open and sometimes the whole compartment unzips. Unfortunately, I am on the hunt for a new bag for our 9-5 commute, since daycare is near my work and not near my house. However, I see the Minaal Daily continuing to function as my weekend-mom bag of choice for a long time.

****Keep reading all the way to the end. I thoroughly change my opinion about this after testing out many other bags****

As a travel companion, you can’t beat the Minaal Daily. I have packed for a couple of 3-day business trips and brought nothing but the Minaal Daily. I could probably pack for a 5-day business trip if it was warm out and I could bring dresses instead of pants and shirts. I also love that the chest strap has an attached rape whistle, which is a nice bit of added security if you’re traveling in an unfamiliar area or at night. Since the straps are so comfortable, I have been able to wear it while walking 2 miles from the hotel to the office space and still feel very comfortable. Once at the office, the option to hide the shoulder straps and carry it as a briefcase is ideal. This bag has not just been on business trips. It has also been on cruises, vacations, and weekend adventure time with my toddler. With all of its everyday use, its exterior still looks almost brand new.

The Minaal Daily Backpack Features

  • TSA compliant lie-flat laptop and document compartment
  • Main middle compartment with full-length zipper access
  • Seam-sealed rain cover that is stashed in a Shallow compartment on the bottom of the bag
  • Small external pocket
  • Interior water bottle slot
  • Ability to hide the shoulder straps and carry it as a soft briefcase
  • Chest strap with rape/emergency whistle

Some reviews claim that this bag features tons of organization, but I strongly disagree. It is absolutely essential to purchase packing cubes in order to keep your stuff organized in this backpack. You can purchase pricey ones from Minaal that will match the style of the bag and have high-quality zippers, or you can go to the dollar store and pick up some cheap ones there.

Comfort level

I’m 5’2″ and weigh 110 lbs. As a shortie, I frequently get bruises on my lower back because backpacks tend to hit the wrong spot on my petite frame. That is not a problem with the Minaal Daily. The weight load of this incredibly lightweight bag gets distributed nicely without using unsightly hip belts because of the moldable but stiff back panel. The straps are also quite wide and cushy, preventing strap burn from frequent use. I wore this backpack every day to work for over a year and the straps did not tear or leave wear spots on my clothing, which has been a common problem with other backpacks.

Ranking for Minaal Daily Backpack After Using it for 1 Year +

Zippers: 10

Stitching: 10

Shoulder straps: 9

Briefcase handle: 9

Laptop friendly: 10

Water bottle friendly: 5  yes, there is a water bottle holder in the main interior compartment, but it is difficult to access while on-the-go. Two water bottle holders would also be lovely – one for me and one for the kiddo.

Overall aesthetic: 8  an option to hide the chest strap would be nice. Also, the bag’s minimal design looks much better full than it does empty or partially full.

Overall comfort: 9  you know that moldable but stiff back panel I was loving on earlier? It’s not very breathable and sometimes leaves you with sweaty-back syndrome.

Warranty: 10  lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects.

Would I buy it again?: 7  that’s a really high price tag for something that isn’t perfect.

Total score: 87/100

Photos of the Minaal Daily as Used for a Weekend Diaper Bag

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The exterior quick-access pocket, with its own zip-compartment inside. Contents include 1 toy car, 1 pair of child’s sunglasses, 1 can of sunscreen. In the inner zip pocket, there are 2 adult medications and some bandaids.
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Large main compartment filled with 3 packing cubes a mason jar of water and a child’s Camelbak cup.
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Small packing cube full of snacks.
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Small packing cube with pull-ups and wipes.
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Large packing cube with 3 changes of toddler clothing.
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What the bag looks like laying flat and full of everything featured above, plus a portable emergency training potty that I forgot to take a photo of.

 

Photos of the Minaal Daily as Used for Work

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The Minaal Daily, laying flat and partially full.
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The exterior quick-access pocket, with its own zip-compartment inside. Contains 1 set of adult sunglasses, one set of child sunglasses, wallet, work badge, combo mirror/hairbrush, lipstick, pen, nail file.
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Main middle pocket, holding a wallet, blazer, and pair of high heels. I am now carrying a separate bag for most of the kiddo’s stuff so that I have easy access to it on the bus.
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Main middle compartment after removing the contents. There is an extra mesh pocket on the top and an extra covered pocket on the bottom.
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TSA compliant padded laptop compartment with a smaller padded compartment for a tablet. On the other side are pockets for file folders or notebooks, business cards, and pens. I tend to keep business cards and pens in the quick-access exterior pocket because I usually need to access them quickly.
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Briefcase handle
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Shoulder straps and chest strap with whistle

 

****UPDATE**** Photos of the Day I Learned I Didn’t Need a Different Bag, I Needed to Learn to Pack Smarter

Desperate for a bag that met all of my needs, I tested out 2 popular tote bags and 3 popular backpacks. None of them were as comfortable as the Minaal Daily and few of them fit as much stuff…once I learned how to pack smarter. I hadn’t really been using the internal zip pockets. Instead, I had been using the packing cubes. This was my main mistake. Here’s how I manage to fit everything in now. And sure, there’s still the problem of not having an external water bottle holder, but you know how I solved that problem? I made my kid carry his own damn water bottle. Boom. Problem solved.

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The front exterior pocket. The inner mesh pocket contains 2 prescriptions, lipstick, bandaids, a nail file, a business card holder, and a pen. The main compartment of the external pockets contains keys, wallet, work badge, and hand sanitizer.
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The inner mesh pocket of the main compartment is loaded up with snacks. 4 Luna bars, 3 Kind bars, some fruit snacks and also some fruit strips Because you can never have too much fake fruit, right? The bottom zip compartment of the main pouch contains wipes and a pull-up, in case we have more than 1 accident in a day.
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A better shot of the bottom zip compartment of the main pouch of the backpack.
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Also inside the main compartment, I was able to fit a mason jar of ice water, a large coffee thermos, a mason jar with leftover pasta and sauce, and a bag of bagels.
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The laptop compartment is still just used for the laptop.

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Once I zip all the compartments and prop it up, I still have room for a toddler-sized bathing suit and small drink container.
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And this is what the mighty little Minaal Daily backpack looks like, stuffed full of all that stuff, once you know how to pack it right! Mom and kiddo are both very happy commuters now.

 

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4 Replies to “Review of the Minaal Daily Backpack as a Working Mom’s Bag”

  1. Really nice. I’m afraid I’m not very successful as a minimalist – I had a whole bunch-o-bags, I use them for organization. Writing, laptop, pens, bike, hot weather (with a big container of water) – I like to keep them loaded so I can grab and go.

    I like your way better.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Bill! At least you use them for organization and they’re not sitting there unused. I also have a “go bag” in the trunk of my car and am a firm believer that everyone should have one of those!

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