How to Pack Your Minaal Beyond the Edge of Sanity

For the brave, it’s time to venture into the nitty-gritty – packing details so deep they’re downright dangerous…

If you haven’t read our guide to scoop sidepacking, the info contained below will test your skills beyond their limits!!!

Below, you’ll encounter tips that would’ve saved at least one boyband member from collapsing on an international flight, and discover the secret of packing beyond the apparent limit of your Minaal, or any other bag. Tighten your compression straps – let’s get to it.


Lean and Green

Open the bag flat and start packing your lightest, most compressible items into the scoop side near the top. Shirts, tops and high volume materials like fleece or wool, as well as accessories like hats and scarves fall into the ‘light and compressible category.’

If you’re flying carry-on only, you might want to keep your clear‘plastic bag-ified’ liquids near the zips at the top or on either side of the main compartment, so they’re handy at security. We don’t recommend packing those next to your devices unless your laptop is really into bubble baths.

Wear your heaviest and bulkiest items whenever possible while flying to keep your bag light and save space. If you get too hot, a balled-up fleece jacket makes a decent travel pillow but make sure you don’t overdo it…

Exhibit A

Rex Vanderwoodsen, popped collar world record holder extraordinaire.

Photo cred: Whit Hiler

Verdict: Award-winning but not so safe (in public).

Exhibit B

James McElvar, singer from the boyband Rewind. James avoided a 45 GBP excess baggage charge by wearing all of his clothes to board the plane. Unfortunately, he then passed out HARD mid-flight, due to heat exhaustion.

Luckily, James made a full recovery.

Verdict: Dangerously unsafe but pretty damn entertaining.

The Middle Ground

Next, fill out the bottom portion of the scoop with bulky medium-weight items like a tightly rolled towel, jacket, jeans or the lighter of your pairs of shoes.

Continue to fill the main compartment in layers. Pay attention to balance left and right and do your best to distribute the weight evenly. Be sure to add dense items and heavier fabrics like canvas and denim last so that they will be closest to your back when the bag is closed.

Rolling clothes, using compression sacks or packing cubes and packing out the pockets in the main compartment on the flat side of your bag can significantly reduce their packed size and help you fit more into your bag. The so-called ‘burrito roll’ isn’t just for t-shirts anymore. Here’s how to do it with jeans, jackets, and dress shirts backed by a hard driving techno track for your viewing (and maybe listening) delight.

PRO TIP: If you’re concerned about wrinkling, start by rolling underclothes, active wear, synthetics, and wrinkle-resistant fabrics. Fold those items you need to stay crisp and pack them toward the outside of the bag where less density equals less pressure.

The Red Zone

Concentrate your dense, heavy items closest to to your back.

If you haven’t filled the pockets on the flat side of your bag’s main compartment, do so next. This is a good spot to stick your shoes, cords,dirty laundry, or souvenirs that you won’t need right away.

When you’re ready, fold the flat side over like a lid and zip it closed, before filling the tech compartment.

PRO TIP: Fill the scoop to 80 percent then zip up the sides to compact the load. Add the last of your gear in through the top.

Tech Compartment

We’ve designed the tech compartment to suspend your laptop, tablet and technology in the middle of the bag, closest to your back – the ideal position for a balanced load, with the tiny added benefit of keeping your gear safe from ABSOLUTE CLUMSY DROP-BASED DISASTER.

Photo cred and thanks to: Anna Ge of Stylish Travel Girl.


This is the best place to keep items with a heavy battery or charger. Its independent zipper makes it easy to fill up last. Besides, we all know you’re going to want to suck power out of the wall until the very last minute.

We’ve left the tech compartment closed on the side at the bottom so you can slip your computer out at security without your backup hard drive or any of your other precious gear dropping out onto the unforgiving tile floor – even when you’re having one of those oh-lord-please-let-me-get-to-this-flight-even-though-I-can-see-the-gate-is-already-closed-why-do-I-even-bother moments.

Maximum Capacity

Make the most of your carrying capacity by filling up any empty space within your gear. Stuff socks and belts into shoes, and fill containers to the brim. If you really need to stack it in (Aloha Easyjet!) try filling the scoop to 80 percent and zipping up the sides to compact the load as noted above. Give everything a good squeeze and shake to eliminate air pockets, then stuff the last bit in through the top, and you’re good to go.

But, I’ve still got one more thing…

We’ve been there. You’ve been there.

You’ve exhausted every trick in the book and there’s still something left…

…and now, the only way that your sweet niece, Evelyn, is going to get that perfect souvenir you found for her, is if you cram your bag to roughly the density of a neutron star (that’s VERY *10^35^ dense).

CAUTION: We always ‘Say NO!’ to bag abuse and we recommend that you do too. Over-packing your bag is sure to put you in excess of the weight limit for most air carriers and unduly stress both your bag and everything inside it. Think of the following as crossing the streams… Yeah, we’re talking ‘total protonic reversal’ in the Ghostbuster-ly sense. With that warning in place, we’ll see you on the other side….

OK… OK… we understand. That tiny tutu for baby Evelyn is literally just THE cutest thing in the ENTIRE world. But it doesn’t fit. You’ve worked up a lather trying, and it just can’t.

Fear not. You’ve got one final arrow left in the quiver.


That’s right… Time.

We can’t make any guarantees that this will work but, if you’ve already tried everything, your last shot is to max out your bag a day before you depart and leave your gear to settle overnight. With a cool head and a keen eye, you may just sneak one last item in under the stark light of morning.

If it still doesn’t fit, well… you’re going to have to wear it.

Photo by Patty on Flickrvia Creative Commons.

The Outsider

The compression straps at the sides of your bag were designed to keep the load from shifting while you’re on the move whether it’s 50, 75 or 101 percent full. We’ve also allowed for plenty of slack to fasten bulky items to the outside of your bag.

Photo cred and thanks to: @blake_simps0n ,@tawshmcd and@planetbackpack.

We’ve seen it all, from yoga mats to tripods, trekking poles to snorkels, umbrellas to sleeping bags, life jackets to pillows for the plane. 

Although your Minaal Carry-on is max cabin size for many airlines, if you keep the items on the outside of your bag looking tidy and well-organized, you shouldn’t have any trouble when boarding. If you’ve got a gang of tackle dangling off your back like wind chimes however, you may attract unwanted attention to that oversized gear at the gate.

So last of all, practice your winning smile.

That said, as long as long as they let you on board, anything goes…


Photo cred: Viktoria of ChronicWanderlust bound for Egypt with fins in tow.

Well played Viktoria… well played.

Share how you pack and what you’re carrying with #minaal on Instagram.

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