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Minaal Carry On vs Tortuga Outbreaker

Tortuga’s travel backpacks and Minaal’s are often the two finalists for frequent and long-term travelers. Minaal made a big splash with their Kickstarter campaign. Their attention to certain details is impressive. However, their pack's small size makes it less than ideal for most travelers.

Giving Space Back to Airlines

Airlines are very stingy with their carry on luggage space. Guidelines vary, but most airlines allow bags up to 45 linear inches (length + width + height). That size typically breaks down to 22 x 14 x 9." A bag that size will hold 45 liters of gear, with the right design.

The Minaal Carry On comes close to the maximum dimensions for a carry-on backpack, but is 1" too shallow. Yet, it only fits 35L. Using just 78% of the space allowed by the airlines.

Why? Because of the “curse of curves." describes how two similarly-sized bags can have very different carrying capacities.

The Outbreaker 45 has roughly the same dimensions as the Minaal but holds 29% more stuff (45L). Although it's not a perfect rectangle, the Tortuga version of the carry on backpack is closer to this ideal so that you can pack more stuff.

Of course, bigger isn't always better. But using the full carry on space that the airlines allow is simply good logic. If you don’t need that much space, compress the Outbreaker using the side straps. Bam, it’s now the size of the Minaal, except with the option of becoming larger, should you acquire a few goodies on the road.

With the Outbreaker, you can pack as much stuff as you need without having to pay airline baggage fees. Making it the perfect combination of size and cost.

All Weight is On Your Shoulders

Regardless of how large your backpack is, it will feel heavy, even if you're only walking a mile at a time. Fifteen to twenty pounds of gear can weigh heavily on your shoulders.

The solution is to use a hip belt like the ones on hiking backpacks. They may not look cool, but a hip belt will help prevent shoulder, neck, and back pain.

A good hip belt will transfer 80% of your pack's weight from your shoulders to your hips. From there, your powerful leg muscles can do the work, while sparing your weaker shoulder muscles. You'll instantly notice the difference in how heavy your pack feels when you tighten the hip belt. Just like magic.

With a properly fitted hip belt, your bag will go from dead weight on your shoulders to feeling like an extension of your body.

Minaal gives you the option of purchasing an additional "removable webbing hip stabiliser strap." This strap will hold your bag close to your body but won't take any weight off of your shoulders.

The weight-bearing hip belt did practically nothing aside from hold the bag closer to your body. They say that the weight distribution is great but I'm telling you after an hour of having my bag on, I just wanted to take it off because it hurt either my hips or my shoulders.

-Reddit user

The Outbreaker travel backpack has a heavily padded hip belt to make your load as light as possible. Brandon from the Yoga Nomads said:

The Tortuga’s hip belt has the best padding I’ve seen in this class of backpacks.

Minaal’s strap will cost you $39 on top of the bag, bringing your total cost to $338. Why does Minaal charge an extra $39 for a measly strap? Because they can.

When you've already committed to buying a $299 bag, you're more likely to agree to buying a $39 accessory. This is a basic psychological trick called the Principal of Contrast. Compared to $299, a $39 strap, however useless, seems like a bargain. This is the same technique that used car dealers use to upsell you on additional features after you've already bought a car.

Airlines already nickel and dime travelers for every little thing. Don't let your luggage company do it too.

Excessive baggage fees were a big motivator for us to create the carry on-sized Outbreaker. Don't worry, we don't have any hidden fees.

Checkpoint Unfriendly

The TSA allows travelers to leave their laptops inside their bags through security, if the bag is designed with a separate, lie-flat laptop compartment. If you’re carrying an Outbreaker from Tortuga, you’ll be able to breeze through security like the pro traveler you are by leaving your laptop inside your bag.

Minaal missed this detail. Their customers still have to take their laptops out of their backpacks in a security line.


Most backpacks use a high-denier nylon, which means a fabric with lots of threads woven tightly together. Minaal is no exception.

The Outbreaker takes it a step further. Instead of using one layer of tightly-woven fabric, we’re using four specialized layers of waterproof sailcloth for optimal performance.

Sailcloth is frankly, the most expensive of the fabrics we considered for the Outbreaker 45, and yet our backpack is still priced below Minaal’s.

Read more about why sailcloth is a better fabric.


Minaal claims their internal pockets “hold, like, waaay more of your stuff.” That’s a little vague, especially considering the Outbreaker holds even more; 29% more, in fact. With the Outbreaker, you really can bring everything you need without checking a bag. And keep it organized.

The Outbreaker 45 is fitted with pockets for everything you travel with, so that you can stay organized in the airport and at your destination.

Which Bag is Right For You?

This is a decision for you to make. Minaal has made a nice-looking product that will be perfect for many types of travelers. Seeing other companies making quality backpacks is a huge motivator for us.

We designed the Outbreaker for people who want to travel, even on long trips, without checking a bag. Throughout our travels, we've realized that travel doesn't have to be expensive. You can save money on your trip by using airline miles and staying at Airbnb apartments. You should also have an affordable luggage option. Travel isn't just for the wealthy.

We took the trip to Eastern Europe that was the genesis for Tortuga when we were both broke 24-year-olds. Jeremy was a grad student, and I (Fred) was an underpaid ad man. In the early stages of the recession, we found round trip tickets between California and Frankfurt for $520. From Frankfurt, to Prague, to Budapest, to Hvar, we traveled by train, stayed in hostels, and ate way too many doner kebabs.

The trip was far from lavish, but we had an amazing experience. That is what travel is all about.

If you like our approach, you can learn more about the Outbreaker here.

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