Last Updated on August 6, 2022
As some of you may know, I’m a huge fan of carry on travel and try to do so as much as possible. Not only does it save money as many airlines charge you for checked luggage now, but it also saves time as you then don’t have to wait at the baggage carousel or worry about bags being transferred during connecting flights! I was recently contacted by Chester Travel to try out their new Minima carry on suitcase and here’s what I think!
Disclosure: I was sent the Minima carry on case from Chester in return for my review. As always, opinions are 100% my own.
Chester Minima Carry On Case
As an expat, I often travel with a carry on suitcase when I take long haul flights between America and England. I don’t have to travel with too many clothes as I have a wardrobe at my parents house. However I do like to have space to bring back a large supply of Cadburys chocolate and British sweets!
The Chester Minima case is the first hard shell suitcase I’ve owned. My usual go to is a soft sided Antler case which has a completely different layout!
Carry On Case Colours
First things first and the thing that stands out the most, is the colour, it’s beautiful! The Minima is available in 7 different colours: black, charcoal grey, aluminium grey, ocean blue, sky blue, pink and sand.
I chose sky blue because it’s my favourite colour and screams out holidays/vacations. (I’m a sucker for blue skies and blue sea)! I love the range of colours on offer. Business travellers may prefer the darker cases. The lighter colours, which dare I say, would be a draw for the Instagrammers out there!
Personally I love coloured suitcases. I find them easier to spot if they do end up being checked in. They can be made a bit more unique with the addition of an equally colourful luggage strap. The more ‘out there’ luggage is, the more likely you’ll be the only one with that particular colour combination.
Dimensions & Weight of the Minima Cabin Case
Next comes the numbers part. Airlines are constantly changing the dimensions of their luggage allowance. The Minima comes in at 21.5” x 13.5” x 8.5″, which comparing it to American Airlines allowance of 22″ x 14″ x 9″, it fits with room to spare! If you’re making the journey across to Europe, the suitcase is too big for the likes of Ryanair (who are just stingy). But it does fit within the allowance of airlines such as EasyJet, British Airways or Norwegian.
The polycarbonate shell feels strong and good quality. One positive of a hard shell case compared to a soft is that it’s water resistant and can be wiped clean if it gets dirty. It comes in at a weight of 7lbs (3kg) which is another important factor to consider.
Some airlines don’t really care about the weight of cabin bags. As long as it’s within the dimensions, you just have to be able to lift it into the overhead bin BY YOUR SELF. Some airlines, such as Emirates, are quite strict on the weight of cabin bags. You only get a weight allowance of 15lbs/7kg and when the case weighs 7lbs/3kg, that’s over 1/3 of the allowance gone before you’ve even filled it. Frontier have a carry on weight of 35lb/15kg, Norwegian 22lbs/10kg.
I was very impressed with the quality of the external zip and wheels, they feel very durable and glide nicely. The Minima case is considered a ‘spinner’. It has four 360 degree wheels that spin and move in all directions. Spinners used to annoy me a little but after having 2 wheel cases fall over many times, the spinner cases are definitely the way forward as they stand comfortably by themselves! It’s also VERY quiet too!
The handle feels a little less sturdy compared to my current cabin case. But I like the way the button sits flush with the handle and it has 2 different height settings. I’m 5ft 4 and the lower setting is more comfortable for me.
One of my travel tips when travelling with cabin cases, is to always be prepared for the fact that it may need to be checked at the gate. Sometimes if a flight is operating full, if you’re not priority or preferred boarding (thank you AAdvantage credit card), you may have to then check your bag. The Minima comes with a Chester luggage tag (make sure you ALWAYS label your case with your contact details!) and a TSA combination padlock.
If travelling in the USA a TSA padlock is a must. They are easily recognisable by a red diamond and cost 10 times more than regular padlocks. But if customs want to open your case once it’s out of your possession, they have a key that opens the TSA padlocks without needing to cut or break them off the bag.
Back in the olden days I used to travel with padlocks that had keys and when I discovered combination locks it was a game changer. No more worrying about where the tiny little keys were! I’ve also forgot to ‘lock’ combination locks a couple of times though and I’ve lost them. Having the lock built into the case saves that problem! I love the way it’s on the top of the case (on my current case it’s on the side) and the way the 2 zips make a C (for Chester) when side by side is cute!
Inside the Minima Cabin Case!
The inside of the case has a 38 litre capacity. Being a hard shell case, it opens in the middle, creating two sides that are the same capacity. A great feature of the Chester Minima case is that each side is a zip-able compartment. This is awesome for being able to organise luggage.
If only travelling with one piece of luggage, I use one side for clothes and then the other side for my other bits and pieces such as tech.
It seems like a lot of hard shell cases have only one zipped side and the other side is ‘open’ with elasticated compression straps. The Minima doesn’t have any compression straps on either side because both compartments are zip-able. I do usually like to have a strap as it holds things in place when it’s stood up on the wheels.
The zipped compartments are again a very good quality, with thick material and a nice zipper. There are 3 small zipped pockets on the compartments too. These would be good for charging cables or other small or flat items. They are right in the centre so if they were overfilled too much, I think you may have trouble actually closing the case.
Another one of my favourite features is the built in laundry bag! There’s a small pocket that holds the removable bag. I usually use a plastic bag to separate my dirty clothes from my clean clothes. But I love the way that it comes with a matching ‘packing cube’, that can be stored perfecting in the case when not in use! If you don’t want to use it for dirty clothes, I’m sure there are plenty of other uses for it, such as for shoes, keeping swim wear separate etc.
The internal laundry bag
I recently used the suitcase for an overnight stay (not flying). It was a great size to just chuck in the back of my car. It doesn’t have the option to expand the case either which is good as it encourages you not to overpack!
Cost & Where To Buy
The Chester Minima cabin case is currently available for $195.
The current brand of carry on case that I use retails between $100 – $150. I feel like it’s definitely on par with that. It is on the expensive side but you get what you pay for and it does feel very durable.
I recently had a bunch of gift cards for one of the large chain stores in the USA and needed a new checked suitcase. I was shocked by how expensive they were yet were VERY poorly made. It set me back $100 and I doubt will even make one trip without breaking. Let alone being able to hold any sort of weight on the wheels. I would no way have paid for it without the gift cards. In the UK you can pick up half decent cases for a fraction of the price.
So I’d expect to have to spend nearly $200 for a decent case in the USA.
If bought directly from the Chester website, they have a 100 day trial where if you don’t like the suitcase, you can return it for free and get a refund. They also come with a 10 year warranty. It “covers any damage to the shell, wheels, handles, zippers, or anything else that functionally impairs the luggage”.
Chester currently only ship within the USA (for free!) and orders are delivered within 3 business days.