Minimal Gaia TE1 Cart Bag Review

A zipless cart bag with serious environmental credentials, Dan Parker takes the Minimal Gaia TE1 onto the golf course

Minimal Gaia TE1 cart bag review
(Image credit: Jonathan Eley)
Golf Monthly Verdict

A classy cart bag that innovates by using a recycled nylon material. However the magnetic closures used on all pockets aren't great with any kind of precipitation however and the quality of material simply doesn't match the steep price point.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Magnetic pockets are quick to get in and out of

  • +

    Made with Global Recycled Standard recycled nylon

  • +

    Fade resistant surface coating

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Materials and quality don't match the price point

  • -

    No full length apparel pocket

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Minimal Golf, known as MNML in the US with bags like the MV2, has launched in the UK and one bag the brand hopes will resonate with discerning, dedicated golfers. The brand's name comes from its efforts to create quality golf bags with minimal impact on the environment. Its bags are made from Seawastex nylon, constructed using abandoned fishing nets. Alongside the Terra SE1 stand, the Gaia TE1 cart bag are the first two bags its selling in the UK. 

The first thing worth noting is that there are no zips on this bag. Minimal realized that the biggest reason for bags breaking and being returned is faulty zippers. Such breakages can make a bag unusable, so they decided to get rid of them altogether with a view to making its bags last longer and forcing people to buy less. The principle is the same on the brand's stand bag - the Terra SE1 - and it makes for an altogether easy experience when accessing pockets. Magnetic pockets are quicker to get in and out of, and definitely add a premium feel to the bag. 

The second thing to note is the recycled material with which the bag is made. This is no greenwashing exercise either. The recycled nylon used across the bag is compliant with the Global Recycled Standard, so we can be sure that the recycled claims are true. 

The 14-way divider on the Minimal TE1 cart bag

(Image credit: Jonathan Eley)

I've found that the quality of recycled material in apparel is actually better than when using virgin polyester - garments from Reflo and Koi Golf have proven that. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for cart bags. The primary material got a certain sheen and scratchiness to it that just doesn't look or feel as sharp as is similarly expensive, luxury counterparts. For example, Vessel's Lux Pro Cart bag, which is only £5 more expensive, feels and looks £100 more expensive when put side by side. This example uses a mixture of magnetic and zippered pockets alongside a Tour-grade synthetic leather for what is a more comprehensive package in my eyes. Yes, it doesn't have the recycled material credentials the Minimal has, but for those which this isn't a priority the quality difference is noticeable. I wouldn't make such a point of this if it wasn't for the £449 price tag and having seen recycled materials used to such good effect on apparel, surely it can be done on bags too. 

That's not to say the TE1 is void of premium touches. I really like plush velour used to line the 14-way top and the magnetic pockets always add a premium touch to a bag. One note on the magnetic pocket closures is that they offer zero protection from water. You might get away with a light shower, but anything persistent or heavy and you'll find the pockets leak really quickly. This is something of a frustration if, like everyone in the UK, you often play in changeable weather conditions. 

The pocket space is ample. A dedicated insulated cooler compartment, rangefinder compartment and velour-lined valuables pockets are the three highlights and there is a dedicated space for everything you'd need. It's unfortunately missing a full length apparel pocket as you'd get on a conventional cart bag, but there is a pocket large enough to store some garments in. There's no doubting this is still a practical cart bag, despite some of its drawbacks. 

Overall, what this bag giveth, it taketh away. It's great to see a brand start using recycled materials, but the quality and the steep price just aren't justifyable. I really like the magnetic pocket closures, but the way they leak so easily is frustrating. It's a good first effort from Minimal, and I hope they can take the learnings from this first drop of bags to improve on its next efforts while still keeping it's environmental credentials high on its priority list.

Dan Parker
Staff Writer

Dan has been with Golf Monthly team since 2021. He graduated with a Masters degree in International Journalism from the University of Sussex and looks after equipment reviews and buying guides, specializing in golf shoe, golf bag, golf cart and apparel reviews. Dan has now tested and reviewed over 30 pairs of golf shoes and is an expert in the field. A left-handed golfer, his handicap index is currently 6.5 and he plays at Fulford Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands. 

Dan's current clubs: 

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 

Fairway: TaylorMade Stealth 2 15°

Hybrid: Ping G425 

Irons: Cobra King Tec Utility, Ping i230 (5-PW) 

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X

Ball: Titleist AVX