Millican Fraser 25L rucksack review
What Home of Millican say:
Fraser the Rucksack (25L) is hard to beat. Inspired by alpine explorers, we combined rugged reliability with modern functionality to create a durable bag for all seasons. The built-in laptop sleeve, storage compartments and reflective strip make this perfect for either commuting or the life on the trail.
To make our rucksacks as tough as possible, we use a highly weatherproof Bionic® Canvas. This is 57% recycled and 30% stronger than regular canvas. Then we add the details that make this bag unique – like the secure drawstring closure, easy access pockets and lightweight aluminium buckles.
Secure top-lid design with drawstring closure
Generous external storage pockets for maps, water bottles and essentials
Easy-access external laptop sleeve (up to 15”) hidden in the back panel
Internal sleeve for hydration pack and zip pocket for keys and valuables
Reflective ‘fold-away’ strip and clip-on light attachment on the front panel
Adjustable, padded shoulder straps with removable waist and sternum straps
Made in Vietnam
H 52cm x W 28cm x D 18cm
Out for Review
I’ve owned the Millican Fraser 25L for over a year now and still it remains my go-to rucksack for everyday use, whether it be for work, day trips or as my photographic rucksack in the outdoors. I have used the rucksack for pretty much every situation in the past year and it has endured a lot and I’ve not been kind to it. Dealing with everyday life to and from the office carrying a laptop or camera kit to and from clients or locations and events or taking it out in to the mountains in any weather, seeing the Beast from the East, heavy rain in North Wales or the sunshine in Devon. Mountains, woodlands, beaches, weekend trips away and abroad, in rain, snow, sunshine, mud, water and even dog poo… Yes, that’s correct dog poo! (I wasn’t impressed but quickly learnt how easy it was to clean the rucksack after that day).
The bag just keeps on giving, I often change my bag over, but this is the one that I just keep going back to and have fallen in love with.
Many who enjoy the outdoors often look for that iconic rucksack: Fjallraven, Millican and so on, the rucksack is an obvious tool for the outdoors and why shouldn't we want a little style and substance with our walking. Let’s get it out the way now. Millican aren’t cheap and they certainly aren’t the lightest either, the Fraser 25L along costs. £130 brand new and weighs a little over a kilogram and if you are looking for the bigger Fraser at 32L or even the Marsden photographic rucksack either can set you back between £145-£190 so they are expensive but if you look you can often find little deals which pop up.
I picked my Fraser 25L in my local Cotswold Outdoor store for £60 brand new! I have not seen any second hand Millican rucksacks online so people often by and keep for a long time, can’t be blamed when a small rucksack costs over £100.
As I mentioned weight is on the heavier side of day packs, with the Fraser 25L weighing in over 1kg many who are looking to reduce weight might be put off. I have 40-70L rucksacks which weigh only 300 grams more than this but practically these larger rucksacks only have a few uses and I wouldn’t want them for everyday purposes. Putting cost and weight aside the bag only has positives here in out and if you don’t care so much about the weight and value a robust and well-designed rucksack as this, the cost won’t put much of a downer on it either.
On first appearance the Fraser 25L seems a simple rucksack with the classic look of the outdoors and you won’t be wrong in this but why over complicate things? The Fraser has one large opening with access at the top which can be closed with a draw string and one year on the draw string is still as good as it was brand new. The rope, cord and opening has suffered no issues or damage even after extensive use.
The rucksack is made up of Bionic canvas which is nearly 60% recycled and is mentioning to be 30% stronger than standard canvas, firstly from a recycling point of view is great a brand is doing their bit to reduce waste. When it comes to canvas being stronger, I have again never had an issue with the rucksack in any weather condition or location to date. I don’t use a rain cover with the rucksack as it’s weatherproofed which one year on, I have only just reproofed just to ensure all is sound but using the rucksack in 2018s Beast from the East winter storm that hit the Fraser had no issues with a bit of freezing, snow and blizzard conditions.
Outside of freak weather to the typical norm of UK weather, the Fraser has no issues in the damp either, whether it is in light rain or heavy downpours for long periods of time. In my recent SnowdoniaTogFest2018 I kept this rucksack in the boot of the car as an emergency in case the bag I was using during a review failed and the content inside began getting wet. Thankfully it didn’t but I did take the Fraser out regardless on two of the days in the week and whether in the valley or up on the mountain side in the heavy rain my expensive camera kit inside remained dry and safe.
So, anyone concerned about the canvas exterior or draw cord opening at the top being a weak point, you’ll be very wrong.
In the hotter conditions of Summer, the bag still remains useable. The rear of the pack has several padded segments to push the bag away from your back in order to allow airflow and prevent moisture build up. It works and does help reduce moisture build up but it’s not the greatest system. It doesn’t compete against the Lowe Alpine AirZone Pro or Osprey rucksacks, but these are a different rucksack entirely.
The Fraser as mentioned does work and this smaller padded segment system means the rucksack remains flat and reduces pack size making it useful as carry-on luggage or storing away. Unlike these larger frame systems where the pack has extensive room on the rear which having owned, used and reviewed the Lowe Alpine AirZone Pro, the storage of this pack made it, not difficult but more space was required. Whereas my Fraser is currently stored flat in a wardrobe during a review I am currently running over 2018 festive period.
In terms of additional features, the Fraser is a minimalist rucksack at the core. When it comes to everyday use the laptop sleeve on the rear is incredibly helpful, with the 25L version capable of holding a 15” laptop either in the rear zipper section for quick and easy access or in the main holdall of the pack where you can store a hydration bladder. The rear zipper section made for laptops is a snug fit and if you keep the hip belts on you will need to angle the laptop in at a particular way in order to get it to fit. As the hip belts are very easy to remove, I often leave these off for everyday use to make the laptop section easier to use.
In addition to the large laptop section on the rear, on the opposite side is a smaller pocket with a keyring clip and two small pockets, one of which is fleece lined which can fit a average sized smart phone. I often leave headphones, keys, wallet, pens and a small notebook in here. Again, for access, even with the pocket full I have found it doesn’t push in to my back and cause discomfort.
Finally, on the exterior of the bag is two pockets on either side of the rucksack, both of which are expandable. Comfortably fitting a water bottle, gloves, rolled up lightweight jackets/waterproof and for photographers a small travel tripod, which I often do when using this rucksack.
It’s not just the expandable pockets on the side, these have a smaller slot on the inside of each which are great for fitting notebooks or maps. However, as these slots are protected by a cover, you’d better pack a waterproof map in here.
The Fraser 25L can fit a great deal inside, you won’t be off in the mountains using it to carry your camping kit but why would you expect such a bag to do so. It’s not designed for this, 25L is plenty for a day’s hiking or weekend trip. For a day trip or days hike you could fit a small stove, gas, food, fleece and waterproofs inside and still have room for a camera if needed. With the hydration bladder tucked away or holding water bottles and thermos flask in the exterior side pockets. A weekend’s trip away, I could comfortable fit my clothes needed for the weekend, laptop, camera and carry a jacket or larger jacket and boots in the car. It helped keep things simple and tidy.
From a photographer’s perspective, I would often leave a camera insert in the bottom of the rucksack which a top opening and layer a fleece or other belongings on top. It’s not ideal for many understandably who may be carrying larger systems, more lens and other all like faster access but using a small system like Micro 4/3 or even just the DSLR with a couple of lenses as I had used for many years. The insert system with this rucksack was a great combination for someone who enjoys the outdoors. It meant my expensive camera system was safe and secure inside my rucksack, not drawing attention to the belongings as it didn’t look like a camera bag, furthermore the Bionic canvas Millican use provides the waterproof and solid, robust protection needed when in the outdoors.
Those who are interested the camera inserts I used were Millican’s own camera insert, as seen above or Vanguard Photo’s Bag in Bag 22 or 27 inserts.
Finally, the harness system. The shoulder straps are thick and provide plenty of comfort with the padding, across the shoulder straps are several webbing points to hold a hydration bladder tube or carabineers which were helpful for hanging water bottles or even a small camera off. I haven’t tried the Peak Design clip with the bag but believe it should fit.
The straps can be adjusted with the two metal cinch points lower down and the webbing can be tucked away with elastic loops. The bag does naturally sit lower on the back but due to the size of 25L I found it difficult to overload the bag, even with a camera system, tripod and laptop inside for work with events and video I didn’t find the weight of the rucksack a burden on my back. It remained comfortable and this is also due to the padding found on the back, mentioned previously to help moisture and sweat.
The bag does have a hip belt and sternum strap. Both of which can be removed very easily with the webbing simply fed through a metal grasp. This is helpful and a nice touch as it’s been designed for everyday use in a variety of situations you can be using this bag for everyday work life, commuting about cities and jumping on airlines where you won’t require the hip belt but then easily attach and take the bag up a mountain and in to the great outdoors with comfort and ease. The belt doesn’t provide any padded protection however, it is just a belt but in hot weather or light clothing haven’t found it to rub or cut in to me.
The larger Fraser 32L does have padded hip belts which also have pockets however, the hip belt on this bag can’t be removed unlike the 25L.
A year later and still using the same rucksack for everyday life and the outdoors. I think this says a lot in itself, as someone who is often chopping and changing my set up and constantly getting new kit in to review and trial I am forever with a different item when out so for this bag to continue to be used and shine above all speaks volumes.
It may be expensive and might not be the lightest of bags but when you consider the years of enjoyment, hard wearing in a variety of conditions you’ll likely take the rucksack through, it’s worth every penny in my opinion. Using a rucksack for everyday life with work, client meetings, event photography and travel too weekend trips away with my partner or hiking up a mountain and enjoying some outdoor photography no matter the weather. This bag is as comfortable sat in an office environment as it is sat on a mountain summit. You have to look at this rucksack as an investment. An investment in to your outdoor adventures as you have no limits with a robust and secure set up as this.
Many will have seen me with my Millican rucksack now over the past year, it’s not the continued use that has helped my bag become recognised but my collection of pins and badges I’ve added to make it a little more unique which has made my bag an iconic feature and every time someone see’s it they comment how cool it looks with the patches. It’s featured on Millican’s social media several times and will continue to be used extensively until it falls apart, which I hope it never does!
My collection of patches are made up from: Of Alp & Ash, Tap & Dye, Ashco Studio, Hord and finally The Grey Earl. Many of the badges are limited edition and can no longer be purchased. Several music badges feature from Foo Fighters, Alter Bridge and Slash or from YouTubers. If you hadn’t thought already, I collect badges as a bit of a hobby.
Transparency Notice: Please note that I (Matthew Holland) receive free products for review from brands and manufacturers, but I only accept products for review on condition of total independence and no guarantee of endorsement.
In this review of the Millican Fraser 25L I have no been gifted or affiliated with Home of Millican. This bag was purchased by myself in 2017. I have not been asked to write or review this product by Home of Millican. This is an independent review carried out by Matthew Holland.