We put this sustainable camera sac to the test – and find our new favourite lens companion.
WORDS & PICTURES BY CHRIS ROWLANDS
Finding the perfect travel camera bag is no simple task. Satchel or rucksack? Compact or carry-all? Durable or lightweight?
Despite years of hefting photographic kit around the globe, I’m still yet to settle on a single, do-it-all item that fits all of my gear, looks good and, more importantly, is sustainably made.
Millican, though, seems to have done the triple. A compact collective of adventure-lovers based in the Lake District, Millican’s mission is to create simple, stylish and truly sturdy bags for travellers – not tourists. Better yet, it’s all done with a conscience, using natural and recycled ingredients to create products that really last (without wasting an inch of material).
I’ve long admired the company’s roll-top Smith rucksack, among many of its beautifully presented bags; it was the modular convenience, perfect proportions and lifelong build quality of the company’s camera insert, though, that truly caught my attention when browsing for a novel travel solution for my Nikon DSLR.
As the name suggests, this is slightly different to your average backpack or over-the-shoulder sling bag. Millican’s photography solution does double duty as both a waist bag and, once you’ve hidden the hip belt straps, an insert for your backpack.
This is perfect for me as, rather than hauling a separate satchel for all of my camera gear, I generally prefer to stick my DSLR and associated paraphenalia in my daypack. Putting them instead into the Millican sac worked a treat: I could slot that into my rucksack as a whole, ready to be easily pulled out for shooting (or the airport scanners).
Unwrapping the Millican camera bag, the first thing that struck me was the quality. This is no nylon-coated carrier built on the cheap. Constructed from bionic canvas – 57% of which is recycled polyester – this feels like a properly adventure-ready camera companion.
In fact, despite its subtle looks and low-key styling (making it one of the few camera-carriers that doesn’t shout ‘steal me!’), everything from the zips to the polyester lining to the aluminium buckles feel made for the road.
Padded exterior walls give a real sense of security without being bulky, with the reinforced top flap offering added piece of mind when the Millican is bundled at the bottom of a backpack.
It’s also a really handy shape. Where many a camera bag goes for a shaped shell or external pockets – making it a pain to pack into a suitcase – Millican’s camera insert has smooth lines that make it essentially a rectangle (albeit a pretty, gently curved one), ideal for wedging beside your washbag.
That doesn’t, though, mean it sacrifices internal space. Three velcro-fastening dividers help to organise the 5L capacity, with a fourth serving as top padding, adding extra protection from above.
With dividers shaped to fit the bag’s curves, and two of the three hinged for easy arrangement, with a bit of trial and error I found it possible to squeeze my relatively bulky Nikon D7100 in with its 10-24mm lens attached, as well a 50mm and 55-300mm zoom lens. Yes, it was a bit of a squeeze, but it wasn’t uncomfortably tight.
There’s plenty of pocket space, too, for storing spare batteries, memory cards and the like – with one large and one small zip-close compartment in the lid.
Atop the lid there’s a handy open slot, which I found perfect for wedging my lens cap into for easy access when shooting in the street.
Speaking of which, using the Millican bag as a waist belt it felt far more secure than I assumed it would. Adjusted to fit my waist, it sat comfortably on my hip, with the top-opening design making for easy access to all of my gear, whilst also feeling protected – especially with the watertight zip lid closed.
Whilst I’d still opt for keeping it in my backpack by default, that’s more down to personal preference than any fault with the Millican – and I can see its hip option working perfectly for photographers in the field who need to make quick lens changes.
And, whilst not in the design spec, it even works quite nicely as a shoulder sling. With the straps tight across my chest (the aluminium buckles firmly fastened), I found it to sit quite well against my back, the padding preventing any lumps or pointy bits from digging in.
In all, then, this practical pack is perhaps as close to perfect as a camera bag can be. Sustainably made, wonderfully crafted and usefully modular, it really feels like a travel sac that can go as far as you.
Besides being a superb shape for packing into your backpack and ideally weighted for carrying on the hip, it’s also blessed with several handy features for photographers – from the internal pockets to the in-built lens cloth.
Best of all? Buying one means supporting the endeavour of a small British firm that loves adventure – and cares about the planet.
Product highlights –
- Fantastic, durable build quality
- Versatile portability
- Plenty of padding for your photographic kit
- Neat pockets and features