Road Test – Millican’s Keith the Writer’s bag
Millican are based in the Lake District and have these areas to explore at their back doors. Can you take and add some of these feelings to a product? Will an added accessory give the feeling of taking the country everywhere with you? Or, will a country bag just not cut it in the city?
The Millican bag brand is named after Millican Dalton, a self sufficient English survivalist from the early 20th century. So hip, he was into sustainability before there was a movement. Something about the english countryside conjures up images of misty landscapes being explored by chaps and ladies. Neatly attired with canvas bags slung over the shoulder. Durable and classic. That country lifestyle is pretty far away from where most of us live, but it sure is nice to aspire to.
I took the bag over my shoulder, and after a couple of weeks of solid use, I can help answer those questions.
Keith the writers bag is aptly named after Keith, a writer. Its a messenger bag. Relaxed soft construction. A really soft organic canvas body, leather trims, organic cotton lining, cotton webbing and solid, unbranded, antique brass finish hardware.
The first thing you notice is that the bag is soft. The canvas and cotton lining are great to the touch and the leather trims are solid. The branding is a debossed leather patch and the underside of the flap is embroidered with a line and mountain pattern. The canvas is roll coated on the back, providing a weatherproofing and water resistance. I did not get a chance to check this, surprisingly good English weather! Rare, at best!
As I said, the first thing that you notice is how soft this bag is, the padding is minimal and the structure naturally bends and forms.
Feature wise, on the outside there is a grab handle, a large button slip pocket and a small zip pocket for precious but quick access items. Inside there is a 15” laptop slip and a dividing wall with a basic 2 pocket 3 pen organiser. The build quality is good nice solid stitching and a clean, thought out, construction.
So how did it fair in the urban jungle? Well I used the pack for everything. Shopping, picnics, day bag and work bag. The paradox with the bag is that its best feature is also, potentially, its biggest issue.
As it is so soft and light its great for forcing in odd shaped items, the bag will just bend and flex to the shape of whatever you put in it, so you can overload this bag a treat! This soft construction was also giving me some pause for concern as it is intended as a laptop bag. I am used to carrying my mac around with some serious padding, that piece of hardware is my income! So first putting it into Keith felt a little risky. The good thing is though, that they have done a simple tweak, raising the bottom of the laptop sleeve a couple of cm from the base of the bag. So most of the time the laptop is suspended above the medium padded base of the bag. My laptop never felt in danger or exposed when taking it around London.
The organiser wall is probably my biggest gripe with the bag. It is not fixed to the base of the bag. If I throw something into the front section it can hitch a ride into the main section! So you end up searching around through the bag as things may not be where you dropped them. This also applies for messy items, its hard to find an area to keep them separate.
Also of note is that the back button closing slip pocket is not big enough to button closed with an A4 notebook. The button is a frustrating 5mm from closing with an A4 document in there.
The rest of the bag is great though, and its easy to overlook these minor annoyances. The soft nature allows you to fit more in this bag than it looks from the outside. Its comfortable, the materials feel great and the relaxed structure is easy to enjoy.
It is not, however, a presentation or meeting bag. Its got the look and feel of a pack that you take around for weekends, or to the cafe, but not so much for your big deal. Maybe it is best suited for the novelist in us all!
Keith the writers bag is £110 from Millican, check out their website, it has a great amount of detail about who they are and an excellent story on how they got to be where they are now and what drives and inspires them.