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Millican 'Rob' - The Perfect Sigma DP Camera Bag ?

'Rob the Traveller' isn't as worrying as it sounds.  Rob in this case is a person! 

In fact, it seems that all of the extensive Millican range are named after people in the area of the North West of England (Cumbria) where they are based: Quirky but I think it's quite a refreshing change from more conventional product names and numbers?    

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I stumbled across Millican earlier this week when I was searching for a gift for a friend.  The website is really nice to use, lot's of background info, videos, product shots etc - so I'm not going to spend much time talking about Millican as a company.  Instead, I'd encourage you to take a look yourself - Millican Website 

Competition

Bags.  It's a hotly contested marketplace.  There are lots of very good camera bag makers, (Tenba!)  excellent 'street' bags:  Luggage makers have filled every niche... or have they?     Millican have built an offer that is a unique combination of materials, practical design, aesthetics, knowledge and sustainability that make them well worth considering.  They seem to have taken the best of Billingham>> but moved it forward: Less staid; more practical; less padding; more usable space; nicer materials and more useable design.  Think upmarket slightly padded 'Troop'>>.  Another name that might be familiar to Leica owners is Fogg.   The Fogg Lyre is in the mould of Billingham and is really well made but it's quite expensive at £330 from Robert White.   Fogg>> 

Millican hits a note of quality: perhaps 'accessible exclusivity' best sums it up. The prices are higher than Troop - certainly the products are not 'commodity' price driven,  but neither are they priced as out and out luxury items. The price will make you stop and think before buying - but if you do buy - you're getting what you've paid for. 

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Size

'Rob the traveller' is one of the smallest bags in the Millican range - it's roughly iPad sized - to give you a sense of scale.  It will swallow a full sized iPad it stands taller than it is wide - 'portrait' format. 

21cm x 28cm x 9cm, Capacity: 7 LTR  Weight: 550g  
(Readers may like to use Wolfram Alpha to get the conversions into units they prefer )

Practicality

  • large, secure lid covering main compartment
  • front pocket with internal organiser
  • heavy duty adjustable shoulder strap
  • back pocket with central closure
  • 1 internal elasticated side pocket (For Andy**... more later)
  • 1 internal zipped pocket
  • 1 internal sleeve for iPad, notebook (up to 25cm) or papers
  • main compartment for travel guide, drinks bottle, etc
  • foam padding front, sides and bottom
  • millican stripe brushed organic cotton lining

There is a 'grab' handle finished in a really high quality leather that means the bag can easily be picked up without having to grapple with the long shoulder strap - a small thing and another 'marginal gain' that contributes to the overall impression of quality and thoroughness.

The shoulder strap is connected to the main body via two brass lugs on the back of the bag.  This means that the bag sits comfortably and is very stable in use.  I've had similar types of bag with side connections and they have never been as stable as my 'Rob'  I would prefer a strap a little longer - by maybe 5cm or so.  Over a big winter coat the strap is at max length and I'd prefer a bit more length - and to wear it a bit lower. A minor point and not really a problem.

Capacity wise, The two Sigma DP's almost vanish into the bottom leaving loads of room for batteries, filters, phone, passport, wallet, drinks bottle and and and.... It's the first bag of this type that is actually big enough to be worthwhile, but manages to be compact enough to be really useable.

Rob fits perfectly under the drivers seat in my car.  This means its out of sight, and its easily to hand if I need it - without having to get out of the car.  

Camera Protection

The protection offered by the Rob I think is sensibly proportional to the risk and not overdone:   often with 'camera bags' the makers offer protection from every risk, meaning that actual usable space is often compromised and every day comfort is reduced.  'Rob' on the other hand offers modest padding that is perfectly adequate for most risks, in normal use.  On expedition, one might choose more protection from the weather etc, but on the bus into town or a walk in the country... one could argue it's perfectly judged!

For routine storage of my DP's, I use the 'Healthy Bag Baglett' as very cheap micro camera case to provide personal protection*... Well worth a look if you dont have one already - £13.50 well spent!  So with each camera is already in its own little world,  they simply drop into the Rob - already safe from minor accidental knocks and scratches.   

The use of the baglett is unnecassry if you are careful about how you pack items that might scratch your camera and if you only have one camera.  I generally carry both DP's and my Fuji X-100 so it's sensible for me to keep them in individual pouches first.

There are a number of pockets and compartments to keep stuff in place, and keep items organised and apart.... so for normal single camera users, it's great.   One other thing that I would REALLY like to see is an internal pouch for reading glasses.... I've started having to carry a pair.... but that said,  many people have sunglasses and so it might be a welcome addition for everyone?

Materials

The outer organic cotton canvas is weatherproof, which means that it can withstand some exposure to rain showers. If you’re unfortunate enough to get caught in a proper downpour and the canvas becomes very wet, empty your bag and leave to dry naturally away from direct heat.

The Vegetable tanned leather is thick and has a lovely feel of real quality.

Style

I'm sure it wont be long before the stylish Millican approach is familiar at airports, on high streets and in the countryside - but for the time being - it's an unfamilar look and I think it's a really stylish solution to the problem of lightweight travel storage for the photographer using a large compact camera.

Sustainability

Sustainability is extremely important to the core brand values of Millican - Organic materials and minimum impact are strived for:  If this is important to you - the brand rewards! Again for more details about how they go about this - have a read of their site.

Price

In the UK, My 'Rob the Traveller' cost me a reasonable £75 with delivery options ranging upwards from £4.95 depending on just how impatient you are to get your hands on one. I opted for the £4.95 option and it arrived the within 48 hours of placing my order. The Millican Store is here

Final Thoughts....

I have been looking for a practical camera bag for years!   I've tried all sorts of solutions and found them wanting for something or other.... The Millican range and specifically the Rob have solved the problem for me:  Effortless style, intelligent design.   Quality and attention to detail is very good,  materials are nice and durable, and I think it will age as gracefully as my Billinghams (probably better as the fabric is less likely to go stiff like the Billinghams)  - I think this is a really good addition to any photographers hand luggage... If Understated is your thing!

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It's probably apparent that I'm a fan! I ordered a camera pouch (Ian) to see if it would compliment the HBB Baglett, inside the Rob.  

The design of the Ian is lovely, slightly padded with natural wool, and with the same lovely leather fastening and Organic Cotton of the 'Rob the traveller',   and for compact camera they offer great protection.  Unfortunately they are too small for the Sigma DP1/2/3 or Fuji X-100: not even close to being big enough for the larger dimensions of the DP's.  Shame.  Maybe there will be larger versions in the future.  I'll add more details here if that happens.  

*(NB If you use the Healthy Back Baglett I'd strongly advise you to remove the internal metal clip for keys from the inside of the baglett.  It's only on some elastic so a snip with scissors and it's removed!)

** Andy is a stainless steel water bottle which fits perfectly in the elasticated side pocket.... A perfect fit for a very clever combination!