My new backpack! 25L Smith the Roll Pack by Millican
I've been looking for a backpack that's on the bigger side of the day pack range (which are usually 15-20 litres) to fit more winter hiking layers than my 18L Osprey Talon, that I can cycle to work in and will fit my daily haul of lunch, book of varying size and weight up to 800p hardbacks (I like big books and I can not lie), yoga outfit, umbrella (England), makeup bag AND notebook planner, as well as potential dinner bits I pick up along the way. After some online browsing and consulting not one but the entirety of my colleagues on the subject I splurged on a £125 Millican Smith the Roll Pack. Certainly big enough to fit all my stuff, but also with a nice amount of organisational features (man knows no fury like me rummaging armpit-deep through the depth a backpack looking for my phone/lip balm/keys) the Smith didn't let me down and surprised me with a couple of awesome bonus features! Let's get to know this beautiful beast of a bag.
Though a little on the deep and narrow side, the bag's main compartment is a roll top feature, which means it shrinks or extends to however big you need it to be. It's roomy enough for ALL of my stuff, and especially if organised a little from top to bottom when packing (I usually put book and lunch at bottom, yoga clothes on top) distributes the weight well. It uses an aluminium hook and leather loop to open and close once you've rolled the bag up. The hook mechanism isn't fiddly and hasn't come undone, and thanks to the other compartments I don't use this section for items I need on the go, so don't have to open and close it all the time. This is important because it's not possible to access the roll top while you're wearing the pack.
I've also used the hook and tie section to hang other items from: my yoga rug (like a mat but made out of cotton) fits like a dream and I tie my scarf here when I don't want to wear it during a hike.
The front section is neatly organised with pen holders, a zipper section big enough to fit a wallet, and smaller slide-in compartments for all thy bumf. It's big enough for the essentials and I keep smaller bits like headphones and (surprise) lip balm in there too. It opens with another metal hook which is a touch fiddlier to open and close, especially when you're holding something in one hand (such as the phone you just opened the bag to get out). However, this is probably a good thing to keep your stuff safe! I can access this section with the bag on one shoulder so on-the-go things are kept here.
Hidden back compartments!
Oooooh! Yep there's a hidden laptop section at the back you can access through a side zipper, and a smaller second back section accessible from the other side for your important items (think passport, keys) if you want to keep it more safe than in the front. Nifty! I haven't used either of these yet but when I finally have a laptop that weighs less than a midsize terrier I'll surely give it a go.
If you're a side pocket fan like me the side pockets are the crowning glory of this backpack. I can easily fit my 800ml Kleen Kanteen bottle on one side AND a thermos on the other, they don't budge or risk falling out and they look mighty fine too. I really love these pockets!
Another unexpected bonus of this bag is that you can fit hiking poles (or a camera tripod) on the side with a loop and extendable side strap. I didn't expect this when I bought the bag and was so chuffed to find it! However, the Smith isn't quite as technical as sportier hiking backpacks, so it doesn't get full points on the hip and sternum straps from me... for two reasons. The removable hip straps are a good fit and serve their purpose of taking weight of your shoulders well, but I find them not very easy to clip on and off, which is definitely tricky on the trail when you're adjusting your layers/hydration level/snackage and thrice hourly. The hip belts also don't have pockets on them, which I've really come to love on other bags for storing snacks. The sternum strap also does a good job of making the bag a very comfortable fit, but is tricky to take on and off as you hook the metal clasp into a hidden loop on the opposite shoulder strap. So basically once you're strapped in this bad boy your best bet is to stay that way for a while, without trying to get anything out of the bag. I resorted to asking my friends to get out my water bottle for me which I couldn't reach with the hip and sternum straps fastened... but I was super comfortable wearing the pack (and actually quite enjoyed annoying my friends).
I went for the colour Rust and am pleased as punch with it! I love the reddish colour and it even looks a little pink in some light (*cough* Instagram filters *cough*) and makes me feel rather LADYLIKE while panting at a red light on the bike lane. Fancy! The fabric is also super hardy: on my first day out with this pack we got soaked for three hours and all my things stayed dry inside the bag. What a winner.
The Smith is a big bag that's probably made with a man's back in mind, and doesn't come in a woman's fit or any other sizes. So although it covers my whole back in length and I have to keep the shoulder straps fairly short, it's a really comfortable bag to wear, both for hiking and everyday life/commuting. The straps softened very quickly to be supple and don't pinch my neck. So I'd say this bag is a good fit for medium-backed (is this a thing?) women too.
I LOVE THIS BAG! The 25L Smith the Roll Pack has totally met my expectations for a large daypack that looks great in town, and is functional enough to take on day hikes. It's pretty pricey at £125 but really great quality, and I'm sure I'll be using this pack for years to come. It's also marketed as a travel bag and I can certainly vouch for its perfect carry-on credentials, as well as a weekend/overnighter bag. I also love the look: I saw two around London before I got mine and both times really loved the robust and natural look of them. It's also not a bag that's eeeeverywhere (yet), meaning you can legit fist-bump other wearers in public.* So if you're looking for an all-rounder backpack with plenty of storage that's gorgeous to boot, SEEK NO FURTHER!
If you have any questions or if YOU have this bag I'd love to hear from you! Please hit me up in the comments below! And if you like this post you can subscribe below to get more Fresh Air Pink Cheeks posts directly to your inbox. Thanks for the love! <3
*author does not condone and takes no responsibility for public fist-bumping but WILL NOT LEAVE ANYONE HANGING.