Review: Millican Maverick – Smith The Roll Pack 25L

REVIEW: Millican Maverick – Smith The Roll Pack 25L

What happens if you take a classic roll-top pack, re-create it with modern materials and equip it with tech-driven features?

Well, you get something really cool… and its name is the Millican Maverick. I tested the Smith The Roll Pack 25 model of Maverick range. Well, that’s a pretty looong name for a 25L day-pack(!) so let me roll it down to just Maverick for this review. Enjoy!

I – Construction & materials

Ever heard about the Bionic Canvas used by Millican on most of their packs? Me neither… but name aside it’s not a totally new concept of backpack fabric. It’s a composition of cotton (35%) and recycled polyester (65%) and on top of that it’s also wax impregnated. Sounds a bit like another variant of poly-cotton material, similar to one used by leading Scandinavian outdoor companies? I guess so… but that is a really good thing!

I’ve had long years of experience with fabrics of this kind and in my opinion this combination really shines in casual, outdoor and bushcraft use. It’s really tough, abrasion resistant and weather-proof.

My personal Maverick belongs to a limited series made with fully recycled material, so there might be a very slight change in texture vs the regular one. Still, I might be getting a Regular poly-cotton Bionic Canvas – no other fabric ages as nicely as waxed poly-cotton canvas does, so I expect an even cooler look in a long run with the regular Bionic.

Now, after 3 months and multiple forest day-hikes and bushcraft outings in fall and winter, and after a quick cleaning with mild soap and water, it still looks almost new. This Bionic waxed fabric is one of the best organic-inspired materials I’ve tried to date. Plus it’s got a very nice matte surface texture, which combined with wax also protects it from dirt build-up.

But tough stuff doesn’t end at the outer fabric. The nylon webbing used by Millican is darn strong as well, but it has been even more reinforced with genuine leather in strategic areas, where the most wear is expected.

All the buckles are made of aircraft aluminum alloy, so there’s no worry you could break one when you step on it or crush it with car doors. Yeah, plastic breaks, been there, done that – so going metal with hardware is a good thing and makes it literally HARDware.

The interior admin section is made of a densely woven nylon material, which looks tough and works fine. It’s also thinner than the outer so doesn’t add bulk where it is not needed. Millican also used the same bright green stuff with topo-motif for a series of packing cubes. I found the small and medium ones especially useful with my Maverick pack, but the big one can be stored in the pack as well.

Have you ever tried these kind of packing cubes or even simple stuff sacks? Well, it really works and makes life easier – so much that it’s hard to get back to standard gear stuffing again if you try it even once. 

As you can guess by the name it’s a roll-top pack. I’ve become a huge roll-top junkie in a last couple of years, and that is with a reason. Roll-tops are easy to open, stuff and close, they are fully scalable and quite waterproof by design – usually also lightweight.

For a pack of 35 litres or below a pure top-loading system is fine enough for me, plus there’s no need to over-complicate such a small pack with additional side zippers or other additional openings. Last but not least – there’s nothing that could be easily broken in a roll-top – no zippers, no fastex buckles, nothing – it is simple and it works like a charm.

II – Features

It’s a small pack, but with tons of features actually. Starting from the outside you’ll find a big front pocket, which is great for quick access stuff like a map, compass, buff, Swiss Army Knife, headlamp etc. And there’s also a flat slot behind that pocket – the perfect spot for outdoor gloves or a small hatchet (or both).

The side pockets are quite interesting on this pack. Millican made them with the same strong outer material as the pack itself but thanks to slick folded pattern they are still expandable enough to take a 800ml Klean Kanteen (easily) or a similar full-size water bottle.

I also found it quite smart and secure way to carry a fixed blade knife or folding Laplander saw in there – just put it between internal rubber band and outer material and hey, you’ve got your knife secured! And still the pocket is free for other items like gloves or a snack, which will be kind of separated from the knife/saw. I like that.

But… that’s not all yet! On one side there’s a hidden protective full-size laptop zipper slot (easily holds my 14″ Dell but there’s enough space for 15″ laptop or even bigger, depending on design). And on the other side a small secure pocket for a wallet and keys, and with a lashing point and carabiner inside of course.

So now let’s dive inside the pack and you’ll immediately spot a vibrant green admin panel, with dedicated slots for a tablet, mobile phone, cables, full size notebook, pens and more. Some have snap straps and zippers for security.

It’s a full set of admin-style pockets, mainly intended for office and/or campus items. But it can be useful for bushcrafting accessories too, like a knife sharpener, fire starter, multitool, first aid, set of maps and such. It’s not overbuilt but can take a good load of EDC gear.

And finally there is roughly 22-23 litres of regular storage space in the main compartment. A spacious sack for a day-hike worth of gear – just how I like it. It can easily swallow an extra insulating layer, rain jacket, daily food supply, camera, extra lens & accu, medical kit and some extra bushcrafting gear. Some in the cool green cubes mentioned before, of course.

III – Carry comfort and actual use

Real life testing took me a bit longer than usual this time, mostly due to COVID restrictions and local lockdowns here. But still in last 3 months I managed to use it on multiple day-hikes in different weather conditions. Nice and sunny fall days, but also in snowy winter conditions.

Carry comfort is really good, the back padding is thick and firm so it gives some sort of overall structure and the pack keeps its shape even if empty. The ventilation channel along the spine should work great in summer. The shoulder straps are generously padded too.

The sternum strap attachments are neatly hidden behind masking flaps, with some green fabric accents there too. Yeah, this sort of details really make a difference between the cheap packs you could find in a supermarket and a high quality product like this Millican.

There’s also a hip-belt but it’s actually just a simple webbing strap – still with a nice and sturdy metal buckle, of course. It acts more as a stabilising strap during intense activities, not really a load bearing one. It’s easily removable and guess what… I removed it from my pack. Honestly, who’d need a load bearing waist band on a 25 litre daypack?

However, it can come handy when using the Maverick as a biking pack (there’s even a dedicated lamp attachment point on the pack, a perfect feature for cycling). And last but not least the pack features a nylon hanger, plus a separate oversized (and a really good!) top carry handle, reinforced with leather grip.

As I said before, thanks to the waxed canvas, the Maverick offers serious weather resistance too. I carried it in moderate rain last autumn a couple of times and also in a heavy snowfall this winter. No problem at all, except some snow in the open-top side pockets of course. The fabric doesn’t soak through and its surface dries quickly.

I can’t hide the fact that I like stuff that not only performs but also looks good. The overall look of the Maverick is definitely attractive! I absolutely love packs with a slightly tapered bottom, which gives it perfect balance on my back and prevents the pack from being ‘butt heavy’. Actually the Maverick 25, with its trim and slim athletic look offers perfect weight distribution and really good balance.

The roll-top is the only pack variant, which by design compresses the content and makes it really stabilised inside. Just roll it down as needed and secure it with the metal G-hook – done. Yeah, this is really a good looking pack.

V – Conclusions and recommendation

It shouldn’t come to you as a surprise that I genuinely like this pack. Yes, I absolutely do! It reminds me of good old scouting days and the simple canvas roll-top day-pack I used to have years ago. Only now it’s a hi-tech one, with great design, materials and features. And with a super comfy carry system, which is often overlooked in small packs.

The canvas has roughly a third of cotton content so, if waxed properly from time to time, it should serve the owner well and age extremely nice. I can only imagine the vintage subdued look of my Maverick in 5-6 years from now… can’t wait for it! 

So if you’re in a market for a new general daypack, versatile everyday casual pack (suitable also for outdoor and bushcraft) or just a cool pack for commuting and office carry (or all of the above?) and if you also like the slim, balanced look of a roll-top – the Millican Maverick might be a great solution for you.

Sure, I’d not use it for any serious mountaineering, where technical features are really a must for me (ice-axe compatibility, crampons attachment point, ultralight fabrics etc.). Also for rafting or kayaking I’d opt for a real watertight pack. But for a general outdoor use, and especially all kinds of forest and bushcrafting adventures, it’s certainly a nice and solid choice.

And finally… what about the price tag? Well, at 180 EUR it’s not a budget pack for sure. But it’s also of a very high manufacturing quality and made with nothing but premium materials, so you will enjoy it day by day for many, many years. So if you can afford – I’d absolutely recommend it. It’ll serve you well for many seasons.

By Piotr Ma

Senior Contributor & Edge Specialist, more posts.