Millican Core Zip 15L Backpack Review

Update: It looks like Millican have gone out of business and the website is no longer live. This is a big shame as the backpack was very good quality.

Check out my list of the best sustainable backpacks for other alternatives.

Looking to learn a little more about Millican Core Zip 15L backpack?

Good! This personal review should give you all the information you need.

Millican are a UK based backpack company based in the Lake District. They manufacture well-crafted backpacks, responsibly made from repurposed materials. 

I was on the lookout for a new small backpack to use on a day-to-day basis and to take on holiday. As luck would have it, I was in touch with Millican and they sent me out their new Core Zip 15L backpack to test. 

I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, including on a ski holiday, so let’s get straight into my Millican Core Zip review. 

Millican Core Zip Main Features

holding millican core zip backpack above snow
  • Capacity: 15L 
  • Dimensions: H 45cm x W 30cm x D 10cm
  • Materials: Recycled PET, aluminium buckle/zipper, nylon webbing
  • Finish: Water Repellent finish (PFC free, Bluesign approved, GRS certified), vegan friendly
  • Colours: Forest Green, Night Black, Sunset Orange
  • Country of origin: Vietnam
  • Compartments: Main, external pocket, mini stash pocket
  • Laptop compartment size: 13”
  • Good for: Work, commuting, hiking, everyday life, sports (skiing, biking)
  • Price: £70

Overall – How did I find the bag?

As soon as I opened the package, I was immediately impressed with the forest green colour of the Millican backpack. Being a nature person, I do love a big of green! I think the forest green colour is a great alternative if you’re looking for something slightly different from the usual black or dark colour.

The Core Zip 15L backpack is simple, elegant and well-made. I personally think it looks great. It’s not a complicated bag and has just a few compartments. For day to day use in my view, this is all you need. 

At first, I was a bit unsure about the snap closures on the external pocket rather than having a zip. If I fell over skiing would everything fall out? Luckily this didn’t really happen and nothing fell out. 

millican core zip backpack large external pocket snap closures
Large external pocket, snap closures and front loop

I even did a couple of tests by turning the bag upside down and all was good. If you do have anything particularly precious, this can go inside the main zipped compartment in the mini stash pocket. I was able to just about get my wallet inside this mini stash pocket.

Despite its small to medium size, everything about the Core Zip bag is sturdy and structured. It’s also very comfortable to wear and the foam padded shoulder straps are great. The only thing that seemed a little flimsy was the sternum strap. As I wasn’t loading the bag up heavy, it wasn’t a problem and did the job. 

This is a sustainable backpack made to last. It’s not a bag that will fall apart after a couple of trips. The quality of this backpack and the fact it will last for years also justifies the price. 

External features

Side profile with hanging loop of millican core zip back
Side profile with hanging loop
  • Good shoulder straps and a sternum strap to keep them together
  • Couple of hanging loops
  • Bike light clip

Internal features

millican core zip inside backpack features
A look down inside the backpack with laptop compartment
  • Large external pocket with snap button closure. Key loop inside
  • Mini secure stash pocket inside (seen above)
  • Padded laptop case – up to 13”

How big is the Core Zip backpack?

Millican’s core zip backpack has a 15 litre capacity. It’s made for everyday use and everyday adventure.

If you’re into the dimensions, they measure 45cm (height) x 30cm (width) x 10cm (depth).

There’s a large external pocket, which is a nice size with good depth. I can get plenty of random items in here that I need to hand. 

millican core zip inside backpack features
Inside the main compartment of backpack with stash pocket – refillable water bottles for context

The main compartment is surprisingly sizeable too. You can see from the image above with my two refillable water bottles in.

I think it helps that this backpack has a good structure, meaning it doesn’t flop over when it’s not completely full. Even when empty, the back is rigid and you get full visibility inside the bag. I like this. 

The laptop compartment is also nicely cushioned and big enough to fit a 13” laptop. 

Here’s what I got in my Core Zip backpack:

I took my Core Zip bag on a trip to the French Alps to take out with me during the day. Here’s what I managed to fit in it:

  • 2 reusable water bottles
  • Snacks – flapjacks, energy bars, banana, apple
  • 2 woolly hats
  • Gloves
  • Neck warmer
  • Underlayer
  • ¾ zip layer
  • Wallet
  • Phone
  • Sunscreen
  • A few other bits and bobs, lip balm etc

Not bad for a ‘small’ bag. 

What’s the bag made from?

ben on mountain skiing millican backpack

Getting into the sustainability aspect, what is the Core Zip backpack made from? 

Thankfully, the majority of this backpack is made from recycled plastic. Both the outer and inner lining are made from post-consumer plastic waste. Millican state that up to 20 x 500ml PET bottles are recycled in each bag.

Materials used:

  • Main Fabric – Durable Core Canvas, 100% recycled/recyclable PET made from post consumer waste, with Durable Water Repellent finish (PFC free, Bluesign® approved, GRS certified)
  • Lining: Durable lightweight weave, 100% recycled/recyclable PET made from post consumer waste, with Durable Water Repellent finish (PFC free, Bluesign® approved, GRS certified)
  • Buckles: Durable Aluminium
  • Zippers: Durable YKK
  • Webbing: Durable high-grade nylon webbing
aluminium buckles on millican core zip 15l bag
Aluminium buckles on Millican core zip 15l bag

How sustainable is the Core Zip 15L pack?

Let’s start off with the positives. 

Millican’s Core Zip backpack is predominantly made with recycled PET. This is the type of plastic that your standard plastic bottles are made from. 

Using a post consumer waste material certainly lessens the impact on the environment compared to using virgin polyester. This is a good start. 

Other materials used on the bag include nylon webbing (read up on how sustainable nylon is here) and aluminium to make the buckles and zippers. All hardware, with the exception of the sternum strap buckle, are made from aluminium which is a better choice than plastic. You can read up on how sustainable aluminium is here.

Millican bags are built to last. In the unlikely event that a backpack fails during normal use, they offer a care and repair service to get it fixed up or replaced. This is great.  

Millican products are certified by a couple of good sustainable initiatives in the fashion industry. Let’s take a look at them.

millican core zip backpack review next to helmet skiing

What is Bluesign approved?

The Core Zip backpack main material and water repellent finish is Bluesign Approved. But what does this mean?

Bluesign is a certification system to ensure the production of sustainable textiles and clothing. Provided by a third party, the Bluesign system is a comprehensive approach that assesses the environmental impact of materials, processes and products throughout the supply chain.

The aim of Bluesign is to reduce the environmental footprint of the textile industry by eliminating harmful substances, reducing water consumption, as well as energy.

What is GRS certified?

Millican’s Core Zip bag is also GRS certified. What does this mean? 

GRS is a certification to help support sustainable practices in the fashion industry. GRS stands for Global Recycled Standard and is specifically for products made from recycled materials. 

The GRS certification ensures that a textile product meets certain environmental and social criteria. GRS certification requires a product to be made from a minimum of 20% recycled materials, as well as restricting the use of certain hazardous chemicals.

There’s a social aspect too and companies are required to disclose information on their supply chain and social responsibility.

Where is the Core Zip bag made?

Always a big question for me when it comes to sustainability is where and how the backpack is made. 

The Millican Core Zip bag is made in Vietnam. 

As part of the GRS certification, Millican have to meet certain socially responsible conditions within their supply chain. I’ve asked Millican for further clarification on how the backpacks are made and in what type of working conditions.

Would I recommend the Millican Core Zip 15L backpack?

Yes, I’d absolutely recommend the Core Zip 15L backpack.

After using it for a few weeks, it’s already served me very well. I’ll keep this blog post updated at regular intervals on how the backpack is holding up.

If you’re interested in the Core Zip 15L backpack, use the Millican discount code ECOHL15 for 15% off.

Head over to Millican website here.

Disclaimer: Please note, this Millican review does contain affiliate links. If you do go on to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This has been an honest and genuine review from my personal use of the bag.

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Ben & Murphy Peaks Mam Tor

I’m the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about living a more sustainable, environmentally friendly life. Away from the laptop, I love spending time in nature and with my young family (plus Murphy the dog!). I write and send out the Eco Life Newsletter.