Millet Backpacks

11:06 p.m. on February 20, 2012 (EST)
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I just snagged a Millet Odyssee 60+10 backpack from SAC last week. Finally came today. Oddly, I bought it not knowing very much about it at all. For me this is really strange as I typically research and agonize my decisions for a year & a day before pulling the trigger.

Part of the reason I bit the hook on this one is that in many ways, the pack seems to be, almost, identical to the Deuter Air Contact I've been looking at for over a year. Most of the features are sufficiently one and the same that I thought it must be a Deuter clone or knock off. It had a lot of the details that I liked from Deuter and looked well made. A quick google search showed me that this brand I've never heard of was started in France in the 1920's and I figured with SAC I could send it back if I didn't like it. At $89.99 it was hard to pass up.

After the order was placed, more information was hard to come by. I still have no idea if this pack is actually made in France (doubt it) or if it's like Deuter, old world German company now manufactured exclusively in Vietnam. The similarity between it and Deuter would leave me unsurprised to find it's made in the same Vietnamese factory ad the Deuter. One of the few reviews I could find for Millet at all, not the Odyssee, was from a website that seems to carry only top end gear and none of the cheap stuff, so that was encouraging.

Well it came today and my first impression is... I'm impressed. The quality of the materials and workmanship, the design, engineering & details, all seem far better than average. I've never had zippers on anything work this well. One finger, don't have to hold anything with the other hand and the pulls are nice. I of course immediately packed it up with everything I could find, my god it swallows alot, and tried it on. Very comfortable, doesn't restrict my movements at all. I think I'm going to like this pack.

There are some oddities. There are no pockets to hold water bottles on the sides like, well pretty much every other pack out there. It is bladder compatible, but I've never been a big bladder fan. Not a big deal, I'll adapt. It is set up for holding ski's and I guess you can't have the ski loops and water bottle holders. Also, on the hip belt, the right side has a pocket, the left side has a gear loop of some kind, just like you would have on a climbing harness to hang a string of biners or cams off of. Don't know what it's "intended" uses is.?. Also, on the shoulder straps, there are two five or so inch loops of webbing hanging down, one on each side. Just to the side of the sternum. Never seen this on any pack before and have no idea what they are for.

So, anyone know anything about these packs, have any experience with them?


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3:36 p.m. on February 21, 2012 (EST)
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I'm not familiar with this particular model, however, I have five or six Sacs Millet packs. In the early 80's when they weren't imported into the US anymore, I brought a bunch in and sold them to folks who knew and appreciated them, mostly climbers. While they started with packs, they branched out and now market everything from boots to outer wear.

Their older stuff was really bombproof and very simple. Oddly, when I was doing a piece last year on Gossamer Gear, Glen mentioned putting a foam pad in a slot next to the back. I thought, "That's not new, my Millets had that 40 years ago."

Anyway, their newer packs, seem to me to be very well thought out. Regarding not having more loops and holders, Millet generally stayed away from the trend of putting gadgety things like a lot of loops, various holders, etc. on their packs, as they saw it as a marketing trend, rather than useful items. Some pack makers are coming around  that way as well, and realizing that too many useless bells and whistles add weight.

4:01 p.m. on February 21, 2012 (EST)
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Jersey:

It looks like one of their ski-touring/backpacking/climbing packs, though 60 litres is at the far end.

Millet (mee-yay?) are not that common in the UK either, even though their stuff is well-made and relatively affordable; it might have something to do with the fact that "Millets", a separate, cheap outdoor family camping brand, is still confusing people over here.

The pvc gear loop on the belt can be used to hang a camera pouch from and the webbing-loop things on the shoulder straps are also probably for climbing hardware but I cut these off as they just get in the way. I use the hipbelt pocket for either a small camera or snacks.

I keep my sigg bottle inside an insulating sleeve (Outdoor Designs) and just use the side zipper to access it - the sleeve acts like a permanent pocket spacer thing, so all year round.

The shoulder straps on my pack are starting to fray badly, so I won't be buying another pack (and I never got on with the suspension anyway) but we have a few Millet things and they are well made. And not too common, which makes me feel special ;-)

PS: their clothes are European (like Salomon) sized, so one up from North American.

4:06 p.m. on February 21, 2012 (EST)
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I always see Millet gear popping up over on Left Lane Sports. Packs, jackets, etc. They have a few smaller packs up for grabs at the moment. 

Scroll to the bottom if ya wanna take a looksy:

http://www.leftlanesports.com/Event.aspx?l=00050056000000000000&et=lls

5:52 p.m. on February 21, 2012 (EST)
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I love my millet belay jacket. I have been very impressed with their work. Unfortunately though, for US residents, millet is not offering customer service in the US. Millet is part of La Fuma outdoor which recently closed its offices in the US and they have since taken down their US website. Lafuma also owns the brand Eider, and Oxbow surfing clothes. It was probably going so cheap because, like I said, in 2011 june (i think) they began liquidating their US inventory. Im not sure if they will be back or if US sales were just poor. Almost all of the clothes and jackets are very euro, not exactly what americans want.

edit: Found their german site

http://www.lafuma-group.de/

7:29 p.m. on February 24, 2012 (EST)
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I keep trying to find out more about Lafuma in the US but I cant find out anything that supports what I heard about them shutting down. Ive searches SNEWS for info but they have nothing and all my buyers here at work are saying they know nothing of their closure. so I don't really know whats up. Their USA site and help line are both down though.

-MG

2:38 p.m. on February 25, 2012 (EST)
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Pathloser

The pvc gear loop on the belt can be used to hang a camera pouch from and the webbing-loop things on the shoulder straps are also probably for climbing hardware but I cut these off as they just get in the way. I use the hipbelt pocket for either a small camera or snacks.

The gearloop on the belt isn't pvc (thankfully) but probably just different than other models. Is there a specific camera pouch you know of that works well? That was my first thought but it seems like anything hung from it is going to be flopping around pretty good with every step. Still, maybe good for putting a small s-biner on my camera and other things to make it easy to temporarily hang them when I need two hands for a moment.

Mumblefords,

I had found an article detailing a lot of the history of Millet during my initial search. Now if I can re-find it... It did talk about them being purchased by Lafuma in the 80's I believe. I was kind of surprised/dismayed as my impression, maybe mistakenly so, was that Lafuma was lower end gear. Maybe the clearance thing putting them in a very low price bracket was part of that impression.

I haven't had a chance to use it yet but playing around with it, I continue to be impressed by the quality and features. Not the best thing that USA customer service doesn't exist anymore, guess the three year warranty is worthless now, but for $90.- I think I got a good deal.

4:23 p.m. on February 25, 2012 (EST)
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 Is there a specific camera pouch you know of that works well?

Crumpler and Lowepro often have soft camera cases with a velcro belt-loop at the back that you can open up and slot over a fixed webbing/gear loop. But you are right, anything bigger than a compact camera is going to flop around, and a small camera may as well go inside the opposite pocket.

However, if your camera is compact enough to fit into an Ortlieb Snap then this can be attached to the gear loop via carabiner without being too loose. The Ortlieb is also rain proof and I find the opening design is very easy to use and secure - so much so that you can fix it to a compression strap on your pack and reach all the way back for your camera when you need it, something you cannot do with most soft cases.

July 28, 2014
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