A couple months back, in the very first days of August, we took a little road trip to Karstula, a small town in central Finland home to the finnish backpack manufacturer Finn-Savotta. We were invited by their CEO for a factory visit. We had been in talks with them through the summer about the possibilities of collaboration and product T&E.
We had an amazing day with the Finn-Savotta crew and learned a ton about their brand and history, which we turned into an article of it’s own. At the end of the day we received on of their newest backpacks, the Minijääkäri daypack and their Multipurpose Foam Mat, to see what we think of them! And that’s what this article is all about.
The packs name is loosely translated to Mini-Jäger. If you wonder what “Jäger” or “Jääkäri” means, here’s a little intel form wikipedia:
“The Jäger Movement (Finnish: Jääkäriliike ) consisted of volunteers from Finland who trained in Germany as Jägers (elite light infantry) during World War I.” So, a Jäger was elite light infantry and the term Jääkäri is still largely used in the Finnish Defence Forces for infantry.
And unfortunately due to the recent breakdown of certain photographic/cellular equipment of yours truly, our picture pool is very limited at the moment, but more relevant pictures will be added as soon as possible.
Finn-Savotta (or just plain Savotta) has been around since 1955 and it still is a family entrepreneurship like it was in the beginning. A few backpacks and leather mittens crafted in the company founders attic turned quickly into a major manufacturer of outdoor gear and eventually soft goods to the Finnish Defense Forces.
Savotta’s product lineup mostly consists of various different backpacks, rucksacks and tents, as well as the current FDF combat gear and other hiking/outdoors/hunting equipment.
For a more thorough dive into Finn-Savotta, check out our article about the visit HERE or their website.
The Minijääkäri daypack is the smallest iteration of Savotta’s Jääkäri product line and their vision of what a functional daypack should be like. The pack is meant to be ideal for 1 day trips, whether you roam the city streets or the depths of wilderness.
By design the pack is a top loading backpack with only one main compartment and a folding top closure. Capacity-wise the Minijääkäri is around 20 to 25 liters (1200 – 1500 cubic inches), depending on how much you overpack it.
Minijääkäri backpack retails around 119 euros (~139 USD) and the product has a 5-year guarantee against material and manufacturing defects.
Technical specs from manufacturer’s website.
External dimensions: height 45 cm (55 cm when overpacked), width 25 cm, depth 16 cm. Capacity: adjustable between 20–25L (1200 cui – 1500 cui ) Weight: 775 g (1,7 lbs). Materials: 1000D PUR coated Polyamide fabric (Cordura), Delrin special plastic buckles (ITW Nexus) and 8 mm coil zipper. Colour options: Olive Green and Black (and Finnish M05?)
- The folding lid has a wide, 13cm x 5cm (5” x 2”) strip of loop velcro to suit all and any of your name tag or morale patch needs and features a 6×2 PALS loop grid. The lid closes with 2 ITW Nexus buckles.
- On the outside, the main compartment is pretty much covered in PALS-webbing, to increase to have modularity and expandability in volume via whichever pouches you see necessary. 6×4 loops in the front and a 4×5 grid on the sides. All PALS-loops on Savotta products are rated at 100 kg tensile strength.
- The sides have one side-compression straps on each with ITW nexus buckles.
- Two vertical compression straps on the front, also with ITW Nexus buckles, which are used to close the lid once it’s folded. All the straps are very long and give the end user a wide range of adjustment and to both directions.
- Both sides of the pack have elasticated ports for routing a hose for your hydration baldder, comms cables or even aerials, if needed.
- The shoulder straps on the Minijääkäri are very plain and minimalistic. They are widely adjustable and are made from 40mm (1,6”) webbing with vertical PALS loops on them. The PALS loops enable the end user to further customize the carrying experience with added padding, sternum straps etc.
- Inside of the lid you have a small and flat, zippered pouch to hold your valuables.
- The outer lip of the main compartment is reinforced with an ethylene bar to add rigidity and ease the overall operation of the folding lid.
- On the backside of the main compartment there is a separate, non-padded compartment and attachment for your hydration bladder. The same compartment can be used with the MPP Foam Mat we received to further rigidify the structure and increase carrying comfort.
MULTIPURPOSE FOAM MAT (MPPFM)
The Multipurpose Foam Mat is, as the name implies, a multipurpose foam mat. It’s designed to be a rigidifying “frame sheet” for the Minijääkäri daypack. It also doubles as a seat cover, mouse pad or whatever use you might come up with this product.
The mat is sized 25cm x 35,5cm and weighs 165 grams (0.36 lbs). The MPPFM is made of 6mm (1/4“) closed cell foam which is laminated with 1000D cordura on one side and with natural rubberized fabric on the other.
The MPPFM retails at 19,90 euros (~ 23,30 USD) and has a 1-year guarantee against material and manufacturing defects.
Throughout these couple of months with the Minijääkäri daypack, I have been very satisfied with it. During this time I have mostly ran the pack with the Multipurpose Foam Mat insert inside the bladder pocket, but have also experimented with without it on short day hikes, bike rides and in everyday use. Loads that I have carried have varied from a few kilos to about 10 kilos.
There’s a vast difference in comfort compared with the two ways, with or without the Multipurpose Mat. The foam mat brings so much more rigidity against your back and enables you to carry harder and pointier objects inside the pack. Without the protection of the mat, harder objects tend to eventually dig into your back through the plain fabric. Of course if you only have soft goods to carry then you have no such problem, but even a water bottle can be an annoyance.
And when we’re talking about comfort, the backside of the pack is plain flat. And while it has no ventilation, it’s far from uncomfortable. And for a daypack, I don’t really see it as a major necessity.
The biggest suspicion I had of the pack was the plain webbing shoulder straps. And boy did I worry for nothing. I almost bought some pads for the straps, just in case. But I’m glad I didn’t, because the straps are surprisingly comfortable, even with heavier loads. For me personally the straps really set well on my shoulders and armpits and it applies to both walking and cycling.
One thing I found was that for everyday use, the Minijääkäri quite didn’t work for me.
I think this pack needs to be fully and thoroughly packed to really shine. Having only a couple books and a pencil case for school is too little and the items flog around the pack. And to me, fully compressing the pack makes it look awkward with such a small load.
But fully packed and filled, the Minijääkäri feels great. It will easily take your gym gear, a good amount of groceries, probably a minimalist weekend getaway setup too! Even still, I think that the pack is most at home in the forest and on hiking trails, but for sure isn’t out of it’s comfort zone in the urban concrete jungle!
Some people really don’t like top loading packs and others love them. I’m personally really on the edge with the Minijääkäri, as the folding top is really nice and functional and overpacking is a nice option. But then again top loading packs are usually a pain to get to you stuff without digging everything out or messing your packing otherwise, at least in packs of larger volume.
Of course there are packing solutions like Mystery Ranch’s Load Cell’s or Triple Aught Design’s Transport Cubes that dissipate the problem, but they also cost a fair bit.
One of the best things, and probably my favorite thing in the Minijääkäri, is it’s packability. Without the foam mat and any attached pouches, you can roll the pack tightly and strap it to the form with its own straps. And what do you know, you have a good daypack neatly rolled up! You can carry it outside your ruck, and take it off to use on its own, in case you want to do day hikes on a longer hike and don’t want to carry all your stuff around all the time!
Of course modularity has been the name of the game in the military and backpack industry for a long time. And being covered with PALS-webbing, the Minijääkäri caters to your every need of modularity, externally at least. I wouldn’t attach anything too bulky to it though, as the pack itself is rather big when fully packed. At least for me, adding bulky pouches to the sides made the pack feel very wide and in the future I will probably opt for slimmer pouches to retain a tighter form.
The pack feels extremely sturdy in your hands and that is thanks to the bomb proof 1000 Denier Cordura and the sown PALS-loops. It’s actually quite peculiar how nicely the pack holds its sort of cubic form even when empty, which in turn makes packing it so much easier. The ethylene bar on the front lip is also a stroke of genius, as it makes operating the pack a breeze.
Now, using the armageddon-grade 1000 D cordura might seem overkill to most backpack enthusiasts these days and it might just be. I’m not the expert on this, but I feel like this design would work with lighter materials too. Although the polyurethane coated cordura is quite water resistant, so you probably won’t need a rain cover for this. But even with the 1000 D cordura the pack is far from heavy and it is probably thanks to the very simple design.
The video here shows how much abuse the Savotta packs can take!
I very much understand the logic behind the choice in Savotta’s choice of material. They make a ton of packs for the Finnish Defence Forces, so why not make every other product with the same specifications? Actually all of their newer products for civilian market too are in spec with the FDF standards. And well, the end product needs to be conscript proof, which with our arctic conditions added on top is a great feat. After all, their mentality is to make products that can be passed on from father to son.
What is the quality like then? Savotta has a longstanding reputation of producing everlasting outdoor equipment and I have no reason to believe that the Minijääkäri would be an exception. I really went around and checked every seam and visible stitch I could find, and the pack is absolutely flawless. The level of craftsmanship is extremely high and quality control is really on point.
I think the Savotta Minijääkäri daypack is a very good mix of oldschool and newschool, when it comes to backpacks. The modern modularity and simplistic design combined with the folding top is very different in the current market and very true to Savotta’s way of doing things. The pack carries very nicely and the MPP Foam Mat is a great accessory for it.
The very limited color pool maybe a turn down for some and especially potential international customers, but those who like the olive green or black variants (and M05?), should definitely give it a shot. This is definitely a formidable day pack!
– Armageddon-proof construction
– Folding top’s design
– Shoulderstraps are surprisingly comfy
– Top loading design stands out in the current market
– A mix of old school and new school pack design
– MPP foam mat is an excellentaccessory
– Packability for longer hikes
– Top loading design makes organizing harder
– Very limited colors in production
– Not in it’s element when lightly packed
– Nowhere near as comfortable without the MPP Mat.
I received these products from the manufacturer for testing and evaluation purposes.
I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.
*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.
This article was first published in the Noble & Blue. Noble & Blue is a small Finnish outdoor and tactical gear reviewing blog, that also shares stories of learning and adventure. Click here to know more about Noble & Blue and to read more articles like this.