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Road Tests

Slicks Travel System

Road Tests :: SLICKS Travel System

by , January 20, 2016
7.7
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A little bit of versatility in a bag goes a long way. The SLICKS Travel System aims to deliver a lot of versatility, with a format that balances travel and work use.

The system offers various setups to meet different needs. The SLICKS SUIT includes a carry-on backpack and Suitcover, the SLICKS TRIP features the pack and Tripcover, and the SLICKS BIZ includes the pack, Suitcover and Tripcover.

With a host of organization features and a travel-friendly size, the SLICKS Travel System is designed to accommodate the daily commute, short business trips and weekends away. Let's see how it performs...

SLICKS Travel System

Specifications

  • Name: SLICKS Travel System
  • Brand: SLICKS
  • Format: Backpack
  • Measurement:
  • Capacity: 30L
  • Weight:
  • Zippers: YKK
  • Material: 600D PU-coated Nylon
  • PriceStarting from Fr 159 (around US$ 159) via Kickstarter

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Who It Suits

The SLICKS primarily is for the work commute, or travel for someone who needs to wear a suit, or at least a shirt or more formal clothes. It also works reasonably well just as a travel pack, particularly if you remove most of the inserts and use it with a couple of your own modules. It's kinda conservative too – not particularly edgy or techy, but a nice in-between.

Who It Doesn't

It's not a bulletproof GORUCK bag or a super comfortable ventilated cycling pack. So if you need an incredibly tough bag or you cycle a lot, there are better options out there. This bag is more for trips, whether that's a commute where you need to change your entire outfit, or broader travel.

SLICKS Travel System

Design

Looks

The bag favors a mix of tech and conservative in the looks department. It's not a highly stylish work bag, but it's understated enough that it will glide between work and travel environments fairly easily. It's fairly geometric, so it doesn't look like an outdoor pack. Rather it's more suited to a city environment. The finish of the materials isn't beautiful, so that detracts slightly from the looks, but it looks good for its intended settings.

SLICKS Travel System

SLICKS Travel System

Construction

The construction is good in terms of the bag being fairly well put together, with no loose ends. A lot of the construction focuses on trying to reduce weight, so don't expect a bombproof GORUCK style of construction.

Materials

The material is a 600D PU-coated Nylon that doesn't look like it has that tight of a weave. It can attract fur and hair a little bit, and doesn't have a richness and a real luster that beautiful fabric has. The material is good enough but doesn't wow.

SLICKS Travel System

Hardware

The hardware is standard but solid, with a major YKK zip and decent webbing.

SLICKS Travel System

SLICKS Travel System

Features

The features are what the bag is most about. The focus is its modules and thinking about how you pack entire outfits into this backpack.

SLICKS Travel System

Some of the modules work better than others. For instance, the shirt folder adds a lot of bulk for that collar protection. So you have to really want collar protection to bother taking up so much space in your bag.

SLICKS Travel System

Likewise with the Suitcover, you have to really want to get your suit folded down small to bother with this. Plus there's a fair bit of weight in it. But if you really need to get one suit folded up and into a backpack, then it's a sensible way of doing it.

SLICKS Travel System

The more modular Tripcover insert is the shining light here and comes with its own set of features including a little wash bag and a pouch for storing dirty clothing. It comes in useful for storing clothing and bits and pieces in one module which can be left behind in a hotel when you take your pack to work.

SLICKS Travel System

SLICKS Travel System

The bag has foldaway backpack straps, so you can carry it like a briefcase for more formal settings or use it as a backpack when you're on the move.

SLICKS Travel System

You only access the bag's main section on one side, and then you've got to flip it over to access the front section. So it doesn't have all the benefits of a more traditional luggage sandwich construction where you can access every part when it's laid open on your bed. There are also lots of clipping units for securing the modules that are maybe a bit overdone, unless you're really getting rigorous and active and you want to prevent the contents jostling about.

"The more modular Tripcover insert is probably the best insert of this bag and comes with its own set of features including a little wash bag and a pouch for storing dirty clothing."

There are a few things that aren't really nailed. For instance, the back panel is a lighter grey that contrasts a bit with the black colorway used for the rest of the bag. If you're folding the backpack straps away to have a work bag, then you probably want that back panel to be black as well so that it doesn't stand out so much.

SLICKS Travel System

Also, some of the features start to fight each other a little bit. If you load up lots of modules, they just end up too heavy and take up too much of the room in the pack. So it's best used with only one module in general, or more empty with a couple of your own inserts.

"If you load up lots of modules, they just end up too heavy and take up too much of the room in the pack."

In terms of other features, there's some nice, subtle enough reflective details. If you are riding at night, there's a raincover that's bright yellow, and lots of reflective detailing for commuting at night. The thin laptop section works well and is suspended off the ground for added protection. There's also a foldaway waist belt, sternum straps, and the back section where you can tuck away those backpack straps.

SLICKS Travel System

SLICKS Travel System

Performance

Space and Access

The space and access are some of the biggest issues with the pack. If you're going to build a pack that's all about modules, you generally shouldn't divide up the sections too much. So packs we like that require modules are things like the GORUCK GR1, Heimplanet's Monolith series, or the Arc'teryx Khard with its main section that allows you to choose how you carve it up with modules. Then the bag should also have some key pocketing on the exterior.

This pack however is divided in half and then uses a lot of modules. It's just too much division. By the time you end up using all these modules, sometimes around a pair of socks you might have six layers of material. There's the material around the pocket it's in, and then a larger section over that. Then it goes into the main pocket, and there's another layer over that. You just end up with too many layers and too many small zones and voids where you're not actually getting dense packing. So generally, for modular packs, we prefer one major section rather than carving it up.

"You just end up with too many layers and too many small zones and voids where you're not actually getting dense packing."

Having said that, if you choose not to use many of the modules, then the pack works fairly well. The space and access is pretty good for clothing in the back section. You then have to flip the lid over, though, and get into the front section. And one major central zip for it to open properly requires you to distort the bag to pry it open and get access to it. If your bag's fairly full, it doesn't distort properly, and access is quite tricky to that front section. If you're trying to pack on your hotel bed, you've got to pack the back main section, flip the lid over, then pack the front main section. So that gets a bit tricky.

SLICKS Travel System

Pockets and Organizing

In terms of some of the internal pocketing, the main mesh pocket on the inside of the front half is very deep. So most things would sort of fall to the bottom. However, the upper pocket is a bit better. There are enough extra little pockets and organization for bits and pieces, but it's hard to know where you'd put sunglasses, or where you'd put some food without it falling lower in the pack.

side-pocket22

SLICKS Travel System

There is also a shoe pocket behind the front exterior pocket. While the idea of a shoe pocket is good, you may struggle to fit larger shoes inside it. Also the shoes will reduce some of the available space in the front of the bag.

Comfort

The bag is comfortable, and it's nice to have good ventilation on your back. It does ventilation much better than the likes of GORUCK bags. The straps are a little skinny, which means they pack away easier, but if you are really loading this up you'll feel it start to press in a little bit. However, the waist strap can take a little bit of the load, with light padding right at the back. We generally prefer padding extending around a little bit further, but there's enough here. The waist strap is more about stability when you're on your bike.

"The bag has foldaway backpack straps, so you can carry it like a briefcase for more formal settings or use it as a backpack when you're on the move."

SLICKS Travel System

Something to be aware of, the laptop lies against your back and can limit movement a little bit when you're riding if you've got a curved back. It doesn't do this too much because it can push in a little, but you're still left a bit straight-backed with it.

"...there's a raincover that's bright yellow, and lots of reflective detailing for commuting at night."

SLICKS Travel System

Weatherability

If you don't want to use the raincover then the bag is only splash-resistant. The zips aren't water resistant because the bag mostly relies on the raincover for protection from the elements. However, if you use the raincover you've got excellent weatherability.

SLICKS Travel System

Alternatives to Consider

The Arc'teryx Blade series is definitely worth considering and has a similar vibe to this bag.

Porter out of Japan has lots of options in this space that suit work trips lasting a couple of days.

The GORUCK GR1 is in there as well, with discreet black aesthetics and versatile functionality.

Minaal is also definitely worth looking at, as well as work carry options from Patagonia such as their Maximum Legal Carry-on.

SLICKS Travel System

The Good

  • If you want to carry a suit and crisply ironed shirts, the bag does it better than most other kinds of versatile backpacks like this.
  • You can get a little active with the bag (for instance on a bike) but it still suits travel and work use.
  • The shoulder straps can be stored away to carry the bag briefcase-style.

Not So Good

  • The modules add a lot of weight, and they take up a lot of volume inside. It's a lighter, better bag without most of the modules.
  • The materials are only okay, and leave a bit to be desired.
  • You have to think about where you're packing items, and sometimes different areas clash a bit with each other.

SLICKS Travel System

Verdict

There is a lot to like about this bag if you're trying to get your suit and clothing around on a work trip or a bike. The main opportunity for improvement is if there was a better distinction between work and play. We think bags like the Arc'teryx Blade series really separates that out nicely. All your work stuff is in the front, allowing you to access pens, your laptop, notebooks and other tools. Then all your play stuff is in the back (think clothing, footwear and that sort of thing). So if you've traveled to a meeting you're never itching past your underwear to get to that important work presentation. The SLICKS kind of combines the two a bit more, so it's not as clear which aspects are for work and play. You may resort to having a smaller attaché case, or something else to take into a meeting, as this bag focuses more on getting your shoes, your suit and all those things to your destination rather than use within a meeting.

The bag does have a lot of interesting features. We think the Tripcover is useful, and it's nice having a section for dirty clothes. By reducing the number of modules you use at any one time (or even substituting with your own modules), the bag becomes more flexible and versatile. There are definitely some great ideas here; the design just needs some tweaks and it will really come into its own.

SLICKS Travel System

The Breakdown

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Geek (Performance)

Space & Access
7.5
Organization
8.5
Comfort
7

Style (Design)

Look & Feel
8
Build, Materials & Hardware
7.5
Features
8.5

Stoke (Experience)

Warranty & Support
8
Brand experience
6.5
Value
7.5
X Factor
8

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