Slicks is touting its new backpack Travel System as having 'limitless possibilities'. And while the possibilities are naturally going to be limited to the sphere of carrying stuff around, within that sphere it does a bang-up job of being useful – and for that it's easy to recommend.
The big selling point that the Slicks system has over your run-of-the-mill backpack is that it's a system designed to cater for all different kinds of carrying, depending on what you're doing.
The basic bag can be extended with a suit cover, a mobile wardrobe and a washbag, and you can buy it in various configurations; we have the Biz version which is the whole lot. That'll set you back £209 in the current kickstarter, with the backpack on its own £132, and the other options in between. So it's not a cheap backpack. But is it any good?
The main bag: lots of storage, well thought out
The main rucksack is designed to be as versatile as possible without the extra stuff that you may or may not need. Externally you get adjustable shoulder straps with a sternum strap, a waist strap and padded back panel with formed air channels to stop you getting too sweaty.
There's also a side carry handle, and you can tuck the shoulder straps away behind the back panel to tidy the bag up if you're carrying it that way. You can also switch the shoulder straps so there's just one and the bag works as a messenger bag, although that's the least effective configuration.
The main compartment is big and there's a full zip around three sides, so you can open the bag up like a suitcase. There are some straps and buckles for attaching the accessories, and three pockets in the lid, including a big mesh one and a zipped one for valuables.
On the front there's a big pocket with a single vertical zip and three more pockets externally: a laptop sleeve at the rear, a shoe pocket with its own liner, and a small third one. There's a rain cover too in a further pocket. So many pockets! You could lose your keys in this thing for weeks.
The 600D Nylon material is water-resistant without the rain cover, and there's a decent smattering of reflectives both on the bag itself and the cover, which is also a bright yellow.
Day to day, it's a well-thought-out bag, this. You can sling your laptop and sandwiches in it, and it has more than enough pockets to separate stuff out easily. The harness is easily adjustable and pretty comfortable, and the back panel is pretty good at keeping you comfortable too, though it's not the best I've tried. The adjustable sternum strap and waist strap keep things secure on the bike.
It's big enough for a short trip away too, without being overly big for day-to-day use. You can easily pack a couple of changes of clothes and a spare pair of shoes, or if you're going riding you can take your riding shoes and kit. Your helmet might be a stretch though. If you're taking it on a plane you can carry it using the side handle and tuck the straps away if you want to look a bit more professional. It's airline carry-on compliant.
Suit carrier: really does carry suits, really well
The suit carrier is pretty simple but works really well. There's a full-length suit cover with rigid panels and a folding hanger; you just put your suit inside and then concertina it into a package small enough to fit in the bag. The rigid panels keep the fabric pretty crease-free and once you're at your destination you can use the hanger you brought with you. It's a very simple solution and it works well. I tested it out by taking a posh jacket and trousers to a recent Boardman Bikes launch, whereupon I was hopelessly overdressed at dinner and had to drink a lot of red wine in order not to feel too self-conscious. At least, that's my excuse.
My only minor criticism of the suit carrier is that the bag is only just big enough to contain it; it feels like a real squeeze getting it in and you have to bend it a bit to get it inside. It's not the end of the world, but if the bag was a tiny bit bigger or the suit carrier a tiny bit smaller it'd be even better.
Tripcover mobile wardrobe: useful, but not essential
The other item in the system is the Tripcover mobile wardrobe. It's essentially a compartmentalised bag for your clothes. Given that you'll probably take all your clothes out anyway when you get to the other end of your trip, it's less obviously useful than the Suitcover; in fact, it takes up space inside the bag that you could fill with stuff otherwise.
It does come with two neat features, though. The first is a shirt cover with a formed collar protector, so you can fold up your smart shirt and stop the collar getting squashed. It fits into a full-length sleeve at the back of the Tripcover. It's simple to use and works pretty well. The other thing the Tripcover comes with is a washbag, with pockets and sections for your manly products, and a hook so you can hang it up in the hotel bathroom. It's nicely made and has its own section in the Tripcover. Lastly, there's a detachable laundry bag for you to put your used smalls in. It's a nice touch.
All together: a versatile solution
All those bits together add up to a pretty versatile bag. Slicks reckons it'll replace all your other bags. Let's be honest, it won't. Not least because you won't throw them away, but also because it's not a replacement for a proper hiking rucksack or the smelly sports bag you keep your gym kit in.
It is a useful system, though, one that's compact enough for daily use and versatile enough for business trips and other stuff as well.
If you want to see more of how Slicks thinks you'll use the system then its Kickstarter page is possibly the longest page on the internet and packed with detail.
Having used the bag, I don't think it's the panacea for all bag-related needs that Slicks clearly does, but it's versatile enough and well made enough to warrant a good score, in spite of the salty price. If you're carting an expensive suit around in your hand luggage then this is one of few ways to do it effectively, and it'll appeal to the business traveller for that reason. If you're just after a backpack and not all the other gubbins then it's a good backpack, with lots to recommend it, and priced on a par with other premium bags we've recently reviewed.
If I was buying one I'd get the Suitcover but pass on the Tripcover; that build of the bag – Suit – is £160, and that's a decent investment for a bag that can do a lot of stuff.
Really versatile and well-made bag for day-to-day use, with modular options for smart clothes and longer trips
road.cc test report
Make and model: Slicks Travel System BIZ
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
If I wrote everything the manufacturer says about it in here, we'd be here all day. Go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/slicks/slicks-travel-system-one-bac... if you want the full skinny.
Very good, with the provisos that the suit carrier is a really tight fit and the Tripcover isn't as useful as it might seem.
Sensibly built; maybe overbuilt for general day use but the heavyweight construction will be worth it if you're using it as carry-on luggage.
Harness is good, back panel is decent too.
It's certainly expensive; the full-works version at £209 that we tested especially so. I'd go for the £160 Suitcover build without the Tripcover.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well; it's versatile and well made.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
You can use it for lots of stuff.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's not cheap; the Tripcover is expensive for what it is.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Overall, it's a very good system. The bag itself and the Suitcover outshine the Tripcover, but you can buy it without that.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.