British brand Brooks knows how to blend style with performance – it has been successfully mixing form with function for over 150 years ever since it released its first iconic saddle, the B17.
After developing an established range of saddle designs, more recently Brooks has diversified its catalogue by branching into accessories such as bar tape, tools and bags.
The Pickzip backpack is a modern reimagining of Brooks’ older Pickwick bag design, trading a roll-top for a sturdy zip and more practical storage compartments inside.
The bag is made from cotton, with leather details in several areas. The main panels are waxed to make them water resistant, while inside the 20 litre capacity contains a laptop sleeve, several pockets and a large main space.
The straps and carry-handle are a thick, sturdy cotton weave yet remain soft, and are fixed and adjusted with brushed aluminium buckles.
Even at first glance it was clear to see Brooks’ legendary build quality has been employed in the Pickzip. From the panel stitching to the zips, straps and buckles, everything seemed robust, well-chosen and high-quality, and that was the lasting impression I was left with after using the bag.
The straps are a simple affair but their position and angle of insertion on the body of the bag mean they shaped naturally around my shoulders.
Tightened neutrally, the straps caused the bag to sit relatively high on my back, which I thought allowed for more airflow when I was riding and made the bag more comfortable to wear for extended periods walking about town than if it naturally sat lower, near the lumbar region of my spine.
The bag is available in a range of contemporary colourways and each has the same treatment on the cotton exterior panels.
It is an effective weatherproofing measure – a commute recently involved an hour’s riding in heavy rain. The result was only minor water ingress at the seams of the bag. The main panels had shrugged off the deluge entirely and the Pickzip’s straps dried quickly.
The space inside the Pickzip is divided sensibly. The laptop sleeve is generous – it easily fits a 15-inch laptop without taking up too much of the main compartment.
Likewise for the pockets on the outside of the laptop sleeve – one good sized zip pocket and a few smaller sleeves ideal for storing money, keys or headphones.
Despite the bag looking relatively svelte from the outside, the main compartment is roomy enough for everything else you’d need to get you through the day, and even works as carry-on luggage to travel with.
Therein lies my main gripe however – it is big enough to use for extended outings so I used it on trips long enough for me to need to carry water with me.
Thanks to a great laptop space I carried electronic devices in the bag all the time, but because there is no provision to carry fluid externally on the bag I was always conscious of a leaky vessel within the bag.
Granted, while riding bottles can be placed on the bike but as this bag is stylish enough to wear off the bike in my opinion an external fluid pocket is necessary.
Like a fine wine?
While no questions surround the bag’s ability to last, different components seem to be taking the toll of age with differing success.
The treated main panels remain largely unchanged, but the cotton straps are starting to look a little grubby and prove hard to effectively wash.
That said, the leather detailing that has been sensibly placed in high-wear areas – a strip to cover the zip at the front of the bag, and buffers on the bottom – are taking on that burnished beauty Brooks’ high-quality leather is renowned for.
If you can live with the straps darkening and have faith in your water bottle, Brooks’ Pickzip is a well made, good looking that will last long enough to justify its high price.