GORUCK GR2 Slick (Huckberry Edition) Review

The rugged GORUCK GR2 Slick keeps the GR2’s well-organized interior, but the 40L bag has no easy way to add supporting straps without the outer PALS webbing.

Our Verdict

8.5 /10
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  • Front compartment has a lot of space and a variety of pockets for organizing gear
  • Really thick and comfy shoulder straps move around easily and contour well on large frames
  • A huge false bottom under the laptop compartment offers better protection


  • Includes many daily carry features but feels a bit large for that
  • Lacks a sternum strap to help with better comfort
  • Front compartment’s zipper is stickier than expected

Technical Details

37 %

Carry-on Compliance

View 54/145 Airlines

52 %

Like the Look

Polled on Instagram

  • Capacity


  • Denier


  • Weight (lb)

    4.1 lb (1.9 kg)

  • Dimensions

    22 in x 12.5 in x 9 in (55.9 x 31.8 x 22.9 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    CORDURA® Nylon, Ballistic Nylon, YKK Zippers, MOLLE Webbing, Paracord

  • Manufacturing Country

    United States

  • Laptop Compartment Size


  • Warranty Information

    GORUCK SCARS Lifetime Guarantee

Full Review

We all have that one friend who wears their work boots even for just a casual night of fun in town. Ask them, and they’ll probably tell you, “If it’s tough enough for the yard, it’s tough enough for the bar,” or something to that effect. It’s a sentiment we can appreciate and follow. Be that as it may, taking the hard edge off to make something utilitarian, like work boots, a bit more comfy isn’t a bad idea either. Why settle for tough if it can also be easier to use, right?

GORUCK GR2 Slick Carry Handle
GORUCK GR2 Slick | The GR2 minus the PALS webbing.

That’s the idea behind the GORUCK GR2 Slick, or at least that’s the vibe we’re getting. It sheds the exterior PALS webbing of the regular GR2 in favor of a more simplified and fuss-free design that you can pick up without feeling it’s overkill. That said, this is a large 40-liter backpack, so taking bits off may lead to compromises. So, does it? Let’s find out!

External Components

Those already familiar with GORUCK know that their brand revolves around rucking. We can explain at length what rucking is and its benefits, but we’ll give you the abridged version: It’s carrying a lot of weight on your back while walking with it—a physically demanding form of exercise. Unsurprisingly, they construct their gear with robustness and rugged materials in mind.

GORUCK GR2 Slick Zipper
GORUCK GR2 Slick | It’s still the familiar 1000-denier CORDURA fabric we know.

The outer shell is 1000-denier CORDURA nylon, which is very resistant to abrasions, in case you want to take this bag outdoors (as many of those who go rucking do). Ironically, a high-denier fabric like this is abrasive, so we noticed that previous iterations of the GR2 would cause pilling on soft clothing. GORUCK has since updated the GR2’s back panel and shoulder strap undersides to a lighter 210-denier CORDURA fabric.

All this is to say that the GR2 Slick hasn’t lost any of the regular version’s ruggedness. What’s missing are the PALS webbing at the front and on the sides, hence the “Slick” in the name. Though some would object to calling 1000-denier fabric slick in a world where tarpaulin and TPU-coated fabrics exist, getting rid of the PALS webbing does make the bag look cleaner. We think it makes a better fit for carrying this 40-liter backpack around cities.

GORUCK GR2 Slick Carry Handle Solo
GORUCK GR2 Slick | A thick top handle.

On the other hand, without the PALS webbing, the GR2 Slick comes up short on external features. You have only the harness system and the top handle. Silver lining: that top handle is comfortable to hold and adequately beefy—appropriate in case you’re hauling rocks with this bag (creativity swells within those who ruck).

It also means that the GR2 Slick has no means to add external accessories; you’re limited to hanging keychains to the handle and/or the zipper pulls. It’s worth noting that neither the GR2 nor the GR2 Slick has built-in water bottle pockets, but a MOLLE-compatible equivalent could at least supplement the former.

GORUCK GR2 Slick Harness
GORUCK GR2 Slick | There’s no easy option to add a sternum strap or hip belt.

Interestingly, the GR2 Slick retains the regular version’s drinking tube pass-through, so you can still use a hydration bladder. It’s located along the top and sealed via VELCRO. The GR1 Slick curiously lacks this feature, even though the regular GR1 (26-liter version) we’ve reviewed has one. This may not matter to most since the GR2 Slick is the “tamer” version anyway, but it’s something we noticed.

Getting rid of the PALS webbing also has another side effect on the GR2 design. Like the bag’s general design, the harness system changed with the removal of the webbing. That said, it’s otherwise the same simple two-shoulder-straps-and-nothing-else setup carried over from the regular GR2. These straps are thick with comfortable padding but have thin joints at the top that lets them move around more freely.

GORUCK GR2 Slick Strap Material
GORUCK GR2 Slick | The lighter 210-denier fabric here should solve the pilling issue.

Note the lack of a built-in sternum strap and a hip belt. Frankly speaking, these two are not strictly necessary since—spoiler alert—the shoulder straps do an admirable job keeping the carry comfortable by themselves. That said, at 40 liters, the GR2 Slick can get heavy enough that you’d want support from those extra straps.

GORUCK GR2 Slick Hook N Loop
GORUCK GR2 Slick | Some users opt for a stiffer Kydex framesheet.

The back panel is similarly simple, with thin air channels for some breathability and enough padding to rest easily on your back. Out-of-the-box comfort is good, but you can also remove the frame sheet through the laptop compartment and replace it with a Kydex one. It’ll be stiffer, but some prefer that feeling on their back. At the very least, a stiffer frame sheet should be more resilient for carrying heavy, bulky, irregularly shaped weights.

Fit Notes

GORUCK GR2 Slick Side By Side
Left: Tom Wahlin, Height: 6’2” (188 cm), Torso: 19.25” (49 cm) | Right: Kristyne Defever, Height: 5’5” (165 cm), Torso: 17” (43 cm)

As we’ve said, the GR2 Slick’s shoulder straps and back panel have ample padding to cushion the bag’s weight—at least, with how we pack it. We’re not loading this thing to the gills with bricks, just clothing and other travel essentials. However, with the GR2 Slick’s large size and potential weight, we wish there was a convenient option to attach a sternum strap and hip belt.

GORUCK GR2 Slick Strap
GORUCK GR2 Slick | A large backpack like this can get heavy enough to warrant supporting straps.

With that in mind, we think the GR1 Slick is a better realization of the idea. Its smaller size makes it less likely to need the extra support, plus it’s just easier to use as a daily carry. The GR2—Slick or regular—feels a bit cumbersome to use as a daypack and more comfortable for lengthy traveling.

Inside The Backpack

At the front of the GR2 Slick is a deep pocket where you can store relatively bulky items. We keep a buff or a pair of winter gloves there when it gets chilly. On the other hand, small items like dongles, earphones, and keys sink to the bottom, where they’re tricky to reach—we recommend using pouches to get those organized.

GORUCK GR2 Slick Gloves
GORUCK GR2 Slick | A pocket for quick-access items.

Next is the GR2 Slick’s front compartment, where we have a nitpick regarding the zippers. Whereas the earlier front pocket’s zippers operated smoothly, the two here feel sticky and relatively resistive. For context, the regular GR2 we’ve tested didn’t have the same issue, and that uses the same type of YKK zippers and heat shrink pulls. We suspect it’s because the regular GR2’s corners are visibly rounder or the zippers are well past their break-in period. Either way, the GR2 Slick’s front compartment zippers still feel sticky as of this review.

Sticky zippers aside, we like the front compartment layout and the pockets within. A top zippered pocket with a leather GR2 logo is on the front side, and directly below is a large mesh pocket with a sideways zippered opening. The back side is nearly a mirror image of the front, save for a larger top pocket, which acts more like a built-in pouch. Inside this pouch is a three-fourths mesh pocket, with the remaining quarter acting as a pen slot. Overall, it’s a nice variety of different-sized pockets, making it really tempting to carry the GR2 Slick daily despite its size.

GORUCK GR2 Slick Stuffed
GORUCK GR2 Slick | We’re digging this kind of organization.

The rear laptop compartment is huge, expectedly so since the GR2 Slick—at least, this version—comes in at 40 liters. The chunky 16-inch MacBook Pro fits without a problem and has room to spare. That’s a given, but the part that we’re pleasantly surprised about is how large the false bottom underneath is. The floor of the laptop sleeve is about an inch away from the base of the bag itself, which should give your laptop a better chance of surviving a harder-than-usual landing whenever you set the bag down. We also just like that the laptop compartment is an entirely separate compartment and not part of the main area—that saves us the hassle of opening it later whenever we need to take the laptop out.

GORUCK GR2 Slick Laptop
GORUCK GR2 Slick | There’s a large false bottom beneath the laptop compartment.

The main compartment opens up smoothly in a fully clamshell fashion that makes it easy to pack large clothing and organizers like packing cubes and tech pouches. The frontside organization is similar to the one in the adjacent front compartment, with a zippered mesh pocket at the top and a sideways-opening mesh at the bottom. Again, we dig the additional organization GORUCK provides here. That said, the top pocket can get squeezed in if you pack the built-in pouch pocket from earlier, which sits adjacent to this one.

GORUCK GR2 Slick Empty
GORUCK GR2 Slick | There’s a hydration bladder pass-through along the top edge.

At this point, you may notice from the images that the zipper pulls here are of a different color from the ones in the front compartment and exterior. Yep, they’re gray here, brown in the front compartment, and black outside. It’s a small detail, but we appreciate GORUCK’s effort to help you navigate their bag since a lot of these pockets are laid out similarly to the others.

GORUCK GR2 Slick Stuffed
GORUCK GR2 Slick | There’s a lot of space inside this backpack for packing gear.

The main compartment’s bucket space is more than just an area to dump most of your gear; it also houses the GR2 Slick’s only set of PALS webbing, with a document sleeve below it. We like to call it a document sleeve, but you can also put a hydration bladder in there and route the drinking tube through the hole we mentioned in the previous section. You can use the PALS webbing to route the drinking tube and hang MOLLE-compatible accessories.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Feels hefty even for its size
  • No MOLLE webbings at the front unlike the regular version
  • Spacious main compartment, but the liner is all black
2 Weeks of Use

Condition: Excellent

  • Bummer that there’s no sternum strap for heavier loads – especially on a bag this large – you could add your own that wraps around the strap
  • No option for hip belt because there is no side PALS webbing for a MOLLE attachment
  • Secondary compartment is much stickier to operate than the ordinary GR2 for some reason
By Tom Wahlin
Created February 20, 2024 • Updated February 20, 2024
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