Best Adventure Motorcycle Soft Baggage 2021

Updated July 2021

listing of over two-dozen pannier sets from over twenty manufacturers in at least ten countries with claimed volumes of 25 litres or more (50 litres total). I believe this is the minimum practical volume for overland travels while keeping the mass low. You don’t want to end up like this.

The accuracy of claimed weights and especially volumes varies (some massively). Actual capacities are around 25% greater than calculating length x width x height (explained here). Some of the claims about fabrics also don’t stand up to scrutiny (there’s more in AMH8) and as ever, the definition of ‘waterproof’ remains appropriately fluid.
All of these bags are roll tops – an easily made and bomb-proof system. Some have lockable rack mounts, some have lockable openings, some have slash-proof fabric, but any of them can be secured to the bike with a wrap-around cable lock or wire net.
Don’t get too hung up on the weights and bear in mind that some include hefty backing plates. On a long trip I’d sooner take a heavy, durable system than something skimpy because, even if you don’t crash, the bag is getting a hammering under its own loaded weight day in, day out, and a tough, durable bag will crash hard a lot better than a skimpy one (or an alloy box).
Bags on the list I’ve used include: Magadans; Andy Strapz; Monsoon; OS-32. I’ve also inspected close up: Lone Riders, Siskiyou; Sakwy 30; Dry Bags; Mosko Moto Backcountry; Gascoyne; Wolfman.

Table below updated and manufacturers’ links checked at the date of this update.
Updates and corrections added as I learn of them. Please send updates.
Randomly arranged manufacturers’ stock images below.
T/O = Throwover (like saddlebags on a horse)
R/M = Designed to be Rack Mounted
Q/D = Quickly Detachable (from a rack)
R/M-L = Lockable to the rack
Fabrics: PVC Nylon Cordura (or simlilar) Polyester TPU Hypalon

Direct links to manufactures’ websites (no affiliation)

GOING SOFT – OTHER IDEAS
This page is for those looking to buy an off-the-shelf pannier sets. But there are other ways of going soft. The rack-free, all-in-one horseshoe bag pioneered by Giant Loop (below left; now much copied) suits lightweight dirt bikes more than most long-range overlanders. It’s a secure, close fit (once you fit an exhaust shield) but total volumes are small, much of it is high up and access can be a pain.
There’s something to be said for multiple bags.

The oldest, simplest and cheapest system of all is just bunging a kit bag over the back seat (above right). the weight is high but the expense is close to zero. Reluctant to buy a heavy rack and with loads of kayaking bags knocking about, for my 2020 trip to the Sahara on an Africa Twin, I revived the idea I’d used on my CB500X a few years earlier: simply lashing durable PVC drybags to the side of the bike and keeping light items in a big, cheap holdall sat on the back. I added some smaller Kriega packs on the crash bars and a Lomo sat on the pillion footpeg. It worked well enough and everything could be emptied into the orange holdall to go into a hotel.

RACK
Plain throwovers at a capacity of >25 litres need a rear rack. It doesn’t have to be a full ‘racktangle’ (below left) which alloy boxes need. Something like the ‘ear racks’ I had made for my Himalayan (below right) will stop a bag swinging about and more critically, stop it shifting and then pressing onto high silencers which starts with melted panniers and ends with an incinerated bike.

12 thoughts on “Best Adventure Motorcycle Soft Baggage 2021

  1. enrico

    Thank you Chris, but I don’t understand what do the abbreviations (T/O – Q/D . R/M etc…) in the “Mounting” column mean. I’m looking for a couple of bags for my Himalayan with LC (Sw-Motech) frames.

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    1. Chris S Post author

      Sorry Enrico, I should have added clarification:
      T/O – Throwover (like saddlebags on a horse)
      R/M = Designed to be Rack Mounted
      Q/D = Quickly Detachable (from a rack)
      R/M-L = Lockable to the rack

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  2. John O

    Thanks, legend! I melted my Wild Heart bags, this is great help for my research.

    The wild heart bags were great! Fits a 30 can cube nicely, thats a big tic in my books!

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  3. Stuart

    I don’t understand. Is this just a list of manufacturers data? Or have you reviewed any to say which are best? Or at least more suitable it which conditions?

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    1. Chris S Post author

      Like it says on line one Stuart:
      Here’s a listing of over two-dozen soft baggage pannier sets from 20 manufacturers in 10 countries with claimed volumes of 25 litres or more (50 litres total).

      The listing helps compare bags of travel-useful 50L+ without getting in a tangle online.

      At the end I say:
      Bags I have used include: Magadans; Andy Strapz; Monsoon; OS-32. I’ve also inspected close up: Lone Riders, Siskiyou; Sakwy 30; Dry Bags; Backcountry; Gascoyne; Wolfman.

      I have clarified a bit by adding bold

      Under the Luggage menu tab top of the page, you will find links to a few detailed reviews.

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  4. Heather Sinclair

    Great list! thank you for compiling for us spreadsheet nerds. I’ve run into a couple though that aren’t on the list:

    http://przezswiat.eu/produkt/bagaz/sakwy-motocyklowe-red-mamut-plus-2x30l/

    https://dirtsackluggage.com/shop/dirtsack-frogman-waterproof-soft-panniers/ (I actually used these back from India when my previous set fell apart, they’re very robust and I actually quite like the cradle design, but the mounting and dimensions is much more suited to an Enfield than a dual sport.

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