Category Archives: Luggage

Review: Kriega Trail18 daypack

New daypacks join Kriega’s long-established five-strong R range from 15 to 35 litres. You got the snazzy colour-backed Trail in 9 and 18-litres and the bigger more urbanesque Max 28 which expands to take a helmet.

Supplied free for review and testing


What they say:
The TRAIL18 Adventure Backpack utilises Kriega’s groundbreaking Quadloc-Lite™ harness, combined with high-tech construction materials to meet the needs of the adventure rider.
Composed of three sections:  A heavy-duty zip access 7-litre rear compartment which is a perfect storage area for a Tool-Roll and water bottle or the optional 3.75L Hydration Reservoir. This area also has a small internal waterproof pocket for a phone and wallet, combined with the main roll-top body providing a total of 12-litres 100% waterproof storage. The innovative Hypalon net also provides more external storage for wet gear.


What I think:

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• Roll-top compartment
• Comfortable to wear; sits well on the back
• Removable waist straps
• No compression straps
• Durable 420D Cordura body
• White waterproof liners in two compartments
• Hydrator-ready
• External hypalon net
• Smooth-gliding main zipper
• Colour-backed Trails aid viz
• 10 year guarantee

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• Bulky roll-top small inner pouch
• Expensive
• Quadlock-Lite interferes with jacket pocket access


Review
For years I’ve been happy enough with my dinky R15, once I cut off the unneeded compression straps and removed the unnecessary waist strap. I’ve used it for weekends in Wales, backroads and tracks in the Colorado Rockies and Baja, and of course on my Morocco tours and rides. The main compartment was big enough for my laptop in a dry bag plus the hydrator, with bits and pieces in the PVC mesh inside pocket and the bigger outer pocket.

The longer Trail18 will be a nifty replacement. Straight away I like the coloured back panel. Often on my tours I try to ID riders up ahead and anything non-black makes it a whole lot easier. I dare say it will be for them too.
You often get thin bungy elastic laced across daypacks as a quick and easy place to stuff stuff. Kriega have thought it through a bit further by using a distinctive hypalon net panel with the elastic strung along the edges and attached closely at the base. This way, what you stuff in there – mucky bottles, baguettes, wet cloths – won’t fall out the bottom. And if you want more colour or don’t like this arrangement, you can easily unlace the elastic and remove the hypalon panel.

I can see a use for this feature buying some food on the way to a night’s lodging, or securely stuffing a jacket or overpants in there on a hot day when you don’t want to dick about with the closures. It’s possible the excess elastic and cinch fittings above may flap about in the wind behind you, but tucking the end in is easy enough.

Behind this panel is a full-length 11-litre compartment with a removable white waterproof liner and a clip-down roll-top. The great thing with roll-tops is that even if you forget to do them up right, stuff stays in. No more clattering laptops on leaving airport baggage scans with unzipped zips.

Behind that compartment against your back is a smaller 7-litre zipped compartment with no liner. Inside are a couple of tabs to hook up your hydrator (more below) and down below a couple of sleeves for drinks cans or 500ml water bottles. A smooth-running (non water-resistant) one-way zipper only comes right down on one side (below) so forgetting to do it up ought not see things fall out so readily. It includes a finger-hooking ring pull which can only be in one place when closed, but I always add a bit of bright tape to make this puller easier to locate.

My only mild gripe with the Trail is the bulkiness of the roll-top/clip-down waterproof liner’d 1-litre pouch with a phone-sized zip pocket attached in the inner compartment. I know it’s waterproof but the roll-up takes a lot of space and clipping it down would be a faff. I’d have preferred a bigger version of the plastic ripstop zip pocket from the R15. But then again, you can easily drop a big camera in here and be reasonably sure it will stay dry.

The long mesh-padded back panel seems stiffer than my old R15 so the whole thing doesn’t rest quite so unobtrusively on your back, which may actually be a good thing. The waist strap can be removed and there’s also a door hook tab plus a chunky carry handle. Mine weighed in at 1550g and a Trail18 costs £179.
Impressions added here once I get to use it.

The Trail is hydrator-ready with a slot for the hose to come over either shoulder and a velcro tab inside the back from which to hang the bladder.
Kriega’s stubby new 3.75L (7.9 pint!) Hydrapak Shape-Shift reservoir is made to fit both Trail models by fully expanding to fill the space below that bulky top pocket.
Nearly 4 kilos of water is a lot to carry on your back, but maybe that’s what some riders need. The rubbery TPU bladder has the same fold-and-clamp, easy fill and clean opening as the original one, as well as the clip-off and insulated and UV-proof hose with hopefully a less-brittle bite-valve on the end. I tucked my nozzle end under a tab on the front of the strap, but Kriega offer a velcro attachment tab which may well work better if the hose is on the short side for you. It costs £45.

Tested: Kriega OS22 pannier review

Himalayan Index Page
Soft Baggage Comparison • 2020

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The new OS22 pannier from Kriega is the mini version of their OS32 I tried on a WR250 a couple of years back. The OS22 has the same proportions up-down, left-right but is 40mm thinner, reducing each bag’s capacity by 10 litres. It also retains the same uabrasion resistant Hypalon casing on a 1000D Cordura shell impreganted with aramid webbing to resist slash and grabs. An alloy block allows you to wrap a cable lock round the bag for added security. Each bag folds out to a formed box shape, costs £215 and weighs a hefty but durable 2.6kg.
The OS22s just happened to be ideal for my Himalayan, destined for a similar trip through the Atlas and on into the deep south of Morocco.


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tik • Slim
• Rugged, quality construction
• Easy removal from plate, or just lift out the liners
• Lots of exterior tabs for expandability or securing the bags
• Option to not use platform

cros • Expensive

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Most riders don’t seem too bothered, but I like a bike to be as slim as possible and ideally never wider than the bars. Whether splitting city traffic, riding against the wind, squeezing through a hotel door  and not least, teetering along a narrow and gnarly mountain track with a big drop to one side – in all cases excessive width holds you back. Keeping away from the edge of a drop is instinctive and increases the margin of error, but stray too close to a cliff face opposite and you risk snagging over-wide panniers on a rock, losing your balance, over-correcting and taking a dive, just like that viral bike-in-a-boat video of a few years ago (below).

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GS500wide

High and fat silencers can force racks to be annoyingly wide (especially when attempting to be needlessly symmetrical from the rear). Soft or hard, add a plain, box-shaped pannier and the bike can be half as wide as it is long, like the F650GS fitted with Enduristan Monsoons (right), or my all time favourite, the GS500 on the left.
On a travel bike, I feel panniers are best when ‘suitcase’ shaped: longer front-to-back than top-to-bottom and no more than a hand’s span wide. This helps centralise the weight but is an unpopular format because, presumably, it interferes with pillion riders. Many aftermarket racks don’t help either, being set too far back for optimal weight centralisation, as mentioned in this old post.

kriega-os32-fit1With Kriega OS panniers, an HDPE plate  or ‘platform’ in Kriegaspeak (left) can be bolted to a rack. You may think it just adds weight and expense. Both true, but a plate is actually a smart way to fit any rack. HDPE (think: kitchen chopping board) is great stuff, too: light, rigid and dead easy to drill or even just poke with a red-hot skewer. The Kriega plate and its adapter clamps have been designed to fit just about any round-tube, 18mm/¾” rack and offer a broad, grippy surface for the hypalon-backed OS bag to cinch up against. Making your own fitting to fatted or  square tubed racks would be easy enough. The Kriega OS bags use a cunning anchor on and strap-up system to make a very secure fitting while enabling easy fitting or removal – a key element when on the long road. Strapping the hypalon-backed bag to the grippy plate surface spreads loads over a broad area too, meaning no failure-prone stress points.

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Like the 32s, the OS22s can be hooked on and lashed down to the Kriega HDPE platform or plate (see above). It’s a very solid off-road-proof mounting system which I also found dead easy to use. But this time round, on the Himalayan I chose to use the 22s as plain throwovers, like Adventure Spec’s Magadans, Doing it this way meant that once the bags were lashed down securely to the bike, I found it less hassle to simply remove the waterproof, velcro-rimmed white liner bags to carry stuff indoors when not camping, rather than unrigging the whole bag. As such, a couple of shopping bag handles wouldn’t have gone amiss on the liner bags.
A rack is still needed to constrain any swinging and shuffling. I initially bought an Enfield rack from India but despite being cheap, I sold it unopened once I saw how heavy it was; it’s more suited to alloy cases. All I needed was something to support the bags, so Simon made me what I call C-racks (below) in one-inch tube. They’re only mounted at each end and are unbraced against so could bend in a heavy crash, but I tend not to do that so much these days.

him-raker

Adjusting the strap length for the throwovers is easily done. A horizontal strap round the bag and rack kept it located and another (yellow) strap from the rear rack stopped the bags sliding forward. There are plenty of attachment points all over the outer bags to refine your strapping set up if not using the platforms, or of course to add additional Kriega bags.

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It all worked well for me once I pinned down the strapping arrangement. Access was as simple as undoing or just loosening the two big hook straps then unclipping the side cinch-down clips. I never got to test the bags in prolonged rain, not did I test the rugged hypalon panels by sliding down the road. My load in the bags was about 15kg overall. The RHS pipe-side pannier was hitched high enough to avoid the silencer, but just in case, I had a long jubilee clip to attach some sort of metal heat guard round the pipe, had it been necessary.

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Lomo Crash Bar Bags

Product Image

Forty four litres may not sound enough for a month-long trip involving camping, but the Himalayan benefits from tank racks which are ideal for adding a pair of small bags like the tough, 7-litre PVC Lomos (£40 a pair). In this position they’re easy to access from the saddle, and up to a point protect your knees from an oncoming downpour or chilly wind. They also help give the bike a soft landing when you don’t quite swing your leg high enough while getting on or off.
Access is roll top with clip down sides, like the Kriegas. Two additional horizontal straps fix or pull the bags in, but I didn’t use them.

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The combination of Lomo and Kriega gave me a massive capacity of 58 litres and meant no bag was ever jammed packed and I needed no bulky tailpack other than the trusty old Touratech zip pouch I’ve reused over the years from bike to bike. Add the small Giant Loop tank bag and my Himalayan always had room to spare. One drawback with several bags hanging all around the bike means there’s more to empty and take in to a hotel of an evening. But on the road having the load spread evenly across the bike is better for access and weight distribution.

The Kriega and Lomo bags were supplied free for testing.

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ROK Straps – why they work

ROK_LogoWhite_x100

‘Click – Yank; Click – Yank’.
That 5-second procedure is all it takes to securely mount a tailbag or duffle to your bike. The click of the plastic clips joining; an optional yank on the strap’s loose end to tension it against the elastic.
It ought to be obvious and it’s not ROKet science, but watching some riders faff about mounting or removing tailbags by other means makes me realise how brilliant two-part ROK straps are.

Regular adjustable webbing straps are far less dangerous of course, but fail to account for a loose bag’s tendency to ‘shift & shuffle’ on the back of a bike – something which tensioned elastic reliably compensates for. And you effectively needed double the length of webbing to loop across frame loops and back. Forgotten straps and bungies fell by the wayside or got snagged and shredded in your rear wheel.

flintmoto
bung

Before ROK
Back in the Flintstone era but after the invention of string, bungies were the next best thing; a bunch of cheap elastic strands encased in a jaunty woven nylon sheath tipped by two coiled metal hooks. Bungies were such a hit they spawned the daredevil activity of bungy jumping. B-u-u-u-u-n-g-i-i-i-i-i!
BungyBut even back then we knew bungies were a cheap and nasty convenience, and sometimes it was the bungy that was jumping back at you. Because they were way too stretchy you had to tension them to the max to eliminate movement of anything heavier than a copy of MCN, and there was no adjustment other than knotting them [forever]. Add some UV, rain, more UV plus persistent over-stretching, and over the years several unfortunates have suffered nasty eye injuries from a stray hook recoiling into their face at 350mph. It’s said that was the motivation behind the invention of ROKs in Australia back in the 1990s.
Regular adjustable webbing straps are far less dangerous of course, but fail to account for a loose bag’s tendency to ‘shift & shuffle’ on the back of a bike – something which tensioned elastic reliably compensates for. And you effectively needed double the length of webbing to loop across frame loops and back. Forgotten straps and bungies fell by the wayside or got snagged and shredded in your rear wheel.

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Stiff elastic + clips + adjustable strap + tethering loops = ROK Strap

roks

ROK Straps come in two parts: a shorter sheathed section of thick, flat rubber producing minimal recoil. It clips to a regular webbing strap with an adjustment buckle and best of all, both chunky sections end with a sewn loop to thread through itself round a subframe or rack tube. Result: all pieces of ROK Strap are always attached to the bike (but remove easily) for lashing down bike loads quickly and reliably.
At the end of a long ride when you can often be weary or forgetful, just click your two straps apart, lift off your bag and stroll into a velvet-lined riad for a poolside aperitif while others are still fumbling with buckles or stumbling around clutching their eye in agony. It can be that simple.
An inch-wide, 1.5 metre long pair of ROKs (left and below) cost about 15 quid, thinner ones go for under a tenner. Rok On.

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Tested: Ortlieb 30L Travel Zip review

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Tested: Ortlieb 30L Travel Zip

Where: Morocco, France, NZ, Sardinia (on bike and kayak)

Cost: 105 euro from NL

Weight: 870g + shoulder strap

In a line: Road or trail, river or sea, plane or train, the Travel Zip is a handy, waterproof day or overnight bag.

ort30s

What they say
Ortlieb’s 30L Travel Zip Waterproof Duffel is a versatile bag you can use for sports, weekend outings or business trips. The extremely durable and abrasion-resistant Cordura fabric is waterproof, dirt repellent and easy to clean.

What I think:

tik

• Light, airplane carry-on size (unlike Duffle, see below)
• Submersion proof Tizip (unlike roll-tops)
• Zip is less faff than roll-tops
• Grippy, indented shoulder strap pad – it really works
• Easy-to-clean PVC body
• Nifty but small outside mesh pockets. Another one inside
• Clever rigid carry handle set up

cros

• Discontinued. Hard to find new and nothing similar around, afaik
• Pricier than roll-tops
• TiZip requirse cleaning and re-greasing once in a while

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duffle

Review
It took a bit of searching to track down Ortlieb’s 30-litre Travel Zip (search in NL shops) – I get a feeling the handy Travel Zip may be discontinued. But in the minimum size of 40-litres, the current Duffle Zip (right) is too big for my needs, even if it’s only a little more expensive.
And although they’re simple and bombproof, I’ve become less of a fan of the roll-top Rack Packs since I’ve needed bags like this for paddling. The submersion-proof TiZip offers useful emergency buoyancy if my packraft gets attacked by a school of irate swordfish.
On the back of a bike an immersion-proof seal is not that critical unless you’re enduring monsoonal conditions, but the simple zip opening is less faff then the roll-up and clip-down of a typical roll-top.

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In Morocco the Travel Zip was big enough for my overnight needs once tools and other quick-access stuff were stashed in my old Touratech Tailbag, and mucky spare oil, a one-piece wet suit and spare inner tubes were lashed around the 700GS and 310GS I used.
A waterproof Tizip adds quite a cost and complexity to bag construction, but with the wipe-clean and easy repair PVC body, the bag has an airtight seal. I can vouch for that because after zipping the bag closed in the desert, by the time we reached 2000 metres it was bloated out from the lower air pressure.
It’s only a bag: you put things in, carry it around, and then take things out. But I like the clever hard-handle carrying arrangement, rugged-enough build and most of all, the easy opening. The small exterior pockets may prove more handy in a boat than on the back of a bike, and there’s no harm in the other pocket inside. For a dry-suit zip, the TiZip runs smoothly after a wipe of silicon grease out of the box, and this ease of access in a big improvement over the same-sized Watershed ZipLoc duffle that I used for years. The Watershed fabric is way tougher, but used as a boating day bag, doing the seal up properly as the next rapids approached became a pain. For a boat or a bike, I’m sure the Travel Zip will do me nicely.

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XSR 700 Scrambler – ready for Morocco

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• XSR 700 Scrambler index page

Just flown back from a quick tour in Morocco and setting up the XSR for departure in a couple of days. It was handy pre-running my routes last week; despite recent heavy rains which has seen some places re-mudding their adobe roofs, all my tracks with the exception of Jebel Sarhro were in pretty good nick, including MH19 Trans Atlas which we managed to cram in on the last day.

Getting back on my XSR after riding XR250s with 70,000kms on the clock, the Yamaha feels amazingly taut. On the weekend I nipped down to Surrey to buy an XR400 for Algeria (more about that later).

All that needed doing to the XScrambleR was fitting an elongated and bigfooted sidestand adapted from an MT-07 stick (£20 used on ebay + £25 labour). A seamless job by my weldy mate, Jon. That took 10 minutes and a wall to lean on.
Next, see how the Kriega Duo 36 Saddlebags fit over the back. My pillion-to-rack spars are better than nothing but aren’t brilliant at limiting swing into the wheel; they’re too high and forward. A proper rack is best, but a bit of stick and zip tie from pillion-to-indicator may do the job.

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And so here it is, another AMH projectile ready for three laps of Morocco and a dash home. Looking forward to it, just as long as it handles OK on the dirt. I’m pretty sure it won’t be much worse than the heavier CB500X Rally Raider from 2015 (right).