Category Archives: Luggage

Tested: Kriega Overlander S – OS-32

See also: Soft Baggage Comparison


Kriega’s new Overlander-S is their second iteration of a luggage system suited to bike travel. A few years ago they brought out a similar plate-on-rack idea (below right) but, with modularity using their existing 15-litre packs (or Rotopax), which were semi-permanently riveted to the HDPE plate which itself attached to the rack with fiddly skewer clamps. I never used them myself, but has a close look once and it wasn’t really for me. I prefer one big bag, like the Adventure Spec Magadans, and an easier way of getting the bags on and off a rack.


tik • Good volume
• Rugged construction
• Easy mounting and removal
• Exterior tabs for expandability
• Option to not use platform/plate

cros • Expensive, once you add it all up

M3-17 - 43

I just spent a month in southern Morocco and Western Sahara with prototypes of Kriega’s new OS-32 panniers, the core of their new Overlander-S system (below right) using a similar bag-on-plate-on-rack system.
My load was about 10-15kgs each side, depending on water, and I was set up for tentless camping with a few days food. A nifty Giant Loop tankbag, a trusty old Touratech tail pouch and Kriega R15 backpack with Hydrapak added up to the rest of my baggage.

With 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.
moskrackMosko Moto also use a plate for their Backcountry bags; a GRP wedge and ‘frame’ (right). The wedge attaches upwards to your bike rack, and the full-width frame permanently to the back of the bag which slides down onto the wedge and clips in with a latch. Originals were also made in HDPE, but either wore too quickly or were too soft. GRP (fibreglass) gets round this, but can be brittle stuff. I’ve not tried Backcountry bags, but intuitively I feel old-school soft-strapping to a plate spreads and secures loads better than two bits of GRP slotting, clipping and grinding together, even if it does just take seconds to fit and remove. It’s probably fine for road riding, less so for off road.


For a big trip with heavy/variable loads, a travel bike is better off with a rack, unless you take very little or can be certain your gear will stay put, be easy to get to and remove, and of course, won’t catch fire off the pipe (right; Niger ’86). It’s a load-carrying interface between your baggage and your bike to enable secure fitting on a variety of bikes, like saddles on a horse, a roofrack on your car, a packframe in a rucksack, or even the shoes on your feet.
You can use Kriega’s OS-32s as throwovers, in which case you could dispense with the plate, but you will need some sort of rack to stop them swinging about. You could duplicate the HDPE plate’s strap holes on a rack frame to effectively mount in the same way. It won’t spread the load and secure the bag as well, but it will save 2.4kg of plate and a hundred quid.


I used a Tusk rack from Rocky Mountain (4kg, left). Great price, well made in ¾” and solid mounting. It stood up to the beating well and was only spoiled by the clumsy extra bracketry for mounting hard cases. I removed what I could from the rack, but some welded-on bits (right) got in the way of mounting the Kriega rack plate as low and far forward as practical. I suppose I could have ground them off.


The plates (1.2kg each) have four slots for the upper and lower bag straps. To mount a bag (2.6kg), you rest it on your knee and feed  the lower straps through – below.


Then you feed the top straps through the slots and pull the ‘anchor buckle’ through – works a bit like a shirt button and similar to Wolfman’s idea which cinched smaller bags directly onto racks.


Viewed from behind – the anchor buckles (as I call them) pull through and take the weight.


With those buckles pulled through, the bag now hangs on the plate not unlike a throwover. You could probably ride on roads like that. For a bombproof mounting, you now crouch down and connect the dangling lower straps to the outer strap with a flat metal hook. This is about as arduous and fiddly as the whole bag-mounting process gets. Then, on top you do the same: hook the outer strap to the chunky tab off the anchor buckle, then cinch it all up and lock it down with the cam buckle. Sorted!
krigstrappMounting takes about 40 secs each side once you’re practised – demounting a bit less.


One of the best things about the Magadans are the big exterior pockets – a lot of soft luggageers dodge this necessity. Kriega supplied me with two OS6, 6-litre strap-on pockets (550g) which are part of the OS system and which I hooked on the front of the bags. They’re ideal for daily or heavy items to keep the CoG central. The OS6s cinch down on themselves to stop stuff shaking about. You could put two more on the back and another on top. There are over a dozen hook-on tabs on the main bags and the system includes an optional pair of shoulder straps which make it easier to do the bike-to-hotel-room-walk in one go.

M3-17 - 40

All bags came with the usual Kriega white liners to enhance rummaging visibility and which are more durable than previous liners. I didn’t use them, and bagged stuff individually. Even then, what rain I got – a few hours a couple of times – didn’t penetrate the bags. They’re covered in hypalon panels (think: whitewater raft fabric; lasts for decades) which slow the wetting out of the bag’s Cordura body and of course will scoff at any abrasion, be it the constant rubbing against the plate, or sliding down the road hoping not to loosen your load. Daytime access requires uncam-locking and loosening the top straps and pushing to the sides, then unclipping the roll top folds from the sides and unrolling – about 15 secs.


On the top panel you’ll see a chunky metal fitting to feed a cable lock, like the Steel Core recommended by Mosko Moto. I initially just used them to secure the loose strap ends (left). Kriega tell me if I fold the ends over they’ll have the rigidity to slip into the outer sleeves, even when the bags are packed full. I never tried that and in the end just let the straps flap.

The bags have interior stiffening panels to help give shape, but fold down flat for shipping or shoving under the bed between adventures. The volume is 32 litres according to the brochure, but as I discovered here, a flexible, rectilinear box will actually increase in volume when filled with fluids as it seeks to attain spherical equilibrium. Who wouldn’t want some of that. For example, my notional ’24-litre’ Magadans (right) actually took 40 litres of water, and that increase will be the same with any similar flexible rectilinear pannier.

So, masses of volume meant I didn’t need an annoying tailpack, and low-mounting probably didn’t do any harm to stability either. Yes, they’re wide because the rack is wide. On the chain side I could’ve used the inner space better (just a rolled up 10-L fuel bag, yellow thing on the left). There’s four litres of volume to be had there, easily. A Rotopax won’t fit.

On road and trail the OS-32s never missed a beat or felt annoying to use. In fact the pulling up of the anchor buckles and then cinching up were quite satisfying actions – I suspect ‘actuation gratification’ (the satisfying click of a clip, for example; there’s probably better jargon for it) may be something that better designers think more about than others.
With my throwover-on-rack Mags (left) I removed the liner to take indoors as the bags needed careful lashing to the rack to stay put. With the Overlander-S it was no bother to:
• lift the cam locks
• loosen then unhook the lower straps
• unhook the top straps
• lift the bag on its handle, release the anchor buckles and carry it away

Your OS32s are a travel solution to long overland journeys. For dirtbike weekends or fast and light BDR-ing, I imagine a GL Great Basin, Mosko Moto Reckless, or alternative Kriega packs will suit riders prioritising agility. Me, I’m more of a traveller and prefer big, side-mounted saddle bags with minimal junk loaded on top. Slimmer would be nice, but that’s just conventional rack design and high dirt-bike pipes for you.

The Mags are still great bags and bound to be cheaper. The OS-32 kit as I used it with plates and two pockets would come to £710. That’s a lot of money, but of all the accessories you lash to a genuine travel bike, surely the baggage system is the most critical and will be the most used.  I hope to carry over these OS-32s to my next adv bike. Good job Kriega, a well thought out bit of kit.

For more images from my ride in Morocco, see this.

M3-17 - 19

Review: Giant Loop Fandango Pro Tank Bag


For my kind of riding I’ve not been a great fan of tankbags. When you get off the bike it’s another thing to unclip and lug around with you, along with your lid. For the stuff you can’t afford to lose I find a backpack like Kriega’s R15 more functional – it stays with you on or off the bike.

Fyi: I bought this Fandango Pro used off ebay for £35.

What they say:
Fandango Tank Bag PRO™ (8 litres) represents a major upgrade of Giant Loop’s largest, most popular tank bag. Expandability, electronics compatibility, and features driven by rider feedback inspire this adventure-proof state-of-the-art design.

What I think:


 • Solid and well made
• Still using it on all sorts of bikes 5 years later
• Perfect size for my needs – not too big
• More handy compartments than Secret Squirrel


• A hundred and sixty quid for a PVC tank bag? Nope, now £230!
•  Mounting zips can be a faff; would prefer clips or even velcro


I like to try new stuff, or up to a point, retry ideas I’ve given up on. Once I strung some high-end Rova-Flex zip ties round the frame and headstock the Fandango perched securely on my WR’s big IMS tank. It stayed there for a month, zipped off every 4-500kms to refill the tank, or right off when overnighting in lodgings. Since then I used it on an XR400 in Algeria, on my XScrambleR 700 in Morocco and on my Himalayan.

The volume is just right for me, though the map pocket’s surface area os a bit small. It closes with a velcro patch, but that wasn’t enough to stop my vital notebook falling out while battling through a oued on the Western Sahara border. Going back to look for it was just ‘too hot, too hard, too far’, to paraphrase GL’s motto. Make sure you velcro down well, especially with toll-highway tickets.
The back mesh pocket was great to whip out my P&S camera on the move, and inside under the top is a nifty hidden zip pocket, but it’s starting to fray. There’s another under the base (may get wet) and inside the body is a velcro divider I have no use for as the bag is not that big. I just stuff in what’s needed.

XR4 in Algeria

There’s a port to let a cable out so your phone can recharge, and they’ve neatly addressed securing the loose ends of the harness to eliminate flapping.
As expected, the zips can be a pain some days. It takes just a few seconds of fiddling to get them to hook up, but I got things to do and places to ride! I’d prefer clips. The breather hose from my WR’s fuel cap didn’t get affected by the bag pressing on it, and lightly loaded as it was, the sat stayed in place over rough terrain.

890R in 2022

Once the harness is on the bike, it will be nice to ditch the backpack and just use the ‘dango like a small top box as it’s been a dead handy accessory on my trips. Lately I’ve fitted it to my Himalayan where it sits nicely with some more Rova-Flex zipped round the frame tubes. Only this time I’ve taped some tape to the tank top to stop the base vinyl from scuffing the pristine white paint.
Just remember all this goodwill is based on the great price I paid for it used, though I see it’s dropped by some 25% or more at Adventure Spec. Welcome back tank bags.


Tested: Kriega Saddlebag Duo 36

See also; Soft Baggage Comparison
Kriega Overlander S – OS-32


The custom-retro scene is encroaching on the adventure biking boom. Bonnevilles now have more spin-offs than a Hadron Collider, Klim have a Belstaff-mimicking retro jacket in the works and Kriega have come out with the Saddlebag Duo 36 throwovers, much like what we ran in the 70s and 80s, but made of PVC-coated cardboard. Fittingly, the promo video features a Ducati Scrambler in a post-industrial, brick-and-iron setting.


I used the Duos on a ten-day trail ride between the Colorado Rockies and Phoenix, slung over a KLX250S. No rack is not recommended (by me or Kriega) but that’s how my KLX swung.


Listed at only 18-litres each side (will actually be hold much more: see this) they’re on the small side so not pitched at long-range travel bikes. But throwovers are throwovers, whether outside the barbers on Shoreditch High Street, or fighting off pterodactyls in the Lockhart Basin.
They cost £289.


What they say:
Kriega Saddlebags are available in either SOLO or DUO options. Universal fit* to modern retro-styled bikes, combining classic design with modern performance.
They are 100% WATERPROOF and constructed from super-tough abrasion resistant Hypalon™ + 1000D Cordura®.
A roll-top closure guarantees total weather protection and the white liner makes it easy to find your kit and is removable for cleaning.
Aircraft grade anodized alloy strap connectors and heavy-duty cam buckles hold the bags firmly in position. 
Mounting straps are included for single or double bag set-up, plus an adjustable shoulder strap for use off the bike.

What I think:


• Usual rugged Kriega built quality
• Durable hypalon panels
• Thoughtful locating loops on the base to attach to frames.
• Can be used singlely and convert into a large shoulder bag (strap included)
• Bags come folded inside a nifty zipped pouch


•  Closure straps were a bit short on the KLX once crammed to the max
• The throwover straps may be a bit short too
•  For regular use, the closure system was a little convoluted compared to OS-32s


With nothing else at hand, at the last minute I grabbed the Duos Kriega had given me to try, to relocate my KLX via a scenic route to Arizona. This meant turning up at a remote house in the Colorado Rockies, getting the dusty KLX running, loading up (left) and hitting the road.
That worked out better than expected, but I was well aware that having the Duos resting on the 250’s side panels was not how they were supposed to be used. I’ve had enough throwover fires and meltdowns, so loaded the Saddlebags as lightly as possible – probably less than 6kg each.


As I was heading straight for the dirt, I used some chunky Rova Flex cable ties (left) to stop them swinging around, using the handy loops sewn to the bags’ inner bottom corners. I admit this was all a bit of a bodge, but riding appropriately and in an underloaded state, they worked fine. I mounted them as far forward as possible to reduce inertia loads and pressure on the side panels, and only once I dropped down into baking Phoenix, AZ did the pipe-side side panel go soft on me and wilt towards the silencer (left).


Inside, the Saddlebags use Kriega’s signature white TPU-coated liners velcro’d to the shell which means it’s easy to see inside. The proofing on similar looking liners didn’t last on an R30 backpack I used a while back, but on this trip it was only dust that needed to be kept out. Mostly motelling, at night I just unFlexed the bags from the frame and carried the lashed-together bags indoors.


A big hypalon flap closes over the Cordura body roll-and-clip opening and connects a flat hook to a loop strap from below. You then tension down with a shorter alloy buckle on the edge of the flap. You need to stoop-and-grope a bit to catch the back strap to join with the flat hook. I’d have preferred the higher adjustment buckle to also be the connection, or a loop to keep the under-strap in place, but perhaps there are sound reasons for doing it this way.


All the straps also felt a bit on the short side, when you consider how wide a high-piped bike rack can be. Of course, your typical retro sled will usually sling its pipes low. Longer straps also enable tucking other stuff under them, outside the bags.
As it was I didn’t get into the bags much during the day; all my day stuff was in the included pouch strapped on the back on the seat. On the dirt I kept the pace down to reduce loads on the sidepanels – the thoughtful hypalon patches all kept wear to pretty much zero.
In case you don’t know, hypalon is the very durable rubber-based fabric they use to make white water rafts. And those things last 20 years or more. A bit overkill on panniers, but very few plastic-based fabrics such as PVC abrade anywhere near as well.
There are other thoughtful touches like extra straps to make a shoulder bag, and another set to attach the bags directly to a rack and so eliminate the over-straps which may get uncomfortable for a pillion.
I didn’t use the Kriega Duos long and hard enough to really get a good impression, but a picnicking hipster will have nothing to complain about, providing the bags are solidly mounted. They demonstrate all the features you expect with Kriega gear and for overland travellers whose loads are modest, I’m sure the Duos would lap up some hard travelling too. The simple, crash-proof design and rugged detailing will see to that.


Tested: Kreiga R15 backpack + Hydrapak

See also: Kriega Trail 18


The R15 is the smallest of Kriega’s six Rider Packs (right), excluding the Hydro 3, and comes with all the features you expect from Kriega gear. It’s pitched at the active off-roader not wanting to carry too much on their back.
The Hydrapak is a 3-litre reservoir which slips into the R15 and all other Kriega Rider Packs.

I’ve used the R15 for two years now, from a weekend’s trail biking in Wales on the WR, 800 miles of backroads, highways and tracks between the Colorado Rockies and Phoenix, AZ on the KLX and on my Morocco tours.


What they say:
The compact, hydration compatible solution when off the beaten track. The R15 provides the freedom of movement, light weight and tough, long-lasting performance essential for the rough and tumble world of off-road riding. Incorporating Kriega’s Quadloc-lite™ system, the harness is angled away from the underarms giving total freedom of movement.
An optional waist strap is included for the extra demands of riding off-road.

Hydrapak® military spec reservoir and drink tube compatible with all Kriega Backpacks. Wide slide-seal opener for easy fill. Reversible for easy cleaning, drying.

What I think:


• Great size for biking – not too big
• Feels solid and well made
• Very well-designed hydrator – easy to use, remove and refill
• Comfortable to wear
• Removable waist strap
• Other Kriega modules (or whatever you got) easily added to the pack


• Much prefer a roll-top closure to a main zips on small backpacks
•  Waterproof liner is an option
• All gets quite expensive once accessorised
• The hydrator’s mouth valve broke when dropped on concrete
• The chest strap gets in the way of jacket pocket access


I used a Kriega R30 a few years ago but sold it once the liner started delaminating and went for a similar-sized, all-PVC Over-Board (right) which is currently MiA. Handy though it may be to get a lid in there, now I think about it, both those packs were too big for my prefs. What I want most from a bike backpack is a means to carry a laptop and other valuables with me at all times, including pelting rain, as well as the capacity to run a hydrator. The simple, roll-top Over-Board did rain OK until a hole wore in the Cordura base, but was just a basic PVC sack with straps and had no special means of fitting a hydrator.

The best thing you can say about an R15 is that it fits so well you forget it’s there. One user I spoke to told me how she was struck down in a panic, convinced she’d left it somewhere, but – like the apocryphal missing specs – it was right there all along.
The arrangement of the stiff backboard (Forcefield spine protector an option), waist strap and anatomically formed straps – and not-least the Quadloc Lite chest buckle – means it sits on the back and stays there as you rattle over rough terrain.


I have to say I much prefer the zip-less roll-top closure of the R30 over the stiff-to-use but water-resistant main YKK zip of the R15 and most other Kriega packs. Case to point: cabin baggage scan at the airport. You know the deal – at the other end of the conveyor, repack, re-shoe and all the rest, but forget to do up the R15’s zip and the laptop falls out with a clatter as I walk off. I can’t be the only absent-minded traveller who does that once in a while, luckily not while riding away this time. With roll-top, if you forget to do it up, things won’t fall out unless you go flying. A zip makes it easier to get to what’s inside (left), but it’s only a small pack. get in there and grope around a little.


For exterior pockets, zips are handy. There’s an A4-sized zipped pocket on the outside and another smaller one inside behind some chunky coated mesh, for tools or sharp-edged things like keys.
The R15 uses the Quadloc Lite with a single chest clip (a Duoloc?). I recall the twin clips on the R30 felt a bit OTT, but that was a bigger bag. If you need more capacity on your R15, the US 5 and 10 Dry packs clip right on (right), or there are enough looped tapes to strap on whatever you have.

Four exterior compression straps cinch the contents down, but after a while I snipped them off as it’s just more stuff to undo, forget to do up or flap around (though Kriega go to great measures to constrain loose strap ends). It’s not like I’m racing about from checkpoint to checkpoint. Kriega do like to make merry with straps and fittings but I prefer a minimum that gets the job done. Inside there’s a pair of straps to hold the bladder in its sleeve which is a good idea, given the 3-kilo mass of a full hydrator.


The pack doesn’t come with a waterproof liner (left) – they’re another £29 to fit an R15. I’m told they use a new proofing method on the fabric which ought to last better than the old ones, though a white option (like the old ones) would be good to add luminosity inside.

Back on the bag, the reflective tape front and back will probably do more good than I’ll ever realise, and all the padding and harnessing easily measures up to the potential capacity of the pack. Like tank bags, smaller seems to work better on the back while riding, the hydrator is great, and I’ve enough dry bags going spare to use as a liner.


Kriega Hydrator
I’ve been using the same old 3-litre Camel bak hydrator for years for various activities including biking. Kriega’s same-sized Hydrapak is a big improvement in just about all ways  and includes some features I’ve added to my Camel Bak to make it more functional.

Someone’s really had a good old think about this reservoir and addressed just about every requirement you can think of to drink water from a bag via a tube on the move. For a start it slips in easily into the sleeve inside the pack which, as mentioned, has adjustment to stop the full bag moving around when you hit a series of whoops.
The bag can be opened fully by slipping off the pinch-bar slider® over the folded-over top, giving easy filling access and, as importantly, easy cleaning and quick drying too (Osprey use a similar system). If you’ve had something other than fresh spring water in your bladder you’ll want to be able to rinse and dry it easily to prevent algea. The body of the bag is marked with a scale showing imperial and metric volumes.


More cleverness: the hose clips into the bag base with an o-ring clip lock that so far has been secure. It gets a bit stiff but that’s actually very handy when you want to refill the bag but leave the threaded-in hose in place. And at the mouth end there’s a small twist lock on the bite valve, a ridge to help the teeth get a good bite on the valve, and also a cap to keep it clean. There’s more: they’ve thoughtfully covered the hose in neoprene, again to reduce temperature variations as well as sunlight setting off more mildew in the tube. Sunlight-generated algae is harmless, but something less benign might latch on to it and contaminate your water. With my Camel Bak I find cleaning the black residue from the clear hose is awkward (no doubt they sell a hose cleaning kit) until I bought a neoprene sleeve.

Usually I use High 5 rehydration tablets in my hydrators, but in the US used plain water to make it usable for cooking too. After a day or three the water tasted pretty bitter. Don’t know if that’s the Colorado mountain bore water I was using or the new, untainted Hydrapak. If it is the later, I’m sure the aftertaste will reduce in time.

When the original Camel Bak idea came along in the 80s it offered a great step forward in near-hands-free hydration when engaged in mobile activities, not least desert biking. As I’ve found, if it’s easy to drink on the move you’ll do so – if it means faffing about with a bottle, you may not and pay the price later. Add up all the features and the Kriega Hydrapak’s well worth the price alongside a comparable Camel Bak bladder and will of course work with any pack, Kriega or otherwise.

Giant Loop Siskiyou Panniers – a close look

See also: Soft Baggage Comparison


Giant Loop are well known for their innovative ‘horseshoe’ bags which wrap around the back of a dirt bike but which, in my opinion, are not especially easy to use day-in, day-out and have been proven not to be waterproof and have zips which can be weak points. That may not matter for a weekend run with your mates in the hills, but does on the overland.

Now Giant Loop have joined the likes of Enduristan, Adventure Spec and a few others in producing a conventional throwover pannier, the Siskiyou, named after a mountain range in southern Oregon. These types of panniers are just about as old as motorcycling of course, up till a few years ago Ortliebs were widely used by moto travellers. I recall my first pair of ‘soft bags’ in the late 70s, elegant lightweight cases (left) crafted from a lustrous space-age combination of vinyl-coated cardboard. But this was the advent of the monoshock era where soon they’d be no more twin shocks to keep the swinging pannier backs out of the rear wheel or final drive. As I say elsewhere, over the years I’ve melted my fair share of soft panniers and even dealt with small luggage fires (right). Nevertheless, I still prefer soft luggage for overland or adventure travel despite the drawbacks of security, perhaps combined with one small detachable hard case for valuables.

These panniers were sent to me for a quick look by Adv Spec

… A ‘round-the-world contender, Giant Loop’s Siskiyou Panniers™ combine the convenience of hard panniers with all of Giant Loop’s performance advantages. Rugged, rackless, lightweight — and damn sexy…. Backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty…

The GL website specs shown above left also claim each pannier has a volume of ’35 litres’. I’m not the first person to question how they arrived at this figure; my calcs put it at more like 24 litres. We’re all used to exaggerated claims, but that was quite a discrepancy. I read that they measure their luggage products by filling them with beans and doing so I suppose it’s possible that a soft fabric pannier would bulge out. In fact I’ve since found that that is exactly the case so Giant Loop’s estimate of 35 litres is right in the ball park.

GL are fairly ambiguous about what they’re made from other than ‘military-spec materials and construction‘, but it looks like the well-proven and widely used combination of a Cordura shell with a vinyl back, interior and lid. Unusually, sandwiched inside this thick shell is an unseen additional layer of closed cell foam, or something similar. It helps shape the bags and also reduce damage by padding the contents when you crash. GL wisely suggest that any hard-edged items in the baggage are well wrapped for such an eventuality: it’s standard practice in packing soft baggage.


Rather like the Monsoons, the top edge of the Siksiyou’s shell has a sewn-on sleeve of coated nylon with a thin zip and roll-up clips, similar to a dry bag. Inside you get a separate yellow nylon liner (below right) cut more or less to fit in the panniers, with well-taped seams, a thick layer of TPU coating on one side, plus another thin zip and roll-top clips. Over the top of this drops the thick PVC lid which clips down on straps, with additional separate straps for attaching stuff to the top of the lid rather than tucking it under the lid straps – another nice touch. Inside the lid is a flat zipped mesh map pocket.


There’s also a small cinch-cord pocket on the front of each pannier, but although they describe it as ‘bellowed’ it’s actually a simple wedge that’s nowhere near as big nor usefully box-shaped as the four pockets you get on Magadans although it’s said they’ve been designed to take 2-litre Touratech cans, as pictured left. On the right, a 1.5 litre water bottle in the pannier’s pocket.


The two bags join together using broad vinyl velcro pads. These pads feature additional lashing rings to secure other luggage or to fix it all to your bike. The Magadans use the same system, but  with a pair of wide velcro straps rather than full-width pads which seems bit OTT. Me, I’d prefer buckles and straps over velcro anyway, because as the volume of your load changes or rough roads take their toll, fine tuning the tension may be required – and that’s much more easily done with adjustable buckles that super sticky velcro, be it strap or pad. On the Mags such a buckle mod is easy to do – with the Siskies you’re stuck with the pad which I’m also not sure would be great to sit on on a hot day. The GL installation page suggests: “For 2-up riding, affix a small seat cushion to the top of the Siskiyou Panniers“.


To stop the bags sliding back you get a strap to attach to the pillion footrest or thereabouts (left), as on the Monsoons but something that was missing from the Magadans’ first version. Subsequent versions low have a tie-off D-ring.


Included with the Siskiyou bags are a pair of alloy exhaust guards (rather like I bodged on my Suzuki – I got the idea from GL). You also get two hose clips, some instructions and a sticker and to stop your sidepanels getting scuffed GL can also supply some protective vinyl film. The exhaust guards are an admission that many a soft pannier has melted like a Cornetto when it shifted or otherwise got too close to the pipe. Modern efi bikes with catalysers run especially hot and indeed the Siskiyou panniers tested on a Husky Terra by Cycle World magazine (April 2013) melted. So like GL say, additional guards may be neededOn any bike you need to think carefully how loaded throwovers will react when they shift on rough roads against a hot pipe. This need avoid or deal with meltdowns with soft bags is why some riders understandably prefer hard alloy or firm resin boxes, although in my opinion mounting soft bags on some sort of rack is the way round this flaw.


The Siskiyous have a sporty cutback base which makes them more suitable for regular bikes with low, upswept pipes. Whatever, this shape will greatly increase the Siskiyou’s fitting options to many more bikes than the usual adv suspects. The GL logo is emblazoned on the sides, but in a pleasingly understated way. Unless that ‘GL’ logo glows, I’m not sure there any reflective surfaces as found on the Mags and Monsoons – possibly the thin edge of the lid?

I did also wonder if access would be a bit of a faff. If they’re fully locked down you unclip the two lid straps, unclip and unroll the outer bag and unzip it, then unclip and unroll the inner bag and unzip that – and you’re in! Of course you don’t need to use those zips; their protection against waterproofing is minimal and zips can jam or break when dirty or used carelessly. In this respect I prefer the bomb-proof, roll-top simplicity of the Magadans and the Monsoons.


So all up you’re getting a good sized touring pannier that looks well made and is usefully featured. The foam protection sandwich is a nice touch, as is including exhaust guards and several lashing points on under and behind the bags; you get a feeling they took a lead from Enduristan here. But – is this £475 ($700) worth of pannier when in the UK Magadans go for £350 and Monsoons for just £230? I wondered that perhaps if you’re paying for the ‘limited lifetime warranty‘ but that only covers the “original purchaser… against … defective materials and craftsmanship only, and does not include damage due to normal wear and tear or misuse“, so no big deal there; after a year they could just put any failure down to wear or misuse.

Siskiyous look like they were designed for on a Honda CB550X Rally Raid

The Siskiyou panniers certainly feel like they’re up to the rigours of overland travel and design and features fit the bill without any radical innovation. You just need to ask yourself in turn whether the bill for a set lives up to your expectations.