08 October 2015

The search for the ideal—for me—waterproof motorcycle luggage is over

Two years ago, as I planned my first trip to Việt Nam, I searched the Internet and local stores for motorcycle luggage. Because of the limited-to-no availability of motorcycle luggage in VN, I planned to carry it with me on the plane trip to/from. Hard panniers

do not fit inside conventional luggage and even the largest are relatively small compared to the average suitcase. They therefore add to the number of bags checked at $150-175 per bag after the first two, so I only considered soft-sided luggage that would compress almost flat for air transport. My only "must have" was waterproof, immediately narrowing the possibilities by (I'm guessing here) about 60%. My definition of waterproof excludes those pieces that need a rain cover, in part because I've had them blow off, reducing it to "normal" and sopping wet. The only exception to this is my tank bag because I've yet to find one of any design that is truly waterproof.

Click here for the blog post in which I detailed my reasoning for the luggage I chose to use two years ago. It worked well at the time, and now I'm looking to stretch/extend my horizons. That post is, by the way, the most frequently viewed of the 170+ posts on this blog to-date.

Stretching my horizons includes of a 'round the world (RTW) motorcycle adventure that would kick off within the next year, I've spent considerable time thinking about many aspects of such a trip:

  • What motorcycle to take (size/brand/model)
  • What modifications will it need or will I want?
  • Where I want to go/what I want to experience
  • What tools/equipment to take
  • What clothes to take
  • What electronics take
  • Solo or with partner(s)?
  • What motorcycle luggage to use
  • How long will it take (Answered: As long as it takes)
  • And so on...
There are many hundreds of web sites and blogs on these topics and hundreds of thousands of opinions. Most of the topics I listed are greatly subjective; while I think I'll want a 600cc or larger bike, there's a guy currently on an RTW astride a 50cc Honda Ruckus.

I'd need one for each leg...
Selection of tools is significantly less subjective with the generally accepted wisdom seems to be to take the basics and then, "everything else you can shoehorn into your bags."

I use the web site sites for ideas on products/items to consider, and to gather facts and information; I first learned of the existence of both my Redverz tent and my LuxuryLite camping cot, both of which I raved about in a recent post, on one such site. It will come as no surprise to those who know me that I'm what is called an internal decision maker—I form my own opinion and the opinions of others are of little-to-no importance or influence. That's neither good nor bad, it just is.

Luggage... Hard or soft?

Hard keeps the bike relatively more upright when it's dropped; is more susceptible to damage when dropped hard; is waterproof unless severely damaged; adds undesired weight; can damage the meat popsicle in a hard crash; can be securely locked; and is virtually impossible to remove when properly attached and locked.

Soft flexes more when then bike is dropped; is waterproof in some styles; is difficult to secure against theft/vandalism; is lightweight; and probably won't damage the owner in a collision.

Some riders use both with hard panniers (the metal or fiberglass boxes) and a soft bag or three on top; there are literally millions of possible permutations...

After three days with the hard panniers on the DR, I decided that I was definitely going with soft bags—especially after I saw the MoskoMoto bags that one of the instructors had on his GS1200. Although I'd read a little about the brand, this was the first time I actually saw them in-person. He has the Backcountry Pannier Kit, and they require side racks.

Since my DRZ lacks side racks, buying them would necessitate a couple hundred more dollars expense... and add another two items to what I'm lugging back to VN in my already over-loaded luggage. Not gonna happen!

I was VERY impressed with the quality and versatility and he had only good things to say about his experience with them. He suggested that I look at the Reckless 80 system (the name is a play on the fact that they are rack-less ;-) As soon as I got back to Tacoma, I looked up MoskoMoto's web site and went over my options. Within 10 minutes, I'd ordered the Reckless 80 system,

the 40L Backcountry Duffle,

and two large storage bags that attach securely to either the Reckless or the Duffel using Molle sticks.

I left for Canada and the HU Travellers' Meeting before they arrived, so I used the hard boxes and a few waterproof soft bags for that trip... where I met someone using the same system I awaited. Everything he told me about his experience with it reinforced my buying decision.

One of the first things I did when I got home to Đà Lạt was fit the system to my DRZ. It fits beautifully and I'm now even more looking forward to my next trip! If I am unable to fit everything in the two components, then I'm definitely over-packing.

I strongly recommend that, before you buy ANY motorcycle luggage, check out MoskoMoto. They're a small company with great (and beautiful) product and outstanding customer service. Even more importantly, they probably have something that's just what you're looking for.

If you decide to buy MoskoMoto luggage because of what I wrote, please tell the company. Who knows? They may choose to become a sponsor of my upcoming RTW adventures...


  1. an internal decision maker rocking a meat popsicle? my brain is melting....

  2. I sorta wish this were an attributed comment, though it would take away the pleasure trying to deduce who made it... "rocking" narrows it down... thanks!