Best Motorcycle Bags Reviewed for Space & Practical Usage
One of the best parts of owning and riding a motorcycle, in my opinion, is being able to drop what you’re doing, load up your bike, and riding off, letting the road take you to who knows where. Unfortunately, unlike a car or truck, your motorcycle does not have a lot of extra space to store everything you may need to take on your journey. Before we continue, if you for one second think that you can get away with nothing more than the clothes on your back, think again. After all, bikers are looking for adventure, but they aren’t crazy. Riders still require at least a few necessities, like clothes, food, camping gear, etc.
- Viking Cruise
- Cordura construction
- Nelson Rigg
- Tri-Max ballistic nylon
- Seibertron Motorbike
- 900D waterproof
Whatever you decide that you need to take with you on your travels – this buying guide is here to help you find the bag that is perfect for your needs. Because that’s what it comes down to. Bags. This is the best solution to create the extra space you need, and there are a huge number of choices out there. In the interest of variety, I’ve decided to include a range of selections from a few key styles of motorcycle bags. I did this in order to include bags for long distance rides, quick jaunts through town, and everything in between. Just because you only use your bike as a commuter vehicle to get you to work or school, that doesn’t mean you won’t need to bring along some extra items. So, ideally, whatever your needs may be, this guide should be able to steer you in the right direction. Each of those three selections listed above covers a different type of bag. That was a bit coincidental, but it helps to showcase just how many options there really are. It also happens to be one of those items that are pretty easy to make, so many of the choices are from companies that just threw them together quickly with very little quality control in order to get a piece of the market. So, having said that, let’s dive in and take a look at some of the most high quality, reliable motorcycle bags available today.
10 Best Motorcycle Bags
1. Viking Cruise
Not only is this bag perfect for all of your storage needs, but it also comes with all of the attachments necessary to make sure that while you’re on the road, it’s not going anywhere. It starts with an easy mounting base and then uses hidden bungee cords and hooks to hold it fast to your bike.
Motorcycle riding can be especially dangerous at the best of times, but none more so than at night. Visibility is poor, and drivers have a greater chance of hitting you. That’s why, it’s a good idea to take extra measures to make yourself seen, and having this bag with its reflective piping will go a long way to help you get noticed.
Cost and Value
This is a well-built bag that has plenty of room and storage options, yet isn’t so bulky that it gets in the way during your everyday rides. So when you purchase this bag, you’re getting strong reliable quality for a very reasonable price.
- Reflective piping helps you be seen while riding after dark
- Scratch resistant mounting base is included to make adding and removing the bag easy
- All compartments are easy to access
- Hidden bungee cords ensure the bag is properly secured to the base
- Semi-rigid design lets bag hold its shape without being cumbersome
- Doesn’t store away very well due to rigidity
- May require more straps to secure the bag tightly
2. Nelson Rigg
This bag comes equipped with six separate D-rings for mounting. What makes that unique and particularly useful is that they located them in strategic places on the bag, allowing you the versatility to attach it the way that best makes sense for your needs.
Wealth of options
For a trunk bag, this thing packs a bunch of features that were all designed to make life easier for you, the rider. From a rain cover to a security lock, and even a whole range of pockets for your convenience, this bag takes care of things so you can concentrate on making the ride as enjoyable as possible.
Cost and Value
I was very impressed by the quality construction and design of this bag, and when it came to looking at the price point it was being offered at, I was honestly surprised. For all of the attention to detail and well-tailored construction, this bag is cheap, and therefore a very good value.
- Six metal D-rings allow for multiple ways of securing the bag to the bike.
- Ballistic nylon shell keeps its shape no matter what and holds up to a lot of wear
- Mounts to a wide range of luggage racks
- Includes a security lock as well as a rain cover for all kinds of protection
- The main compartment is wide and deep to accommodate a good amount of stuff
- Fasteners don’t work as well as they should
- Is a bit bigger and bulkier than other options
3. Seibertron Hybrid
If you’ve been researching motorcycle backpacks for any amount of time, you have noticed that the overwhelming majority of them are priced much higher than this one. That, unfortunately, because it is a specialized product, and as such, companies can often get away with inflated prices. Not here though. It was built to do a job, that’s it. No frills means you won’t be overcharged.
No bells, no whistles
This bag wasn’t designed to make any kind of statement as far as appearance is concerned. If it was, it would cost several times more, much like the competition. Instead, it has a minimalist approach, and does the required task without fail, time after time.
- Incredible value when compared to other similar products
- Can easily accommodate larger laptops without being cramped
- No-nonsense construction is exceptionally durable
- Chest and waist straps help add stability while riding
- Very well-made construction
- Not completely waterproof, the zipper does let moisture in
- The overabundance of extra long straps can get in the way while not in use
4. Wolfman Expedition
By virtue, the design of this bag on the surface looks like it should be a lot smaller than it actually is. No matter what size you choose, chances are that you’ll never have an issue fitting in everything you may need to bring along.
Just won’t quit
Everything about this bag is about being long-lasting. The outer shell is made from highly durable vinyl, and the whole thing has been waterproofed, so if you’re only looking to have to buy a motorcycle bag once, then, by all means, this is the one for you.
Cost and Value
What may first seem like a staggeringly high cost is quickly justified by the incredibly tough, completely waterproof build. No matter where you take this bag, it is going to protect your valuables without compromise. Once you factor in the added peace of mind, this bag becomes a steal.
- Fully waterproof right down to the seams
- Vinyl body is going to hold up well for years to come
- Uncompromising construction means a very well-made bag
- Can be easily stacked with other Wolfman travel bags
- Compression straps help keep everything secure
- A bit too large for some of the smaller bikes
- Despite all of the value you get, it is very expensive for what is essentially a duffel bag
5. Givi OBK42B Outback
Not exactly, but for something that is so rigid and holds so much, this has a shockingly small footprint. Sure, it’s pretty hard to miss, but it won’t be restrictive in any way, so you can ride on knowing that all of your belongings are being well taken care of.
Holds a lot, and then some
Not only is this hard case going to hold almost anything you could possibly need to take with you, but it’s going to do one even better with several extra tie downs included throughout the exterior shell. That means you take even more with you, and be ready for any situation.
Cost and Value
This is a very expensive piece of luggage. If you’re a more casual rider who likes to pull the bike out on weekends for a few hours, this may not be bad for you. If, however, you log thousands of miles at a time, this is a great value that will be well suited to your needs.
- Can accommodate a full face helmet
- Aluminum shell is designed to last for a very long time
- Extra tie downs found on the case allow for additional items to be added
- Very unobtrusive despite the larger size
- The fully weatherproof design will keep your stuff safe indefinitely
- The mounting system required for this case is not included
- Plastic keyhole cover is shoddy and doesn’t stay in place
6. OGIO Mach 5
Thanks to the sleek, streamlined design of this bag, it’s going to stay out of your way while riding, making it the perfect take anywhere, do anything bag. From the bike to the classroom, this could very easily be your go-to bag.
Protective and pretty
The outer shell serves two major purposes. First, its carbon fiber weave is tough and sturdy and is going to last you a very long time before it even begins to wear down. Second, all that reinforced fabric gives it a very appealing aesthetic that will turn heads as you drive by.
Cost and Value
Sure, this backpack is quite a bit more expensive than the previous motorcycle backpack on this list, but the price is actually closer to the typical price. Nonetheless, this pack is very well-made, does anything you need it to, and will quickly earn its worth as a high value, top-notch pack.
- Rigorously tested to ensure that it will hold up well
- Holds up really well in the event of an accident
- Perfect for everyday use to get from place to place
- Deceptively huge capacity for its streamlined size
- The carbon fiber woven shell is as tough as it is attractive
- Zippers are very shoddy and don’t hold up well
- Buckles also don’t last very long
7. Cortech 8230-0505-18
Since this type of bag is meant to stay out of the way, sometimes it can be tricky to hold everything that you need, necessitating other types of luggage. Or, you can just get this one, with its expandable main compartment so you can hold more, while still only having the one bag along for the ride.
Contoured for comfort
This bag not only sits on the fuel tank, it conforms to the shape of it, so what you have is a convenient storage vessel at your fingertips that stays out of your way and does not restrict anything. When you need to concentrate on the road, you don't even know it’s there.
Cost and Value
Given its relatively smaller size, this bag comes in a bit too close to the top of the spectrum as far as the bags on this list are concerned. That being said, it is very well made for what it is, and the abuse it needs to stand up to may well justify its higher price tag.
- Expandable main compartment accommodates larger items
- Hideaway straps let the bag convert into a backpack
- Oversized top flap doubles as an organizer for smaller items
- Integrated rain cover keeps you ready for unexpected turns in weather conditions
- Has dedicated space for a water bladder so you can keep hydrated all day
- Too narrow for the given capacity, pushing contents up toward the rider
- Very expensive for a tank bag
8. Chrome Night Series
This bag is built to withstand the elements day after day. As such, it’s going to get a bit dirty at times. Luckily, cleaning it is a matter of hand washing it with the help of a nylon brush, and then laying it flat to dry. Simple as that.
The whole nature of a messenger bag is all about convenience. It’s compact, fits snug to the body, and allows for easy access to the items contained within. When you’re on the go, all you need to do is strap it on, and it’s going to come along for the ride, anywhere you go.
Cost and Value
For many of the selections on this list, there is a theme developing. They are all very well-made, hold up well to the hazards of the road, and are pretty darn expensive. While there are a few lower-priced items on here that are just as good, for the most part, you get what you pay for, and this bag gives a very good return.
- Extra shoulder padding for guaranteed comfort
- Seat Belt release on the strap also doubles as a bottle opener
- The inner liner is waterproof, keeping contents away from the environment
- Very easy to clean and maintain
- Perfect size to use as an everyday bag
- The Velcro closures don’t last nearly as long as they should
- The design of the bag means a lot of strain is put on the shoulder
9. Wolfman Peak Tail
One of the better aspects of this bag is the fact that the manufacturers have provided several options when it comes to mounting the bag onto your bike. Use a rack, or just the seat itself. Whatever you want to do, this bag has got you covered.
The name Wolfman in the field of motorcycle storage equipment is pretty much the epitome of high-quality craftsmanship. Everything they take finds its way in someones "best of list". Years of attention to detail has earned them a ton of respect.
Cost and Value
For what this bag brings to the table in terms of quality, satisfaction, and performance, the extra money that you’ll spend compared to other dry bags is negligible. For basically the cost of a motorcycle backpack, you get greater capacity and increase functionality. So, in this case, it’s worth the money.
- Adjustable compression straps keep everything very stable
- Can be mounted to the bike in a variety of ways
- Perfect size for narrower bike frames
- Wolfman name means quality
- Interior has adjustable straps to keep contents secure
- Not waterproof, only slightly water resistant
- A bit too small to be very practical
10. Klim Nac Pak
The makers of this bag seriously thought of everything. They’ve even included a tool pouch that can be removed, giving you easy access to everything without having to mess around with an entire pack’s worth of stuff. When you’re done with it, it zips right back into place.
On top of all of the stuff, this pack holds the ability to carry along up to three liters of water. That is a perfect feature for anyone who likes to get out and ride all day.
Cost and Value
Of the three motorcycle backpacks features on this list, this one is right in the middle as far as price goes. That’s not to say that any of the selections are not worth their cost, because they are. In terms of value, though, this one has just a bit of an edge over the others.
- Holds so much stuff, including things you wouldn’t think of
- Has the capacity to hold a lot of water, perfect for longer rides
- Removable tool pouch keeps everything handy
- Very good value for the price
- Not very bulky considering how many different things it holds
- Isn’t very stable, even with waist strap
- A little bit on the small side
Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, the goal is that you as the consumer are now able to make an informed choice when picking the right bag. This is important because the wrong choice can lead to a cramped, uncomfortable ride with a bag that is way too large for what you need. After all, if you’re on your way to school and only need to bring your laptop, why would you shove it into a duffel bag and strap it to the rack on the back of your bike? So really, what it all comes down to is the particular needs of the rider. Using the above guide, you should it should be pretty clear what each bag type has to offer, so go ahead, take your pick.
Criteria Used in Evaluation
Much like when buying luggage, the price can range from just a few dollars to several hundred. This all depends on capacity, materials used, style of bag, and the number of features, or lack thereof.
Naturally, how much stuff the bag holds does play a part in the pricing, though not as much as one may think since there are some bags that hold 14 letters that cost as much as, if not more than bags that can hold 60 liters or more. However, once you start getting into upper levels of capacity, the price does tend to balance out, with the higher capacities being priced accordingly with those of smaller volumes.
Materials used is another fairly minor factor in determining price, as most of the good bags are going to made from materials that are strong, lightweight and breathable. Also, if they aren’t inherently waterproof, then they will almost certainly be giving a waterproofing treatment to ensure that they hold up to the elements. Outside of the bags and storage containers that are made from strong, rigid plastics, the materials used for motorcycle bags are typically strong synthetic fabrics such as nylon or polyester, or durable natural fibers such as denim, canvas, or hemp. All of these materials are praised for their wear resistance and durability, though some concessions need to be made in order to ensure that are breathable and waterproof.
The style of bag generally goes hand in hand with the features that you’ll find included, so we’ll be looking at them together. Further along, I go into greater detail regarding the types of bags available, so her I’m just going to relate them briefly to the features.
The biggest feature is going to be capacity, and for that, the saddlebags are the better option. They may not have the largest capacity, but they strike the perfect balance between volume and stability. Saddle bags also excel in the category of convenience, as they are located within reach just behind the rider. Next is related to capacity, but more specifically concerns what you need them to carry. The motorcycle backpack wins here, as they are designed to hold all the necessities for a busy everyday life, including specialized packets for laptops or tablets, stationery pouches, and other such dedicated pockets.
Overall, given the limited space and reduced requirement for having a bunch of added features, it is a combination of all of these elements that will help to decide the final price of the bag.
Capacity can be a bit tricky when selecting the right bag for the job. You may feel that you need your bag to be able to carry a very large amount of personal items, but unfortunately, bikes are pretty limited in terms of room. That being said, there are a lot of different bags that manage to address these shortcomings in a way that helps optimize what precious room you do have.
The upper capacity of bags does depend on the style and brand that you choose, but some typical volumes range from 14 liters to upwards of over 80 liters. Obviously, the more the bag holds, the more room it is going to take up. If the bag is too big, then you begin to run the risk of it shifting the center of gravity and making the bike too top heavy. This can be extremely dangerous on the road and can lead to terrible accidents.
A common way to combat this limitation is to purchase several bags of the same type and stack them on top of each other. In fact, some manufacturers make bags and other storage containers that are designed to do exactly that, each one fitting together seamlessly. While stacking is an effective method of extending your capacity by going up instead of out, again, it can lead to the bike being off-balance, and can also result in an accident.
The best solution when it comes to safely maximizing your capacity is to choose the largest bag that will safely fit on your bike, and prioritize what you bring accordingly. If for some reason, this isn’t an option and it becomes necessary to carry a large abundance of equipment, then a motorcycle trailer may be a sound investment.
When I refer to style in relation to motorcycle bags, I’m talking about something very specific. I don’t mean in terms of fashion so much. There are several different types of bags that can be used while riding a motorcycle, each one with their own distinct benefits and drawbacks. So by style, I’m talking about saddlebags, motorcycle backpacks, rack or duffel bags, and messenger bags. There are other styles, but those that can’t be lumped into one of the other categories aren’t going to show up to much when you’re looking to buy a new bag.
Starting with probably the most common of all motorcycle bags, the saddle bag is an iconic accessory that has been serving bikers well for decades. To describe them, they are actually a pair of equally sized bags that are connected by a strip of fabric and hangs off the back of the bike. These are found quite often on touring bikes, as their large capacity and relatively out-of-the-way placement make them ideal for long rides that take several hours or even days. Since saddlebags are pretty exposed to the elements, they are usually made from a thick, sturdy material that has been given a waterproofing treatment. Recently, some companies have taken to making saddle bag style storage bins made from a hard plastic or nylon that work much the same way.
Next up is the motorcycle backpack. While many riders opt for a traditional backpack, if you’re going to spend the money, it’s probably a better idea to get one dedicated to riders. Regular packs don’t allow for any weight distribution, aren’t very comfortable, and their design makes them cumbersome on a bike. Motorcycle backpacks are typically made from strong, yet lightweight materials that are essentially weatherproof. They also tend to be breathable in order to minimize sweating and overheating. They offer all of the benefits of any backpack but have an increased capacity while fitting snug against the body. This allows for full freedom of movement while minimizing drag. They are going to be quite a bit more expensive than a normal school bag, but the reinforced construction will ensure that they hold up to abuse and last the rider for years.
Rack bags, rolls bags, or duffel bags are all different versions of a motorcycle bag that is meant to be strapped on to a travel rack that is found behind the rider’s seat. For the most part, these bags are not rigid at all, instead of being malleable so as to maximize the limited space given. There are some exceptions, as many bags exist that also fit behind the rider, but are made from plastics os other stronger materials. These are also meant for longer journeys. Once possible concern is the center of gravity if the rack bags are packed to high. The common, all-encompassing name for these bags is known as the dry bag. Their price is largely determined by the materials used as well as the capacity and can vary widely.
The final style of bag that we’ll be looking at is the messenger bag. These aren’t necessarily meant exclusively for motorcycles, but their usefulness is definitely appreciated by riders. Originally designed to be used by messengers who carried documents and other information by means such as horse or bicycle, they have quickly been adapted by motorcycle enthusiasts thanks to their being lightweight and unobtrusive. These bags excel on short rides and sit close to the body. This way, they don’t restrict movement, though they do lack the capacity of a backpack.
Choosing the right motorcycle bag comes down primarily to need, even more so than any price considerations. You may get a great deal on a duffel bag, only to discover that it is more of a nuisance that you only use to drive a few blocks to work or school. In the end, the best practice is to research a variety of bags, try them out if you can, and ask a lot of questions until you become certain that whichever one you choose is the perfect fit for your intended purposes.
Saddlebags: This is a pair of bags that are connected by way of a starp of fabric, and are situated behind the saddle, or seat, of a motorcycle. Because they tend to be exposed to the elements quite often, saddlebags are typically made from rigid materials such as leather or plastic.
Messenger bag: A bag that is worn across the body via a long strap. These were originally made for use by couriers and postal workers who would deliver messages by horse or foot. They are usually made from strong, weatherproof materials, either of a natural fiber or a synthetic fabric. Messenger bags are a popular choice for riders because they fit snug to the body, keeping them out the way while allowing full range of motion.
Leg bags: A drop leg bag is similar to a fanny pack, but it sits off of the hip and is much larger. They are made from sturdy fabrics like polyester, and usually, feature a large flap closure to help protect contents from the weather and other damage.
Luggage racks: These are racks that fit behind the seat of the motorcycle off of the rear fender. They are used to provide some storage space for holding luggage of some form.
Tank bags: A type of storage bag that sits in front of the rider and is contoured to conform to the shape of the fuel tank. Many if these are very versatile, featuring expansion zippers, multiple compartments for your belongings, and rain covers. Also, because of their shape and design, they do not get in the way of the rider steering the bike.
Tail bags: Compact travel bags that sit behind the rider, and strap to the seat, sissy bar, or luggage rack. They mount and are removed very easily, making them ideal for all types of riders. By necessity, they are durable and weatherproof and can come in a variety of styles and shapes.
Dry bags: This is soft shell motorcycle luggage designed as a single compartment bag usually made from PVC because of its inherent waterproof properties. Since they are dry bags, and as such need to make sure no water gets in, they are made to contain as few seams as possible and built in such a way as to create a single membrane.
Cargo net: A mesh net made from stretchable materials that attach to the bike with several hooks, and is meant to keep all of your bags and other belongings together in one spot. One major concern for these nets is known as “fall through”, which is literally when the contents fall through the spaces in the net. This can be reduced by making the spaces smaller, and many cargo nets are spaced no more than two inches apart.
Pannier: Another name for a saddlebag. The name pannier is usually attributed to saddlebags that are made from softer, less rigid materials.
Q: What’s the difference between all the types of bags?
A: Really, in the end, it all comes down to capacity and the individual needs of the rider. For example, tail bags are going to have some of the highest capacity, but also will take up the most room. Alternately, tank bags are going to be smaller, but because of their smaller profile combined with the fact that it contours to the fuel tank, can often be seen as the most convenient option.
Q: How much stuff do people usually carry?
A: Different people on different types of rides are going to require different amounts of stuff. For longer, cross country trips, riders are going to require extras clothing, food, water, and various other gear. For short in town commute, though, something like a messenger bag becomes ideal since not much more than a laptop and a few smaller items is going to be needed.
Q: What happens if the bag falls off the bike?
A: Hopefully, that is a scenario that never happens to riders, but realistically, when it does happen, most of the bags are designed to absorb the impact and take the brunt of any damage. The softer shell bags are obviously going to offer less protection, but even then will often suffice to safeguard the rider’s possessions for the most part. Hard shell cases, on the other hand, are specifically made to withstand the hazards of the road, and anything contained within is pretty likely to remain mostly unscathed.
Q: Do the bags really protect my stuff?
A: Yes. In Fact, that is often the main purpose of the bag. Many are made with highly durable fabrics that absorb impacts and resist wear and tear.
Q: Why can’t I just use my old school backpack?
A: For all intents and purposes, an everyday normal backpack can be used to hold your stuff while on the road. For the most part, it should up pretty well, until you factor in weather resistance. Motorcycle backpacks are made to hold your stuff, obviously, but it’s going to do it to a much higher standard than any school bag is ever going to.
Q: Why are motorcycle bags all so expensive?
A: I’d like to say that motorcycle bags are so pricey solely because of how sturdy and well-built they are, and that every extra penny you pay will take care of your stuff that much better. While that is mostly true, unfortunately, the biggest reason is that motorcycle gear is so specialized that manufacturers can easily get away with charging more for their products, because, really, if you don’t buy their stuff, chances are you won’t find anything better.
- Streetdirectory.com – Research Before Buying a Motorcycle Saddlebag
- Blog.jafrum.com – How to Buy the Best Motorcycle Saddlebags for You
- Bestmotorcycleroads.com – Different Types of Motorcycle Bags
- Twistedthrottle.com – What To Look For In A Motorcycle Dry Bag – Stories From The Field
- Riders.drivebag.com – Motorcycle Backpack vs. Regular Backpack. Is it worth the money?
- Mybackpackbag.com – Wear Backpack While Riding
- Motorcyclearea.com – 5 Reasons to Buy a Dedicated Motorcycle Backpack
- Twistedthrottle.com – 9 Things You Need to Know About Motorcycle Dry Bags
- Advrider.com – Dry duffel bag?