Ready to take that iron-butt trip you've always wanted to? Or maybe tired of using straps and tie-downs for your stuff? We talk adventure motorcycle luggage, what's out there, what some of our favorite option are and if there's one thing adventure riders can agree on, it's that we can't agree on anything. Each rider has his or her personal opinion about every accessory.
When it comes to adventure luggage you have three distinct types. Everybody will argue endlessly as to which one is better. The only possible argument that gets people more excited is the question "What oil should I use?" or whether or not Han Solo shot first (Han did).
Hard luggage is by far the most popular luggage for adventure riders. It looks the coolest, makes you feel like an adventurer and costs the most. At the top of that must-have list is the Touratech Zega Pro. Made in Germany and tested everywhere. Lockable lids, waterproof seals, rebuildable corners and the fact that every small piece can be replaced, make them killer pieces of luggage. Some shortfalls of hard luggage during off-road riding is that they do present some safety hazards. They tend to grab onto obstacles, catch the ground when you fall and can cause more damage to the bike. They have also been known to snag a riders leg when trying not to fall and causing pretty serious injuries. Any impact for hard luggage is direct and hard. They are convenient as a storage option but storing them off of the bike does take a lot of space in a shed or closet. They still are the most secure and play the rugged off-road part well.
Soft luggage is the antithesis of hard luggage. Extolled by "real" adventure riders. It's flexible, universal and practically attaches to any mount. Most soft luggage can be waterproof, seeing as they are made from a form of PVC material with "welded" seams and roll tops to keep water from getting in. In an off-road crash the bags cushion the impact and the material will squish, roll or tear. Tearing means your stuff is all over the road, but your bike is probably still rideable. Definitely the easiest to store when removed, too.
Both types of luggage offer add-on accessories. Straps to tie on water bottles, fuel bottles, extra bags, almost anything you want to add is available. Hard luggage can be wired for power to charge electronics, and add additional lighting for safety. There are accessories to connect them with a table top, or make them chairs. You can even mount a solar panel to the top for power at campsites or to charge electronics on the go.
I know what you are thinking. He said three distinct types of luggage. Fair enough, I sort of misled you. I am going to discuss a third type of luggage but it's not completely different. The people who use it are quite different, however.
Pelican, DrySpec, Happy Trails, all make a military-spec hard plastic case. Mostly used for carrying weapons or electronics that require a fully waterproof container. They're lighter than traditional hard luggage, stronger than soft luggage, float and sturdy enough to be thrown out of airplanes. Using this style luggage requires a bit of ingenuity and extra pieces. Twisted Throttle offers a nice setup with all the parts you need to mount a 72 liter set. Capable of having locks mounted, and even a quick release mount for certain models, they fall in the middle of the luggage world. Not quite as featured as hard luggage, and not quite as flexible as soft luggage. They are easily stackable, and extremely rugged. They do take up storage space but the material makes them impervious to temperature and climate. This allows them to be stacked and stored pretty much anywhere. They are a very good compromise that offers really nice features and a very good price point.