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The Riding Bag Buyer's Guide

>> Ashley Benson

As gas prices shoot up higher and higher, more and more motorcycles are popping up on the streets. It's no longer uncommon for the suit wearing worker to take the motorcycle rather than the gas guzzling SUV to work. But this poses one problem: where does the brief case go? Sure, taking two wheels to work rather than four is a lot cheaper on the fuel front and a heck of a lot more fun than having to car pool with that chatty Kathy from accounting, but it's far from convenient when you need to cart around your laptop or bring a sack lunch. You may think that grabbing one of your old book bags will do just the trick, but you'll quickly notice how inconvenient it really is. Instead, check out these different types of rider bags. We're sure that you'll find that they have more uses than you ever thought.


For everyday commuter wear, these rider bags are perfect for carting around your necessities no matter where you're headed. A good rider bag will allow you to pack along important documents or an extra pair of non-motorcycle shoes for when you get to any destination without affecting your riding one bit. Most are made to fit the contour of your riding position in order to allow for less drag and more aerodynamics and are constructed with a flexible nylon or polyester mix in order to allow your bag to adjust to the size and shape of whatever you're carrying. We recommend getting a bag with a built in laptop pouch that fits up to a 15" laptop with ease. There are quite a bit of them on the market and, even if you don't intend to pack around your laptop, the pouch is great for carrying around books or papers as well. And these bags should also have tons of tiny pockets for all your various knick knacks and needs like pens or your cell phone.

These bags are made to stay snuggly situated on you without restricting your movement or throwing you off balance. A good riding bag will have adjustable arm straps that won't come loose, a strap that goes around your waist and an adjustable strap that goes across your sternum. These straps are paramount for making sure that your bag stays in place and doesn't become a distraction. If you intend to be doing a lot of high speed riding, grab a bag with reinforced straps. As the wind whips past you and your bag, it can wear down on the strap's fabric over time and cause it to break. A handy feature on some riding bags are compression straps which keep from flapping around while you ride.

These bags can also second as some extra protection in a nasty accident. We love bags like this Alpinestars Protection Backpack that come with a pocket where you can put an additional spine protector. Spines really can never have enough armor keeping them perfectly intact and a backpack is in the perfect place to give it just another layer of safety.

We all know that our biggest enemy when riding is drivers who don't see us riding by on our merry way. Most backpacks are made in a sleek and sexy black. And while you may look cool, we hope that you see the flaw in this. Packing around a black bag is only going to make you more invisible. Be sure to buy a bag that has tons of reflective piping and logos or is a colorful or bright. This Icon Squad II Backpack comes in colors that will get a distracted driver's attention and even meets military spec codes for base riding.

If you'll be riding with your bag in intense conditions, bags like the Joe Rocket Blaster Backpack are weather proof to keep your stuff dry in the rain and your back dry in the heat. This bag even has raised back pads that wick away moisture and promote air circulation.

The last thing you'll want to make sure of is that your riding bag is of just as much use off of your bike as on it. When you've gotten to your destination and dismounted, you'll want a handy place to store your helmet and riding clothes. Rider bags that have room for a helmet or a detachable compartment for a helmet is a must have on your bag.

Hydration Backpacks

Off-road riding can make a rider quite thirsty. And since all of that hardcore riding is too fun to stop, you won't want to have to continually take a break for a sip of water. Plus long enduro or dual sport rides can leave a rider parched. This is where hydration backpacks are perfect. These handy devices (also known as camel bags) turn you into the perfectly hydrated mammal and there are several different types of these rider bags to suit every type of thirsty rider.

If you'll be doing mostly off-road riding where all you need is a bit of beverage to keep you from sweating yourself empty, we recommend getting a hydration bag like this Camelbak Classic Hydration Backpack?. These hydration backpacks are just big enough to fit some fluids but small enough to stay out of your way. Range of motion is important in off-road riding and you won't want a backpack restricting you. The is even so compact that it just mounts right onto any brand of roost protectors. This allows you to stay hydrated without your hydration bag getting in the way of your riding. Wearing one of these also give you a little extra space to put your keys (rather than trying to hide them by your truck and hoping no one looks hard enough to find them) or some tools so you don't break down and get stranded on the trail.

Bags like this Geirerrig Rig 500 Hydration Backpack are perfect for dual sport riding especially since it comes in a high-vis yellow to make sure that drivers can't miss you while you're on the streets. Unlike hydration backs for off- road riding, bags such as this have tons of extra space to allow you to pack things with you. These bags are great for bringing an extra set of clothes or snacks with you.

With all hydration backpacks there are a few variations in the mouth piece systems. While the good ol' fashion bite and suck method gets the job done, we're particularly fond of hydration bags that come with the bite pump method. These mouth pieces have a pump that is activated when you bite down on it and, instead of making you suck the water out of the backpack, the water just flows out all on its own. This feature is particularly convenient when you intend to get your hands dirty on your ride. Instead of trying to find another water source to rinse your paws, you can use the pump system to wash your hands off with your own water supply.

As with rider bags, it's important to make sure that you get a hydration back with adjustable straps that secure it to your body comfortably. You also want to find a bag that won't overheat you and instead has air wicking properties or has mesh in order to promote air flow.

Gear Bags

A racer may not want a backpack slowing them down, but they need a bag just as much as the next rider. If you're anything from a casual rider to a serious racer, having a gear bag is probably in order. Going from your garage to the track takes a ton of stuff and a good gear bag will not only eliminate the amount of trips to and from the car that you'll have to make, it'll keep all of your precious gear safe as you transport it.

A decent gear bag like this Ogio Wheeled Rig 9800 Gear Bag will give you plenty of room for everything you'll need at the track and have tons of features to keep your stuff in prime condition. We all know that a dropped or banged helmet can be compromised (and if you didn't know that, we highly recommend reading our Helmet Buyer's Guide). So you really don't want anything to happen to your helmet before you get on the asphalt. This bag has an intensely durable and strong outer layer as well as a padded helmet chamber on the inside in order to keep your noggin protector in prime condition. Some gear bags will also have added padding for gear protection throughout the whole body of the bag.

And since all that gear will be packed with heavy bits and pieces, you'll want it to be able to roll in order to keep the strain off of your back. Get a gear bag that has very sturdy wheels that can easily handle bumps and divots in the ground it'll be rolling over.

It is possible to carry your gear in just a regular duffel bag, but if you're going to spend so much money on things to keep you safe, it only makes sense to spend a few extra bucks on something that will keep them safe too.

Waist and Specialty Bags

Maybe you're more of a minimalist at heart and when you're riding, you don't want much baggage weighing you down and you don't need all the little knick knacks on your ride with you. You'll still need those few essentials by your side such as your wallet and phone. In this case, we love waist bags and utility belts. These tiny little contraptions happily sit on your waist, out of your way and hold the small necessities that you need to have with you while riding. This Alpinestars MotoGP Utility Belt is perfectly compact and adjustable for the right fit. A good waist bag will be water resistant and be made of durable nylon.

If you're still worried about your riding bag not being water resistant enough, there are plenty of cases for your electronics that can keep them completely safe from water damage. These bags are great for holding your valuables and keeping them dry inside of your primary riding bag. This Kwik Tek Dry Pak Case for MP3 Players is made specifically for keeping your MP3 player dry while you ride.

Manufacturers have managed to come up with a bag to hold pretty much everything you'll want or need to take with you while you ride and to keep it safe while it's with you. We wish that riding was as easy as just hopping on your bike and going, but you'll always need to pack at least the necessities before you go. Having a safe, secure and convenient bag to put it all in is extremely important for prepared riding. Buy a bag that suites the kind of riding you'll be doing and fits the things you'll need most.

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