Motorcycle Saddlebags Buyer's Guide

Ryan Adams
by Ryan Adams

The best of the best of the best, sir!

Updated January 2021:

Saddlebags, side cases, panniers, bags. Whatever you call them, having luggage options for your motorcycle opens up a whole new world of uses for your motorcycle, like cross-country touring or grocery getting. We prefer the former. There are generally two perspectives when considering motorcycle luggage: hard or soft. Our opinion? It depends on the circumstance and your preference. Each has pros and cons. So, we put together a motorcycle saddlebags buyer’s guide to take a look at a few options from each side of the fence, but first, let’s consider some pros and cons.

Soft luggage generally costs less, weighs less, can be used interchangeably with many motorcycles or rack systems, and isn’t likely to get damaged, like a hard case, from a tip over. Conversely, soft luggage doesn’t offer the same security that a hard locking case has, can be more heavily damaged in certain crash scenarios, and doesn’t offer as convenient of access, as opening a latch, since they tend to have multiple straps and/or roll tops to be weatherproof.

To touch back on some of the points previously mentioned, hard cases offer better security as they are generally made out of metal or plastic or a combination of the two. Also, they can lock to your motorcycle and be locked shut. Mounting hard luggage also can help with stability as the cases are less likely to move around at speed. Hard luggage can provide better crash resistance in certain circumstances, but it really just depends on how it all goes down… literally.

Table of Contents

Giant Loop Siskiyou Panniers – $700

Giant Loop is well known for its robust soft luggage and perhaps best known for its versatile rackless motorcycle luggage which is horseshoe-shaped, allowing it to be thrown over your back seat or rear rack and tied down to the motorcycle. The Siskiyou Panniers are a more traditional take on Giant Loop’s rackless luggage system. The Siskiyou is mounted over the rear seat and is adjustable in width to accommodate girthier motorcycles while still allowing the use of the rear seat for passengers, though a seat pad of some sort is recommended to keep your pillion happy. Each side holds 35 liters of storage, is made out of ballistic nylon, has a drawstring pocket which can be used for a 2-liter gas bottle, and has multiple lashing points to attach other pieces of luggage in a modular fashion. As with all Giant Loop products, the Siskiyou Panniers are made in the USA and carry a lifetime limited warranty.

Kriega OS-32 Soft Pannier – $295 (per pannier)

Kriega’s Quadlock harness system has been a game changer when it comes to motorcycling backpacks, and the company has since expanded from rider packs to modular tail bag systems and, now, to soft luggage. Kriega’s products are made out of rugged materials that stand the test of time, even if you are unfortunate enough to have a get off. Ask me how I know.

The OS-32 carries on Kriega’s durable waterproof construction with its roll-top closure and materials such as Hypalon+1000D Cordura, Kevlar, and alloy buckles, which should hold up just fine even if you topple over on your big ADV bike. Capacity on each of the OS-32 panniers is, you guessed it, 32 liters and comes with a semi-structured box shape for easy loading. Touching back on the modular design of Kriega’s previous packs, the OS-32 has 16 “hook points” that work with the company’s other pieces of luggage such as the various sized dry packs for more storage. The Kriega OS-32 can be used with OS-Straps, which connect the two panniers over the rear of the motorcycle, or they can be attached to the OS-Platform which then connects to a luggage rack of your choice.

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Pannier – $

Mosko Moto was named after the Mosquito Coast (Mos(quito)ko(ast)) region of Eastern Honduras and Nicaragua where company co-founder, Pete Day, had the unfortunate luck of crashing his motorcycle, breaking his leg, and putting a premature halt to his travels. Pete had been experimenting with ways to make the PVC luggage he had been using work better and more efficiently. While mending and working on luggage concepts, Pete was introduced to Andrew Bryden who was, at the time, the lead bag designer for DaKine. Pete and Andrew hatched the idea for Mosko Moto shortly after. The two worked on prototypes over the course of a year and set back out to the Mosquito Coast to retrieve Pete’s abandoned motorcycle and ride it out to Panama.

The Backcountry 35L pannier kit is Mosko’s flagship model. Outside, the bags are comprised of Ballistic Nylon, 22-ounce PVC, and ripstop material with powder coated steel rotary draw attachment latches. Inside, the bags also use a 22-ounce PVC removable interior liner to guarantee waterproofness. Dismounting the bags is easy and quick with a wedge-type mounting system to the glass-filled nylon mounting plates. These plates connect to many other brands of racks, but the company includes a fitment page for peace-of-mind. The bags cinch down with 4 compression straps and front and bottom MOLLE panels allow for strapping on whatever extra accessories you might want. Relatively new to the market in 2014, Mosko Moto has made waves in the adventure luggage industry.

SW Motech Legend Gear MOLLE – $243 (per pennier)

Since we’re on the cusp of ending touring month and heading into adventure month full throttle here at MO, I wanted to include something a little different with SW Motech’s Legend Gear MOLLE lineup. Available in two sizes, 9.8L and 13.5L, the Legend Gear MOLLE style saddlebags are made for riders with style in mind. These bags are made from wax coated canvas and synthetic leather and can be used at various heights and on various bikes thanks to the versatile over-the-seat MOLLE design. Each bag is sold separately as is the SLS mounting strap.

Wolfman Rocky Mountain Saddle Bag – $525

Ah, Wolfman. My personal go-to. It’s the first and last soft motorcycle luggage I have bought. My personal drybags have been used on thousands of miles of motorcycle touring and camping all across the US and show little signs of use other than being dirty (mostly from my raw aluminum Touratech case rubbing against them).

Family owned and operated with its products made in the USA, Wolfman Motorcycle Luggage manufactures everything from tank bags to tail bags, with off-road and on-road offerings. The Rocky Mountain Saddle Bag was redesigned in 2018 to offer slightly more capacity and given a bit of a “U” shape to help carry and compress the load among other revisions. These bags are made out of 1680 denier custom vinyl-coated ballistic nylon with 22-ounce vinyl sides and use a 6-point mounting system with 1-inch metal cam buckles. Each bag holds 36 liters of storage and is lined with a polyurethane-coated nylon with sealed seams to keep water out. The liners are also bright yellow to help see items inside. There are D-rings found throughout to connect other accessories from Wolfman.

Dryspec H35 – $698

What can be said that wasn’t already stated in my feature-length review?

GIVI Trekker Series – $679

GIVI is an Italian company that makes all types of hard and soft luggage for all types of motorcycles as well as accessories like engine guards, hand protectors, radiator guards, and more. The GIVI Trekker series was first introduced when adventure bikes started to become popular and was designed to cater to those customers. GIVI has since released its Outback and Dolomiti line which have an even more robust full metal construction, whereas the Trekker is mostly plastic with aluminum veneers. The GIVI Trekker is available in two sizes and two colors: 33L and 46L and aluminum or black. The Trekker series cases are lockable both to the motorcycle as well as the case itself. These cases also offer a partial lid opening system with a smaller lid available to be accessed from the top to grab or stow small items quickly and conveniently.

Jesse Luggage Odyssey II – $995

Al Jesse began making robust, rugged adventure luggage by hand in the mid-80s out of his California home. Jesse’s idea for a more robust luggage system first began to simmer while following the Paris-Dakar route in 1985 onboard a BMW R80ST he had purchased in London. Once home, Jesse began making and selling these cases by order and eventually grew the business and moved to Arizona where the company remains today.

The Jesse Luggage Odyssey panniers are constructed of 2mm thick 5052 aluminum with angled corners not only for added durability, but also for clearance should a rider find themselves paddling with their legs through difficult terrain. The cases are powder coated for a durable finish while also helping to keep aluminum dust off of your belongings (a real problem with raw aluminum cases). The friction hinge on the cases also allow you to place and leave the lid wherever you like while loading/unloading. The single-hand latches are said to be incredibly easy to use.

OEM Luggage

Not all OEM luggage is created equal, but most of it is easy to mount. Some bikes are even being produced with the luggage mounts built into the bike’s design, which makes it even easier to buy the cases and slap ‘em right on. No muss, no fuss.

Touratech Zega Pro – $1349

What would a luggage buyer’s guide be without Touratech’s Zega Pro aluminum panniers? I’ve owned the Zega Pro top case (which is the same basic design and structure as the side cases) for the entire time I’ve owned my KTM 1190 Adventure R, racking up more than 34,000 miles of use with that thing, including one somewhat high-speed spill on road, which left it scarred but totally intact.

The Zega Pro side cases can be had in bare aluminum (don’t do it), anodized silver, and black. Bare aluminum will leave all of your belongings or luggage that comes into contact with it, smudged with aluminum dust forever (basically). It never goes away. Two sizes are available, 31/38L or 38/45L. The Touratech cases are different sizes to accommodate high-mounted exhausts. The Zega Pros are durable, waterproof, easy to remove, can be locked closed, and locked to the motorcycle, as long as you purchase the locking kits which don’t come with them. For $1349.00, I think they should come with locks, but that’s just me. Construction is very solid and despite the premium price, I would still definitely recommend them.

Nelson Rigg Deluxe Adventure Dry Saddlebags – $192

These Nelson Rigg saddlebags feature a waterproof rolltop design with welded seams. The 100% waterproof fabric is made from 24-ounce tarpaulin PVC which has a UV-coated outer material to make cleaning easy while also providing a grippy surface. Two lightweight saddlebag liners are included as well as a removable “stiffener” that helps the bags keep their shape when empty. The firm backplate helps support the bag on the rack and features a replaceable pad on the back to protect the bag’s actual fabric from coming into contact with the rack itself. Compression straps help to snug up your saddlebag’s contents. The main compartment measures 15” L x 8” W x 14” H and boasts 27.53L of storage per saddlebag. Each bag securely mounts using 4 quick release cam buckles and double pull webbing and comes with a lifetime warranty.

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Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams

Ryan’s time in the motorcycle industry has revolved around sales and marketing prior to landing a gig at An avid motorcyclist, interested in all shapes, sizes, and colors of motorized two-wheeled vehicles, Ryan brings a young, passionate enthusiasm to the digital pages of MO.

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2 of 6 comments
  • Stuki Moi Stuki Moi on Jan 21, 2021

    For softies on a big bike with racks, the Magadans are pretty darned awesome. Straps both vertical and horizontal, for a tight cinch when lightly loaded. Very cut proof, and designed around lockability. And stiff enough not get too saggy ad bent out of shape if carrying something dense, like a can of ammo.

    For a sportbike (636), the Cortech Super 2.0s are really nice. With their corresponding quick-attach laptop sized tailpack the icing on the cake. They don't appear very "premium", but I've had mine for 7 years without issue.

  • Hipsabad Hipsabad on Jan 21, 2021

    Giant Loop - Great Basin--no racks, nada!