On Soft Luggage

Learning how to expertly carry gear neatly and securely is part of the challenge - and the fun - of using soft luggage. Creating a lean way to carry your kit gets a little easier with each practice. After you've refined systems that are neat and simple to use, your motorcycle will be tight, minimal, cool-looking, and clean. It will be safer and more nimble, too, especially when the road is rough or demanding. A lighter, simpler, well-contained pack is a satisfaction you can see as you look at your loaded bike, and feel as you ride.

Most longer trips involve experimentally determining how to securely strap, clip and bungee purpose-built soft bags - and how to load them right. Luggage combinations can be optimized for particular trips: Overnights mean a tank bag and small dry bag duffel strapped crosswise on the passenger saddle. Three and four day rides are the same, but with a slightly larger Dry Bag Duffel, or the waterproof Rack Bag (#9030). Camping trips and longer journeys usually involve the addition of saddle bags sized for the season and length of the trip. Smaller always seems better.

I enjoy many luxuries on the road (good things to read, a comfortable place to sit, flask of scotch, etc..) but minimalize and simplify so the soft luggage required is smaller, rather than larger. For example, on even longer camping trips the medium duffel plus the 4" wide Thincase Dry Bag Saddlebags (#9005) provide enough space.

Part of the enjoyment of traveling long distances on a motorcycle may be similar to the challengees and satisfactions of trying to land large fish on lightweight tackle, or hunt with a bow, rather than a gun. For some, a soft saddlebag is more than simply a bag. It is the logistical expression of a uniquely personal, stylized minimalism. Using such gear well can be a craft filled with poetry and grace.

- Mr. Subjective (March, 2008)