Whether you’re commuting, trail riding, or just running errands around town, the best motorcycle backpacks on the market are indispensable for adding safety, storage, and utility to even the smallest motorcycles.
The problem most riders run into, however, is finding a motorcycle backpack that combines all three without breaking the bank.
Top-of-the-line bags can run well over $300 each, so to help you decide on the best bag for your ride, we’ve put together five key features all the best motorcycle backpacks should share.
Visibility is arguably the most important feature that the best motorcycle backpacks should all have.
Protection is important, both for your safety gear and your backpack, but preventing an accident in the first place is always a better option than putting your protective gear to the test in a crash situation.
As two-wheeled commuters, both on motorcycles and on bicycles, we can all agree that being nearly pushed out of our lanes or rear-ended by some distracted driver is an all-too-common occurrence.
There’s a reason this happens more on a bike than in a car, and that reason is visibility.
Drivers are less likely to see cyclists and motorcycles because our vehicles are much smaller and more agile, which means we spend a lot less time in driver’s mirrors and a lot more time in their blind spots.
The most eye-catching colors during the day are high-vis fluorescents like yellow and orange. That’s because they reflect a massive amount of the sun’s UV rays, which draws attention from the human eye.
After dark, on the other hand, fluorescent colors lose their power from the sun, which means the best motorcycle backpacks will also include large amounts of highly reflective material.
If your bag is missing either of these components, wearing it actually makes you less safe than leaving it at home.
That’s because even if your jacket is the brightest, most reflective piece of gear on the market, as soon as you throw your backpack on you become nearly invisible to anyone behind you in traffic.
99% of the moto backpacks on the market are either black, brown, or grey (the lowest visibility colors available), and have little to no reflective material to speak of. Don’t leave the house without both.
Let’s face it: Most of us wear a respectable amount of safety gear when we take our bikes out for a long day in the twisites, but when we’re just riding to work, school, or around town, we often just throw on our motorcycle jacket and call it a day.
An abrasion-resistant jacket is a good start, make no mistake, but it may not be as protective as you think.
The padding that comes in most motorcycle jackets is better than nothing, but it’s also a far cry from the level of protection that we want in the event of a crash.
Your average jacket will include “CE certified” padding at the shoulders and elbows, which is tested by a third party to ensure it absorbs a substantial degree of force upon impact.
The chest and back padding of your jacket, however, isn’t typically CE rated at all, and unless you spend money to upgrade both pads, neither is going to protect you from anything more serious than a pillow fight.
Which is a great reason to make sure your motorcycle backpack includes its own protection.
The best motorcycle backpacks on the market will double as CE-rated back protectors, and considering how important our spines are, hopefully that’s at least a CE level 2 rating.
That’s because CE “level 2” rated padding is laboratory tested to absorb double the impact of CE level 1 protection.
If you’re going to spend the money on a good bag, make sure you’re getting the back protection you need while you’re at it.
Think about the list of gear you should pack every time you take your bike out for a spin. If you’re covering all the essentials, it should look something like this:
Those four simple essentials can get pretty bulky, and they don’t even include any extra layers, a hat, or any of the tech or navigation gear you like to bring along. That’s why the best motorcycle backpacks usually start at no less than 15 liters of capacity.
Now, if you’re a motorcycle commuter like us, think of the things you’ll likely add to that bag for your daily grind:
The list goes on, expanding your bare minimum capacity to something closer to 25 liters.
And if you’re looking to add in any recreational activities like motorcycle touring, camping, or trail riding, you’re going to need even more than that, which means the absolute best motorcycle backpacks need around 30 liters to truly do it all.
It’s always better to have extra space and not use it than to need extra space and not have it.
Consider the full list of activities you use your two-wheeler for, and make sure the pack you choose can do it all. Aim too low, and chances are you’ll be buying a second bag sooner than later.
The best motorcycle backpacks are often distinguished by the little features that make living with them daily a real pleasure.
Comfortable padding that holds up over long rides is one of those features, and unfortunately it’s often one you have to take someone else’s word for before finding out for yourself.
Since you can’t exactly take a motorcycle backpack for a “test ride” before you buy it, there are a few things to look out for that will all but ensure a comfortable fit.
The first thing (and this may sound obvious) is to look for extra padding where you know you need it.
Of course you’ll want solid padding in the shoulder straps, as thinner straps quickly lose their cushioning as you add weight to your bag.
You’ll also want extra padding on the back of the bag, but not the entire back.
A quick look at any good hiking backpack will show one common characteristic of good pad design: There’s a split down the middle, about where your spine should be.
That’s an important detail to look for, because while thick back padding adds comfort, it can also generate heat.
If that heat has nowhere to vent, it won’t be long before you’ve got a nice river of back sweat trickling through your clothes.
Motorcycles are hot enough, and once you’ve got all your protective gear on, the last thing you want is a backpack trapping even more heat from your body.
Aside from padding, another one of our favorite features that many brands overlook are glove-friendly zippers.
If you’ve been riding a motorcycle for a while, you’re more than familiar with the routine of having to stop and pull off both your gloves to be able to do anything useful with your hands.
Large, textured zipper loops are super simple but also super convenient, and eliminate the hassle of fumbling around trying to get a grip on tiny metal zippers.
Comfort and storage are great, but both of these features have a tendency to add extra weight to your motorcycle backpack.
Throw in reliable protective armor and a good waterproofing system and chances are you’ll be feeling the weight of your pack before you even get your gear inside.
High-quality, lightweight materials are the only way to build a bag that’s both feather-light and long-lasting, which often means you’ll be paying top dollar if you want your bag to perform without weighing you down.
For that reason we recommend steering away from rubberized and PVC-backed materials as well as hard-case designs. These materials are used because they can provide 100% waterproofing, but they often result in a bag that weighs upwards of five pounds completely empty.Water-resistant nylon is your best friend here due to its low weight, good abrasion resistance, and decent all-weather performance. These bags should come with a fully waterproof pack cover as well, just make sure it doesn’t cost you any visibility!
Different moto bags come with different features. But even the most expensive bags on the market don’t come with all five listed above. There’s only one bag you can buy today that combines protection, visibility, storage, comfort, and low weight, and that’s the RiderBag.
You can pay for all the carbon fiber and extra pockets you want, but if your bag doesn’t include highly visible materials for both day and night, it’s just a liability.
There’s no other bag on the market that can compare with the Riderbag Reflecktor35’s list of premium features:
Hi-visibility during the day
Hi-reflectivity at night
Water-resistant construction, plus a free waterproof cover for serious weather
35 full liters of capacity
Padded laptop compartment up to 16”
Accepts optional CE2 level back protector insert
Premium 3D cell padding on straps and back
Glove-friendly tactile zipper pulls
Stowable helmet net included with every bag
And that’s not even all that the Riderbag has to offer.
Other premium bags on the market may have protection, but lack visibility, capacity, comfort, or all three, and somehow still cost three times as much or more.
Pick up a Riderbag today and never ride without comfort, storage, and safety again.
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Yes, you should always wear your helmet when you ride a bike, regardless of where you’re riding. That’s an obvious for all of us that want to preserve our brains...
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