7 Best Soft Panniers For Lightweight Adventure Bikes

7 Best Soft Panniers For Lightweight Adventure Bikes

The luggage system you choose for your adventure motorcycle touring affects everything: your comfort, your bike’s handling, the type of terrain you can handle, the duration of your trip, and even your safety.
You’ve made the decision between hard panniers and soft panniers and decided that a soft pannier system is the way you want to go.

With that in mind, here is my review of 7 of the Best Soft Panniers for lightweight Adventure Bikes available for 2019.

Quick Summary

Pushed for time? Here’s a quick look at the saddlebags being reviewed.

1. Giant Loop Coyote Saddlebag Roll-Top- 39 Liters  Top Pick
2. Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag – 45-60 Liters  Best of the Best Rackless System
3. Nelson Rigg SE-3050 Sierra Dry Saddlebag – 54 Liters (Rack system)  Best Bang for your Buck
4. Wolfman Beta Plus Rear Bag – 45 Liters
5. Giant Loop Moto Trekk Panniers – 42 Liters (Rack system)
6. Wolfman Luggage Expedition Dry Saddlebags EX506 – 38 Liters (Rack system)
7. Wolfman Luggage Expedition Dry Duffle EX802, EX804, EX80 – 33/40/47 Liters

How To Choose A Saddlebag That’s Right For You:

With a dual sport, or a lightweight adventure bike you want to carry enough gear to be comfortable at nights but still be able to handle some pretty rough terrain.

If you’re planning a trip that involves water crossings or the possibility of wet weather, dry bags or 100% waterproof bags are the way to go.

There are no right or wrong bags, but you should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of different types of saddlebags.

The saddlebags reviewed here are all in the 33-54 liter/2013-3294 cu in capacity, ranging in price between $140 and $450, suitable for any Dual Sport/Lightweight Adventure bike.

Here are some of the things to consider when making your decision.

Top 3 things to consider:

  • Capacity: This is largely decided by the duration of your trip, and how much of it is off-road. All of the saddlebags below are good for at least a few days of travel and more.
  • Fixing Type – with or without racks: If your dual sport bike has no provision for bolting a rack system (like the KTM EXC series) then you have no choice but to go with a rackless system. This is the problem I had with my KTM525 EXC and led me to do some in-depth research into the options available, leading to my earlier post: Soft Motorcycle Pannier Review – The Dual Sport Solution?
  • Durability: This is critical when considering soft panniers. You’re going to drop the bike at some stage when you’re riding off-road, and you want them to stand up to the abuse. The waterproofing capability can be reduced by scratching. In the case of the Wolfman Expedition Dry Saddlebags or the Nelson Rigg Sierra, which are 100% waterproof roll-top bags, an extremely heavy duty PVC is used.

Let’s look at the best of what is available in 2019.

1. Giant Loop Coyote Saddlebag Roll-Top – 39 Liter Capacity

Giant Loop Coyote Roll Top

Giant Loop is a name that is synonymous with building durable and rugged luggage products designed to get you off-road.

The Coyote Saddlebag is a roll-top luggage system designed for dual sports and lightweight adventure bike riders that are looking to hit the trails on multi-day adventure rides. However, the Coyote can also be used for street bike applications.

It is a horseshoe-shaped bag designed to fit over the rear of the bike, without hindering rider movement or significantly affecting the bike’s handling. It requires no racking system.

The Coyote is the smaller brother to the 50 Liter Great Basin which is similar in design. The main difference between the two is the width of the U-shaped opening. The Coyote is smaller to suit Dual Sport and Enduro bikes like a KTM500EXC, and the Great Basin is designed for the larger adventure bikes like the Honda Africa Twin or KTM1190R. Both have the same features.

The main construction is 22-ounce vinyl coated polyester, with extra tough ballistic coated polyester to the bottom of the bag where it is more likely to get damaged.

The Roll Top is a convenient closure system that seals out water and dust while maintaining the packable volume of 39 liters, and still has all the features of the zipper closure Coyote Saddlebag.

Compression straps run around the sides of the bag and two over the top to keep your load compact. The side compression straps can be moved to a lower position on the bag, to better suit the load you have stored in there.

There are drains in the bottoms of the legs that allow water to escape if it happens to get inside the water-resistant outer shell.

Also included are removable 100% waterproof Coyote Dry Pods which easily slip inside your main bag. They come in a set of 3, one for each side, and one for the top, and have roll top openings which ensure waterproofing.

The Hot Springs Heat Shield which is included should be installed first, to protect your bag from melting if coming into contact with the hot exhaust pipe.

Giant Loop Coyote Roll Top fitted

Features:

  • 39-liter/2379 cu in packable volume
  • Heavy-duty 22 ounce Bomb Shell vinyl coated polyester reinforced with ballistic nylon
  • Reinforced roll-top closure for a quick easy waterproof seal
  • Cinch ring and side-release buckle compression straps for lashing additional gear
  • Reflective accents for enhanced visibility
  • includes one laser-cut aluminum Hot Springs Heat Shield and 3 Dry Pods
  • Includes ballistic webbing for the rear mounting option, in addition to fender hooks
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty against defects
  • Made in the USA
  • Colors: Black, Orange, Gray, Yellow, White

For a full review on the Coyote, check out my post: Giant Loop Coyote Saddlebag Review

2. Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag Roll-Top – 50 Liter Capacity

Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag

The Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag is the bigger brother to the Coyote Saddlebag (above at No.1). The original horseshoe-shaped design was pioneered back in 2009 by Giant Loop.

The Great Basin Roll Top now features a convenient rolling type closure. This allows you to seal out water and dust effectively, while it still maintains all of the features of the zipper closure Great Basin.

The bag sits where your passenger would sit on your bike and like the Coyote needs no racking system. The Great Basin will fit almost any motorcycle designed to carry a passenger. It anchors to the passenger footrest brackets and mounts on the pillion seat.

It will fit sport and touring bikes, standards, nakeds, adventure touring and dual sport bikes.
The main difference from the smaller Coyote is the width of the U-shaped opening. The Great basin is wider to suit larger adventure touring bikes, although it still can be successfully used with the narrower dual sport bikes.

Other features include a greater range of compression and expandability due to the roll top type of closure. Capacity is 45 liters with three full roll downs for greater waterproofing, and up to 60 liters with one roll down to seal out dust, but less waterproofing capability.

Other features include grab handles that double as compression straps on the sides, and drains in the bottoms of the ‘legs’ that allow water to escape if it happens to get inside the water-resistant outer shell.

Also available are removable 100% waterproof Dry Pods which easily slip inside your main bag. They come in a set of 3, one for each side, and one for the top, and have roll top openings which ensure waterproofing.

The Hot Springs Heat Shield which is included should be installed first, to protect your bag from melting if coming into contact with the hot exhaust pipe.

Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag

Features:

  • 45-60 liters/2745-3360 cu in of packable volume (45 liters with three full waterproof rolls, up to 60 liters with one roll to seal out dust)
  • Side compression straps with molded rubber grab handles
  • Separate mounting and compression straps for easier gear access
  • Cable lock pass-through to secure the bag to bike while parked (cable and lock sold separately)
  • Super tough, highly water-resistant vinyl tarp outer shell reinforced with ballistic nylon
  • Beavertail and cinch ring with side-release buckled compression straps that integrate with the double-end Rogue Dry Bag and Tilla mook Dry Bag (available separately)
  • Lash loops to attach ‘Possible Pouch’ external pockets
  • Reinforced roll-top closure for a quick easy waterproof seal
  • Reflective accents for nighttime visibility
  • includes one laser-cut aluminum Hot Springs Heat Shield
  • Military-spec materials and construction
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty against defects
  • Made in the USA
  • Colors: Black, Orange, Gray, Yellow, White

3. Nelson Rigg SE-3050 Sierra Dry Saddlebag – 54 Liter Capacity

Nelson Rigg SE-3050 Sierra dry saddlebag

The Nelson Rigg SE-3050 Sierra Dry Saddlebag is a unique semi-rigid pannier system that is designed to fit using a rack system as you would with a hard pannier system.

What I like about these is that they combine the benefits of a soft pannier system and a hard pannier system, for a fraction of the price of hard panniers.

The removable stiffeners inside the bags keep them in shape even when they are empty, and like soft panniers, you have compression straps and a roll-top closure system to keep them compact for the tight off-road sections.

The rack-type fixing means they will never be as narrow as rackless saddlebags, but they are still far less obtrusive than hard aluminum panniers which are really more at home on paved roads.

Another unique feature is the aircraft grade aluminum buckle system. The G-ring buckles allow you to secure down the roll-top securely and also provide fixing for additional dry bags on top.
The panniers attach securely with four quick release cam buckles and double pull straps.

Rigid backing pads prevent your bags from getting damaged by the racks and also prevent scratches to your motorcycle. They also serve as a bit of a heat shield against hot exhaust pipes.

Nelson Rigg is a well known and respected company and offers a LIFETIME warranty on these bags.

Nelson Rigg SE-3050 Sierra dry saddlebag fitted

Features:

  • Capacity: 27.53 Liters/1680 cu in per side
  • 100% waterproof saddlebags, all seams are electronically heat welded for a complete seal
  • Mounting hardware is aircraft grade aluminum. There are no breakable plastic buckles
  • Includes 2 lightweight saddlebag liners which allow you to easily remove and pack your contents
  • Removable stiffeners which keep the saddlebags in shape when empty
  • A rigid internal back plate helps support the saddlebag mounting
  • Replaceable pads which help protect the saddlebags from rubbing on your bike
  • The compression straps can also be used for mounting optional 15L dry roll top bags
  • There are 4 quick release cam buckles and double pull straps to securely mount each saddlebag to your bike
  • Bag construction is a durable 24-ounce tarpaulin PVC with a UV coated outer surface material to make cleaning easy
  • The bags can easily be mounted to motorcycles, ATV and snowmobiles
  • Colors: Black, Yellow/Black
  • Main compartment measurements: 15″/38cm L x 8″/20cm W x 14″/35cm H

4. Wolfman Beta Plus Rear Bag – 45 Liter Capacity

Wolfman Beta Plus Rear Bag

The Wolfman Beta Plus Rear Bag is like a standard duffel shape bag with ‘legs’ to each side of the seat. Sort of a hybrid between a duffle bag and saddlebags.

It incorporates a seat channel that hugs the bike while staying clear of the exhaust pipe (on most bikes). It offers a ton of storage without the need for pannier racks.

Fixing to your bike is by three quick-release straps. One around the rear of the bike, and two which come forward on the bike and attach to the passenger peg/bracket, or the subframe of the bike. Alternatively, you can use Wolfy Strap Mounts, which are heavy-duty stainless steel brackets that bolt to your bike frame.

Access to the bag is via a newly designed top opening with a crescent top zipper as of 2017, which is similar to the Overland Duffel (which is a 45-liter tail/trunk bag).

The external side pockets at each end of the bag are ideal for quick access to smaller items.

Four compression straps (two around the top, and one each side leg) keep your load secured nice and compact. Essential for off-road riding.

A great feature is the non-skid/non-scratch material (the same material they use on their tank bags and tail bags) which is used on the base of the Beta to help keep the bag in place, and not scratch your bike’s paintwork or plastics. Important for off-road riding where there is lots of dust and dirt which finds its way under the bag.

The Beta Plus is not a 100% waterproof bag, just water resistant. The Wolfman Rain Cover must be used for really wet conditions.

Wolfman Beta Plus Rear Bag fitted

Features:

  • Capacity: 2750 cu in/45 Liters
  • Refined top opening similar to the Overland Duffel with a heavy-duty #10 YKK zipper
  • Construction is from full 1680 Denier Ballistic Vinyl
  • Non-scratch and non-skid bottom surface so that the bag stays in position and won’t scratch your bike
  • 1.5″ wide webbing compression straps so that you can keep your load compact
  • New front mounting similar to the Enduro series saddlebags with removable/replaceable webbing for a secure mounting
  • Reflex side compression webbing with accents for nighttime visibility
  • Exterior rings for attaching a shoulder strap (sold separately)
  • Crescent zippered exterior pockets
  • Includes a carry handle
  • Integrated rear traps to add more cargo
  • Easy to find yellow cord on main opening zipper sliders
  • Made in the USA
  • Limited Warranty on manufacturing defects
  • Color: Black

Dimensions:

  • Overall Width: 29″/74cm (Body 24″/61cm, Pockets each 2.5″/6cm)
  • Height: (from top of seat): 9.5″/24cm
  • Length: 11″/28cm
  • Seat channel: Top 10″/25cm, Bottom 14″/36cm
  • Legs hang down from the seat: 5″/13cm

Compatible Add-On Accessories:

5. Giant Loop Moto Trekk Panniers – 42 Liter Capacity

Giant Loop Moto Trekk Panniers

The Giant Loop Moto Trekk Panniers were developed in collaboration with the Australian Giant Loop importer Steve Smith of Adventure Moto.

The goal was to design a rack-mounted soft pannier solution that is rugged, stable, affordable, waterproof and universally fitting for almost any motorcycle make and model.

They achieved that with the Moto Trekk panniers and they were even crash tested in Australia.

They are always sold in pairs and the RF welded roll-top panniers give a 100% waterproof seal when rolled down with 3 full rolls. In dry weather you will get several more liters of storage with only one or two rolls close to the top, giving you a dust protective seal.

The mounting system is very innovative and allows you to simply strap them onto almost any type of side luggage rack system including dual sport, adventure touring, naked, sport touring bikes, scrambler, and V-twin bikes.

Giant Loop also includes shoulder straps that simply clip onto D-rings on the bottom and back of the panniers so if you’re having a day of sightseeing off the bike they can be carried like a backpack with your hands free. Or simply for carrying them to your hotel or campsite.

Other rider-friendly features are the lash loops which you can use to secure other luggage items to the front and back of the panniers, and a quick-connect magnetic buckle and anchor strap to secure the panniers to the luggage racks.

Giant Loop Moto Trekk Panniers Fitted

Features:

  • Volume: 21 liters/1280 cu in each with 3 full rolls to seal top for 100% waterproof seal
  • Weight: under 6 lbs/2.7kg per pair
  • Dimensions: 12″/30cm L Top x 9″/23cm L Bottom x 7″/18cm H
  • Bag construction is from durable 500 Denier PVC tarpaulin materials with waterproof seams
  • Roll-top closure with heavy duty side release buckles
  • Semi-rigid backing plate integrated into the construction
  • Integrated mounting system with aluminum Durflex hooks – there is no additional mounts or hardware required
  • Front and back lash points for Possible Pouches or other gear
  • Includes two shoulder straps for off-bike backpack style carrying
  • Limited Lifetime warranty

Compatible Add-On Accessories:

  • Possibles Pouch
  • Columbia Dry Bag
  • Saddlebag Dry Pods
  • Hot Springs Grande Heat Shield

6. Wolfman Luggage Expedition Dry Saddlebags EX506

Wolfman Expedition Dry Saddlebag

The Wolfman Luggage Expedition Dry Saddlebags are a 100% waterproof, durable bag designed for the most aggressive off-road riders.

They are specifically designed to fit Wolfmans proprietary side racks with what is one of the easiest mounting systems available.

These saddlebags will also mount to a wide variety of other manufacturers’ racks with the included Universal Saddleback Straps. The racks must be oval/rectangular shaped with a maximum height of loop top to bottom of 9.5″/24cm. They have been tested to fit with these racks: Touratech, Hepco-Becker, Happy-Trails, GIVI, SW Motech, and Moto-Rack.

This video explains how to fit the Expedition Dry Saddlebags to non-Wolfman side racks.

The bags have two over-the-top straps connecting them, then each bag is mounted to the rack via four-points and two compression straps.

The mounting straps double as compression straps to keep the load attached tight. There is an additional top compression strap and internal stiffeners to help stabilize your load.

The replaceable non-skid rubber pad (made from recycled tires!) helps the bag retain shape and protects the bag against rack abrasions and also helps prevent excessive bag movement.

The roll-top closures with no-wick webbing seal out water, mud, and dust. Wolfman recommends a three roll minimum for maximum waterproofing.

The saddlebags are sold as a pair and side racks are not included.

Wolfman Expedition Dry Saddlebag fitted

Features:

  • Capacity: 19 liters/1160 cu in each bag, 38 liers/2320 cu in for the pair
  • 100% Waterproof fabric – 22 oz body and 34 oz bottom
  • RF (Radio Frequency) welded seams
  • Roll-top closures with no-wick webbing to seal out water, mud and dust
  • Multiple compression straps to cinch your load tight
  • Replaceable 22 oz Backing Pad made from recycled tire rubber for rigidity at the rack fixing
  • Two different backing pads are available – for rack mounting or against the bodywork
  • Easy on-off mounting with Universal Saddlebag straps which are included
  • Extra tall opening for size adjustability which can add 2 or more liters per bag
  • Internal Butterfly stiffener helps keep contents compressed evenly and protects the insides of the bag from abrasion and sharp objects. It is removable and replaceable
  • Dimensions: Length: 13″/33cm, Width: 7″/18cm, Height: 13″/33 cm, adjustable about 3″/76cm more
  • Made in the USA
  • Limited Warranty on manufacturing defects
  • Colors available: Black, Yellow

7. Wolfman Luggage Expedition Dry Duffle EX80, EX802, EX804

Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffle

Dry Duffel bags are a great way to carry extra gear on your bike for longer adventure rides. They’re ideal to put across your panniers as a top bag (as pictured with the Expedition Dry Saddlebags at No. 6 above).

Wolfman’s innovative roll-top design makes loading and unloading a lot easier than with traditional duffel bags.
The roll-top can be rolled down more times for smaller loads, also giving more water resistance, or rolled down less for larger loads. Wolfman recommends a minimum of three rolls for maximum waterproofing.

The bags come in three sizes: small, medium and large, the variation in size being in the width of the bag. So there’s a size to suit all needs, and with the height adjustment, you have plenty of flexibility in your packing. All three sizes share the same features.

The four compression straps and two mounting straps keep things snug and compact on your bike.

The bag has dual carrying handles and removable shoulder strap for easy off-bike transporting.

There are multiple D-rings for attaching other items to the bags.

All Expedition Dry bags are made in the USA using heavy-duty vinyl construction with RF welded seams for 100% waterproofing.

Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffle fitted

Features:

  • Capacity: Small: 33+liters/2010+cu in, Medium: 40+liters/2440+cu in, Large: 47+liters/2870+cu in
  • 100% Waterproof fabric – 22 oz vinyl body and 34 oz vinyl sides
  • RF (Radio Frequency) welded seams
  • Roll top closures with no-wick webbing to seal out water, mud and dust
  • 4 compression straps, two over the body and one at each end
  • Deluxe carry handle
  • Removable shoulder strap and two mounting straps included
  • Repairable with the vinyl repair kit

Dimensions:

  • Small: Width: 20″/50cm, Height: 11.5″/29cm (with ability to get taller), Front-to-back: 11.5″/29cm
  • Medium: Width: 24″/61cm, Height: 11.5″/29cm (with ability to get taller), Front-to-back: 11.5″/29cm
  • Large: Width: 28″/71cm, Height: 11.5″/29cm (with ability to get taller), Front-to-back: 11.5″/29cm
  • Made in the USA
  • Limited Warranty on manufacturing defects
  • Colors available: Black/Yellow, Black

What It All Comes Down To

You can’t go wrong with any of the saddlebags in this review, they are all top quality products from well-known companies with many years of experience designing and building motorcycle luggage systems.

It comes down to your own particular requirements. It’s a trade-off between carrying enough gear to be comfortable camping at nights, but not so much that you destroy the handling of the bike and your enjoyment of the ride.

The saddlebags reviewed here are all in the 33-54 liter/2013-3294 cu in capacity, ranging in price between $140 and $450, suitable for any Dual Sport/Lightweight Adventure bike.

Top Pick: The Giant Loop Coyote Saddlebag Roll-Top because of its years of tried and tested performance and popularity. The new Roll-Top design improving on what was already a top-notch saddlebag.

For a full review on the Coyote, check out my post:  Giant Loop Coyote Saddlebag Review

Best of the Best Rackless: The Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag. For all the same reasons as its smaller brother the Coyote, but it will suit a dual sport bike, a large adventure bike, and everything in between.

Best Bang For Buck: The Nelson Rigg SE-3050 Sierra Dry Saddlebag. Its unique semi-rigid design combines the best of both soft and hard luggage systems, for about half the price of other soft panniers, and at a fraction of a hard pannier system.

Motorcycle luggage systems are not cheap, but generally, a soft pannier system will be about half the price of a good hard pannier system.

One thing to consider when justifying the price is whether there are crossover uses for some of the luggage, like doing other types of traveling off your bike, carrying your camping gear or storing your riding gear. Multiple uses may help justify the cost of some of the luggage.

All of the bags reviewed here have overwhelmingly positive reviews from users. Click on the links to read what others have to say.

Related Posts

Soft Motorcycle Pannier ReviewFor an in-depth look at the soft luggage configurations open to you: Soft Motorcycle Pannier Review – The Dual Sport Solution?

 

 

Wolfman Enduro Dry saddle bag For some smaller options: Wolfman Enduro Dry Saddlebag Review

 

 

Giant Loop MoJavi saddlebag Review Great for a one-day trail ride:  Giant Loop MoJavi Saddlebag Review

 

 

Lightweight Adventure Bikes Looking at downsizing or a first adventure bike: Are Big Aventure Bikes Really Necessary?

 

 

Is there a saddlebag that should be included in this list. If you have a great setup for your adventure riding trips, please feel free to share your thoughts below.

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2 thoughts on “7 Best Soft Panniers For Lightweight Adventure Bikes”

  1. These look like great accessories for motorbikes. My saddle bag is a bit worn out and looking at these modern versions, mine is looking a bit old fashioned and sad.

    I love the Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag Roll-Top. I love the shape that just fits over the bike so neatly and the fact that it fits any cycle. The waterproof dry pods are also a plus point for me, as my current bag is useless when it rains.

    I think I will go for either the black or the orange, and I hope that they deliver to South Africa.

    • Hi Michel. The Giant Loop Great Basin and Coyote are very popular saddlebags to suit anything from a lightweight dual sport bike to a larger adventure bike. Don’t know if they ship to South Africa, you won’t know till you click on it and get the delivery details. I’m in Australia and a lot of the gear doesn’t ship here.

      If I can be of any help just let me know. Thanks for dropping in.

      Greg

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