Pannier Precipitation Problems Part 2 (Bag Liners)

This is continuation of the “Pannier Precipitation Problems Post Part 1” where I go into detail about how aluminum paniers are only water proof until the first fall (check it out). The reason for this article is to convey my lessons learned about water proofing and save you some time and maybe money.

The BMW bags (just say no)
Well they are $159 each and in theory are a good idea but in execution they fail. The bags loose their water proofing almost immediately and are not very rugged.

Look close and you will see back duct tape holding them together

I am not sure why these bags started delaminating but both of them did, at first I covered the holes with duct tape but eventually (in less then 2 years) there are was more tape then bag.

Delamination all over (you can see daylight through them holes)

The BMW waterproof bags are just very bad bags. During all these miles I have had the same low priced Firstgear duffle bag that rode on the back of the bike in direct sunlight and all sorts of weather and the FirstGear bag still works great. The lesson here is even though something may cost more, doesn’t make it any better (even if from a great brand).

I needed a very good, durable bag that could take heavy usage and not self destruct. After many different types of bags I landed on and they are great. This is NOT an article I wrote about the bags the day after I bought them – this writing is after using them for 7 months and riding through at least 15 states with them. These bags hold up, look good store all you need; without taking up all the space in the pannier (a little space at the top, is always the right idea). Did I mention that they cost less then the BMW bags, have a Lifetime Guarantee, and are made in the USA. But they are not waterproof!

The bags come in different colors – so you and your friends kit dont get mixed up

Tech stuff:

  • Saddlebag 1: 15″L x 9″W x 12″H
  • Saddlebag 2: 15″L x 6 1/2″W x 12″H
  • Made of water repellent 1000 denier CORDURA® Brand Fabric
  • $114 for the set!
  • Colors = Black, Blue, Grey, Red
Great looking bags with nice extra pockets and carry straps

These bags have a nice pocket on top which it great for all the little things you need to have a place for when overlanding. For example I put the GPS storage bag and bag straps in that pocket. This way when your traveling and you get ready to take the bags off the bike you know where the straps are and dont forget to lockup the GPS.

The CORDURA® fabric allows it slide into place without snagging

The fabric is tough and water resistant so it can handle being shoved around and will by default try to divert the water to the outside of the bag; however the bag could not set in a pannier full of water and keep its contents dry).

How to water proof the impossible?

I have found the GeckoBrands waterproof daypacks are extraordinal good. They dont cost of ton of money – they are big enough to hold what needs to be waterproofed, they come in multiple colors so you can organize your kit and in a pinch they are a daypack.

The black drawstring bag holds my Camera kit, the light blue is my computer / tablet, the dark blue is cables /chargers. Not shown is an “Orange” one that keeps all my emergency kit dry (like my cycle pump as an example). Items that dont need to be in a waterproof guaranteed bag get shoved into color coded “Cheap” stuff sacks (rain gear as an example).

Whats it look like packed

Based on contents you shove the stuff into a color coded bag, those bags go into the the Journey Designs big bags and then toss those in the panniers. “Easy peasy lemon squeezy”

Some stuff needs its own “special bag”

The best thing about riding a motorcycle is taking off your boots at the end of the day. That brings into question where to store stuff like dirty sandals or camera mounts? This stuff has a special characteristics and requirements in that they dont need to be water proof, and need to breath, but dont need to poke holes in proper bags as well the need to have ease of access. I found that my canvas bag from Overland expo works fantastic for this requirement and sets on top of the Kathy Journey design bag taking up the gap that is the space of the lid in the small pannier.