For long weekends away or daily commute, a tail pack is, in my opinion, the best motorcycle luggage you can buy.
Simple to fit and capable of carrying a lot of kit, they don’t get in the way of your riding like a motorbike rucksack or tank bag can. If you’re taking a pillion, then tail bag is out but for performance touring or overnight hops, they’re the business.
What size tail pack do I need?
This all depends on how many people you’re packing for and what you’re using the tail pack for.
If you’re on a Sunday blast and looking to carry your sunglasses, a camera, a few snacks and the like, then a 5-litre tailpack is a good option.
The daily commute with a change of clothes and a pair of shoes? Or if you’re carrying a hefty chain in to lock your bike up with. Then 10-litres will just about do the job but 15 would be comfortable.
A weekend blast, with a wash bag, a few pairs of undies, a change of clothes, shoes and a few other bits and bobs? Then 20 litres is what you’re after.
If you’re going for a week’s solo riding in Europe, if you pack well, you’ll manage just fine with a 30-litre tail pack.
Fully waterproof, simple to clip on and off
While I appreciate that Kriega stuff is premium-priced, you really do get what you pay for. I’ve had my Drypack for over a decade and I’ve only had to replace one clip in that time. The Drypack has a roll-top closure, secured in place with an adjustable strap. You fit the harness to your bike’s subframe and then buckle the tail pack in place. It also comes with a shoulder strap making it easy to carry off the bike. Available in 5, 10, 20 and 30-litre versions.
Quality tail pack, big enough to stash a helmet
Dainese has teamed up with Ogio to produce this D-Tail tailpack. It has 20-litres of internal storage space and an expandable zip, meaning you can tailor it to whatever you’re carrying. It’s big enough to carry a full-face helmet, comes with handy side pockets and there’s a built-in waterproof cover that zips out, meaning you won’t lose or forget it.
The cheapest motorcycle tail pack
I know that not everyone has £80 to spend on motorcycle luggage but our top picks are really quality bits of kit that will last a long time.
But what about bikers on a budget? We had a good look around the web and this is the best budget tailpack we could find. At under £15, you might think it’ll be badly made and badly fitting but the customer reviews for this AllRight Motorcycle Saddle Bag are very good indeed.
It claims to be waterproof and some owners agree but I’m not sure I’d trust it to keep a £1,000 laptop dry in the pouring rain.
There’s an easy and cheap way to solve this problem: buy a roll-top waterproof rucksack liner, like this ones for example. It’s actually double-useful, as you can leave the tail pack on the bike, unzip it when you arrive at your destination and just carry your kit from there.
There’s no big issue with your panniers getting soaked in a downpour if all your stuff stays dry in a liner.
If you’re happy to spend a little bit more, then this tail pack from QBag is a quality option. It has an easy-to-use zip system to attach it to the bike.
The largest motorcycle tail pack
If you need to cart a lot of kit around, then this 65-litre tailpack from Givi could be just the solution. The UT806 Ultima has a solid base and is secured to your bike using straps which run under the subframe.
It also featured a shoulder-strap so you can easily take it from the bike to your digs.
Givi’s image of the bag (above) doesn’t really do it justice, as on the face of it, it looks like you can only get a couple of night’s worth of kit in it.
As far as I’m concerned, if you’re taking 3 pairs of jeans and two pairs of shoes away with you, you’re packing really inefficiently. If you’re travelling solo and you have 65-litres of luggage capacity to play with, you could easily get a week’s worth of kit in there.
If you are going away for a fortnight, remember – you can always wash your gear halfway through the trip, meaning you can pack a hell of a lot less.
Tail pack or panniers?
When I’m touring solo, I always opt for a tail-pack over motorcycle panniers. I have a ruthlessly efficient packing list and can fit everything I need for a week’s travel in a 30-litre Kriega tailpack or if I’m going for a weekend away, I use the 20-litre version.
Some bikers prefer panniers as it keeps the weight slightly lower down. If you’re taking a pillion, a tail pack is out so panniers are the best option.
But if you’re a rucksack tourer, save your backache, there’s a better option!
If you want to take your tail pack on and off the bike when you stop, make sure you get one with quick-release buckles like Kriega. Some use a complex system that takes much longer to unclip.
Even though a tailpack might claim to be waterproof, it will probably let a bit of water in if you're riding all day in heavy rain. For added peace of mind, buy a waterproof rucksack liner (or if you're a tightarse, use a bin liner) to keep your kit dry.
Gaffa tape is great at stopping any loose straps from rubbing your bike's paintwork
Pack a cargo net in your tailbag pocket. They're excellent at helping you carry more stuff - you never know when you're going to need it.
Soft motorcycle luggage FAQs
Are all tail packs universal fit?
The vast majority of tailpacks use a strap system to attach them to your motorbike’s pillion area. Systems like Kriega are setup for you to attach the retaining straps to the bike’s subframe, you then clip your tail pack onto these straps, meaning they are a universal fit, assuming you can get to the subframe.
While other systems use a similar method to attach the bag to the subframe, not all of these have quick release buckles, meaning if you want to remove the tailpack you might have to undo the retaining mechanism first. A pain if you want to easily remove your tailpack when you stop.
Do tail packs need a frame or rack to mount them on?
Not many systems do. Luggage manufacturer Venture make a rack system to fit many different makes and models of motorcycle. You bolt the rack to your bike’s subframe and then attach your luggage to this rack.