Whether commuting or taking a cross-country trip on your motorcycle, you’ll need a motorcycle backpack to carry your belongings. A useful motorcycle backpack protects your clothes, electronics, and papers. The most important qualities to look for in a motorcycle backpack are durability and organization. You never know when your backpack may be exposed to harsh weather conditions. A well-organized pack saves you time when you arrive at your destination.


Saddlebags can be draped over the motorcycle or locked into place from the front and rear. Just be careful to make sure that the bag’s straps don’t get tangled around your legs or the pipes. A secure fit will make your trip less stressful. Using a saddlebag instead of a traditional backpack means that you’ll have less weight on your back and be more balanced when riding.

You can choose a motorcycle saddlebag with a variety of different features. Some have locking systems to protect your belongings from thieves. The biggest saddlebags can fit tents and camping equipment. There are soft and hard saddlebags. Soft saddlebags are flexible, but most aren’t waterproof, so they need an additional liner. Or, you can buy a soft saddlebag with a UV coating. Hard saddlebags cost more, but they’re more secure and weather-resistant, and they can’t be cut open by thieves.

Sissybar Bags

Motorcycle Sissybar bags are conveniently placed on the back bar of the motorcycle, above the suspension, where they won’t interfere with your driving. If you don’t already have a sissybar on your motorcycle, you’ll need to install one. Larger sissybar bags should be attached to both the sissybar and a luggage rack for stability. Common materials are nylon or leather, but nylon is more durable. If the bag isn’t waterproof, invest in a waterproof cover for the bag.

A useful feature to look for is external pockets, so you can take out essential items without detaching the entire bag. Avoid making the sissybar bag too heavy. When the bag is too heavy, it can break the sissybar or affect your ability to steer your motorcycle and ride it safely. Sissybar bags tend to have a larger capacity than other types of motorcycle backpacks.

Handlebar Bags

Handlebar bags were originally modeled after tool bags that motorcyclists attached to their handlebars to deal with any mid-trip repairs. Now, they’re a great option to keep the items you’re most likely to need, like your cellphone or wallet, within reach. Since handlebar bags tend to be small, they’re best for commutes or shorter trips. Even so, you have the option of buying an off-road handlebar bag made of strong nylon with weather resistance. If you prefer leather to nylon, consider latigo leather, full-grain leather that is stronger than other types.

Handlebar bags take a lot of wear and tear, so choose a bag that has extra reinforcement around the bag’s stress points. Stress points tend to be where the straps attach to the bag. A smart financial decision is to purchase a bag that has a guarantee or a warranty for manufacturing errors. It not only protects you, but it’s an indicator that the manufacturer has confidence in the bag’s quality. Since most handlebar bags are designed to be opened with one hand, they don’t have anti-theft mechanisms. Buy an extra lock for the zipper of your handlebar bag, or take your valuables with you after parking your motorcycle.

Tank Bags

Tank bags are attached to your fuel tank with magnets, straps, or a clamp. Magnetic attachments are good for drivers who drive short trips and rarely drive at high speeds. Tank bags with magnetic attachments can be easily removed and reattached. However, they’re not as secure as straps or a clamp. A clamp is a ring that’s affixed to the fuel cap then attached to the tank bag. Both straps and clamps allow you to go at high speeds without worrying about the bag becoming detached while you’re riding.

When buying your tank bag, choose a weatherproof material like polyester. Avoid materials or accessories that could scratch your paint job. Some tank bags have a non-slip coating on the bottom of the bag for extra security. Clear pockets allow you to look at your map or your phone’s GPS app while biking. Use the tank bag’s external pockets for your wallet and keys. The benefit of a tank bag is that you can use it as a backpack once you arrive at your destination.

In the end, choosing a motorcycle backpack is about what works for you and your lifestyle. When buying a bag, consider how long, how often, and how fast you’re likely to ride. Saddlebags, sissybar bags, handlebar bags, and tank bags all have their advantages and drawbacks. The typical climate in your region plays a factor as well. You may not need a fully weatherproof bag if you live in a desert area while such a feature might be essential to riders living in regions with regular periods of rainfall. Buy the motorcycle backpack you need and enjoy the ride.

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