People have been strapping all kinds of miscellaneous duffles to the back of their bikes since motorcycles were invented. Do a quick google search for ‘waterproof motorcycle duffle’ and you’ll see what I mean. The same basic welded seam waterproof roll-top duffle is presented a hundred times over, with different logos. It turns out that when you start from scratch and ask the question ‘how should an ADV duffle function’ you end up with something that looks and functions a lot different.
With the Backcountry Duffle we wanted to design a motorcycle bag from the ground up, instead of starting with a kayak/rafting drybag. Two things jumped out at us right away. First, we hated having to unpack the entire back of the bike just to put something in or take it out. If you picture a traditional roll-top duffle, the straps that connect it to the bike are going over the opening, which means that you have to undo the straps to get inside. Plus, because the bag is sitting on the back of the bike, by the time you unroll the opening it is too high to see inside. So you take it off the bike and set it on the ground. If you’re getting in and out of the bag several times a day this starts to get pretty annoying.
Second, traditional single-layer drybag duffles have a very limited lifespan. There are so many things that can cause them to fail. Campfire sparks, abrasion from a crash, abrasion from the rack it sits on, heat from the exhaust, cracks from sun damage, etc. As soon as anything happens to the bag, it’s not waterproof anymore. And if that happens in the middle of a trip it sucks.
We came up with the idea of a bag that’s actually two bags – an inner waterproof bag and an outer abrasion-proof bag – to solve that problem. Then we made it a double-ended roll top instead of a top-loader, so you can get things in and out without unstrapping it from the bike. Then we added a beavertail on top of that, so if you need to stash your jacket, or wet/dirty items that you don’t want inside the drybag, these things can be stored externally without getting inside the duffle at all.
Then we added backpack straps. Riding 50+ miles on dirt is no big deal on an adventure bike, but if you break down and find yourself hiking out, it’s a long friggin way man. Having a comfortable backpack is key. That was the original idea behind the backpack straps, but it turns out it’s also super handy for getting everything into (or up to) a hotel room in a single trip. When you’re traveling internationally, sometimes it’s not ok to leave half your stuff on the bike while you take the other half inside. With the BC 30/40, put the duffle on your back, grab a pannier in each hand, and you’re mobile. Plus the straps make it a great airline carry-on for fly-in trips or general travel.
Inside the beavertails there are two nylon reinforced mesh pockets for wet/dry items (like a toothbrush), a document pocket which works great for maps, or for your bike documents and passport. The document pocket is especially helpful at border crossings where you have to stop at multiple customs offices on both sides of the border. Remove the document pocket, take it inside the customs office with you, then when you're done put it back inside the beavertail and ride over to the next office. That way you can collect all the country specific paperwork in a specific spot. Also under the beavertail there's a special tent pole pocket so you can split your tent into its various components, making it so much easier to pack. The tent pole pocket also works great for a camp chair, fuel bottles, a fishing pole, etc.
There are two things that take some getting used to on this duffle. First, the materials are really thick, which means that rolling/unrolling the roll-top feels a little cumbersome at first if you’re used to thinner kayak drybags or stuff sacks. The materials loosen up with time, have no fear. Second, compared to a top-loader, the double ended roll-top has a narrower throat. So when you’re in your tent, or in your hotel room, sorting through the stuff inside is not as easy as it would be with a top-loader. We make top-loaders too, check out our Scout 30L or 50L Duffle if that’s the way you’re leaning.
Connection Strap Note: For pavement and graded road riding, virtually any kind of connection strap will work to attach this duffle to the bike. For rough, ungraded terrain or for long-distance, multi-month trips, we highly recommend the Backcountry Cinch Strap, which was designed specifically for this bag and this kind of travel. Whatever strap you choose, if you will be riding offroad, please avoid bungy cords, stretchable elastic straps, or straps with plastic side-release buckles. Even a simple cam buckle strap (like this one by DaKine) is better than elastic.