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On-the-Go: Backpack Essentials for the Everyday Motorcyclist

Suited up and ready to ride! You’re zipping up your favourite motorcycle jacket, giving those sturdy boots the one-two kick, all while sliding on a freshly shined helmet; you’re ready to ride! There is always that one nagging issue, where do you put the rest of your stuff?

If you’re a new motorcycle rider who chooses to ride a sports bike, as opposed to its touring bike cousins, you’ll find that what the bike excels in, like acceleration and cornering, it lacks in storage. With minimal storage found under the seat, there is simply nowhere to put items such as a laptop, camera, or change of shoes. To combat this issue, riders need to utilize the convenience of the RIGHT motorcycle backpack.

Design of Your New Backpack

Searching through the motorcycle accessories market, a rider can easily get intimidated by the selection of backpacks tailored for their ride. Colours, reflective piping, and spots for your cellphone and other electronic devices. After you get through the excitement of all the add-ons, keep your backpack idea simple with finding one that is sleek and conventional.

If there is one feature to take away from this article, it is the ability to have your new backpack as close to your body as possible. Look for one that sits high on your shoulders and is fully adjustable. Two straps, one across the chest and another towards your belly button, will allow you to become one with the pack.

Now get into position as if you are sitting on your bike. Even put your helmet on. See if this is comfortable for you to ride for hours on end without even thinking about your new passenger.

I would highly suggest bringing all your daily necessities with you when trying on your backpack candidate. For me, my items would be a 15-inch laptop, keys, cellphone, packed lunch, notebook, shoe selection of the day and possibly a few random items. It doesn’t seem like much but you’ll regret buying a bag that you then have to continuously rearrange to shove your stuff into.

Did you notice I mentioned shoes twice? Yes, now with a new backpack you can change in-and-out of your riding boots! Goodbye to the days of putting your feet at risk in your gym trainers or being uncomfortable during lunch with a friend in your riding boots.

Safety Tips to Consider

Obviously safety would need to be taken into consideration when selecting a motorcycle backpack. Not having the right item can put your life at risk, even if you never hit the ground.

A pack that is not aerodynamic in design will create drag. Wind resistance can throw off the tight connection between you and your motorcycle as you flow through twists and turns, allowing room for error. Shoulder, waist, and chest straps will aid in keeping the pack as close to the body as possible. This allows for your centre of gravity to not be compromised when approaching obstacles in your ride.

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident that involves you and the ground, having a backpack that is too bulky creates an unnatural angle between the pavement and the back of your helmet. If you were to place a ruler on the top of your shoulders, and align it to the helmet, you would see it almost a perfectly straight line. Now add a large pack and the angle opens up, creating enough space for your head to snap back to the ground. Result? Whiplash.

Another unfortunate possibility in a crash with a pack is rolling. The backpack can limit the possibility of using the skid-back protector that might be found in your favourite motorcycle jacket. The best-case scenario, if you land on your back in an accident, is to skid and not enter into a violent roll that could cause you to break a collarbone. A close-fitting, slender backpack will reduce the possibility of it becoming an danger in your crash.

Backpack Budget

In my buying experience, the highest price does not always produce the best product! Ranging from $100 to close to $400, riders should be concerned with the material durability of the pack and trying it on with all their essential items included before purchase.

One add-on that can increase the price of your new backpack, but would be highly beneficial, is built-in armour. Made of products ranging from a hard-plastic material to the strong fibre of Kevlar, this a feature that should be worth the extra money. Built into the pack or as an insertable board, body armour is your defence against road rash, or worse, during an accident. Body armour is an absolute necessity in all of your protective riding gear! But you already knew that.

Enjoy Your New Backpack

After investing into the correct motorcycle backpack, the days of leaving your essentials at home or not being able to pick up bread on the way home will be gone. Stick to these thoughts when shopping for the perfect pack and you’ll find yourself ready for any curve in the road.

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Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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