Looking for waterproof motorcycle bags and luggage? Motorcycle tail bags and roll bags offer an excellent solution but how practical are they? Are they waterproof? Safe for your belongings and secure enough not to end up sliding down the road at the first big bump you hit? Don’t despair- we’ve tested and reviewed the best motorcycle dry roll bags and tail packs on the market to find out.
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What is a Motorcycle Tail or Roll Bag?
Motorhome roll bags are basically waterproof dry bags. They’re simply bags which you put stuff in which you don’t want to get wet.
Normally, they’re tail bags, but you can get roll bags which strap to your motorcycle tank or to the top of a panier. Each motorcycle bag will have strapping down points, be made of waterproof material and waterproof zippers.
In addition, they may offer carry handles, reflective strips and external pockets for ease of use whilst you’re riding.
Most people use a waterproof tail bag for touring, but I know a few who use them on the daily commute as well, so their work clothing and shoes don’t get wet on the ride.
Why Use Tail Packs and Roll Bags on bikes?
Carrying luggage on a motorbike can be a mission unless you have paniers or a top box fitted.
Strapping conventional bike luggage to your pillion seat is one option, but in all honesty most ‘normal bags’ aren’t strong enough or waterproof enough to withstand a motorcycle ride in very bad weather. They also probably won’t have the right straps.
A waterproof motorcycle tail bag or roll bag is designed for the job. They will be easy to secure, with plenty of bungee attachment points and waterproof. Arriving at your destination in soaking bike gear, only to find the contents of your luggage also soaked tends to put a bit of a downer on your life!
Is a Motorcycle Roll Bag the Same as a Tail Bag?
Potentially. You can get many roll bags which function as a motorcycle tail bag. But you can also get roll bags which DON’T clip to the tail or back seat, so don’t assume they all will. You can also get tail bags which AREN’T roll bags, although many are very similar.
Roll bags are usually larger but have the disadvantage of being just a single ‘stuff-it-all-in’ bag style in most cases. Tail bags are often smaller but offer a more practical solution with inner and outer pockets to separate the items you need regularly.
If cost is the deciding factor, then a roll bag makes sense, but if practicality is top of the list, a tail bag may be more suitable if you think you’ll use it enough.
Pros and Cons of Waterproof Motorcycle Roll Bags and Tail Bags
While serving a similar purpose, motorcycle roll bags and tail bags have different designs, so what are the pros and cons of each?
- Normally have a larger capacity
- Simple design, so less likely to leak
- Often just a single large compartment
- Large size can make attaching to your motorcycle difficult
- Usually have multiple compartments- easy to keep things organised
- Easy to strap to your motorcycle – often shaped for a better fit to motorcycle seat
- Often more expensive than roll bags
- Smaller capacity
What to Look for When Choosing a Motorcycle Roll Bag or Tail Bag?
Motorcycle luggage has to endure some extreme weather conditions, from hot sunny days to rain, strong winds and everything in between. Consequently, the materials used are the first thing to look at in a roll bag or tail pack to ensure they won’t fall apart on your first ride!
Next, make sure the zips are of good quality and preferably water-resistant.
Once you are happy with the materials, you need to look at the practical aspects;
- Waterproof. Is the outer material waterproof, or is there a separate waterproof cover? If there’s a separate cover, you’ll need to stop every time it rains to put this on.
- Attachment Points. How many hooks and straps does the bag have? Is it easy to secure to your motorcycle where you want it?
- Outer Pockets. Any items you want easy access to, such as a motorcycle tool roll bag, passport or wallet, should be in the exterior pockets, so check how many there are and if they are waterproof.
- Carry Handles. When you stop, you don’t want to lug the thing without any handles into your accommodation or tent. Choosing one with a good and strong carry handle will help make that easier.
How Do You Secure a Roll Bag or Tail Bag to a Motorcycle?
There are usually two methods of securing roll bags and tail bags to your motorcycle;
- Using the built-in straps and bungees.
Built-in straps have the advantage that they are securely attached to the bag. The disadvantage is that the hooks and strap lengths may not suit your motorcycle. If the bag you are interested in has built-in straps, it is recommended to do a trial fit before buying. You can, of course, use separate straps and bungees, but that defeats the purpose of the built-in straps.
- Using separate straps and bungees.
Using your own straps and bungees to secure the bag to your bike is the most flexible. One disadvantage is that the straps are not fitted to the bag, so there are two potential disconnection points instead of one. This could be less secure. The other disadvantage is that it’s easier to misplace or lose your straps.
Best Motorcycle Roll Bags
So, now that you know what we looked at for our reviews and why, here are our favourite motorcycle dry roll bags:
SW Motech Drybag 350
The Drybag 350 from SW Motech is the smallest roll bag we tested, (just 35 litres) and the most expensive by some margin. It looks very similar to dry bags used by water sports enthusiasts and has a similar design.
It’s constructed from thick 500D tarpaulin type material with welded seams, so it will not leak. The roll-top opening also prevents water ingress.
SW Motech supply a 4-point attachment system, giving you a secure fixing, while built-in clips allow the Drybag 350 to securely attach to other SW Motech tail bags if you want more than one.
- Waterproof material
- Attachment system
- Best for bikers out in all weathers
- Most expensive roll bag tested
- Only 35 litres
You can also buy the Drybag 350 from SW Motech here:
Givi EA115BK Roll Top
At 40-litres, the Givi EA115BK Roll Top is 5 litres larger than the similarly looking SW Motech bag. It offers the same roll down securing for the opening to ensure it is waterproof and features welded seams.
Givi supplies two elastic straps to secure the bag to your motorcycle, plus there are attachment points for connecting the pack to other Givi products.
A comfortable carry handle and detachable shoulder strap complete this practical and inexpensive roll bag.
- Good price
- Best for those needing a medium size bag at a great price.
Only supplied with two attachment straps
You can also buy the Givi EA115BK Roll Top here:
Oxford Aqua T70 Roll Bag – our favourite
The Oxford Aqua T70 Roll Bag is made from a waterproof material with welded seams and a roll-top closing system, continuing in the same theme as the previous roll bags. However, at 70 litres, the Oxford Aqua is the largest and cheapest roll bag on the test.
Why we love it: We love that this roll bag comes with external and internal pockets to keep your items separated and easier to find, plus a built-in handle, shoulder strap and a securing system complete with an under-seat strap.
- Great price
- External and internal pockets to separate items
- Underseat security strap
- Best for riders looking for huge carrying capacity
There are no negatives for this product
You can also buy the Oxford Aqua T70 Roll Bag here:
Best Motorcycle Tail Bags
So, what about specifically designed tail bags for motorcycles? Here are our favourites:
Kriega Drypack Tail Bag
If you are looking for quality, then the Kriega Drypack Tail Bag will not disappoint. The company is well known for its attention to detail and excellent motorcycle kit.
Why we love it: This is the best of both worlds, as it’s fully waterproof without needing an outer cover, has a roll top closing plus extra inner liner AND has several easy-to-access pockets.
It’s made from 420D Cordura (meaning it’s built to last) and it’s designed to play nicely with other Kreiga kit. There’s also a mounting system with subframe loops for extra security.
This bag will give you many trouble-free years and is possibly the best motorcycle tail bag on the market.
- Fully waterproof
- External pockets
- Best for bikers that want the excellent quality
- Expensive in comparison to other products
Alternate to the Kriega 30L Drypack Tail Bag:
Givi UT805 Ultima-T Tail Bag
The Givi UT805 Ultima-T Tail Bag has been making motorcycle luggage for decades, and their experience shows in the UT805 tail bag. It is a generous 35 litres and looks great mounted on a rear motorcycle seat.
You get a quality piece of kit for your money, but it’s disappointing that the outer material is not waterproof. Instead, you must use the inner waterproof liner, and the two exterior pockets are not waterproof.
Supplied with the bag are two fastening straps and a padded shoulder strap.
- Two completely separate outer pockets
- Shaped to fit a motorcycle seat
- Easy top opening
- The liner has to be used to make it waterproof
QBag Tail Bag 4
The QBag Tail Bag 4 is both stylish and practical. Although it’s only 26 litres, it has three separate outer pockets complimenting the larger central compartment.
One big downside, though, is that the nylon outer material is not waterproof, and you have to fit the separate rain cover to keep your gear dry.
A built-in hook system removes the need for separate straps to secure the bag to your motorcycle. All in all, it’s a great bag- for sunny days.
- Stylish look
- Three external pockets
- Best for bikers that travel light
- Needs a separate rain cover to make it waterproof
SW Motech Drybag 700 Tail Bag
The SW Motech Drybag 700 Tail Bag is another hybrid between roll and tail bags. The outer material is waterproof polyester, with a roll-top closing, just like roll bags, but SW Motech shaped it to fit neatly over the pillion seat, like a tail bag.
The 70-litre capacity doesn’t disappoint, and you can attach it to additional Drybags for even more space. Four loop securing straps and a shoulder strap make this even more practical.
- Large 70-litre size
- Value for money
- Great for touring in all weathers
- No separate pockets
Alternate to the SW Motech Drybag 700 Tail Bag:
Well, I hope that gave you some food for thought and helped you decide which motorcycle tail or roll bag is best for you. Here are some more posts you might enjoy: