A good backpack is worth its weight in gold.
In our tireless search for clothing and equipment that will enhance your riding experience, or at least minimize the discomfort and distractions, we’re going to look at a couple of backpacks to see how cost, features and overall design are a deciding factor when it comes to choosing the right one.
As a rider who commutes daily to work, the features of a backpack become very important. That’s because comfort has a major influence on concentration levels, affecting overall confidence and rider safety. Most motorcycle accessory manufacturers and backpack makers recognize this, offering a wide array of bags targeted directly at motorcycle riders. But how do you narrow down the selection process?
We decided to dive in and compare a couple of the latest offerings from backpack specialists, looking at the areas a motorcyclist typically needs to consider. Comfort is obviously a primary concern when hauling a laptop and gear. However, we’ll also examine material construction, overall weight, storage space, and water resistance, among other qualities.
Our chosen bags are an entry-level motorcycle-focused product from backpack specialist, Ogio, called the Throttle. It's designed to be durable, lightweight and all-weather. The second backpack is the Booq Cobra, which is a more expensive product, and not targeted primarily at motorcyclists. However, it had a number of features we thought were appealing.
Ogio Throttle is a lightweight, affordable backpack aimed at motorcyclists, with decent weather protection.
Available in black, blue and green, one of the appeals of this backpack is the water-resistant cover. Ogio has addressed the rain problem up front, rather than giving you a temporary cover you have to fit before a downpour.
At 1.9 lb, the backpack is lightweight, so it isn’t adding an extra burden. It has a multitude of pockets, allowing you to easily organize everything. These include two on each side, which can easily accommodate a phone, wallet, and items you need to access regularly. There’s also a zipper in the lower front panel that allows access to a larger, but slim pocket.
Laptop pocket is on the rear, with document pouch inside. The lid section also has a slim pocket on top.
On the back, there's a fourth zipper to access the laptop pouch. It has a foam lining to cushion the computer and your back. There's also a secondary paperwork pouch and a small phone pocket inside.
The lid section has adjustable securing straps and a drawstring inner lining to aid water resistance.
Lift the foldover top section (which also has its own slim pocket in the top) to access the main interior storage area. This lid has adjustable straps to secure it tightly, and underneath is a drawstring to further protect against water.
Rather slim straps and laptop padding meant we wouldn’t necessarily use it for daily commuting with a laptop, although it’s very capable of doing so.
The main interior space features a slim zippered pocket as well as two small pouches to store oddments. Otherwise, it’s uncluttered to accommodate shoes, clothes, etc.
Overall, the Ogio Throttle backpack provides some great storage options to keep your work gear or weekend belongings organized and dry. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to check out its water-resisting properties, but the interior has a double lining to keep items dry. Of course, rain has a habit of finding its way into tiny spaces when forced at high speed, but Ogio should have enough experience to anticipate this.
Interior features a slim zip-up pocket and two small pouches.
Perhaps the only negatives from our perspective were rather thin shoulder straps, meaning the weight of your gear was rather more obvious than with other packs. The top of the pack also sits rather high on your back, causing your helmet to rub against the lid. It’s not a big deal, just rather distracting at first.
We also felt the laptop padding was thinner than some other offerings — the Booq Cobra backpack, for example. This made us less confident carrying an expensive computer.
At just $89.99, the Ogio Throttle represents a great value. It has lots of storage options, good material, and thoughtful design. We’d be inclined to use it for weekend getaways rather than daily commuting. With a light load to exploit its lightweight construction, you might forget it’s even there.
Note: The Ogio website claims Throttle has fleece-lined pockets, but none were found on our sample.
Less well known than Ogio, Booq has an impressive range of backpacks, bags and luggage for every occasion. Not many are suitable for motorcyclists, but the Cobra backpack caught our eye because of its rugged 1680 denier ballistic nylon shell with waterproof coating.
Slim front pocket is the only exterior storage area.
Like the Ogio, it has a breathable back panel but the Cobra benefits from very wide straps to disperse the load. We also like its semi-rigid structure, which allows the bag to keep its shape and remain upright when set down. It makes it easier to locate belongings inside the main storage area, and stays where youput it – which is important when you’re wearing a helmet and gloves.
Straps are very wide to disperse the load, and padding is generous. Trim detail is in leather.
The Booq Cobra has a large laptop pouch on the rear, which will take a 15” MacBook Pro (as will the Ogio) or a 17” PC. There is generous padding on either side, with a fleece lining to avoid scratches.
Laptop pouch is fleece-lined and well padded, making us feel secure about transporting a MacBook.
On the front, there is a long zipper that gives access to a large, slim compartment. There are also two zippered bottle holders on the sides. We use these frequently, but otherwise, the Booq isn’t as convenient for small oddment storage – finding a place for your phone, sunglasses, keys, etc is easier with the Ogio.
With that said, the orange and black interior is well appointed. It has a zippered pocket and two storage pouches, which are larger than the Ogio. There is also a large paperwork pouch and, as we mentioned, the remainder of the main storage area is easier to search because the bag remains upright.
Orange interior is attractive, but also helps locate items. Trim is, again, leather. Zipped pocket at top, two pouches below and document pouch on the other side allow you to organize belonging. Each Booq Cobra has an individual serial number to aid its return if lost.
The bottom of the bag has a rubberized finish to avoid scuffs. There are also some nice metal rings for carabiners, and leather trim on the carry handle, zip pulls and interior pockets.
At $295, the Booq Cobra is more than three times the cost of the Ogio Throttle. However, we’ve found ourselves favoring it of the two choices. It’s an attractive, understated backpack that provides efficient gear storage and is ideal for daily commuting. It’s also able to swallow a good amount of gear for weekend outings, yet it’s probably better suited to work, air travel, etc.
Zippered bottle carriers are slimline when closed and not in use.
Each Booq Cobra comes with an individual serial number, which— once registered —will help you to be reunited with the bag if it’s lost.
The two bags provide similar amenities, but each has a distinctive character that will make one more suited to your lifestyle than the other. The Ogio Throttle shines with its affordable price and great features, while the Booq Cobra is thoughtfully designed, elegantly presented but at a price.
As mentioned, we’ve found ourselves using the Cobra in favor of the Throttle, but both have great features to commend them.
See something you like? Find both bags below:
Ogio Throttle - $89.99 ogio.com
Booq Cobra - $295 booqbags.com
Featured Image: The Booq Cobra is far more expensive than the Ogio, but it shows in the quality construction and thoughtful features. We particularly appreciated its ballistic nylon shell and semi-rigid structure that allows it to maintain its shape.