I recently bought a motorcycle and one of my priorities, aside from heated grips, was to hook myself up with some decent luggage. Fixed luggage solutions such as top cases and panniers are awesome and a life achievement (for me) but darn can they be expensive to buy right off the bat.
Of course, once you have it set up, it lasts you a lifetime, so, all things considered, it’s a small price to pay. However, considering initial expenses right out of the dealer are an expensive reality, I was looking for something more affordable to get started and that I would eventually be able to pair with my future set of panniers.
I wanted something versatile, easy to carry off the saddle, easy to attach to the bike, and above all, waterproof. Not water-resistant; waterproof. I’ve done my fair share of traveling in the rain to know that "resistant" never cuts it. After doing some shopping, reading a couple of reviews, and watching a few videos, my heart was set on a SW-Motech Drybag.
I made that choice for two main reasons. First, the Drybag collection is tough as nails and seriously waterproof. Second, all the bags in the collection are designed to work together and be fastened to one another. That meant that I could buy one bag for starters and could eventually upgrade to a second one when I needed more space. The cherry on top is that all the bags are affordable (under $190 for the biggest one in the lineup). That’s my kind of hat trick.
I got my hands on the 350 model for starters. It looks slightly bigger than a weekender but has an impressive capacity. We’re close to a bigger on the inside than on the outside situation here.
I'll eventually buy one of the bigger models to increase the storage capacity for when we’re allowed to travel around more freely and I’ll be able to take longer trips. For now, the 350 is a great, versatile size to pack for three or four days.
The Drybag Lineup
There are eight models in the Drybag collection. The naming convention for the different bags is pretty straight forward: it all has to do with the capacity (in liters). There’s the Drybag 80 which is a small tail bag that can also be attached to a side mount and that turns into a messenger bag. Its capacity is rated at 8L (2.1 gallons).
The Drybag 250 and 450 are cylindrical, roll-end bags with a respective capacity of 25L (6.6 gallons), and 45L (11.9 gallons).
The Drybag 180, 260, 350, and 600 models act more like duffle bags with handles and a shoulder strap. Their respective capacity is quoted at 18L (4.8 gallons), 26L (6.9 gallons), 35L (9.2 gallons), and 60L (15.9 gallons). Finally, there’s the Drybag 700 which is a u-shaped tail/side bag with a capacity of 70L (18.5 gallons).
As I said earlier, the Drybag collection’s coolest feature is that the bags can be combined. In addition to the clips that attach to the loop straps, the bags have an additional set of four clips that allows the user to stack the bags up and anchor them to one another. As far as I know, you can stack up as many bags as you please, though, let’s be real here, at some point you might want to consider sizing up rather than piling four or five bags up and travel around with a Tower of Pisa behind you.
The material is thick PVC which is 100% waterproof. I ran my bag under the faucet for a few minutes and it showed no signs of seeping in. The seams are sealed and welded as well, which means there’s no “weakness” in the build that lets water or dust in.
The opening is a classic roll-top, which means that instead of a zipper or some sort of closure that could potentially let water in, you close the bag by closing the rim shut (attached with Velcro) and then rolling it down. SW-Motech recommends you give it three rolls to ensure the bag is properly sealed. You then clip the corners of the bag on the sides to keep it closed.
As I mentioned, the 180, 260, 350, and 600 models turn into duffle bags so their design also includes a pair of soft handles and a shoulder strap that you can remove. I personally just tuck it in the same sleeve as the handles so that it doesn’t go flying behind me.
My bag came with a set of four loop straps that are easy to attach to any anchor point you can find on your bike. You have the option of installing your bag sideways or parallel with the seat, depending on how big the pillion is and on whether you have a luggage rack. There are reflectors on the sides of the bag for added visibility, even when the bike’s lights are shut.
Because the bag is pretty much a big pouch and I have an infinite need for things to be organized, I use packing cubes inside to keep everything nice and tidy.
After using my Drybag a few times, I can say that I absolutely love it and I’ll definitely add to my collection later on. Whether I end up getting my dream panniers or not, the bags will remain a relevant component of my luggage system and the perfect way to adjust my luggage capacity to my needs.
Pricing for the SW-Motech Drybag collection varies between $86.95 for the Drybag 80 and $188.95 for the 700. The Drybag 350 I got is priced at $101.95. The bags come in a standard grey and black colorway but some of them are offered in a bright yellow high-visibility version.
If you’re looking for a more “integrated” luggage system, this isn’t it, but if you like the idea of a luggage system that you can easily take off the bike and modulate to your needs, this is a great and relatively affordable option to consider.