Tough and affordable soft luggage developed by experienced world travelers.
The number of torn bags, destroyed gas cans and ripped sleeping bags I’ve brought home after my motorcycle trips is embarrassing. In fact, I have half a closet full of torn things that have fallen from my bike or failed while on a trip. I’ve cheaped out on luggage before and learned my lesson, so this time, I decided to try Turkana luggage, a universal soft luggage system that is not only affordable but very durable.
I picked up the Turkana Duffalo 40-litre duffle bag, PelliPouch handlebar bag and the HippoHips saddlebags set to assist me in my multi-day trips on my 790 Adv R. To pair with the luggage, I got the Outback Motortek Pannier Racks through DualSport Plus. Both the rack and luggage were easy to install; the company offers insightful videos online to follow for installation.
Created and manufactured in South Africa, Turkana luggage was designed and tested by world moto travellers to withstand the diverse and often harsh conditions of adventure travel. Every piece of luggage uses Rhinocote and 1680 Tuffstuff, which are tear- and abrasion-resistant. It’s clear when looking at its product lineup that Turkana’s luggage is created to be tough, affordable and usable. Plus, because Turkana uses common straps and buckles, it’s easily repaired anywhere in the world in the off-chance anything happens to it. Many components are also field-repairable with a basic sewing kit — or even dental floss.
When I first received the luggage, I was overwhelmed at how compact the bags were, and by how much you get for the price. The HippoHips saddlebags are an eight-piece set, which includes two 30-litre saddlebags, two waterproof drybags, two BushBaby canister bags and two OxPacker bottle bags, plus all the straps needed to safely secure your saddlebags to your bike. It’s an incredibly smart design and the M.O.L.L.E. system is integrated into every face of each saddlebag, making it easy to not only attach the BushBaby and OxPacker bags to any of the other bags, but also allows you to safely attach any other “danglies” you need to throw onto your bags while travelling.
I ended up scraping the saddlebags while trying to weave through two rocks and they came out completely unscathed.
The only cumbersome routine I found was evenly closing the tops of the HippoHips saddlebags. The closing straps for one side bag cross over the seat and are then used for closing the opposite side. Because you need to roll down the top of each bag and then fasten the straps, I found myself going back and forth to each side to re-roll the tops until the straps were properly tensioned enough to keep the tops from unrolling. This does, however, spread the weight of the bags evenly over the subframe so as to not stress the pannier mounting brackets when riding over thousands of kilometres of rough terrain.
Another small issue I experienced in my day-to-day overpacking was that, if the top of my gear in the bags was rounded or bulging, I would notice the straps slowly slipping to the side throughout the day. This could easily be fixed by adding one more piece of webbing to join the two cinch straps to keep them from spreading apart. Or you could simply not overpack.
The HippoHips saddlebag set retails for $569. It’s almost unheard of to get a full eight-piece luggage saddlebag set for that price, especially a set with the quality and durability of this gear.
PelliPouch Handlebar Bag
I’ve seen a few handlebar bags before but have always settled on the standard tank bag to hold both the big and small day-to-day stuff needed on the bike, so when I got the PelliPouch, I was extremely excited to try it out. Long gone are the days of being hindered by my tank bag while standing during off-road riding. The PelliPouch is an easy and compact alternative to a tank bag. This handlebar or crash bar bag attaches easily and will comfortably hold your wallet, a glasses case, a multi-tool and other small items. I was unsure about the durability of the Velcro straps that are meant to hold the pouch to the handlebar, but was pleasantly surprised at how well they fastened. The pouch was stable, discrete and offered the added comfort of having a padded pouch on the bar to protect my face in case of crashing. The PelliPouch retails for $89 and is a supreme alternative for small objects while adventure riding.
Duffalo Dry Bag Duffle
This 40-litre duffle bag makes easy work of bulky camping gear while on a trip. I also found it useful for commonly used things, like my camera, that I’m constantly reaching for while on a trip. It’s relatively easy to attach and strap down but doesn’t come with a fastening system. Turkana leaves that up to you and your packing preference. I ended up using a few of my TitanStraps and a ROK Strap to fasten the duffle bag using the M.O.L.L.E. system. I would love to see it come with an integrated option for easy, ready-to-use straps to throw on the bike out of the package.
A drybag is included with the Duffalo and is Velcroed into the liner, making it easy to keep it in place while pulling things in and out of the Duffalo’s wide opening. The drybag can easily be removed for cleaning. The Duffalo duffle bag retails for $159.
All of the drybags are white on the inside, which helps immensely when trying to find where you put your extra toolkit or Thermos of coffee, while the outside is a bright green, making them easily visible and recognizable. Allowing each piece of luggage to have its own separate drybag means the outside of your gear can be customized with patches announcing where you’ve travelled; it may sound silly to some, but collecting stickers and patches to boast where you’ve gone by bike is an important aspect of the adventure travel segment.
Above and beyond the quality and versatility of the Turkana gear are its cheeky descriptions and instructions. Turkana’s lifetime “Gear Back-up Commitment” is standard and promises to help replace your gear (should it be damaged) at a heavily discounted price to get you back up and rolling quickly.
In the words of Turkana, “It does not matter how it was damaged, even if you accidentally left it on your bike and a lion used it during the night as a play toy, our Gear Back-up Commitment has your back.” To any motorcyclist, whether they’re travelling the world or their own backyard, that commitment means a lot.
Turkana Soft Motorcycle Luggage is distributed in Canada by Renedian Adventure Gear and can be found at renedian.com.
The M.O.L.L.E. System
The acronym M.O.L.L.E. (pronounced “Molly”) is a military acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. Such equipment was created by the U.S. Armed Forces to help attach necessary things to their kit while in the field. It allows different accessories to be attached anywhere on your bags with PALS (Pouch Attachment Ladder System) webbing, which consists of heavy-duty nylon that is stitched onto the pouch. To install, weave the webbing through the M.O.L.L.E. system, alternating from the bag to the pouch, and secure at the bottom of the pouch with a snap. The installation can be tedious if you’re new to the system, but when done correctly the pouch is safely attached to your bags during even the roughest rides.