I finally landed on a duffel bag choice for the upcoming AK trip. The North Face Base Camp Duffel in Medium size. A glorious 70 liters of pure goodness.
Sure I was all high and mighty for the Mosko Moto Duffel and I still am, but after HC Allen told me about the 40 dollar freight charge to have it shipped to his front door, that made the bag a bit to rich for my penny pinching self.
After my REI rebate arrived in the mail along with a 20% off coupon that pretty much sealed the deal to go with the North Face duffel. I had been eyeing this bag ever since the beginning of time. Okay, maybe that’s a bit over the top. The only thing that I have been concerned about is that the zipper is not a waterproof zipper so the bag is not considered waterproof. I sure hope my decision will not come back to haunt me on day twelve of our trip.
The reviews on this bag are wonderful. There are plenty of stories about people putting this on the roof of their car for hours on end in torrential downpours with wary a damp spot. I am hoping that translates well to my motorcycle.
What size bag to get was a bit perplexing. I was aiming for a 40 to 60 liter bag all along, so this bag was a bit larger than I expected. Eyeing up the size differences between small (50 liters) and the medium (70 liters) in the store, it seemed like it would be really hard to get the stuff I wanted into that smaller bag. Contemplating my purchase I asked the really important question, “What would HC Dave do?” Go big or go home kept coming to mind as I thought of HC Dave. I briefly considered the next size up, but then realized I could probably park my motorcycle in it when not in use. That’s too big.
After consulting with the 15 y/o daughter on color choice. Yellow or Red? She chose red so I bought the red one.
On the bike:
Over lunch today I had a chance to play around with how the bag will fit on the bike. I am using the Ortlieb soft sided motorcycle bags, which I installed on the Vstrom. I then filled the bag with two motorcycle jackets to give it some form and weight, and then laid the bag over the pillion where the width seems fine. It is inside the panniers by a few inches on either side. The symmetry looks about right. I will be using Rok Straps for the tie down so I loosen those up and figure out the best way to secure the bag. I like the way that the straps secure the flap down which will help to keep water out of the bag. Maybe I can adapt a little rain flap to the zipper flap like many motorcycle jackets use.
I do have a couple of nit picks. Did I mention the non waterproof zipper? The backpack straps could be much easier to remove without having to un-thread the straps from the buckles. I wish it had some internal structure to provide some shape.
Overall, I think this bag is going to be awesome. I love the top entry to the bag with the zipper entry. This should make it easy to pack/unpack. The red color will make it easier to find things on the bottom of the bag. There are a few molle straps to attach more stuff if need be. It has backpack straps that I can use to carry the bag when necessary. And, finally it is red. Seems like red is beginning to take over my life with a red motorcycle, red vehicle, red bag, and red osprey trucker hat (review to come).
I would also be concerned with road mud clogging the zipper. I lived in Northern Alaska 20 years and have encountered hundreds of riders traveling to Prudhoe bay past my cabin and the mud from that gravel road drys HARD on anything it ends up on. Maybe using just an oversized trash bag wrapped around your duffel would do the trick….. Best of luck on your journey.
Good suggestion on the garbage bag Pete. Many of the reviewers raved about the big zipper. Hopefully it will hold up to the AK mud/gravel of the Denali Highway. I expect I’ll updat my post after a few thousand miles under my belt.