When it comes to motorcycle travel, having the right luggage can make a world of difference. It ensures that you can carry all your essentials, whether you're embarking on a cross-country road trip or just commuting to work.

However, navigating the world of motorcycle luggage can be daunting, with various terms and types to understand. In this article, we'll break down the common luggage terms, helping you make an informed choice for your next ride and purchase.


Saddlebags are among the most popular motorcycle luggage options. They attach to the sides of your bike, just above or behind the rear wheel. These bags offer ample storage space and are often used for long journeys. They come in various styles, including hard-shell, soft-sided, and throw-over. Saddlebags are known for their durability and weather resistance, making them a reliable choice for all-weather riding.


Panniers are similar to saddlebags but are typically hard-sided and offer more protection for your belongings. They are ideal for adventure and touring bikes, where protection from dust, rain, and impact is essential. Panniers come in various sizes and can be mounted on racks or frames, making them versatile options for different types of motorcycles.

Top Case

A top case, also known as a top box, is a hard-shell case that attaches to the rear rack or seat of your motorcycle. It offers secure storage and is often used for items you need quick access to, such as a helmet or documents. Top cases are lockable and provide excellent protection from the elements. They are commonly used by commuters and sport-touring riders.

Tank Bag

Tank bags are designed to sit on the motorcycle's fuel tank. They are convenient for storing small items like maps, smartphones, or snacks. Tank bags come in various shapes and sizes and often feature clear map pockets and magnetic or strap attachments. They are excellent for keeping essential items within easy reach during your ride.

Tail Bag

A tail bag, also known as a rear bag or seat bag, attaches to the rear seat or rack of your motorcycle. They are versatile and provide additional storage without the bulk of larger luggage options. Tail bags are often used for short trips or daily commuting. Some models can expand to accommodate more items when needed.

Dry Bags

Dry bags, or roll bags, are designed to be strapped to the motorcycle's seat or luggage rack. They are typically cylindrical in shape and made from waterproof materials to protect your belongings from rain and moisture. Dry bags are excellent for those who prefer minimalist luggage options or need extra space for camping gear.

Motorcycle Backpacks

Motorcycle backpacks are specially designed for riders who prefer carrying their essentials on their backs. These backpacks often feature ergonomic designs with padded straps and back panels for comfort during long rides. They come in various sizes, making them suitable for short commutes or journeys. These are not recommended for longer duration rides because of the strain it will place on your body.

Hard vs. Soft Luggage

When exploring luggage options, you'll encounter the terms "hard" and "soft." Hard luggage, like aluminium panniers and top cases, offers superior protection for your belongings but can be heavier and more expensive. Soft luggage, such as textile saddlebags and roll bags, is often lighter, more affordable, and easier to mount but may offer less protection.

Mounting Systems

Understanding mounting systems is crucial when selecting luggage for your motorcycle. Common mounting options include straps, quick-release buckles, and rack-based systems. Each has its advantages, and the choice depends on your motorcycle's design and your personal preferences.

Capacity and Litres

Luggage capacity is typically measured in litres and indicates how much gear and cargo a bag can hold. Smaller bags may range from 10-20 litres, while larger panniers or top cases can go beyond 50 litres. Consider your storage needs and the size of your motorcycle when choosing luggage with the right capacity.

Locking Mechanisms

Security is paramount when traveling with luggage. Many motorcycle luggage options come with locking mechanisms to keep your belongings safe. Ensure that your chosen luggage has reliable locks or provisions for adding padlocks if needed.

Weather Resistance

Motorcycle luggage should be weather-resistant to protect your gear from rain, dust, and other elements. Look for luggage made from waterproof materials and with sealed seams or rain covers for added protection.


Whether you opt for saddlebags, panniers, a top case, or a motorcycle backpack, each type has its unique features and benefits. Consider your riding style, storage needs, and budget when choosing the right luggage for your motorcycle adventures. By doing so, you'll be well-prepared for your next ride, equipped with the perfect luggage to carry your gear and make your journey extraordinary.