|R3 waist pack|
Our search turned up Britain's Kriega line of soft motorcycle bags, including its waist packs. The brand was new to us, and we were impressed by the user comments and reviews. Specifications for Kriega's R-3 waist pack (USD$89) made it seem ideal.
|Kriega R3 waistpack in Nevada on the Heart of the West Adventure Route.|
The three-liter capacity of the R3's main compartment--plus its waterproofed zippered secondary compartment and coated, see-through interior mesh pocket--seemed more than adequate. (If it doesn't for you, an optional "Kube" pocket (USD$25) can be attached to the belt for even more capacity. However, we learned to add only light-weight items to keep the pack from being pulled downward.)
The fact that the pack and its contents go where the rider goes, rather than remaining attached to the bike, appealed as well.
To learn more, we dialed up Michael at BritKit LLC, Kriega's USA distributor. We explained what we were looking for: a waist pack in lieu of a tank bag. (Michael is responsive and helpful on the Kriega thread on the forum ADVrider.com.)
As we talked, the often unused space of the pillion (passenger) area behind the rider came up. Michael recommended putting that space to efficient use with Kriega's UScombo30 Drypack (USD$235), a dry-bag set that consists of a 20-liter waterproof bag topped by a similar 10-liter bag. The 20-liter bag includes removable shoulder and waist straps so it (and, presumably, additional bags that are attached to it) can be carried away from the bike courier style, like a messenger bag.
|Below Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride, Colo|
Also ruggedly constructed, and waterproof with wide roll-top closures, the bags in the UScombo30 sounded like a good package to supplement the other luggage on the COBDR ride: Ortlieb Dry Bag saddlebags, an Ortlieb tailbag from Touratech-USA, and a Therm-a-Rest Camp N' Carry sack (not waterproof, not designed for moto use, but good for storing a sleeping pad and etc.). (Kriega makes pannier bags and mounts, also modular and adaptable.)
The R3 waistpack and UScombo30 set arrived shortly before the departure date for Colorado, and the meet-up with the other eight members of the COBDR team. It quickly became apparent how much thought (and real-world experience) had gone into making these products adaptable, functional, and seemingly indestructible. The reviews seemed reliable.
To keep contents dry and avoid problems associated with zippers, the R3 (and each of the UScombo30 bags) has a wide, easy-to-use roll-top closure with a lengthwise quick-release buckle. Two external buckles keep the main, rubberized external flap closed.
The bags' main compartments have white interior liners that make it easier to find contents. Being removable, it would be easier to clean as well.
The belt is substantial and well-padded. The quick-release buckle makes it easy to put on and remove. Fine adjustments to the belt's fit required just a quick tug on a metal-alloy slider on the right side, while holding onto a small grab strap on the left. (Easy adjustment is important because I layer my outerwear according to ever-changing mountain weather.)
|Bags connect to subframe loops.|
During the initial installation and attachment, the flexibility of Kriega's modular system became apparent. One can use one bag, or both bags, without any modifications or additional effort. Once mounted, and the webbing straps snugged up, the bags weren't going anywhere.
Kriega also suggests that the bags work well attached to the top of hard aluminum panniers, if hard luggage is your primary storage.
We initially ran the attachment straps from the buckles atop the smaller bag all the way down past the larger bag to the subframe loops (as you can see in the photo below). Not wrong, but not the best way, either. They should have been hooked to the loops on top of the larger bag below it, as designers intended. Even so, the bags were secure.
Simply put, these tough tail packs can be mounted quickly and easily in a variety of ways to suit one's specific requirements and bike.
|Seat-mounted UScombo30 in Colorado|
|Kriega's UScombo30 on our KLR 650 in Montana.|
Worn against the rider's back, the waist pack can press against the combo packs on the pillon area, pushing the rider too far forward. The wearer can just loosen the easy adjuster and swing it to the front and wear it that way. But we found that with soft gear stuffed into the combo packs, a solid nudge backwards settled things in just fine, and in fact provided welcomed lower-back support.
|Kriega's anti-bear storage bags.|
Still, with multiple bags it can be difficult to keep track of where one puts things. So it took longer to organize and pack up in the morning, to find things during short stops, and then unpack at day's end. It seemed there were too many places to put things, too many places to search. Fewer Kriega bags, but larger ones packed with non-Kriega colored packing cubes for different categories of gear, seemed simpler.
Kriega's comprehensive luggage system does offer options that we've yet to try. Among them are various combinations of bags that can be attached to each other for as much as 90 liters of capacity.
Kriega's "Kubes"--small supplementary pockets--could help organize things. But like so much motorcycle kit, they're black and gray. That's not helpful when looking for stuff buried deep; they could be colored so categories of gear is more easily located. We did put categories of clothing into clear-plastic baggies, but since motorcycle clothing is typically black and gray, that didn't help much.
Conclusion: To make efficient use of the limited space on a bike, or if you need to quickly move luggage from one bike to another, Kriega's adaptable combo tail bag system may be the ideal choice. And if you want convenient small-item storage that won't interfere when the going gets rough, something that goes where you go, the R3 waist pack is hard to beat.
Recommendation: Buy Kriega luggage with confidence that it will serve you well, and probably for a lifetime of hard use; but develop a packing system that will help you locate items easily.