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Hard or Soft Adventure Panniers – Which is Best

Hard or Soft Adventure Panniers – Which is Best

hard panniers or soft panniers the
question is which one works best so the reality is the right system depends on
what you want it to do I use both this is the Jessi luggage system and I rode
with this through North Central and South America this is the Mosko Moto
backcountry 35 liter system this one I rode through Europe and West Africa I’m
going to start with the hard panniers the most significant advantages of a
hard pannier are convenience and security these are almost always larger
in volume than a soft pannier system and on top of that because they are fixed in
size and the shape is always consistent it’s much easier to compartmentalize
also to have things staged in there for me I carry a lot of camera gear
I carry computers I want to charge those when I’m on the road so I’m able to put
a converter inside the bag and have it there all the time
also things like shield cleaning or my compass those are all in the bag all the
time very convenient they lock down they’re
sealed the watertight love these for that there’s two different ways that
hard panniers mount to the bike either they have an external latch and lock
system or they lock from the inside this particular one only locks from the
inside that means when it’s on the bike and they lock down that people can’t
remove my painters from the bike one of the reasons I chose a hard pannier
system when I rode through South America was the security we spent a lot of time
in cities and a lot of time on the road where we wanted to have things locked
down and we could walk away from the bikes
personal safety is the largest con to a hard pannier if you’re to come off and
have your leg come off the foot peg and get caught between the hard pannier and
the ground the chance of ending up with an injury grows significantly and if
you’re pannier comes to a point and you happen to get caught right on that point
it means all of the energy from the fall all the weight of your gear ends up all
on one specific point on the bone not a good thing
this one has a slanted edge which is one of the reasons I picked this one this
slanted edge means that if I come off the bike I’m less likely to get caught
on a hard just single point it disperses the amount of energy and the likelihood
of me breaking a bone or having something bad happen decreases the other
disadvantage of a hard pannier is there’s no bumper the energy if you fall
down all goes directly into the bag and it can’t be dispersed through the soft
areas that means if you hit here all that energy goes into the bag and
whatever doesn’t crumple your bag is transferred into the mounting system and
the mounting system is mounted to your subframe or frame and in a worst-case
scenario you can twist and tweak that subframe or frame of your motorcycle and
that’s pretty hard to repair on the road now let’s talk about soft panniers this
pannier we’ve spent a whole lot of miles and time together and it’s held up very
very well personal safety is the number-one advantage of a soft pannier
system and that’s because since this squishes if I fall down and I get caught
between my pannier it absorbs a lot of the energy into the pannier also if it
squishes that also means that energy isn’t being transferred into the
motorcycle where I can cause a rack failure or damage the subframe or frame
of the motorcycle soft panniers generally have less space than a hard
pannier set up however they do have a lot of adjustability so you can cinch
them down so the load inside isn’t shift around and many of the systems like this
one has a MOLLE system so you can expand and by putting bags and luggage on the
outside often to customize it to what works best for you
I love the fact that this one is a two-layer pannier system so inside I
have a waterproof liner and the outside is just the outer shell also this has a
large panel on the outside so if I fall down even if it’s on the pavement and
grind through this I’m less likely to damage it all the way to the inside
where the integrity is to keep all my stuff safe and protected your kit or
gear on the inside of these bags is not as well protected from impact because of
the soft bag that protects you and protects the bike it also means all of
your stuff inside is also absorbing that so make sure anything that’s delicate
electronics and things like that are kept high in the luggage or to the back
side of it although soft painters don’t offer the
same security as a hard painters system they’re often much easier to pull on and
off the bike so you can take all of your stuff with you nothing else I found
comes on or off the bike as quickly if you like your ankles and your leg bones
pick the soft pannier if you like convenience security and volume pick the
hard pannier my luggage rack supports both so if I’m on a ride where I think
the likelihood of me falling over is high I’m gonna always bring my soft
panniers if I’m on a road trip and I want the security and the convenience of
the hard pannier then I use these one other thing to think about because these
are very expensive and soft painters are generally less expensive if I fall down
in an adventure environment and damaged my hard pannier or damaged the rack that
goes with the hard pannier the repair cost might be equal to just owning a
soft pannier so having both systems may be the best choice in the end

100 comments on “Hard or Soft Adventure Panniers – Which is Best

  1. Whose rack are you rocking on the WR? I have a Wolfman rack, but I was thinking I'd upgrade to the Moskomoto bags to put on the rack.

  2. I have gad issues that the hard panniers are very limiting when something is bigger and wont fit. I am building a rack for two drybags. I am also thinking about changing the outerwall to a soft shell that can adapt to whatever shape you put in it.

  3. I would like to travel to Europe on my bike, but as I live in Canada I don't know how to transport the bike in Europe. Could you, please, send me some info about it, such as: what service do you use for shipping the bike to Europe and back, cost and the basic know how (customs procedures, the most convenient port of entry, etc.). Thank you.

  4. Don’t fool yourself into a false sense of security thinking those hard boxes provide security. If somebody wants to steal your stuff, they will bust that little mailbox-lock in seconds and just steal your stuff. You can also find locks for soft luggage, if you simply want a deterrent for times you will only be out of sight of your bike for a short period. With the ease of removing and carrying soft bags, you are more likely to bring them with you, which is really the best security of all. The hard boxes are a pain in the butt, and lead to people taking unnecessary risks by leaving them on at night, etc., because it is a hassle and they think they are secure.

    There are really no upsides to hard boxes. People just invent justifications for them because they want to look cool and put stickers on them to show everybody what an awesome traveler they are. That’s it.

  5. Is that an XT600 you were riding in the desert? Initially thought it was a DR650. Cheers, Campbell – Lovin the channel. Lots of great tips even for experienced riders. (Good breakdown here on luggage).

  6. Take a look at renting a bike In Europe. I know in the UK it's pretty reasonable to rent something like a triumph tiger 800xc.

  7. Thats very counter-intuitive, about a safety that is.

    I rided in a gravel road in Kyrgizstan, near Son-Kul lake, we were riding fast, trying to make before darnkess to yurt camp. On of the corners, sun blinded me after hill, it was nearly sunset. Very bright direct sun, i saw nothing.

    I have ridden into large stones on the side of the road on motorcycle jumped and fell on side, at about 90km/h.

    Side hard case took all the brunt of the fall, i was stopping for some time, all this on the hard left case.

    If it would be soft case, my leg would have eaten much of the stopping on gravel.

    As it is i was mostly unscathed, side case got big deformation, but was functional afterwards.

    Im pretty sure it saved my health. Soft case probably wouldnt that day.

  8. What are the best factors to consider in determining what size hard panniers to buy? If taking long trips it would seem as big as you can get is best. However, it looks like the larger ones have drawbacks such as they would be easier to catch on obstacles such as cars when lane splitting (legally) or branches, trees, rocks, etc… Do you run the 8" or 10" Jesse's? Great article by they way.

  9. Go soft, more flexible when squeezing through traffic…. and less damage if you drop it, easier to fix too

  10. I looked into buying a complete system (with alloy boxes) for a new NC750X. It worked out at 40% of the price of the brand new bike. Do not know how that can be justified. Ended up with plastic boxes which will do the job at a fraction of the price and have very sturdy frames. I am not away on a multi-continent expedition!

  11. Thank you for the video.
    It helped with my decision to order some hard Boxes for my Dual Sport.
    Got a question for you.
    Any suggestions pros or cons for the mounting angle?
    I see alot of people slope them.
    Is there something wrong with making them level and flat?
    Thanks again.

  12. Soft panniers have BETTER volume for the same specified capacity (contrary to what you say) because they are "soft" and can stretch. They win hands down in almost every way: less weight, more absorbant of shocks, more flexible, able to be waterproofed with inner liner, expandable, simpler, cheaper, more portable, arguably no less secure. Metal panniers are a pain, inflexible, are no more secure (you can prise them apart with a crowbar) and only exist nowadays because of the PR/Long way down image they have as "serious" luggage. It's a myth. I have no idea why anyone would buy them except for a desire to look cool in some way. You can buy decent soft luggage with huge capacity for a quarter of the price, and simply carry them like light suitcases when you stop over. Try riding hard metal panniers through a narrow space: they either fit or they do not. Not so with soft panniers. It's a similar myth to the one that says you need a 1200cc bike to tour the world. It's complete marketing nonsense. You need a light bike and minimal luggage unless you are going to outer Mongolia.

  13. First i will say that i used my bike for transporataion had no car at the time Had soft bags on my klr…never took them off too much of a pain in the arse …too many buckles and bits to make sure if they r tight enough and whatever.. They worked ..but a set of pelican cases… They r OK…but …think I am going with a case that opens from the top….quick detach key..bottom line is it all depends on what u want to do..and what u r carrying..I have both pelican cases and soft bags..??? If your carrying weight go hard ..soft will rip..

  14. man, you look like the guy from the ballad of buster scruggs but your content is excellent! you've got yourself a new subscriber 🙂

  15. the problem with aluminum panniers is that in primitive countries , nobody can fix them , but they sure can break into them !

  16. Thought you would give a definitive recommendation at the end of this video, instead you just sat on the fence and recommended both!!

  17. I put Bumot hard panniers on my 2018 GS. I had Touratech on my 2007, but found the Bumot to be slightly cheaper in cost yet stronger and better made. Plus Bumot offers a soft pannier set that goes right on the same rack and locks to the rack the same as the hard bags. I haven’t purchased the soft panniers yet, but they are on my list. Having both gives lots of flexibility in travel style and preferences as you mentioned.

  18. A very good review as always. I like the fact that you didn’t push one system over the other. When I was young I strapped everything to my bike with bungees and ropes. Sleeping bags were rolled in a plastic trash bag first and tied down. Now I’m pushing 60 and I ride with solid panniers. I have no illusions of traveling the Mongolian deserts or outrunning bandits in Columbia. I still go back country on occasion but what I really need is something secure for my stuff when I’m stopped in some city or out of the way place and away from my bike. Soft panniers don’t do that. Sure you can pry open my bags but that at least takes some effort. A lot more than simply releasing the catch on a soft bag. I went with what I was comfortable with and that’s what matters in the end.

  19. just bought the Jesse Challenger panniers for my KTM 1090 R – thanks Bret – I told the sales girl that it was because of your videos – Thanks for all your great tips and tricks – Russ

  20. If you're really worried about security then you probably shouldn't even be traveling on a motorcycle. Hard or soft…be aware of your surroundings.

  21. love the videos – keep them coming! I am getting back on a back for the first time in 10 years and have chosen the KTM 790 R, just waiting for it to arrive at the dealer. I am now looking at luggage etc. and your videos are great. Can you tell em what rack system you have on your GS? as it appears to be able to take both the hard panniers and soft bags. many thanks.

  22. Why the need for drumming noise in the background, unnecessary, annoying and distracting. Why do so many uploaders think that a background racket enhances their videos?

  23. i liked the end clip of you hiking in the sand, I almost broke my leg with hard cases in the AZ desert, going to get some soft cases for that riding. great video!

  24. The angled bottom of the Jesse boxes provides clearance for your lower leg, to either paddle though a tough spot, or reduce the chance of breaking your leg in a get-off.

  25. What about soft ones on the sides and hard one in the middle back….? Just thinking, great episode, thank you V!

  26. Can you please advice where I can get the winch you mounted on your bike back size on the box base plate please !

  27. My KTM Adventure will never have panties. They just snag on everything when I'm tooling through the woods. Put your stuff where the passenger goes, strap it down, and stop carrying so much garbage.

  28. neither the space they actually give you if you get a surplus military bergen you actually add heaps more space saddle bags and tank bags are all huge scams if you really want rack storage get military surplus canvas is gna last years longer than this crap. NO BIKE RIDER NEEDS TO BE CARRYING THIS MUCH RACKS ARE FOR FUEL AND HEAVY SHIT YOU CANT STRAP TO YOUR BACK. IF YOU NEED THIS MUCH SPACE GET A CAR THATS THEIR ENTIRE POINT . THE TERM ALL THE GEAR AND NO IDEA COMES TO MIND WITH LIKE ALL THESE BIKE YOUTUBERS

  29. Soft bags are great for preventing damage to your bike too in a minor off. A friend has a cheapo pair of Oxford bags on his KTM1190. They look ridiculous and flop about like spaniel's ears, but they've saved his plastics and paint a few times.

  30. Right now, I plan on running a combination of hard and soft for all of the reasons listed above. I normally run my bike with a top case to hold all of my important stuff and I'm planning on eventually grabbing soft panniers for longer adventures. Best of both worlds.

  31. …. the conflict is over with the new Semi Rigid from Lone-Rider, you can have the advantage of both worlds … would be nice if you can put your hand on those Panniers and post a review …. I personally, swap from my OEM Aluminum Hard Cases to the Lone Rider, and never looked back

  32. Having ridden extensively through nearly 70 country's hard panniers offer no advantages over soft. The claims of greater secuity are WAY over stated, usually by people whom have little or no experience. Soft panniers all the way.

  33. My solution is to have a 1200GS with Jesse cases and a DR650 with soft saddlebags. The right bike for the ride also has the right luggage.

  34. Yes, it depends: My BMW1150GSA carries old, big and ugly WOIK Aluminium boxes. My KTM1190R was equipped with ENDURISTAN Bags – as my arriving YAMAHA Tenere 700 will be.

  35. I'm stuck on your comment
    I bought hard panniers for security when I rode through south America?
    New York I'm a Native of, leave your bike and they'll take the whole pannier.
    Europe, Africa, Asia etc. etc.
    I'm not from South America but can only imagine that stung a little for those who are from down there.
    Otherwise great info, quality channel.

  36. It's a good idea to have both kinds if you plan a road only trip, maybe have a set of street tires and rims as well.

    I just have two different bikes.

    Long haul road trip bike has hard bags, street tires, etc.
    Long haul adventure bike has 50/50 tires and soft bags.

  37. Yes, YOU are American, so you are going to pronounce EVERYTHING incorrectly. The word is PA-NEERS It's so simple but you language challenged buggers will get it wrong every time. If you don't believe me Ask Robin Williams who is fluent in French or any Canadian. but then you guys tend to think Canadians all live in snow houses and eat whale blubber. Who in their right mind pronounces DuBois "Doo-boys" and Calais , "Kalis"

  38. If you’re afraid of security just stay home man people steal the whole bike like candy. Just a dude with a truck can take your bike. They stole my atv in front of my house with a yacht sized chain on it.

  39. Hi guys and girls. I'm from South Africa, and my opinion the best country in the world for adventure riding.
    I believe that soft luggage is the best option, but in our country it's a no go. The risk of having the bags slached when you turn your back, is almost a guarantee.
    Point I want to make is, plan properly and always keep in mind the areas you are going to travel.
    If you can, visit our country.

  40. I usualy use for a road trip just a backpack attached in passenger seat and a top case, but you don't use a backpack. I guess is for more stability rigth?
    But when i was in a city i always touch with lateral cases. Maybe soft ones will be a good option. I travel with the most escentialy things and no more than 10Kg even for a 2 weeks trip…

  41. There’s another option not mentioned: thermoplastic hard cases, like Pelicans. They won’t crush your leg like an aluminum pannier could, but they are equally as secure and lockable. Soft bags are fine on dirt bikes, but it’s a no-go for adventure touring, in my opinion.

    Also, I buy the Pelican clones made in the USA called Seahorse SE720 for $60 each. I can live for weeks at a time out of just the two side bags, but also have a small Givi top case for very light things that you need access to frequently.

  42. Mosko Moto is the only luggage I will buy. The stuff is darn near bomb proof. Plus they sell components so repairs win over replacement. Great company…check them out.

  43. In my opinion, the top case is best to be hard one..but for panniers are depending on many factors..but soft are
    Maybe preferable.".best choice in the end.."

  44. What about the weight and bulkyness when driving in between cars for example? I can imagine softpaniers have an advantage there.

  45. This video answered a lot of things I had not considered. I'm more into touring via bicycle(Surly BFD) and the part where he talks about crashing and what it can do to the frame was a HUGE eye-opener for me. I would more likely use soft panniers for my side saddles, but I may use a hard pannier on the top of my rack. That way when I stop I can just pack what I don't want to carry into the hard pannier(w/lock) for security purposes.

  46. I’m curious as to the mounting system that allows you to mount two different brands of Panniers without modification each time? And isn’t a pannier the funny looking sandwich that gets pressed in a waffle iron?

  47. I've never met anyone that hurt their leg with a hard pannier. Although EVERYONE with soft bags says its a risk….hmmm. Givi Trekker hard bags come off just as fast and easy as soft bags.

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