How To Pack Your Panniers For A Road Trip

A little forethought when packing saddlebags can make your entire road trip a little more convenient and enjoyable.

How do you pack your saddlebags for a trip?©Motorcyclist

Packing for a trip is as easy as cramming that pile of stuff you’ve amassed on the kitchen table into your panniers, right? Not so fast. A little forethought can make your daily tasks and your entire trip a little more convenient and enjoyable.

1. What to pack depends on where you’re going and for how long, but as a general rule the stuff in your luggage can be separated into daily use and emergency items. Separating this stuff means you don’t end up digging past your first aid and tool kit to get to your underwear.©Motorcyclist
2. Layer your belongings, with the items that you’re likely to want quick access to (rain gear, thermal layers, maps, etc.) at the top. Putting essentials in the right bag means they’ll be on the “top side” with the bike on the sidestand. Place less crucial stuff in the left pannier.©Motorcyclist
3. Store your tool kit and other heavy items under your seat to keep the weight closer to the bike’s center of mass and reduce its effect on handling. If there isn’t room under the seat, place these items at the bottom and as far inboard your luggage as possible.©Motorcyclist
4. Keep your street clothes and overnight items together in a small backpack (a helmet bag works great) so they’re easy to grab and take up to your hotel room at the end of a long day on the road.©Motorcyclist
5. If your luggage isn’t waterproof, invest in a set of waterproof bag liners or bundle your belongings in some heavy-duty plastic bags. Even if your luggage appears to be waterproof, test it with a garden hose before you hit the road. Wet clothes are no fun!©Motorcyclist