|That's a lot of bags....|
- Tank Bag - I used the Giant Loop Fandango Pro tank bag. The bag was a great shape for the CB and had enough room to hold my DSLR camera with three lenses and a microphone in the inner waterproof bag (More about that later). I placed other spare items in the mesh pocket in the top of the bag and a few items loose in the main body.
At first I placed my cell phone in the map pocket so I could see and control it but keep it out of elements. This worked great in the colder climates but as soon as I got into California the phone was overheating and I was forced to find another option for carrying my phone. Additionally the pass through for cables into the map pocket made the cable turn at a sharp enough angle to ruin one of my cables. I resorted to routing the cables along the outside of the bag and in through the rider side of the bag.
Remember those items I said I put in the bag but outside of the secondary waterproof bag? Well turns out that the rest of the bag isn't so much waterproof as it is water resistant. Inside that outer bag my Latin American Spanish guide and my Point It translator both got thoroughly wet. While it didn't ruin them to the point of being unusable they are certainly not in great shape any longer. Bottom line, the bag leaks. 4 out of 10 stars for this bag from me.
- Pannier Pockets: In Oregon I took the time to add the Giant Loop Pannier Pockets designed to work with the harness for all of the Giant Loop tank bags. These are without a doubt the only Giant Loop products I feel no regret for having purchased. They moved the majority of my tools out from under the seat and helped to distribute the weight forward on the bike. I now have fast access to the tools I need and the bike is a little better balanced. Ironically these are far more exposed to the elements while riding than the Fandango Pro Tank Bag and appear to use the same zipper used on the Fandango yet I have yet to see any evidence of the pannier pockets leaking. It leads me to believe that water is making it into the Tank bag from somewhere else on the bag such as the wiring pass through. 8 of 10 stars on these ones, really the best of the Giant Loop kit. That being said I will be making or buying something to replace them when I switch from this bag. Why? Read about that here.
- Saddle Bags - I went with the Giant Loop Siskiyou Panniers for the trip. From the jump I wasn't thrilled with the shape or how it forced me to pack. The system seemed like it was smaller than the advertised 70 liters of capacity but since I was leaving and had already spent the money I felt like I should give it a shot. The reality is that the bags do work as bags, they are just way more money than I would spend on a system that only just works rather than excels. The bags are hard to keep cinched in place and I finally had to add a rear rack just to keep them pulled back enough to gain use of the passenger pegs for two up riding. The inner dry bags never seem to roll far enough down unless you pack them with less then 20 liters of soft stuff, a far cry from the advertised 30 liters per side bag. They have not leaked but they have begun to show lots of wear. A small get off on Guatemala part two put a few holes in the front pocket of the left bag and the drawstring on the same bag later ripped free, though it showed no signs of damage on that portion of bag from the fall. Reality is these bags will work, but at more than double the cost of better bags and with far less functionality as other bags of similar cost. These are going to be replaced on my return home. I had made the decision long before my brush with Olaf of Giant Loop and that simply hardened my resolve. 5 of 10 stars for the Siskiyou panniers. If they had been cheaper their lack of performance or storage compared to stated volume could be forgiven but not at the $700 price range.
- Top Bags - Over pack much? Ya, me too. Because of my plan to do a little of everything this trip, including derby, I had to bring a lot of stuff. With that in mind I went with a large top bag to try and have a multipurpose quick access bag. I finally did manage it but not on the first go.
- Giant Loop Columbia Dry Bag - This is a "70 liter" dry bag. Why the quotes? Well I think it might be 70 liters if you just open it up like a tube and block off each end straight across with duct tape.... The gear I had packed into this bag stressing it to its absolute limit and possibly compromising waterproofness. The same gear in the Mosko Moto Scout 60, a 60 liter bag, fits with room to spare and no stress on the connections. Additionally mounting and dismounting the bag is a royal pain. It was no more than a few days into the trip before I had cut the triple roll at the end of each attaching strap so I could more easily get it through the ladder lock to tighten the bag down. The design simply didn't work for me as a design with what I needed it for and as a bag I would be taking off the bike each night. Flat out, this is not a 70 liter bag and the design isn't for anyone who wants to take the bag off at the end of every day. If I were camping and not pulling bags, only wanted it for soft gear like clothes, and was willing to accept the lack of size compared to advertised it might work. Add in my personal issues with the conduct of Giant Loops owner and I simply wouldn't use it. 1 of 10 stars for this bag, I just can't recommend it especially at the $170 mark.
- Mosko Moto Scout 60 Duffle - This is the multipurpose quick access bag I had hoped for. The bag itself comes in at the $150 mark but doesn't have an included mounting system. For that I went with the Mosko Moto Back Country Cinch Straps which doubles as a tow system and a set of tie-downs as needed. They run another $35 so the system is now $185 but well worth more than the $15 difference over the cost of the Columbia. The bag is incredibly well thought out and even better made. The systems laid out in such a way that there are engineered wear panels, true seam sealing, and useful touches everywhere. The beaver tail is a convenient place to stow loose items like wet rain gear or even sodas for short trips. The two internal pockets work great for small bits of gear, in my case one holds my derby tools and the other my whistles and mouth guard. The heavy duty pocket that makes up the beaver tail held my spare copies of needed paperwork for boarder crossings and it never got even a drop of water into it. I could have made use of the molle attachment on the other side of the panel but never did as I was already carrying too much stuff. My only issues with the bag come from a fabric failure in the back pack panel and some movement of the bag when mounted. Though since Mosko immediately sent me a replacement bag free of charge and told me to just keep the damaged one I can hardly say there was any real issue. The movement of the bag is not an issue with the bag itself, but with the width of the mounting points necessitated by the width of the Siskiyou pannier system beneath that bag. Generally 40-50 miles worth of riding will cause enough packing down of the gear that I can tighten the cinch straps down and end the movement for the rest of the day. 10 of 10 Stars, can't think of anything I would change about this bag to make it better. Wonderful product.