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Amphibious Motobags: Voluminous and Versatile Soft Saddlebags

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I’m a hard bag guy. I’ve run aluminum panniers on my motorcycle since I started riding ADV bikes 10 years ago. My rationale was that despite the added weight and the increased potential of lower leg injuries, rigid bags were tough enough to protect the bike in the event of a crash and they can be accessed and locked quickly and easily. However, the longer I ride the more I appreciate the value of weight reduction — especially in the dirt. So I removed my trusty hard bags and gave the Amphibious Motobags soft saddlebag system a try to see if I’d be giving up my beloved aluminum bags for good.

Amphibious is an Italian company that produces durable, weatherproof and expandable soft-luggage systems. Made from high-strength PVC, the massive 100L (combined) waterproof Amphibious Motobags are constructed using high-quality welded seams that ensure complete isolation from the elements. They feature a stylish design with reflective accents, a convenient shoulder strap for carrying luggage off the bike, inner storage pockets, and a clever air-release valve solution that allows you to reduce the overall size of the Motobags to just the volume required.

Amphibious Adventure Motorcycle Soft Luggage

Amphibious Adventure Motorcycle Soft Luggage

I put these Motobags through their paces on a recent trip to Baja California covering over 1,500 miles of Mexican desert. These attractive bags were subjected to a week of driving snow, significant downpours, two tip-overs, one side-swipe by a truck, and a few encounters with cacti…

Installation

With a myriad of strapping options, your patience will be rewarded the first time setting up the Amphibious Motobags. A rigid mounting rack provides a stable mounting platform and is imperative for secure fitment, if you intend to use these bags off-road. We had to experiment with a few different mounting options until we finally got it right, but it helps if you put something bulky like a big jacket in the bags to give them structure while installing them. There is a multitude of mounting options, and here’s a How-To Video showing some mounting suggestions if you need some help:

How They Performed

As I crossed into Mexico from the Tecate border, the weather was sunny and pleasant. I could not imagine that over the next few days we would be encountering so much inclement weather… Our first destination was Rancho Santa Veronica, an old Matador training rancho. By that night it was cold and wet! The bags spent the night in a downpour of snow and rain outside of RSV that lasted throughout the following day, yet keeping the contents completely dry. I was also impressed with how little they had moved after two days of hard riding, with little to no shifting, even after a truck-driver side-swiped me at an ALTO sign! I believe that if I had hard boxes at the time, I would been forced to the ground due to the force of the contact. But in this case, the bags were complaint enough to absorb much of the impact. Surprisingly, the only evidence of the incident were some light scuff marks.

Amphibious Adventure Motorcycle Soft Luggage

In my panniers, I normally carry tools, a tire repair kit, siphon hose, heated gear, maps, medical kit, countless straps, spade shovel, etc. The Amphibious Motobags packed everything securely with copious room to spare for the souvenirs I had yet to get suckered in to purchasing. My passport and other important documents were secure in the sewn-in zippered inner pocket, which kept important things dry and safe from being swallowed up in the bag’s cavernous interior. Once packed, you close the bag from the top by sealing the large Velcro mouth, rolling it down until snug, then folding, buckling, then cinching both ends neatly down. Once closed, you open an air-release valve and squeeze out all of the excess air, which allows you to mold the final shape to the contents of the bag and keep everything as compact as possible.

Amphibious Adventure Motorcycle Soft Luggage

Amphibious Adventure Motorcycle Soft Luggage

I paid particular attention to the welded seams, exposed creases, and attachment points for the straps for signs of fatigue or poor build quality, to which I have found that there was no discernible wear marks or damage, despite the aforementioned side-swipe and a few tip overs that occurred during this trip.

The one issue that I had with the Amphibious Motobags was the time it took to get inside the luggage; a frustration felt most at the numerous military checkpoints that required hasty opening and closing of the luggage for inspection, in a long queue of vehicles – a task made more difficult while wearing motorcycle gloves. But later, when I asked other riders with soft luggage systems, they told me that this is common at first, and one gets better and faster at it. Still, I’ve seen and tested other (though pricier) soft luggage options that were easier and faster to get into. Though, it really makes you think twice about purposeful packing techniques and memorization of where you put things to avoid wasting too much time and effort opening the wrong bag.

Amphibious Adventure Motorcycle Soft Luggage

Who are they for?

Anybody who understands the value of weight reduction, but doesn’t feel like dropping an exorbitant amount of money on a waterproof soft luggage system. The Motobags are designed with a focus on adaptability and versatility. They are perfect for a rider with multiple motorcycles, or those that want a luggage solution that can accommodate weekend rides or month-long trips.

Our Verdict

A good soft luggage system must be impervious to all weather and typical crashes that we encounter while venturing off-road. They should be well-built, using durable materials and solid construction with plenty of hooks and mounting points to make installation and strapping external items easy. And dare I say, they should look good too. While getting into the bags was slower than I was used to with my hard boxes, over time it got easier as the bag’s material became more compliant and I became more familiar with the straps and buckles. Overall, versatile Amphibious Motobags met my requirements for a long-range soft-luggage system and convinced me to ditch my heavy metal panniers. And at $304.50 for the Motobags set, they offer good bang-for-the-buck as well.

Amphibious Adventure Motorcycle Soft Luggage

What We Liked

  • Very rugged and durable for on- and off-road use.
  • Compact and lightweight despite having a large capacity.
  • Wide opening to access gear with clever air-release valve.
  • Built-in waterproofing without the need for inner liner bags.

What Could Be Improved

  • A rigid inner backing plate to help provide structure when partially filled.
  • External pouches that can be accessed (e.g. water bottle, first aid kit, etc.) without opening the entire bag.

Amphibious Adventure Motorcycle Soft Luggage

Amphibious Motobags Specs

Capacity: 100 Liters (50L each bag)
Dimensions: 13.8″-19.7″ x 17.7″ x 5.1″-8.6″
MSRP: $304.50

Shopping Options

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Sharif Massoud Profile PhotoAbout the Author: Sharif Massoud has been a 911 paramedic since 2001 and has worked for both Ventura and Los Angeles counties. As a paramedic, his duties have allowed him to work in an ambulance, SAR Helicopter and motorcycle detail. He is currently a sweep-rider and head paramedic for RawHyde Adventures, and is also a Clinical Instructor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Photos by Emily Phelan & Rob Dabney

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