That’s my orange and grey Summit Sack in the picture up there.
Okay, let’s not quibble about details or colour preferences: it’s perfect enough. As you soon shall see.
That rack-top spot behind your bike’s seat can create an unholy temptation. I mean, Eve and the apple kind of temptation. As in, if you succumb to that pernicious asp, you just might doom humanity to eternal suffering. (The Christian part of humanity, I suppose. Hold on…Adam and Eve are in the Koran, too, aren’t they? And the Torah? So…why exactly are we building walls?)
Anyway. I’m only dealing with one specific consequence of temptation here: the dangerous, tail-happy handling of an overloaded, top-heavy motorcycle. Same thing, really, in my mind: lousy handling…eternal suffering.
So why is this an issue of Biblical / Koranic / Torah-nish proportions? Because of the proportions of that flat patch of real estate behind your seat. It’s pretty big. There are lots of potential places to fasten and secure your yard-sale of gear. And that, it appears, is just what many riders do.
You like that? If you don’t need a pizza oven on your bike, how about the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
You could try something like this one. I see the paddle, but where’s the creek? Is that red thing the boat?! OMG.
Need I go on? I think not.
Look, I’m not trying to insult anybody here. If that’s your bike I found pictured on the Internet when I searched for “overloaded,” I’ll happily remove the pic and tender my sincere apologies. I’ll even admit that I may have at times packed my own bike with everything but the espresso-making cooktop, too.
In fact, on one of my early adventure rides, my old KLR was so heavy it literally fractured the ground.
Okay, that’s actually just the Alvord Desert in Oregon.
But the point is, over time I’ve learned the evils of temptation. Putting lots of weight out behind your seat is the work of Beelzebub because it…
- Upsets the handling of your bike: high, heavy and hangin’ out the back is the off-road version of original sin
- Could bend, crack or even snap your subframe, which is often made of brittle aluminum, and sometimes even plastic
- Impedes your ability to pick up your bike after a fall
- Obstructs your efforts to swing into the saddle
- Adds more weight than is necessary
In addition, if your personal version of behind-the-seat sin is hard cases, you’ve got another potential problem. They can deform in crashes, refuse to close tightly, and let dust and water into your espresso maker. The typical solution is to cram your gear into stuff sacks, slip those inside a liner bag, and tip the whole thing into a box. I have one word for you: purgatory.
But, I say unto you, salvation is at hand: the Outdoor Research Drycomp Summit Sack.
This bag is the Holy Grail for which I quested many a year, like a knight errant on a Suzuki.
This seraphic chalice holds my tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, synthetic-fill jacket, all my clothing and a pair of sandals — with room to spare (fully expanded, it holds 27 Litres).
Summit Sack, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
- Light: just over 300 g / 11 oz
- Waterproof and dustproof. Not resistant; proof.
- Durable: mine has been up close and personal with desert sandpaper dozens of times; endured heat and blazing sun for months — and it has never torn and shows little abrasion.
- Compressible: it’s a compression sack, so you can shrink your pile of stuff even more. Now, that’s my personal version of paradise.
- Cheap like gravel! $85 (USD) from the manufacturer. Okay, maybe that’s actually my version of paradise.
- It’s a backpack! You don’t need to carry an empty backpack somewhere on the bike so you can gear up for day hikes or a stroll through town. This sack is also part of my emergency planning: when I have to walk out of the wilds, I need a way to carry water, first aid supplies, maps, shelter — and this is it.
I mean, this is IT! Get one. Now. (No, I’m not making a commission; I’m just excited.)
That final point there, number 6, is where Giant Loop’s otherwise excellent Coyote and Great Basin bags fail: they can’t double as a backpack. To be fair, Giant Loop’s luggage solutions combine the tail bag and panniers, so I’m sort of comparing apples to fig leaves…but we’ll talk about that later, in a post about panniers. Lots to chew on in that post.
We do have a set of the Coyote bags, and we do like them: they’re strong and secure on the bike, though somewhat difficult to access due to their shape, and not entirely water and dust proof due to the large zipper. Waterproofing is achieved with an extra set of roll-top bags used inside the exterior bag. When I ride with a partner, we use the Coyote for her bike and still have the convenience of a backpack, because I stick to the Summit Sack.
Oh, speaking of sticking: I secure the bag to the bike with Rok Straps. If you don’t already have some, add them to your shopping list. If bungee straps are bologna, Rok Straps are caviar; if bungee straps are a rusty old bicycle, Rok Straps are whatever Elon Musk is dreaming up while he sits in traffic on his way to his empire — er, I mean, on his way to work. Except Rok Straps are cheap. Elon Musk’s lovely contraptions are not cheap.
And, because you like options, here’s an option: if you want to carry a bit more stuff, the Drycomp Ridge Sack is 4 Litres larger, a bit more beefy and has an external pocket for a water bladder. It costs about 75% more…meaning it’s a princely $151 bucks (USD). Very tempting!
…or you could just stay home and be a couch potato.