Waisting away: Best motorcycle waistbags


We all sniggered when we realised that Americans called waistbags (or bumbags, as they are better known this side of the pond) ‘fanny packs’ but a waistbag can be a really useful bit of riding kit. If you need to carry too many bits and bobs with you on your ride to comfortably go in your pockets but don’t want to go the whole hog with a rucksack, then a waistbag is just the ticket.

The market is full of waistbags but one designed specifically for motorcyclists will be narrow so it doesn’t get in the way and flexible, so that it moves as you do on the bike. You probably won’t want to be wearing it in front of you, unless you’re on an upright tourer, as it will get in the way, particularly if you have to lean forward at all, but behind you (assuming you don’t have a pillion) may be best.

Although, of course, that depends on the shape of your seat. If you have a deeply sculpted main seat with a significantly higher pillion seat, then a waistbag may not sit comfortably to the rear, so you may need to wear it to the side to give you room.

Also consider your use and what you may need to get to. For example, if it’s just a single compartment, it might mean fumbling around to get to your phone, for example or your wallet for motorway tolls or to pay for fuel. But if it has multiple compartments, you can access essentials quickly and easily without disturbing other items, such as get to your wallet while your passport remains safely tucked away.

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Weatherproofing may also be important, particularly if you have important documents or smartphones inside, for example. And also consider the size – don’t go too big for the sake of it but you might want one that will house, among other things, a spare visor for your helmet, if you use light and tinted, for example.

Finally, think about what you’re going to be using it for. You may not need a full-on adventure utility-belt style waistbag with drink holders and tool attachments if you are going on a Continental tour, so choose your bag to suit.

This basic item from luggage specialist Givi is a great start point for carrying essentials. It has a main compartment with an inner pocket and separate pockets on the front and to the rear with wide hip belts. The zip pulls use Givi's cord-pulls to make it easy to open and close when wearing gloves and there's a handy key lanyard built in to make sure you don't end up losing them.

This waistbag from drybag expert Lomo is guaranteed waterproof and is made from the same PVC tarpaulin as the company's various other drybag items of luggage. It uses a roll-top closure to keep water out and the webbing belt attaches it to the rider's waist. All the seams are welded, just like the company's rucksacks and bags and though it is basic - just a single compartment and not shaped for a visor - it will keep its contents dry.

If you ride a cruiser or a custom bike, then a PVC or tarpaulin waistbag might not suit you or your bike and in this case, leather is the way to go. This multi-pocket example is just right for cruisers and has three external pockets with snap-shut lids as well as a main compartment with three separate areas. The waist strap is adjustable and has a quick-release buckle and it comes in classic dark brown.

Unfortunately, you can't go far with personal carrying equipment nowadays without coming across 'tactical' quasi-military gear. But regardless of your stance, you can't argue they can be useful. This pack from Hunt VP has numerous external pockets as well as a main compartment that will house an iPad mini and a back section for important documents, such as passports. The various 'Molle' fittings on the outside mean additional units can be added, such as drink-bottle holders to expand its usefulness.

We've tested this bag and while it has a lot of pockets, the main internal one isn't exactly huge, and those on the outside left and right taper around your hips. Good for comfort, but not great for storing square items.

It's a good bad for a few basics - your phone, keys, wallet and maybe a small toolkit, but you won't get a change of clothes in it.

Forming part of luggage giant Oxford's Lifetime range, this waistbag has a three-litre capacity and comes with water-resistant zips giving access to the main compartment as well as the three external pockets. Each zip has a cord-pull to make access easy when wearing gloves and the waist strap is adjustable and joins on wide hip pads. The back is also padded for additional comfort and it features reflective piping and panels for extra night-time visibility.

Price: $109.99

Not cheap - none of Kriega's stuff is - but it is excellent quality - all of Kriega's stuff is. Like other products from the manufacturer, the Cordura outer hides a waterproof lining to keep contents dry and a roll-top closure underneath the main compartment lid keeps water out. There's a pocket in the lid for passports, for example, and there's also a lid-covered front pocket for a phone.

This example from luggage specialist Shad uses three sections; a main compartment and a separate side pocket on each side of the main section for items you need quick access to. The main section has two compartments, each covered by a water-resistant zip with cord pulls for ease of use. The front pocket is sectioned off for different items and includes a key loop while the side pockets feature reflective panels.

For serious off-roaders, this one. Made by Ogio and branded KTM, this belt bag is designed to carry tools and spare tyre inner tubes for off-roaders who need to be able to be self-reliant. The main compartment houses a tool organiser while two side pockets can accommodate all manner or items. There's a drink holder, the waist strap is adjustable and the inner section of the bag itself is padded for comfort.

Not a name you'd usually associate with motorcycling, tool manufacturer Sealey produces this waistbag especially for motorcycle users, apparently. It features a large main compartment with a second pocket on the front, with double-zip opening on the main pocket and a single on the front. Made from polyester, it comes with an adjustable waist strap, a shoulder strap and a grab handle on top of the main compartment.

It's small and it's basic but this bag from Held is a useful size and is built with the company's familiar quality and attention to detail. One large main compartment with a front pocket, the zips are water resistant and feature hard-plastic pulls to make them easy to use with gloves on. It's only one-litre capacity but it will keep all your essential together and safe.

About the author: After qualifying as a mechanical engineer, Jim Blackstock began working on magazines in the early 1990s. He remains passionate about product testing to ensure readers know what products offer good value and why. He relishes torrential rain to see if riding kit keeps water out and an hour or two to tinker on a project bike in his workshop.

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