Junk in the trunk: Best motorcycle tailpacks

Carrying luggage on a motorcycle is fairly straightforward and of all the options, many favour a tailpack. This is because almost any motorcycle can be fitted with one and assuming you get one with a decent capacity, it can carry your gear while allowing you to also remove it when you get to your destination.

Unlike a hard topbox, for example, you don’t have to leave it fitted to the bike all the time (many topboxes can be removed but it can be a faff), so if you’re out for a fun ride, a tailpack can be left at home and won’t ruin the lines of your bike or tempt anyone’s curiosity as to what’s inside.

If your bike has a luggage rack, the tailpack can sit on that; and if it doesn’t, then generally, it will fit to the pillion seat instead. If you have neither a luggage rack nor a pillion seat (if you own a bobber — single-seat bike) then you’ll have to think of another way to carry your gear.

Ideally you want a tailpack to be waterproof to keep your gear dry, you want it to fix to the bike so that it remains stable and you want it to have a decent capacity. In the past, we’ve found that around 25-30 litres works well, holding enough to a weekend or a night or two away – much less and they won’t hold what you need and much more and they become a bit large and cumbersome.

Most will have some way of carrying the tailpack once off the bike; this might just be a grab handle or it might be a pair of straps to turn it into a backpack; decide which is important to you.

The cheap one

No frills, this basic example from Ryde has a capacity of 28 litres and secures with a fold-out strap and panels on its underside, designed to fit under the pillion seat. It is surprisingly waterproof; the material doesn't let water in and though the zips aren't waterproof, the lip around the main zips keeps most moisture out. It's quite tall so can be a bit unstable when fitted with just the base strap but bungee cords on the top loops help hold it down. Capacity: 28 litres

The expensive one

Equipment from Italian manufacturer Givi is top quality but that comes at a price. However, this rigid-base tailpack is currently available at £149.99 from SportsBikeShop instead of the full £186 RRP so it's a bit less painful. A huge 35 litres, it features waterproof material and zips but also, a roll-close inner bag that stops any water entering the main compartment. The shaped base makes it stable on the bike but it is a bit cumbersome off it. Capacity: 35 litres

The feature-packed one

The T40R from Oxford is a huge beast but isn't ungainly. Its main compartment expands from 25 to 34 litres and it is packed (excuse the pun) with features. The main base fixes to the bike with four straps and then, stays in place – the pack itself zips to the base and forms a backpack when off. It has external pockets, a cargo net and mesh pocket on the top lid, a key pocket and is super easy to use. It becomes a little unstable when it's fully expanded and packed but some bungee straps on the top D-rings soon sorts that out. Capacity: from 25 to 34 litres

The stylish one

Price: $150.60
A slightly different style to the other tailpacks here, the Kappa is more of a holdall than a traditional tailpack. While this makes it taller and — you'd think — a little less stable, in fact the flat bottom and low-mounted anchor points mean it sits nicely on the bike. The 32-litre capacity is useful, and the roll-top closure keeps all water out while you can still get to the contents. The inner liner is waterproof, but the outer feels as if it isn't so it might get heavy if it gets saturated in the rain. Capacity: 32 litres

The technical one

This 30-litre pack from Kriega forms part of its Drypack range and is a very well-made item. It's a different design again to the rest of the products here, in that it loads from the end and sits flat, rather like a rucksack. This makes it very stable on the bike but it is tricky to get to the contents once loaded and strapped on. It uses a roll-top closure with securing straps and waterproof material to keep all water out and comes with well-engineered fittings to fix to the bike. Capacity: 30 litres

The basic one

Not the biggest (expandable from 12-21 litres on paper) nor the most feature-packed but this tailpack from Held is superbly made and works exceptionally well. It fits to the bike with two quick-release straps that go under the seat pad – remove the pack and the straps stay in place for re-fitting. It swallows more than the numbers suggest and it is super-stable in use. There's a handy top cargo net and it comes with a separate waterproof cover that keeps all the elements out. No frills but excellent performance. Need more info on why the Held Iconic Evo could be the one for you? We've written a more detailed review here too. Capacity: from 12 to 21 litres

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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