When I decided to do this trip, I wanted to have a minimalistic approach to my packing. I didn’t do much planning, but I knew I’d be happier with less stuff than the average traveler. The Aussies brought one set of soft panniers, a Giant Loop, one tank bag, and two Wolfman duffle bags, plus bungie cords and Rok Straps. I’m using a Motonaut Adventure set up (specially designed straps and two 45lt Ortlieb dry bags) that was gifted to me a couple of months ago. I was skeptical at first, struggling to figure out how the straps worked, but after some fiddling and Youtube how-to videos, I successfully fit both bags on a borrowed DR650 just for practice.
I initially thought bungie cords would be more efficient and simple, or cheap soft panniers. Then I remembered the fat blue and black lip a friend gave herself when a rogue bungie cord snapped off our bike and grabbed her lower lip in Europe, and all the time spent making sure the half dozen cords were on properly. And then there was the time one snapped off while I was riding in Australia and nearly got caught in my chain… The Motonaut system seems to keep the bags snugly on the bike no matter how much bumping around I do, and it only takes minutes to pack up, meaning I can sleep in and still be the first ready to roll! In the evening, I loosen the two main straps, pull the bags off, but leave everything else as-is for easy repacking the next morning. If I ride the bike without the bags, I either pull the straps off (which literally takes less than 30 seconds), or tie the excess webbing up. Best of all, I can ride all day and not worry about gear falling off or getting wet, even when I do a rushed pack job and ride hours of dirt.
I also prefer the Motonaut system because it has various adjustment points, meaning I can bring the bags much closer to my body and use them as a backrest, or move them to the back of the bike so I can wear a backpack. One dry bag has all my camping gear and tools, separated by smaller stuff sacks for easy repacking. The other has my clothes stuff sack, laptop, toiletries/small items bag, armored/cold weather pants and snacks. Originally I thought it would be hard to access things since it’s a deep bag, but it’s been great. I just keep the things I need while riding at the top of the bag, and can easily unroll the top to access anything, without taking the bags off the bike.
Security might be an issue, but I have all my valuables in a backpack anyway (wallet, passport, etc), which I strap on top of the Ortlieb bags. It takes seconds to unstrap my backpack and take my valuables with me. I could use a tank bag, but I prefer a backpack for comfort. I have a chain and lock for my helmet and jacket, if I want to leave them on the bike. If I want to leave the bike and take my bags in with me, it’s quick and easy.
I find it a lot better than panniers, which are a combination of a) extremely expensive b) not waterproof c) hard to take on and off d) heavy and/or e) difficult to fly with. The Motonaut system folds up and fits anywhere. As someone who doesn’t spend the money to ship bikes around the world, a system that will fit most bikes I plan on riding, and a system I can easily pack on my person in-between bikes, is very important.
Overall, this is a highly efficient and simple setup that I’d recommend to any adventure rider. A big thanks to Motonaut!
**July 2014 UPDATE: I’ve now traveled 24,000km through 11 countries with my Motonaut system, and still loving it!