September 17, 2013
The older we get, the more our lives require organization and simple solutions. The more we do, the less we seem to want to have to deal with. This isn’t as much about willingness as it is about time well spent. And how we spend our time during our travels is of great importance to us these days.
Baggage while travelling, especially on motorcycles, can be a challenge. What to bring and how to bring it becomes a constant concern before getting on the road and can continue to poke and prod at us during the journey if not dealt with in good time. Prior to leaving, our brains are held hostage by the details until we have packed and repacked enough times to feel as though we’ve finally gotten it somewhat right. Cut and pack, cut and pack has been our mantra for the past months. The truth is, you never really get it right. Through changing climates and terrain, our needs will also change. Which means daily rearranging, tossing or acquiring is a necessary task. A sizable bag of patience and flexibility is always the biggest requirement.
Every traveller’s idea of what to bring can vary widely and is often an ongoing learning process, but at the end of the day, I believe it all comes down to what travelling means to you. For some it invokes a minimalist approach, fire, water, razor, soap, for others it’s the “no plan” plan, bring the things you want and roll with the punches. There are many ways to travel, everything from roughing it to resorting it. After having experienced a bit of both in our lives, today we know for sure we want a healthy balance of the two. For the most part, a life on the road for us is about living it up in moderation, rather than giving it all up and completely separating ourselves from all of the wonderfully worldly things that we also enjoy.
So lets get down to packing! Much like an unorganized closet or dresser drawer, it can be frustrating having to dig for things that you know are in there…somewhere. A disheveled bag when living on the road only acts as added distraction and there are far more important things deserving of our time and focus. More importantly than what to bring is weight, which in turn is the true motivator and often determines what gets to come along for the ride. Issa’s bike alone sits at 448 lbs dry (meaning no bags, no rider, no gas, oil or coolant), while mine sits at 377 lbs.
We prioritize by necessity with survival and bike maintenance being the first. Medical, emergency, rope, water, fire, light, utility tools, gps/maps, spot tracker, extra parts, tools and warm / cold weather gear. Next up are communication devices such as phone, computers and cameras. Followed closely by camping supplies, food, sleeping gear, tent etc.. These items easily take up around 65 – 75 % of our space and weight, the rest we reserved for a balanced amount of creature comforts.
Previous travels had us testing out the more familiar top loading 50-60 litre, single compartment duffel-style dry bags. The kind that you would typically find at your local MEC or REI. I would lay items as flat as I could in order to obtain the best fit, unfortunately sacrificing a touch of function. When you’re living out of a bag and camping in different places day after day, constant unpacking, sifting and searching can leave me feeling a wee bit lazy after a while, only accessing the top layer of my bag and leaving me wondering why I even bothered with the rest. The rule today is, if you are going to lug it, then you should use it and enjoy it. So to help with the organization this time I hit my local Canadian tire and bought a few boxes of large and extra large zip lock bags. Using these clear bags to mark and separate items by category creates a sense of ease. It also adds an extra layer of wet weather protection for my belongings, which I know we’ll appreciate when opting for the earlier mentioned “roughing it” side of this journey.
New to our family of luggage systems is the very cool Kriega US Combo 70. This is a modular, three bag top-loading system (two 20 litre end bags and one 30 litre middle bag). Described to be a 100% waterproof, each bag is fully capable of acting as its own unit, equipped with its own removable shoulder and waist straps. The US-20 can also be used as a tank bag, with the addition of an optional US Tank adaptor.
At first glance this set up appeals to both my addiction for bells and whistles as well as to my slow growing OCD tendencies. There are so many options for customization here. Compartmentalization also quickly comes to mind once again for me. It help’s calm the personal chaos that creeps in when “less is more” is still too much!
When I first began trial packing with this bag, I must admit I was a touch overwhelmed with just what to do and how it all fit together. The hook strap system requires a little time and patience. For me, this turned out to be mere moments compared to the joy I experienced once the beast was brought to life. I packed each bag separately first and designating each to specific tasks. Once they were full and I gave in to the idea of reading instructions, it was very easy to make the connection and get all three bags securely in place, working as one full unit. Even when the bags are together you are able to access each separately without disconnecting the hook straps. I love this! For me, this is key to keeping this convertible system, simple.
The Kreiga US Combo 70 provides me something that I have yet to experience while travelling on the road for long periods of time – the opportunity for organized chaos. Removing the dig and search factor from the equation is, for me, a necessity. And adding the zip lock bags for separation creates a super organized filing system.
It will take some time, to settle in, to find a rhythm. Things will shift and change as we do and we’ll be constantly finding better ways to live simply while on the road, dependant upon what is required of us during each leg of our journey. For now, we’re enjoying the process of trial and error. It’s part of the adventure after all. Change and adaptation will be our new mantra for the upcoming months. Stay tuned.
For more information about these luggage systems, please visit Kriega USA!
Official sponsor of the We Love Motogeo Trans-world Motorcycle Adventure.