As someone from the humid swampland that is Arkansas, commuting with a backpack has always meant getting to work drenched in sweat. For these situations, tail bags can be a lifesaver, providing easy storage that you can conveniently remove to take with you on the go.
Since tail bags are used for their versatility, it’s no surprise that they come in such varying designs. If you’re having trouble figuring out which suits your needs best, here are six in-depth reviews covering the best motorcycle tail bags along with a buyer’s guide so you can make an informed choice.
Best Motorcycle Tail Bags Reviewed
Kriega US-20 Accent
Kriega is one of the best-known motorcycle luggage brands for a reason. Their main claim to fame is the 420D Cordura Lite construction. This bag is tough, and you can tell just by looking at it. The tough nylon skin includes a fake leather plate which not only looks snazzy but protects against abrasion.
To add to its resilience, it’s a totally waterproof roll-top bag. This is a step up from normal water resistance and is great if you plan to ride in rough weather or terrain. Perfect for both commuting and touring because you don’t have to worry about surprises.
The adjustable shoulder strap lets you use it as a bag when you take it off the bike, a real advantage for commuters who need to carry work items, groceries, or whatever else inside when they’re done riding.
This versatility doesn’t stop with the construction, though. In fact, my favorite part is the modular design. Easy buckle straps allow you to attach a Kriega tail bag to other Kriega bags, available in 10 and 30 liters, to expand your capacity.
- Modular design
- Roll-top waterproofing
- Tough construction
- Removable washable liner
- Quick release buckles
- Adjustable shoulder strap for carrying off your bike
- High price range
- Soft shell can shift weight
Cortech Super 2.0 Tail Bag
If you care about organization and easy access, a Cortech bag may be the way to go. Multiple pockets let you carry small items, and the orange inner lining provides contrast that lets you find things quickly.
I’d suggest this bag for a commuter who’s going to be using their bike while running errands, going to work, or just generally being in a hurry.
Now, in my opinion, the bag, while aesthetic, has a specific sporty look. Again, this makes it great for commuters with a sports bike, but it might look a bit out of place on a cruiser while touring.
The tough ballistic polyester should let you commute with this bag day after day. It’s not waterproof but comes with a rain cover stored in its own pocket.
- Multiple pockets
- Orange lining helps you find items
- Tough ballistic polyester construction
- Easily combines with Cortech saddlebags
- Great price
- Specific sporty look
- Not waterproof
Nelson-Rigg Commuter Sport Tail Bag
As a 6’3” man who’s not the most graceful, stability and well-distributed weight is really important to me on my bike. With a semi-rigid hard shell, the Nelson-Rigg Commuter line of tail bags accomplishes just that. And it still provides flexible storage due to an expandable lining that increases the capacity from 16 to 22 liters.
The Commuter range of bags is sleek too, easily one of the most aesthetic lines of motorcycle luggage out there. That comes from the UV-treated Ultramax fabric that should hold its black color longer than other bags.
The fabric is water resistant, but unfortunately not waterproof. It does include a separate waterproof rain cover, but the hassle might not be worth it for a commuter in a really rainy place. Otherwise, it’s as tough as it looks.
- Expandable to 22 liters
- UV-treated Ultramax fabric keeps color
- Semi-rigid shell for stability and durability
- Four quick-release straps
- Versatile mounting
- Great value for the price
- Not waterproof
- Hard to combine with other bags
Oxford Aqua T8 Tail Bag / Dry Bag
The Oxford Aqua T8 is the smallest bag on our list, a great choice if you just need something to hold your wallet and phone and keep them dry. Specifically, it has just an eight-liter carrying capacity.
What the T8 does hold, it holds tight and secure. It’s a waterproof bag and has an extra waterproof pocket for really small items. Plus, its reflective material makes you more visible, and its under-seat security strap combined with the tail-light loop make it incredibly sturdy.
I’d recommend this for someone who knows they’re going to be in rough conditions and doesn’t want to worry about their stuff. That could include off-road motorcyclists or commuters in rainy areas.
- Secures on tight
- Waterproof roll top and zipper
- Reflective material for visibility
- Great price
- Small carrying capacity
Givi UT813 Ultima-T Waterproof 8L Tail Pack
The Givi UT813 is a good value option for someone who needs a waterproof tail bag. In fact, it’s the best of both worlds because it includes an inner roll top waterproof bag, but the outside is standard semi-rigid polyester that helps distribute weight more evenly.
The biggest drawback of the Givi UT813 is the polyester denier count, which is only 1200. This is a bit less than some of the sturdier models on our list and means it might not stand up to as much wear and tear. For this reason, it can make a great beginner bag or a bag for someone who’s just a hobbyist and doesn’t need luggage for everyday commuting.
This bag is expandable and includes pockets and a reflective elastic cord for versatile and convenient storage.
- Waterproof inner bag
- Good value for the price
- Reflective elastic cord for extra carrying capacity
- Expandable for more room
- Low polyester denier count means it’s not as tough
- Small eight-liter capacity
Dainese D-Tail Motorcycle Tail Bag
Dainese motorcycle luggage is made by Ogio, the famous backpack brand that saw me through all of high school and college thanks to its intuitive storage design and quality construction. This is certainly the case with the D-Tail bag, which has side pockets and a top pocket as well as orange lining in the inner pocket so you can easily find whatever’s in it.
Convenience and speed are what define the Dainese D-Tail bag. It’s got a universal web mounting system that isn’t just easy to put on but also take off, so combined with its reinforced handle, it’s great for people on the go. It also combines easily with other Dainese and Ogio luggage.
- Universal mounting straps
- Intuitive and convenient storage
- Universal web mounting system is easy to take on and off
- Compact but expandable for storing different items
- Neoprene pad protects your bike’s paint
- Low polyester denier count means it’s less durable
- High price range
Motorcycle Tail Bag Buyer’s Guide
If you’re in the market for the best motorcycle tail bag, these are some of the factors you should consider.
At first glance, motorcycle tail bag mounting systems all attach the same way: by hooking on to the tail, back seat or rear fender of your motorcycle.
However, there are three main types of mounting systems to look for.
1. Permanent Mounting
This type of mounting system has some kind of plate or rack that permanently attaches to your bike, allowing you to clip in the tail bag and then easily unclip it when you want to remove it.
They’re convenient but also secure. The downside is they’re often specific to a model or make of motorcycle, ie, not “universal.”
2. Universal Straps or Webbing
These tail bags use flexible straps to wrap around the rear frame of your motorcycle allowing you to adapt the bag to nearly any motorcycle.
They can be less secure and harder to put on, but they’re much more convenient.
3. Nothing At All
There are plenty of tail bags out there that just expect you to figure it out yourself. You’ll probably have to tie these down with bungee cords or straps, which sometimes might be included with the bag.
This provides maximum adaptability and convenience, but the security and stability of the bag is totally your responsibility.
How big do you need your tail bag to be? Consider what you plan to store in it. Most tail bags hover around 20 liters of capacity, but may be as low as five liters or as big as 30.
Getting an unnecessarily large bag could throw off your center of gravity while riding, so if you just want a place to put your wallet and phone when you go off road, a smaller bag is better.
A great option is an expandable bag. These allow you to keep the bag small, say 15 liters, but expand it to say 25 liters when you need a little extra room.
Waterproofing is a great bag feature, but it usually adds a considerable amount to the price. Plus, waterproof bags tend to be roll-top, soft-shell bags that are less stable on your bike.
Other bags are usually water resistant but can still leak if they’re really drenched. They may also come with a waterproof covering that you can strap on when needed.
For those who are using the bag for commuting in a relatively dry environment, a water-resistant bag with a covering just in case is probably fine.
But if you’re in Seattle where it rains all the time or Miami where you never know if a sudden downpour is around the corner, a waterproof bag is probably essential.
Also consider full waterproofing if you like touring or off-roading in wet conditions, especially when you might drop the bike. Plenty of thunderstorms have caught me off guard when touring far from home.
Quick releases can help make a secure bag convenient as well. They’re especially great for commuters who might have to put on and take off their bag several times a day. They can also add a layer of safety in emergency situations because you can quickly flip a latch and let the bag go.
Hard or Soft Shell
Tail bags can have a soft, usually nylon, shell or a hard polymer shell. Sometimes you can find “semi-rigid” bags with a combination of the two. Soft shells are more flexible, easier to attach to your bike, and more likely to be waterproof. They might not be as stable, though, or as tough.
In general, to gauge the toughness of the bag, you can check the polyester denier count, which is like the thread count for fabrics. Bags with higher denier counts will be harder, more rigid and tougher than those with lower denier counts.
Center of Gravity
The main disadvantage to tail bags is their high center of gravity as compared to saddlebags and tank bags. As a result, they’re usually relatively small and often geared more towards sports bikes than cruisers, though that isn’t always the case.
You should consider the overall balance of your motorcycle and how much you need to store before going with a tail bag.
Tail bags can also be less secure than other types of motorcycle luggage. They can be easier targets for thieves.
Many solve this problem by providing quick releases that allow you to take the bag with you whenever you leave your bike for long periods of time. Still, you should consider how much of a threat theft is in your situation.