Soft luggage systems are becoming really popular for a number of reasons. And there’s more to it than just being light.
Photos by: The Brokentooth Project, Green Chile Adventure Gear, Outback Motortek
There’s no such thing as one size fits all. Therefore the hard luggage crowd that used to rule the adventure motorcycle market had branched into other luggage options. Waterproof, non-waterproof, roll down or zipper bags, saddle bags, you name it. Anything to help eliminate the weight and bulkiness of the aforementioned hard luggage but try keeping its benefits.
The one-size-fits-all theory did not work here, either though.
But what are the reasons why riders would choose something other than hard luggage that has great pros and it’s hard to debate over their great features. Read my experiences with hard luggage here: My experience with hard luggage.
Unfortunately, I do not have extensive experience with all sort of soft luggage brands and systems. It’s due to my specific needs for a so-called ultimate system. Not a wannabe one-size-fits-all but something that is extremely versatile and makes you fall in love with it almost immediately.
It’s rare to witness the birth of a completely new, revolutionary product. Namely the soft rack by Green Chile.
The Green Chile Adventure Gear soft rack fills in a small but decent gap in the adventure bike market. They have a system that is perfect for quite a lot of riders out there, including myself. In my previous post I laid out the pros and cons of hard luggage from my very own experience. In this blog post though, you can learn about why I vouch for the Green Chile system and what makes it different from other adventure bike luggage solutions.
Let’s dive right into it.
After exhausting my options with hard cases, I was looking for something more off-road worthy, light and affordable.
Compatibility: Green Chile’s soft rack is universal. Thus it fits a lot of models and makes and it’s not limited to only adventure bikes.
Easy removal: It takes roughly a minute to remove this webbing. Although it’s hard to understand why anyone would ever do that.
Affordable: Aluminum luggage system’s prices go through the rooftops and can reach up $2000 for a pair of them. Other soft luggage systems are in $600-1000 range. The Green Chile uprising kit (to name their highest price full combo) cost only $239. If you would want 4 dry bags to go with this kit then you’re still roughly in the $500-530 range.
Light: the Green Chile soft rack kit only weighs about 4lbs/1.8kgs. Even with two or three dry duffel bags the weight will not exceed 10lbs/4.5kgs. Quite the difference compared to aluminum pannier that each weigh roughly about 30-40lbs/12-18kgs.
Off-road compatible: I think most of us adventure riders go off-road quite a lot. There are occasions when we go on multi-day camping trip or multi-week overlanding. In my humble opinion your best bet to carry your belongings will be some sort of moto specific soft luggage to keep your bike light and will let you ride further.
Versatile: Strap anything on it. Sky is the limit. One good example is a long-term test done by Traction eRag online magazine: click here Page 94-99 and page 134-141
Strong, durable and well-built: In this order exactly. This product has been exposed to the very extremes. Built and tested in the unbearable heat of New Mexico and tortured in the freezing cold of Northern Canada by Brokentooth Project. All components are of the highest quality and guaranteed to last. It’s made for adventure!
Back to the first sentence where I said there was no such thing as one-size-fits-all. Well, the Green Chile soft rack has to be included on that list. So, here come the negatives.
Removing or adding stuff to the strapped down duffel bags could be a bit of a work. Although it’s partially the bag’s fault. You must loosen the straps and roll up the bag to reach in. This can be made easier if you used bags that open on the top without rolling it to make it waterproof. Although you might think this system is only to strap bags onto but no, it’s more than just that.
When I first received my “complicated-looking” soft rack I felt a bit frustrated trying to install it on my F800GS. It lasted for about 1 hour to figure everything out and then I was hooked.
The excess straps need some kind of clips developed for. The Mondo UL has a really good one that sort of works like a “cord keeper”. It definitely makes it safer and saves you time on trying to tie the extra straps.
See example here:
I’ve been using the Green Chile products for almost a year now and have a hard time finding the “achilles-heel” of any of the Green Chile farkles. I’m sure there will be many many more years ’til I reach the limit of their systems but luckily the owners and founders of Green Chile Adventure Gear are veteran adventure riders and are always developing their accessories to remain competitive.
Update (02.01.2016): BMW MOA Owners News just released its latest February issue and it features Green Chile products in a review. It passed with flying color!