How to organize your Motorcycle Luaggage

Sound RIDER! logo


Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - Ride Motorsports


Get Organized

Find your gear fast and easy

Taking a motorcycle ride is a lot of fun. Finding your stuff in your luggage should be too!

I used to throw everything into my tank bag and tail pack and spend a few minutes at each stop digging around for stuff. That got to be a pain and I evolved to using ditty bags and organizers. On a typical day ride I'm usually carrying more than 65 different items in my luggage, so having them organized where I can get to them fast becomes critical. On overnight trips that number grows to more than 85.

The Right Luggage

The first key to getting organized is having the right luggage that you can access easily on the road without having to tear everything apart to find the item you need. Multiple layer tank bags are off my list in favor of one medium height one that has a few pockets on the side where I store chain oil, eyewear cleaners and the like. Top load tail bags and tail packs are far more easy to navigate than the ones where the door opens sideways causing everything to fall out as you access what you need.

Also, most luggage isn't water proof, but careful placement of the zippers by the manufacture will insure you'll keep your gear dryer for longer. Items like tank bags and tail packs can't be trusted. If you know it will be raining on your route consider placing a small sturdy plastic trash bag into the luggage first before you load it up, or better yet use a large dry bag like those made by Outdoor Research. 

Ditty Bags

Ditty bags are a critical element to keeping things organized by usage. There are two types of bags, those made with a solid piece of material, usually rip stop nylon, and those made with a see through mesh. You'll want to have at least three of both.

The solid bags are great for storing pills, zip ties, tire repair kits, sun block, extra batteries, spare fuses and a myriad of other items. At Sound RIDER! we carry a set of three in different sizes and colors made by Outdoor Research . The OR Helium ditties are great because the nylon is a super lightweight yet durable translucent type that allows you to actually see into the bag so you can identify where things are. The largest of the three bags gets my two extra pair of gloves, the medium bag gets all my little helpers like zip ties, a Leatherman, duct tape, flashlight, spare fuses and other things that assist me when I'm on the road; the small solid ditty gets all my toiletries like nasal spray, sun block, aspirin, tooth brush and paste, floss etc…

Above: The translucent nylon used in the Outdoor Helium Ditty Bags allow the user to see what's inside.

The mesh bags are critical too. While you may not use them right away, during your ride they will allow you to store any items that become wet along the way. This may be a drenched set of gloves, or if you're on an overnight trip you can store a slightly wet wash cloth or chamois bath towel. Mesh bags allow you to store these wet items without getting other items in your bag wet and at the same time let the wet items breathe so they don't funk and get mildewed along the way as they would if you road all day with them in a plastic bag.

Larger mesh bags are good for general storage of your spare clothes on overnight rides.

Organizer Kits

Some things are better stored in organizer kits. They come in various shapes and sizes - we carry three in the SR! store made by Outdoor Research . The smaller ones are good places to store credit cards, important papers, concert tickets and so on. The mid-size ones are handy for storing stuff you don't want bouncing around, like nail clippers, a tire gauge and so on. The largest type of organizer we sell is essentially a great shower kit. It has ways to anchor small plastic bottles you would fill with body soap, shampoo and lotion. It folds out and has a hook on it so you can hang it in the shower room and access stuff at eye level while you're cleaning up. If you're packing more than organizer kit, get them in different colors so it's easy to tell them apart.

Above: Organizer kits come in an array of sizes. Smaller ones like #1 and #2 are good for storing currency, snacks, pens, micro drives and other things you don't want bumping around in your luggage. The larger type like #2 makes a fine shower kit for overnight touring.

Dry Bags

You can cut a lot of weight and space on overnight gear if you move to an ultra light down bag. But you'll want to pack that away in a good dry bag, not the stuff sack the manufacturer sold it with originally. You should also pack your spare clothing in a dry bag. You can get some of those ultra heavy bags at the marine shop, or you can opt for a much lighter bag that will do the same job with an Outdoor Research Hydroseal Dry Sack. The Hydroseals are good because they're lighter than marine bags and feature better construction and a stronger material than their HydraLight counter parts, which means you can strap them to your bike outside of your luggage with confidence.

Gadget Cases

If you're traveling with a cell phone, GPS, camera, binoculars and otherwise, carry sturdy cases to store them in. You don't want to chance scratching the screen on your GPS, getting water into your binoculars or having your cell phone screen crack on that next pot hole. Check out the Multi Pock-Its system which provides space for a number of items all at once.

At left: The Niteize universal gadget case allows storage for a number of items all in one place.

Vertical Storage

Look back at the photo at the top of the page and notice how all the bags are upright. One of the best ways to store your items is vertically so that the longest end is protruding up from the bottom of the luggage. Place the items you use the least on the bottom and stack in the more typically accessed items along the top layer.

Organizing your gear ahead of time makes it easier to pack each time you ride, find things fast on the road and enjoy your trip that much more by avoiding the hassle of weeding through loose items at each stop.

Patrick Thomas/Spring 06

The Sound RIDER! store features a full line of storage bags and kits to make your ride that much easier. Click here to see them now.


We've worked hard to upgrade this site. Click here to notify us of any problems we need to correct.


Subscription has its privileges - Each month Sound RIDER! publishes new features on rides, clubs, dealers and events. Don't miss out on these informative stories.

Sign up today for your FREE subscription and you'll get notification each month when the new issue comes on line. You'll also be the first to find out about special Sound RIDER! events. From time to time, we also provide valuable coupons that can save you hundreds of dollars on motorcycle services. What are you waiting for? Click here to sign up now!