How To Keep Your Gear Dry On A Motorcycle Tour

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A few years ago, I packed my stuff and strapped it to my Africa Twin. Ready for my trip to the Pyrenees, I readied myself for the 250-mile motorway ride to the ferry port in Portsmouth.

Looking up, the clouds looked heavy. And using my biker’s sixth sense for rain, I deduced I was about to get wet.

And sure enough, the rain began to drizzle before I’d even got off the drive.

On the motorway, it started to come down even harder. And then it came down so hard that I half wanted to turn back and call it quits on the whole thing.

Two hours into my trip, I was freezing cold, soaked through, and royally pissed off. So I was glad when I finally made it to the ferry port.

After securing my bike in the hull, I opened my panniers and my top box to get my kit out for the crossing. And it was at this point I realised practically everything I’d brought was wet.

I hadn’t even left the shores of the UK yet. And everything I’d brought was sodden. Not a good start.

royal enfield in rain - keep dry on a motorcycle
Image: Eranjan

Staying Dry On A Motorcycle: Since Then

After that fateful day, I vowed never again to find myself in that situation. Sure, I can’t control the rain. But I can control my ability to deal with it when it happens.

And over the years, I’ve refined my waterproofing strategy to ensure that whilst the rain may fall, it won’t ruin my trip or the important stuff I need to keep dry.

So in this post, I want to share with you 5 accessories that will keep your kit dry on your next motorcycle tour!

1. Pannier Liners

Hard panniers don’t leak, right? Yea, that’s what I thought, too! Right up until my laptop and all my clean clothes got soaked through.

Packing gets boring after a while. And it’s tempting just to chuck everything in and hope that the panniers don’t leak.

I get it. I’ve been there.

But pannier liners provide a second layer of protection against the rain when it begins to penetrate through the little cracks and gaps that your panniers have accumulated over the years.

Not only do they protect your kit from the rain, but they also prevent that stupid game we’ve all played at some point. You know the one I mean… The one where you try to open your pannier with one hand whilst using the other hand to catch all the shit that falls out of it?

Liners mean you can open your pannier without everything inside it landing in that puddle you parked next to.

And they also mean you can easily carry your stuff into your hotel without hassle.

Related: Motorcycle Touring Rain Gear: Get One Up On The Weather

Where Do I Get Them?

Most manufacturers sell pannier liners. But like everything from bike manufacturers, they’re extortionately priced.

If you particularly want branded ones, have a look in the accessory catalogue of your manufacturer. But if you just want affordable ones that will do the job, try these:

shad inner panniers

Shad Terra Inner Bags

  • Designed for the Terra range but should be compatible with a range of luggage
  • Zip closures
  • Carry handles
sw motech inner panniers - keep dry on a motorcycle

SW Motech TRAX

  • Designed for the TRAX range but should be compatible with a range of luggage
  • Antislip bottom
  • Carry handles

If you have angular panniers as I do, these ones from Givi tend to be a good match:

givi inner panniers

GIVI T443C V35 / V37

  • Designed for the V35 / V37’s but should be compatible with a range of luggage
  • Shoulder straps
  • Carry handles

2. Keep Your Paperwork Dry On Your Motorcycle Tour

There are two things you could really do with keeping dry. The first is your travel documents, such as your passport, visa, and vehicle documents.

The second is cash.

If either of these gets wet, you’re going to be in for a tough time.

Keep them dry with this protector from Weise. At 19cm x 10cm, it’s big enough to fit your documents and cash in but small enough to fit in your pocket.

weise waterproof bag - keep dry on a motorcycle

Weise Document Dry Bag

3. Dry Bags

I’m a huge advocate of dry bags – to the point where I never leave for a tour without one even if I have no particular use for it at the time.

When not in use, it folds flat and takes up zero space. It also weighs next to nothing.

More often than not, mine gets used for carrying around my laptop and electricals. Simply pop it all in, squeeze out the air, and then roll the top down.

Job done.

If you plan on camping, I find a dry bag to be an essential piece of kit. At the start of each day, get the clothes you want for the evening and keep them in the dry bag.

This way, no matter what the weather does throughout the day, you’ve always got clean, dry clothes to change into when you pitch your tent.

And to take it a step further, you can also use it as a pillow. Fill the bag with your clothes for the morning, cover it with a t-shirt, and hey presto, you have a comfortable pillow for the night whilst ensuring your clothes for the morning stay dry.

They’re also great for storing dirty clothes that need washing, or for keeping wet clothes away from dry ones.

If possible, choose one that has a hook on the bottom. This means you can use the bag to cover a rucksack and then attach it to your bike with bungees or straps – knowing that anything inside it will stay dry.

For the price, get yourself a set in a range of sizes and keep them in your top box. Trust me, they’re a Godsend!

6 dry bags multiple colours

Waterproof Dry Bags

Related: Download Your Free Motorcycle Touring Checklist

4. Waterproof Roll Bags: Essential For Staying Dry On A Motorcycle!

If you’ve been around Motorcycle Tourer for a while, you’ll know that I’m a massive believer in roll bags. They’re simple, cheap, waterproof, and can be used off the bike as well as on it.

I’d go as far as to say that if I had a choice between a set of panniers or a roll bag, I’d choose the roll bag every single time. They’re brilliant.

If you want to make extra sure that your important stuff will stay dry, put it all in a rucksack, then put the rucksack inside a dry bag.

Then put the dry bag in the roll bag.

Not only will your stuff stay dry, but it will also be easy to carry when you get to your destination.

oxford aqua t50 roll bag - keep dry on a motorcycle

Oxford Aqua T50 Roll Bag

  • Waterproof
  • Top closure
  • Carry handles & shoulder strap
  • Water-resistant zips

Related: 5 Of The Best Motorcycle Touring Roll Bags

5. Over Gloves

Okay, let me start by saying these things are ugly, uncomfortable, and generally a pain in the ass. But they’re not as uncomfortable (or as much of a pain in the ass) as riding with wet gloves.

You can spend as much as you want on waterproof gloves. But if they fail, you’ll end up with wet gloves, wet hands, and a thoroughly miserable ride to your destination.

Then you have to do that thing of trying to dry them for the morning using the hotel hairdryer.

If you’re camping, then I’m afraid you’re shit out of luck. There’s no way they’ll be dry for the morning – which means starting the day wearing wet gloves.

And that really is a bad way to start the day.

Over gloves are cheap, light, and brilliant for emergencies. I wouldn’t wear them ‘just in case’ it rains. But when the rain does come, slip these on and protect those valuable gloves!

held outer gloves

Held Over Gloves

  • Waterproof
  • Elastic cuffs
  • Mitton style
  • 100% nylon

Related: Summer Touring? You’ll Need Wet Weather Gear!

Keep Dry On A Motorcycle Tour: Conclusion

If you’ve never been caught out by the rain on tour, don’t push your luck – because it’s coming for you!

All of the things on this list keep your stuff dry on a motorcycle and are relatively cheap. But they’ll save you a whole lotta heartache, misery, and discomfort.

Get them and keep them in your top box for when the bad weather decides it’s your turn to get a soaking!

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Top image: Mads Thomsen


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