How to Choose Best Snowmobile Saddlebags…
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Especially if you want to arrive at your destination with your belongings intact. So not just any saddlebag will do. With so many choices available, how do you know what are the best snowmobile saddlebags? Let’s start with a couple that didn’t work very well…
Reminiscing About Snowmobile Saddlebags
I remember one ride when we were following another group into a town near the end of the day. Leading our crew, I noticed something on the trail ahead. Turned out to be a hairbrush. A couple of yards later, there was a pair of jockey shorts. Then numerous other personal items, like a trail of breadcrumbs marking the way. Fortunately, we overtook them and one rider turned around to collect his stuff. But one half of his saddlebags were beyond repair.
Another time, a loose thread from a saddlebag caught on something as we were leaving home. Less than half an hour later, the whole bag was unravelled all over the trail. I also recall having to backtrack for quite a distance on two separate occasions. Why? Because my companions’ supposedly well-secured saddlebags fell off. Intact, but gone. Which speaks to one main problem with saddlebags. They’re behind you and out of sight. So anything can go wrong and it’s unlikely you’ll find out until it’s too late. Here are a couple of tips for avoiding saddlebag woes…
Don’t Cheap Out
Not all saddlebags are created equal. Look for multi-stitched seams, heavy-duty zippers, strong materials and sturdy fasteners. You can do everything else right. But if your saddlebag is cheap from the get-go, you’re asking for trouble. I’ve used Snow Gear Saddlebags for years. And I’ve put over 80,000 kilometres on one set without a problem. They’re custom made by Canadian Yacht Tops to fit each brand and model of sled. And believe me, fitting your sled is a very important first step for keeping them on during a ride. These guys make boat covers to withstand hurricane gales and they’re saddlebags are just as solid.
Make sure the integrated fasteners and clips that secure the snowmobile saddlebags to your sled are well made, durable and firmly attached to the bag. Next, make sure that when secured to your snow machine, the saddlebag fits snuggly, with no wiggle room. If there’s any play, trail bumps will shake that looseness unremittingly until something gives. Finally, regardless of how good the fasteners are or how securely attached the bag is, I always double bungee my snowmobile saddlebags. I hook the bungees to the running board as added insurance against Murphy’s Law. The new Ski-Doo LinQ™ snowmobiling luggage is also an excellent choice for bags that stay put. Its full-lock mounting system is absolutely rock-solid for securing LinQ bags to your sled.
Don’t Over Pack
Another concern is saddlebags not being big enough. Although I prefer to look at this from the perspective of a rider trying to carry too much for the space available. Whatever your view, there’s no doubt that a cram-packed saddlebag puts undue strain on the zippers, material and fasteners. This will eventually cause wear problems. By the same token, you want to fill the interior space with enough contents that loose articles don’t tumble around inside like clothes in a dryer while you’re riding. This can potentially pierce the saddlebag sides or bottom. Your best bet is to assemble everything your want to carry. Then take it with you to shop for a saddlebag that has the capacity for it.
Keep Contents Dry
I haven’t found any saddlebag yet that is totally waterproof. They can get wet from rain, but are more likely to be soaked from snow dust and track slush. Either way, the result can be wet contents. Unless you line your saddlebag with plastic garbage bags or pack your belongings in sealed plastic, like the Packmate Compression Travel bags I use. At the end of each day, if your saddlebags are wet, be sure to empty and spread them out to dry thoroughly overnight.
Protect & Inspect
Be very careful where you store your saddlebag when not in use. Keep them clean and dry to avoid mould and mildew. You also want them out of the reach of gnawing critters (including family pets). I always throw in a couple of Sneaker Balls or scented dryer sheets before storing to keep my bags smelling fresh. Before use, thoroughly inspect every component. Ensure that nothing has compromised your saddlebag’s structural integrity during the off-season.
For touring, I ride with a set of Snow Gear saddlebags for my overnight stuff. I also use a double set of Ski-Doo LinQ Tunnel Bags for my emergency and survival gear and other daily necessities. Your survival gear should involve everything from kit to food and drink. You can get emergency meal kits from safetyhunters.com for example, if you’re not sure where to source these from. Even for days rides I always carry with emergency and survival gear on board. For this purpose, the Ski-Doo LinQ Tunnel Bags are the easiest and most convenient way I’ve found. I just leave them packed between rides. So they’re good to go for either day rides or overnight tours.
The tips and advice in this blog are the opinions of the author, may not work in every situation and are intended only for the convenience and interest of the reader, who has the personal responsibility to confirm the validity, accuracy and relevancy of this information prior to putting it to their own use.