RoadRUNNER Digital Rider

TESTED: Kriega R25 Backpack

Nov 03, 2014 View Comments by

TESTED: Kriega R25 Backpack“How am I going to tour on this thing?” I think to myself, as I look at the single seat 2015 Indian Scout. The bike has no pillon, no rack, and no means to mount a tailpack or saddlebags. To be honest, I know exactly what I was thinking…“OMG that thing is HAWT. I wanna ride it!” but that bit of impulsiveness put me in a minor bind—where’s my gear going to go?

TESTED: Kriega R25 BackpackLuckily, I just received a Kriega R25 backpack, which, if it works as advertised, could be the answer to this packing conundrum. Kriega backpacks utilize a novel harness system; instead of the common shoulder and waist strap, Kriega utilizes two shoulder straps joined by two chest-level fasteners. Like a parachute, I’m told. I’ve never jumped out of a perfectly functional airplane before, so I’ll have to assume that’s true.

To test the pack, I loaded the 25-liter R25 with bottles of seltzer and large cans of crushed tomatoes and wore it around the house for a day. It did well, transferring the weight to the small of my lower back. I didn’t feel any weight on my shoulders, although I did suddenly get hungry and thirsty.

When the time came to hit the road for my Northeast Pizza Hunt (look for it in an upcoming issue), I loaded up the R25 with 18 pounds of clothing, motorcycle gear, and cameras. Five days and over a thousand miles later, with the Kriega worn over 10 hours each day, I’m happy to report a complete lack of shoulder or back pain. The harness system flat out works, and it is simply one of the most comfortable and hassle free backpacks that I’ve ever used.

One of the advantages of the Kriega harness is that you adjust the size just once. With standard packs, I find myself fine tuning the straps each time I put it on. With the Kriega, I just snapped the chest-level clips, and I was on my way. Two pulls near each hip can be adjusted on the fly to fine-tune the weight distribution.

TESTED: Kriega R25 BackpackCompartment-wise, there’s a big main compartment, a small internal one, and an exterior slash pocket. That’s it. Which is okay by me—I tend to forget where I’ve put things and with just three compartments I’m wrong less frequently. The main compartment also has a notebook sleeve that’s big enough for a 15-inch Macbook Pro and an iPad. The ample back padding provides protection, but there is no padding along the bottom edge; a piece of foam might be useful here. Compression straps help hold everything in place, and they incorporate retaining clips to prevent the straps from flapping in the breeze. Attachment points enable additional mini bags to be added.

The R25 seems to be made of tough stuff, with 420D ripstop nylon, 1000D Cordura base and harness, big-toothed zips, thick fabrics, and generous 3M Scotchlite reflective patches. The pack is guaranteed for 10 years. And while Kriega doesn’t advertise the pack as water-resistant, it did hold up quite well in a light, hourlong shower. Later in the trip, a three-hour plus storm while battling trucks on I-95 was more than the Kriega could handle; water soaked through the shell and things got wet.

One downside of the Kriega is that the harness system looks like a serious piece of hardware, which isn’t normally a big deal, but you do stand out a little bit when wearing it. And the pack doesn’t feel right when not clipped in. So be prepared for questions and jokes when wearing the pack in impolite company.

The bottom line is that I’d be hard pressed to name another motorcycle backpack that can haul 18 pounds comfortably for five days straight. And for that alone the Kriega R25 gets high marks.

The Kriega R25 retails for $189. Check out http://www.kriega.us/r25-motorcycle-backpack/ for more info.

 

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About the author

You know that little boy who stares at you, mouth agape, as you ride by? That was me, thirty-plus years ago. I merged two of my passions, motorcycles and photography, when I became a contributor to RoadRUNNER.