The Best Motorcycle Travel Gear: Velomacchi 28L Roll-Top Pack and 50L Duffel Bag
Velomacchi makes a good-looking, functional backpack and travel duffel that takes the use and abuse of everyday life.
I'm an absolute monster to all my motorcycle gear. My fiancée calls me "a little hurricane" because I cannot walk past something without the possibility of it getting utterly destroyed. When I get home my boots get ripped off, my bags are thrown to the corners of the apartment, not gently placed on the ground, and my phone even gets tossed on the table. I'm cautious with only my cameras, helmets, and computers but even they seem to take a fair beating too.
For the past seven months, I've been battle testing a couple of products from Velomacchi, a small outfit up in Hood River, Oregon. Founded and run by Kevin Murray, Murray holds a degree in Industrial Design and worked as the Global Design Director at The North Face in Italy where it pioneered the Adventure Travel and technical carry gear categories. After leaving The North Face, he went on to create Syren Industrial a full-service product design and strategy house building award-winning product and brand solutions in the Technical Outdoor, Fire/Rescue and Military/Tactical categories.
Velomacchi is a completely made up word which essential means “velocity machine”. Derived from the latin veloci- for velocity and machina for machine. It sounds sexy, fast, and Italian. Kinda like me, except I'm not Italian.
I asked him why venture out on your own to create a line of gear for motorcyclists and those geared toward an adventure lifestyle?
“Over the last 20 years I watched large brands turn technical products into a commodity,” says Murray. “Fast fashion has driven timeline and price points down and killed innovation in certain categories. As apparel and footwear categories tend to drive more revenue, carry gear and gloves have not received the attention and detail they deserve. I felt that my background would benefit that space and my wife and I chose to put our efforts into making an amazing product.”
Did Velomacchi achieve its goal?
The Velomacchi 28L Roll-Top Pack
This may just be one of the best backpacks I have ever worn. Not only is the main compartment watertight and holds up to 28 liters, the patent-pending three-point harness system and magnetic sternum coupler are the design elements that make the Velomacchi 28L Roll-Top bag so versatile and INSANELY comfortable. You might look a bit like a turtle wearing one but when it’s loaded up to the brim exceeding 30-40 pounds, none of that will matter. Especially when you are relegated to your bike for the day. The pack remains immovable, as though it was custom cast to your body.
While weight distribution is such an amazing feature of this bag, fitment plays an important role. Looking at the 28L Roll-Top bag, you’ll immediately notice that there are no dangling straps. Everything is self-contained, adjustable and tucked away for streamlined aerodynamics. A slapping strap on a motorcycle at 65 mph is not only a liability but it's insanely annoying.
What else about the 28L Roll-Top bag is so great? Its design really catches the eye of almost anyone I talk to. It's unique enough that invariably I have a discussion about the bag once a week. It has survived and protected my gear in a steady downpour when riding through Thailand and a number of falls when riding dirt in the Mojave desert.
The addition of a medical emergency pouch in one of the shoulder straps means I can keep all information for EMS teams in the event I get injured out in the field. A tire pressure gauge sleeve doubles as a pen holster on the left shoulder strap and the camera plate allow any wearer to sticky mount a go-pro to the bag itself for an awesome first-person perspective when riding.
What about it could be better?
I would like the main compartment to be bigger. Luckily, Velomacchi just introduced the 40L Roll-Top bag which I am testing now. I’ll have a full review in a couple of months.
The Velomacchi 50L Hybrid Duffel Pack
Is it a duffel bag or a backpack? Well, it’s both but I have only used it as a duffel bag on regular week-long to weekend travels.
Billed as a high speed, watertight and versatile convertible duffel/pack. Constructed out of high quality 1000 Denier competition fabric, the Velomacchi 50L Hybrid duffel features a watertight #10YKK zipper and stretch panels that enable closure of an overstuffed pack. Additional features include mounting points for roof racks, motorcycles, and whatever you might want to strap this bag down to along with shoulder straps that can be tucked away and out of sight without compromising volume for packing.
Since I got the 50L Hybrid Duffel, it has joined me on a number of road trips from Los Angeles to the Bay Area and up to Oregon and back to LA. It has even joined me on-assignment halfway around the world and to a number of states in the U.S.
50 liters may seem like a small bag but when you pack conservatively and really plan out what you need, it will more than meet your needs for a weekend trip. I always find that I take more than I need but I have learned to pack lighter and leaner. For my seven to 14-day trips, I was able to use the 50L Hybrid Duffel strictly for my clothes, food, and camera kit. Other essential tools and camping gear became relegated to my 38L Dryspec bag.
If you are not purely camping off the bike and plan on staying with friends, family, or in a hotel, the 50L Hybrid Duffel Bag makes for a perfect travel companion. The side pockets make storage of small items easy to access. I stuffed them with zip-ties, my CB radio, utility knife, and a couple of Clif bars. The Velomacchi 50L Hybrid Duffel also meets Federal Aviation Administration carry-on requirements and can go with you on any plane.
What about it could be better?
I would like to see Velomacchi add mollie webbing or rubber loop anchors to the top or sides of the bag which would make it more versatile for motorcycle travel applications. On a number of trips where I did not want to wear my 28L roll-top pack, I strapped the 28L to the 50L with a set of Rox Straps through the carrying straps. It was a bit janky but it worked. I would also like to see a redesign of the mounting straps so that the portion that attaches to the bike need not include a plastic buckle. A reinforced loop would suffice and leave no dangling bits.
So far, each of these bags has endured almost everything Mother Nature could throw at them outside of fire, lava, and lightning. Some people like to travel with Louis Vuitton but this rugged motorcyclist will happily rock a couple Velomacchi bags when checking in for travel at LAX.