Top Box vs. Duffel on a CA and SA trip plus more questions from a newbie

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by harrydevert, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. harrydevert

    harrydevert n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
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    www.anewyorkertravels.com
    Hey all,

    Newbie here having a huge dilemma. I thought that I’d decided on everything. Started ordering the majority of my stuff. Now all of a sudden I’m having huge reservations about the top box (or whatever it’s called). I’ve read a ton…and had settled on a Pelican 1550. Then I started trying to figure out what kind of a rack to order and for some reason the more I looked at different racks the more I started to think that I might be better off with one of those big waterproof duffel bags.

    I just bought a 2002 KLR 650 and am leaving for Central and South America in pretty much exactly two weeks (not set in stone but I picked a day and want to stay as close to that as possible)…so I know I have to order all my stuff probably yesterday haha. I ordered the pack rat touring rack so I’ll be able to take my side boxes off. And if I had a duffel bag, I’d essentially be able to take just about everything off the bike. There are a bunch of places where I’m going to be stopping for probably a week or more, I’m a slow traveler normally, and with a motorcycle for some reason I feel like I’ll want to go even slower.

    I’m up in the air over security vs. convenience vs. I don’t even know. I plan on camping a bunch, but I also plan on staying at different hostels and with friends along the way. I know I can lug everything in if I feel like it and keep it at a hostel. If I’m camping I can take the duffel off and keep it in the tent, but I’m more concerned with towns when I’m en route and don’t have anywhere to keep everything.
    I’m not going to stay in every town, but I’m sure I’m going to want to walk around a bit here and there between stops and do some exploring. How safe would a duffel on the back be if I had it strapped down, or am I answering my own question now since that sounds a bit silly.

    I’ll have my camera, phone etc. in my tank bag (and maybe my laptop too since it’s tiny and I think it’d be safer up there) but you can’t lock everything up in those damn boxes…can you?

    I’ve spent probably 2 years + traveling in South America and a decent amount of time in Central America, but never with a motorcycle, so just when I think I have it all figured out, the more I think about things the more I realize HOW different this trip is going to be.

    Sorry for the stupid question, this sadly kept me up all night!

    Also (because how could I just stop there) do I need to get a back rack for the bike?

    Eagle Mike one from reading about it sounds like it’s setup more for duffel bags? Would that be stupid to buy if I’m mounting a top box?

    http://eaglemike.com/Rear-rack-for-A-Model-1987-2007-RCDR.htm

    which looks a bit similar to the Happy Trails one:

    http://www.happy-trail.com/KLR650/T2-Top-Plate-All-Years-KLR650.aspx

    (although from what I read Happy Trails takes a long time to ship so I might have missed my window on that)

    but looks COMPLETELY different than this: Is this made more for a top box? And if it is where am I supposed to drill?

    http://dirtracks.com/1987-2007-Kawasaki-KLR650-Large-rear-cargo-rack-0013.htm

    Help. Please!
    #1
  2. akaDigger

    akaDigger Amateur Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
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    Evansville, Indiana
    I'm in the same boat as you are. Both options have pros and cons. In the past I have used the waterproof duffel and it worked fine. For security I used a bicycle lock. The cable kind that is coiled up. The bag is rolled shut and the cable was wrapped around and threaded through eyelets on the side of the bag. When I would walk away from the bike I would just run the cable through my helmet, jacket sleeve, and pant leg as well. There was nothing inside the bag I couldn't live without.

    I did not put things in the duffel that I would want access to while travelling.

    I just got a new top box for my 800XC and I doubt I will take it on my trip to Guatamala in January. If I didn't need it before I shouldn't need it this time. On the other hand it would be handy to keep jacket, pant and helmet out of sight.

    Box weighs 18 lbs. (Triumph hard bag) Dry bag weighs about two lbs.
    #2
  3. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    I'm a top box guy. They just seem a whole lot easier to open and close, they're more secure from both a theft standpoint as well as staying on the bike, and they're generally better for keeping out dust and water. I've read a bunch of reports about people losing loose luggage from their bikes. A top box isn't going anywhere. A duffel could come loose if not properly secured.

    But I've seen people use duffels without trouble.

    The biggest drawback to the top box for me is weight and cost.

    Jamie
    #3
  4. akaDigger

    akaDigger Amateur Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
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    Evansville, Indiana
    I agree with your assessment. They are, however, much less likely to go AWOL when locked to the bike. Locked as mine is, it is definitly a pain to access contents. You mention cost. A huge factor when you consider a very good roll top dry bag can be had for $43. This is what I use. http://www.amazon.com/Mad-Water-Waterproof-Sportsmans-Duffel/dp/B0090Q8V0G
    I do now have a top box, $500 retail. I got it free in a promotion from Triumph. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to balance the cost / benefit.
    #4
  5. oldNbold

    oldNbold Been here awhile

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    stranded in Iowa
    Thats a nice looking bag and darn cheap.
    #5
  6. b4thenite

    b4thenite Been here awhile

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    Korea Town, Los Angeles,
    Your KLR can take both pelican and duffle. I know you think about many things and worry, but as soon as you embark on the trip, all the worries will be gone.

    Enjoy your trip and keep us posted.

    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. SilkMoneyLove

    SilkMoneyLove Long timer

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    On big decisions it is sometimes good to just split the difference. Maybe go with a top box (maybe smaller than the 1550?) and a small duffel in front of that so you have something to rest against?

    I am a duffel bag guy, but I am one because I fly and ride half of the time. Very easy to fly with a duffel. Plus, I got my duffel free from work ;-)

    Cheapest thing on the bike when I am on a trip = ME! :lol3
    #7
  8. traindriver

    traindriver Adventurer

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    I am a top box guy. Nothing wrong with duffels. Just my preference. I think they keep out water and dust better. And provide more security. Besides I always stuff way to much shit in a duffel.
    #8
  9. Virtual Rider

    Virtual Rider Traveler

    Joined:
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    For my first significant trip (to Copper Canyon, MX) I more or less did this. Had a small Pelican case to provide lockable dust & waterproof storage for a few items. I had a roll-top duffel in front of that. I had all my clothes and such in the duffel which was quick to carry in when I stopped. It worked out pretty well overall.
    #9
  10. SilkMoneyLove

    SilkMoneyLove Long timer

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    Not to completely sidetrack, but how was your Copper Canyon experience?

    I went in 2007 or 08 and wasn't impressed. All of this "epic dirt riding" turned out to be a gravel road down to Batopilos. We rested there a day and turned around for home. I think we missed the real dirt riding, if there was any.
    #10
  11. Moto Mikey

    Moto Mikey Been here awhile

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    I love my Pelican 1500 top box. It's waterproof, locks securely and is fairly light weight. Only cost $50. I've been on the road for over 3 months and wouldn't have it any other way.

    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. Virtual Rider

    Virtual Rider Traveler

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    I had a blast! I've been down there twice in fact. I didn't go necessarily looking for serious off-road stuff, just good adventure. I did the ride down to Bato then out the "back way" which was MUCH more challenging. I made a loop over to the Gulf of California coast, down to El Fuerte and back up through the canyon area from there. All in all a little over 300 miles of dirt roads.
    #12
  13. Virtual Rider

    Virtual Rider Traveler

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    That's the box I used. I've since changed bikes but I'm thinking about installing one on my F800
    #13
  14. Slowphil

    Slowphil REALLY Gnarly Adventurer

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    I was gone for 8 months down to Ushuaia and I found my top box invaluable for keeping things like my netbook, passport and papers and in the wet my wallet camera etc. Lockable, can't get it off the bike and dust and water proof. Any time I travel now I have the topbox for valuables.

    but then I travelled with people who had nothing but soft luggage and never had a problem!!!!!

    Only you can decide:lol3:lol3
    #14