By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orca’s – 5/11/18

How often do you buy a piece of gear that you run through the paces for nearly five years and find that it still works brilliantly? As modern consumers we realize that a certain lifespan is built into the products we buy. Refrigerators for example, are better than ever, but they are also only made to work for about ten years now. A quick death compared to the iceboxes of the 1950-60’s that would work for 35 years without a repair.

Adventure motorcycling gear and luggage systems are no different. We all burn through adventure gear for various reasons these days. If something breaks or is lost, you get a new one. Or maybe you just feel it’s about style or having the newest best thing in your kit. Maybe you are very hard on your things.

Still there are those few cherished items we all have. Those key pieces of gear that we rely on and never worry about. The ones that just do their job and are still working well.  I love my Giant Loop Siskiyou Panniers.

After doing extensive research into adventure panniers and luggage systems, I purchased them nearly 5 years ago because I really liked two things about them. The first was that I wanted soft luggage (as apposed to aluminum hard cases) because they were safer and lighter for the rider. No reason to worry about being clipped by a hard pannier in the event of a spill on the trail. I also really liked them because they were versatile. I could attached them to my bike only when I wanted them there. When I had them off, the bike quickly returned to a more low profile looks for riding single track or tight trails. Their rack-less attachment design means that you do not need to buy specific racks for your bike. This also means that if you own multiple bikes you can easily interchange the Sikiyou Panniers between them.  Therefore only needing to buy one luggage system. This seemed like it made a lot of sense to me.

Of course if your bikes does already have racks on it from a previous set up, this isn’t an issue. The Siskiyou Panniers work over existing racks as well. It will also save you a little money because you wont need to pick up the Giant Loop Heat Shields to keep your Siskiyou’s properly ventilated.

The Siskiyou Panniers are built with the rugged capability you expect from Giant Loop. The apposing fastening points work to firmly secure the panniers to the bike. You’ll need a few attempts to get the hang of it, but now it takes me about 5 minutes to install them.  I have never had any issue with them coming loose or the bag slipping around. The one time I had a strap flapping in the breeze it was user error an no fault of the bags.

I have laid the bike down on the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route, slid about 15 feet on a mountain gravel road and they took it in stride. I managed to not slide off a cliff in the process. A little discoloration from the red gravel, but the integrity of the panniers sidewall remained unscathed, even after taking the brunt of the slide.

The top portion of the pannier is made of a thick waterproof ballistic nylon that protects the entry point from debris and rain. Each pannier has an integrated strap system for tying down a tent or additional storage bags. Once you un-clip the lid and raise the top protective flap, a roll top zipper works well to secure your belongings tightly inside the pannier.

Once inside the pannier, you’ll find numerous storage options. The bulk of your gear will reside in the included 35 liter waterproof dry pods ( which also use roll top closures), but you’ll also find zippered pouches on the topside of the lid and you can store additional materials like small tools, maps, charging cables, extra straps, and pens for signing in to campsites (I always forget to bring one). You can of course also put loose items like tire levers and larger tools in the bottom of the panniers to separate them from your items in the dry pods.

The fact that the pods can be removed quickly is a great feature. This way you can easily transport the important contents of the bags into your tent while the rain is coming down or the mozzies are biting without having to remove your entire luggage system.

There are multiple other great additions to the Siskiyou Panniers as well. They have small mesh elastic pockets on the front that are great for items like water bottles, chain lube, or a spare liter of gas. They also have many straps and lash points available so it’s simple to connect dry bags or tents to the exterior portion of the unit.

The material on the lower portion of the Pannier will attract dirt and grime on your travels, but they are easily cleaned with a light power wash at the car wash while you spray down the bike.

The only grip I have is that I find the panniers walls themselves will collect water while riding or if left out in the rain. The dry pods work great to keep the contents dry inside but I’ve had to bail out the bottom of the panniers a few times after a heavy night in the weather. It doesn’t cause any problems to the bag or the contents, it just ads weight, so it’s best to remove it before you head out.

All together, I find that the sharp appearance, versatility, ruggedness, and functionality of the Siskiyou Panniers really work wonderfully for adventure riding. The way it was meant to be done. They stay snug and in place at highway speed. They make accessing your gear easy. They are lightweight and durable. Overall just a great product that has treated me very well over many years and several motorcycles.

As Giant Loop would say, they allow you to Go Light. Go Fast. Go Far.

5 replies
  1. Michael
    Michael says:

    Great read. Thank you.

    Old post I know…but, could you explain the water collecting on the walls. Do you mean that water is bypassing the tops and getting into the panniers or it’s wicking into the bag?

    • Dirt Orcas
      Dirt Orcas says:

      Thank you Michael. The actual panniers are made of a thick woven material that is basically bomb proof but not waterproof. The top cover panels are made of waterproof ballistic nylon and will shed basically all the water that rains down from above if the bike is stationary.

      However while you are riding, the panniers themselves will get wet from road spray or a very heavy overnight rain. This is why Giant Loop provides their removable fully waterproof yellow drybags that go inside the panniers. Anything you store inside the pannier that is not inside the drybag could get wet as the panniers become gradually saturated from road spray and creek crossing. Good news is the panier walls will dry very quickly as you ride in dry conditions. Hope this helps. It is a bit tough to explain without the item in front of you to point out the various materials the panniers are constructed from.

  2. Pete
    Pete says:

    Hi Paul, Nice article. I recently purchased a R1250GS and am looking into the various soft pannier options. My main caveat is that I don’t want to run pannier racks for most of my riding. Actually the bike came with racks and I removed and sold them. I only want to throw the soft panniers on when I go on long trips.

    I really like the look and functionality of the Siskiyou Panniers. Do you think they would work without a rack on the R1250GS? It looks like they will, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask someone with the extensive experience that you have.

    Thanks a bunch,


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