Soft Saddlebags vs. Hard Saddlebags

In the world of motorcycling, several arguments never seem to end. One of the more interesting ones is about saddlebags for your bike. Some riders swear by soft bags, while others will only use hard ones no matter what. It’s not exactly clear why each side is so ardent in their beliefs, but to an outside observer, it can make choosing more difficult. So, if you’re trying to decide which motorcycle travel luggage you should get, here are some points to help you make the decision.

Hard Saddlebags

These are usually made of aluminum or some other lightweight metal, and they are semi-permanently affixed to your bike through a mounting system. That means that once you install them you better like them, as they aren’t coming off easily. That’s not to say it’s hard to remove this motorcycle gear, but it’s not as easy as soft bags.


  • Durable and rugged
  • Can be locked for security
  • Usable for different vehicles
  • Customizable
  • Keeps contents better protected


  • Weigh more
  • Can be a safety issue in the event of a collision or spin out
  • More expensive
  • Lids don’t fit securely after a crash

Soft Saddlebags

Again, it’s not clear why these motorcycle parts have such fervent followers, given the fact that storage is relatively the same with both types. But, soft bags have the advantage of being more lightweight and portable, as well as adding a bit of old-school aesthetic to your ride. If you get vintage-style saddlebags, it can upgrade your appearance immediately.


  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to transfer
  • Waterproof
  • Less bulky
  • Won’t hurt as bad in a crash


  • Harder to secure
  • Won’t protect fragile items as well
  • Less stable overall

Hopefully, this breakdown will help you decide which type of luggage carrier is best for you and your ride. In the end, there is no right answer, only the one that you prefer.

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3 Responses to Soft Saddlebags vs. Hard Saddlebags

  1. Soft bags for on road hard metallic bag for off road and adventure!

    • Dan D says:

      The opposite, actually. Just watched yet another rider break his leg after a fairly minor fall off-road. His leg was trapped under the saddlebags and SNAP!

      We should never have let him take those big, aluminum “ankle breakers” off pavement.

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