What to Keep in Your Motorcycle Saddlebags – Pro Riding Tips
Posted on April 4, 2022 at 12:45 PM by The Biker Lawyers
Every motorcycle enthusiast across the Midwest has their own preference as to the best items to keep with them while they ride. What you need may be different depending on where and when you ride.
We asked riders in Waterloo, Iowa, our crew, and members of our community what they recommend riders keep in their saddlebags.
Some of the answers we go from our community were pretty epic such as…
“You got a warrant? I know my rights. I’d like my attorney present before answering your question.”
“I will not disclose this information talk to my lawyer.”
Although these are technically the right answers, some of the other answers we received were a bit more… helpful. If you’re not sure what you need or if you’re missing something, here are a few recommended items that we’ve come up with after decades of riding and talking to other experienced motorcyclists.
What to keep in your motorcycle’s saddlebags at all times
Click below to jump to a section (or just keep scrolling to learn about each recommendation)
- Tool & Tire Repair Kit
- Flashlight, Batteries, and Bulbs
- First Aid Kit, Hand Wipes, & Gloves
- Rain & Cold Weather Gear
- Cell Phone & Charger
- Eating Utensils & Snacks
- Bungee Cords or Straps
- Important Documents
Note: Many of the images in this blog also link to other great articles about motorcycle safety, tips, and insights you may enjoy.
Safety is a top concern when riding a motorcycle. Don’t forget to keep yourself healthy, hydrated, and safe with the list of items below.
Water: This one is probably obvious, but it’s also essential for survival. Plan for about 1 gallon per person per day, or 2 gallons per person per day if you’re traveling through a hotter climate or an arid region. If you’re buying bottled water, be mindful of space and weight restrictions in your saddlebags; you may want to consider packing smaller water bottles that can be easily rotated throughout your trip.
Pro Riding Tip: Water purification tablets and water filter straws
Water purification tablets and water filter straws are two other great options if you’re looking to pack light while still meeting your hydration needs. If you should happen to get stranded somewhere for an extended period of time and have to seek other water sources, you’ll be glad you have these!
Tool Kit and Tire Repair Kit
If you are really tool-savvy and want to be prepared for most of the common problems that can occur when riding, then consider packing a tire repair kit and a small hand air pump. Tire repair kits include a variety of items to help you fix your tire in case of punctures, damage, or other common problems that might arise while riding.
Pro Riding Insight: Here is what you should expect to be included in a quality tire repair kit:
- Patch plugs – To plug holes from nails, screws, and other similar items
- Reamer tool – To clean out the hole before installing the patch plugs (or more efficiently remove debris)
- Vulcanizing cement – Adhesive for attaching plugs and patching holes when necessary.
- Rasp tool – Shaves down rubber so it lays flat around the plug/patch area.
One thing you need to keep in mind about a tire repair kit is that it will not do anything about low pressure or flats caused by small tears. It also won’t work if there is excessive damage done to your motorcycle tires as this would require more extensive repairs than any kit could provide.
If you feel like taking on this challenge yourself, be sure not to ride with an excessively damaged or flat tire because this could cause serious harm not only to yourself but to others on the road as well!
We also suggest keeping a few different tools such as a hex tool, pliers, and things like that. You don’t need a full mechanic’s toolset, but if you know your bike pretty well, you should know what you’ll need.
Flashlight, Batteries, and Bulbs
Never lose your way in the dark again by keeping a flashlight and extra batteries with you on every ride. To get the most out of this item, we recommend replacing batteries and bulbs annually. If you keep them in your saddlebags over long periods of time, be sure to check for signs of wear or damage between trips.
We suggest you purchase a small LED flashlight with a flexible neck that can pivot around obstacles. Stay away from large flashlights; they require too many batteries and will weigh down your saddlebag. For optimal performance, replace regular incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs.
First Aid Kit, Hand Wipes and Disposable Gloves
You should also keep a first aid kit. You can buy a pre-made one, but you should make sure you like the contents and that it is small and compact enough to fit where you want to put it on your bike.
If you decide to go with a custom first aid kit, be sure to include items such as:
- band-aids or wound covers
- gauze sponges
- adhesive tape
- antiseptic wipes or ointment
- ace bandage wrap (to stabilize sprains)
Pro Riding Tip: Other uses for first aid items
Hand sanitizer wipes, disposable gloves, and rubber bands are other items to keep in your saddlebags. They are great for keeping your hands clean when working on the bike or touching up paint scratches when out on the road. The gloves and rubber bands also come in handy while changing tires.
Rain & Cold Weather Gear
You can’t control the weather, but you can be prepared for it. Make sure to pack some rain gear. Rain gear should be water- and windproof—and breathable.
You’ll want a waterproof jacket, pants, boots, and gloves to keep you warm and dry in all types of weather conditions. If you don’t already own a rain suit, you’ll find that they come in a wide range of price points and sizes.
Pro Riding Insight: Boots & Gloves
As far as choosing the right kind of riding boots goes: You’ve got two choices—waterproof or water-resistant.
Waterproof boots will keep your feet completely dry while water-resistant ones will allow some liquid penetration but keep moisture from seeping into the interior padding.
Either way, make sure your boots are comfortable enough to wear for several hours at a time and have great traction on wet pavement, gravel, and dirt roads.
Also, don’t forget gloves. Our very own Cam Leehey recommends multiple pairs to be prepared for any type of weather riding conditions
Here’s what Cam keeps in his saddlebags…
Cell Phone or Sat Phone and a Charger
There are three main benefits of carrying a cell phone in your motorcycle saddlebags:
- You can stay connected for emergency situations.
- You can keep track of your bike’s location.
- You can plan and map your route.
However, keeping a phone with you on the ride does require some planning to ensure things like backup battery power are taken into account. (Also, keep in mind mounting your phone could ruin parts of it. Click the image below to learn all about that mess.)
Pro Riding Reminder: Keep it Charged
- Keep the phone’s battery charged at all times, especially when riding long distances.
- Carry an extra charger with you so that you can charge while on the road.
- Stylish leather cell phone case
Eating Utensils and Snacks
You should pack a collapsible eating utensil. It will be enough to get you through a meal in a pinch and can be stowed away when not in use.
In addition to your eating utensil, you should pack a snack that is high in protein and low in fat.
For your own safety, avoid chocolate and candy. These kinds of snacks have a high risk of melting during the hot summer months. They can also make your hands greasy when you’re riding, which is not safe for you or anyone else on the road.
Pro Riding Tip: Road Trip Snacks
Here’s a great road trip food list…
- Dried bananas
- Leafy vegetables like spinach or kale–(both healthy snacks that don’t require refrigeration)
- Beef (or Deer) Jerkey
- Granola bars
- Trail mix
- Other non-perishable road trip food options
Bungee Cords or Straps
When the weather changes you can use bungees to strap on a rain suit. For example, if you are in the middle of a ride and it starts raining, you will be glad to have your rain suit with you.
You can also use bungee cords or straps to secure items. If you purchase new items for your bike, like saddlebags or other accessories, some may not come with straps or velcro to hold them in place and keep them from flapping in the wind. In this case, bungees or straps come in handy for as tie-down straps for strapping down such items.
Bungee cords also come in handy when something breaks on your bike that needs to be tied down until you can get it fixed, like a broken rear fender light on the back of your motorbike. You can tie down anything that is loose and prevent it from falling off while riding at high speeds by using these cords.
Important Documents in a Waterproof Container
Make sure you keep all of your important documents safe and sound with a waterproof container in one of your motorcycle saddlebags. This is important for the following items:
- Motorcycle registration
- Insurance card
- Emergency contact information. Make sure this is current since it will help first responders know who to call if there’s an accident.
- Money for a cab or rental car if you need one.
- Driver’s license
- Maps (especially if you don’t have GPS, lose your phone signal, or are riding in an unfamiliar area)
It’s important to have emergency supplies with you when you ride your motorcycle
When you’re in a remote area, like deep in the woods or over landing on your motorcycle, there’s no room for error. If you don’t have the right tools or supplies with you when something goes wrong, it can quickly become life-threatening.
You should have some basic tools for fixing flats and changing plugs. In the saddlebags area, there are things like duct tape and some rope that can be used for other tasks as well as to prevent an accident from happening altogether.
Who to call when the worst happens…
If an accident does occur and you find yourself in need of a Waterloo personal injury Lawyer, contact The Biker Lawyers. We’ve got your back!