Waterproof: Sorting Fact from Fiction + Giant Loop’s Proven Design Approach
Giant Loop recently received this question on a popular adventure motorcycle forum:
“I would like a clarification regarding the Coyote Saddlebag. The old style with the zipper closure was not 100% waterproof because of the zipper (at least this is my understand from what i have read). The new roll top style, is it 100% waterproof? In case I skip the dry pods in the one with the roll top closure will the containing things remain dry? I understand the dry pods are used for sorting and storing purposes, but i am really seeking a waterproof solution.”
Let me clarify – and please feel free to share this info! First, to answer your specific questions:
The Coyote Saddlebag and Great Basin Saddlebag are sewn products, constructed with military-spec thread and waterproof material reinforced with ballistic nylon. Their outer shells are HIGHLY water resistant, and to make them truly 100% waterproof they include a set of 3 RF-welded Saddlebag Dry Pods with air purge valves. The Coyote Saddlebag Roll Top and Great Basin Saddlebag Roll Top outer shells are even more highly water resistant, because they are constructed with fewer seams. The Dry Pods are lightweight and don’t take up much space, so we would recommend storing them inside the Saddlebag even if you’re riding in dry conditions and don’t need them – then you’ll have them for deep water crossings, storms, etc. They can also be filled with ice and used as beverage coolers at camp, they’re handy shopping bags to carry food to camp, etc.
Now, there are multiple design approaches to achieve waterproofing in textile products, so please allow me to geek out a bit here. I want to answer not only your question but also share some information motorcycle riders should understand about Giant Loop — and other gear and apparel.
Before I started Giant Loop in 2008, I used to be a gear reviewer for a national adventure travel magazine, so I despise inaccurate and exaggerated marketing claims. And I do crazy things like taking all of Giant Loop’s products to the city swimming pool to test them myself in a controlled environment. GL’s product designer is a through-hiker and international motorcycle traveler who has lived for months at a time in the outdoors, so he knows his game.
Sewn products made by any manufacturer are not 100% waterproof because needle holes can allow moisture to penetrate the seams. Riders who get water inside their luggage usually neglect to take bags off their bikes when they leave them parked in a heavy rain, allowing water to pool and slowly seep through a seam. In normal riding conditions water doesn’t usually collect and pool.
And there’s really no such thing as a 100% waterproof zipper except for the kind used on scuba dry suits – they are too costly and fragile to be a practical solution for motorcycling. On our zippered bags, the zipper itself is virtually never the point of entry for water unless the zippers aren’t closed or the storm flap isn’t rolled down over the zipper.
Our design philosophy is to build super rugged, tough, highly water resistant outer shells and protect the more fragile RF-welded (no needle holes, fabrics bonded together using heat) and seam-sealed (needle holes covered with waterproof tape) waterproofing components inside this shell.
So while a crash or cactus spine may poke a hole in the outer shell, all of the gear inside the Dry Pods included with our packing systems remains organized and well protected inside.
Because the outer shells on Giant Loop’s adventure proof gear are so highly water resistant, keeping contents dry inside can even be as simple as using a zip-lock or trash bag. Instead, Giant Loop’s Kiger Tank Bag, Fandango Pro Tank Bag, Diablo Pro Tank Bag, Coyote Saddlebag, Great Basin Saddlebag, Siskiyou Panniers and Round The World Panniers all include RF-welded or seam sealed waterproof inner liner Dry Pods.
And we offer many 100% waterproof RF-welded products as part of Giant Loop’s modular, customizable, adventure proof packing system: Columbia Dry Bag, Tillamook Dry Bag, Rogue Dry Bag, Torngat Tunnel Bag, Revelstoke Tunnel Bag, Possibles Pouch, GL Fender Bag — and the new MotoTrekk Panniers.
There’s also a lack of objective standards and transparency around claims of “waterproof.” Waterproof spans a range in practical reality, which is why there’s actually an international set of standards and ratings for waterproofing: the IP Code.
Submersible standards (IPX7 and higher) are critical for boating, diving, snorkeling, etc. Our RF-welded (no needle holes from sewing) are submersible waterproof – I use them for rafting and paddleboarding. These Giant Loop products do not require inner liner Dry Pods to provide 100% waterproof protection.
But since motorcycles themselves are not submersible vehicles, sewn products achieve a level of waterproofing equivalent to spraying the products with high pressure water jets from all directions (IPX6). Water may penetrate the outer shell in extreme conditions, but the inner liner Dry Pods keep contents dry inside.
When Giant Loop labels a product as waterproof, that means a product is 100% waterproof (IPX6 or better) under normal riding conditions when instructions are followed and included components are used as our designed waterproofing system.
When shopping for waterproof motorcycle soft luggage, waterproof apparel, etc., pay attention to construction details, so you can understand what a manufacturer is labeling waterproof, what degree of waterproofing is adequate for your application and how the waterproofing is achieved.
Thanks for riding with Giant Loop – and please keep the questions, comments, reviews, pics and videos coming our way!