Paddy Tyson and Nich Brown rode a 3,500-mile relay around Europe during the summer of 2016 to test a variety of new gear on Overland Magazine’s Honda CB500X. Among the equipment they used was a set of waterproof Frogman soft panniers from Dirtsack Luggage, which have recently become available in the UK market.
Dirtsack luggage is manufactured in Mumbai and is well-known in its native Indian market for design innovation and product robustness. Many of the products, including the Frogman range, have been tested on extended journeys through the Himalayas.
The Dirtsack Frogman panniers are intended to provide a ‘universal fit’ on just about any motorcycle, although in practice they’re best suited to bikes with low exhausts like the Enfield Bullet or the Triumph Bonneville. The product consists of two 28-litre roll-top dry bags that sit inside heavy duty cordura-style cradles. When the bags are rolled down, buckles secure them to the front and rear of the cradles, and there are cross-over straps for extra security too. Separate water bottle holders are also included (not shown in the photos). The ‘bridge’ between the left and right sides offers plenty of scope for adjusting to the width of a saddle or mounting plate.
Paddy rode the first leg of the journey from the UK to Kefalonia in Greece, via the BikeShuttle service to Geneva in Switzerland and the ferry from Brindisi in Italy.
A side bonus of the Frogman panniers using separate dry bags is that I was able to use one of them as my carry-on luggage for the flight from the UK to Geneva.
Once the dry bags are fitted inside the pannier cradles on the bike, there’s a knack to getting the air out. Acquiring it takes some practice. That said, the overall design is extremely versatile and the materials live up to their billing in terms of being robust and adventure-ready.
Glorious weather all the way meant the waterproof qualities of the Frogman bags didn’t get tested during Paddy’s tenure of the bike. However, once Nich took over the riding and headed north through Bulgaria and Romania, periods of prolonged heavy rain provided the chance to really put the panniers through their paces.
Nich’s route towards Budapest, Vienna, and eventually home, took in the iconic switchbacks of the Transfăgărășan and Transalpina in Romania. Both passes were getting a thorough soaking when Nich was there.
Dirtsack claim the Frogman panniers are 100% waterproof and after the drenching they received in Romania I can happily testify to the truth of that. The combination of velcro closure, welded seams, and roll-top design ensures that everything stays completely dry – or dust-free in the case of Paddy’s experience in Greece.
The CB500X we were riding is fitted with racks for hard luggage. Their design, with protruding grab rails and mounting points, wasn’t very compatible with soft luggage. They meant it was difficult to fit the Dirtsack panniers in the way they’re intended to be used, but that’s a feature of the bike rather than a problem with the product.
We found a few problems with the quality of stitching on the Dirtsack panniers we’d been given to try, and a couple of buckles were missing, but we gather such issues have now been addressed by the manufacturer.
Even though a total capacity of 56 litres gives plenty of packing space, the dry bags could potentially be a bit taller. The bottom corners of the cordura cradles are cut out for drainage, though it might be worthwhile only having holes at the rear corners to help protect the dry bags in the event of a crash.
The Dirtsack Frogman panniers are well designed and I really like them for their ease of use. The extra water bottle carriers are a great idea too.