Way back in my college days, I used to commute almost an hour to campus after work. At the time, I was still lugging around my laptop in and old backpack I bought when I headed overseas the first time back in ’03. After upgrading to the Speedmaster in ’13, I gave up the backpack thing for quite a while, but when offered the opportunity to try out the new waterproof backpack from VUZ Moto, I took them up on their offer.
The VUZ Moto Dry Tank Backpack is made from waterproof TPU tarpaulin and has 5.8 gallons for storage capacity. The backpack includes two outer pockets in addition to the main compartment; on top near the carrying handle there’s an easy access pocket for your wallet, keys, and spare change, along with a larger cavity on the back face where you can store paperwork or traditional road maps. The rear pocket also includes a clear plastic “window” where you can place your smart phone if you wish to use it for navigation. Say what? Yeah, if it wasn’t evident already, the backpack doubles as a tank bag; the shoulder straps unbuckle so you can tuck them behind the back pad and then fold out a set of magnetic “wings” to attach the backpack to your tank (assuming it’s metal). The main storage compartment also includes a padded sleeve for up to 15” laptops.
Beyond storage, VUZ Moto has put in the effort to mind the details; water-resistant zippers are paired with the tarpaulin material to protect your precious cargo from the elements. Along with the shoulder straps, there’s a chest buckle that’s not only adjustable, but includes an elastic portion to keep the strap “snug” so it doesn’t flap in the wind at high speeds when it’s not cinched down all the way. If 22 liters of storage isn’t enough, VUZ also includes a six-point cargo net that fastens to D-rings on the back side of the bag so you can pile on even more stuff. To help increase visibility on those late night commutes across town, reflective panels are positioned on the shoulder straps. Lastly, VUZ also includes a conveniently located (post-ride) bottle opener on left shoulder strap.
Like I said, I gave up the whole backpack commuter thing when I got a luggage rack on the cruiser (I’m a big fan of tail bags). However in this case, timing worked out pretty well as I found myself commuting across town several days a week during the workday over this past winter. Per my recent comments, we had record rainfall this spring, with the VUZ backpack, I didn’t have to worry about my work laptop getting wet when riding back and forth between the vendor and my office. Speaking of which, I probably stretched that “15” laptop capacity to the absolute limit; fortunately, the laptop sleeve can actually be partially removed from the bag so you can easily push your computer all the way down in the sleeve and then fold the sleeve back into the bag. Using the bag for work meant filling it with the before mentioned engineering laptop, the corresponding (gigantic) power supply, mouse, headset, a thick engineering notebook, my lunchbox, and naturally all the sniffle gear I could shove in the bag to stay warm on the ride home from farm country. Humping around a big laptop in the bag does put a lot of stress on the shoulder straps; the chest strap fortunately helps distribute that load a bit, and despite being “stuffed” to capacity, neither the shoulder straps or the carrying handle show sign of wear after weeks of being overloaded.
“Dry bags” are kind of a thing these days, and there’s no question I’m a fan. That said, most of the modern dry bags are the black (or rally yellow) “trash bag like” roll tops that are completely about function. VUZ on the other hand has offered a more aesthetically pleasing image as the “canvas denim” look breaks up the utilitarian aspect of the tarpaulin, you don’t realize what material it’s made out of until you put your hands on it. This is the first all-weather backpack I’ve had the luxury of using on the motorcycle; back in the before mentioned college days, I used to wrap my laptop in a big trash bag in case I got rained on; with the VUZ bag, I just push the computer in the bag and go. I have pretty extensive experience with water-resistance zippers from my riding gear, and like those, these zipper on the VUZ bag is indeed 99% waterproof. When riding in the rain I never experienced a problem with the contents getting wet. That said, from day one I did due diligence to test the limits; just like a any new “waterproof” gear I get my hands on, I filled up the backpack with anything I could find and tossed it in the shower. With heavy, direct, water pressure, a few “frog-stranglers” did slip past the zipper; I assume you would have to be standing still in a serious downpour to experience similar conditions. In the next iteration of bags, VUZ may want to add a flap or “rain gutter” to the zipper (or perhaps a roll-top) to remove any lingering fear that your stuff might get wet.
In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t use this bag as a tank bag very often. Because of the “knee pads” on the Scrambler tank, it was difficult to position the bag in a way where the magnets could contact the tank in a fashion where I could still maneuver the bars and have sight of all my various “dashboard” gadgetry. Not long before writing this, I tossed the backpack on the Dirtster’s tank and took a ride. Without all the bar mounted GPS and cell phone junk, the bag sat on the Harley peanut tank a bit better. However, I did notice that the bag still didn’t grip the tank as confidently as I would like. I suspect that the soft “back pad” puts full responsibility on the magnets to hold it still, and there’s no doubt the wider bag and skinny tank didn’t help the situation. The problem with tank bags is usually the fear of scratching the tank; VUZ has specifically addressed this issue with this bag by providing that softer back-pad I mentioned (an upgrade from their previous model). I expect that this will be less of a problem on some bikes versus others, but I would probably advise VUZ to bump up the magnet strength a bit with any future upgrades.
While I sometimes find riding with a backpack tiring, there’s no denying I appreciate the VUZ bag for its utility. On the morning commute it’s convenient to just toss in my lunchbox, throw on the backpack and not fuss with a saddle bag, then walk straight into the office when I get there. Backpacks, even motorcycle backpacks are a dime a dozen, however I feel safe saying that water-resistance backpacks are more rare and worth the expense. Priced at $90, I think VUZ is chiefly up against comparable Oxford and Nelson Rigg backpacks; both competitors also offer additional features (including buckled roll tops), however the cheaper Oxford is basically a dry bag with shoulder straps, while both lack the laptop sleeve and tank bag conversion of the VUZ, and are unquestionably aimed at the more utilitarian ADV crowd. The VUZ dry backpack bridges the gap between casual rider, commuter, and adventure enthusiast, offering utility in conjunction with creature comforts at a fair price (that also keeps your homework dry).