I’m going to say it! The Kriega R20 backpack is the best piece of motorcycle kit I own.
A comfortable touring rucksack, options for expandable waterproof storage, and a pocket for a Hydrapak to keep you hydrated on the move, the R20 is near perfect.
Let’s get into a review of the R20, and I will explain why I think it is the ultimate bikers accessory.
The Kriega R20 is priced at around £130.
At first glance, it seems quite steep for a backpack, and I will admit this put me off initially.
However, when I started to think about how many backpacks I would get through due to lack of quality and noted the 10 Year Guarantee with Kriega, the price became a little more palatable.
Dimensions: 470(h) x 280(w) x 150(d) mm
Volume: 20 Litres
The R20 is produced using the same fabrics that the rest of the Kriega ‘R’ range are constructed from.
A combination of tough materials that are built to last and keep water out:
- 420D nylon rip-stop construction.
- 1000D Cordura® on base and harness.
- Hypalon abrasion resistant reinforcement.
- Superspace 5mm airspace fabric.
- YKK® water resistant zips.
The Nylon rip-stop and Cordura are the same materials used in a lot of motorcycle textile jackets and trousers. These are then backed up by extra abrasion resistance.
Should you be involved in an accident while riding with the R20, you can rest assured that the abrasion resistance is up there with the rest of your kit.
On the back of the bag is a Superspace airspace fabric, which is essentially a woven mesh padded material that allows for ventilation between your back and the backpack’s main body.
It is also on the shoulder straps.
The extra padding makes the R20 more comfortable and keeps anything stored in the bag away from the back, so there are no uneven pressure points from books etc., sticking into my back.
However, anytime you put a backpack on, your back will feel the heat, compared to riding without one, there is no real way around that fact.
The padding aids comfort, but I am not convinced the ventilation is particularly noteworthy.
Although I do ride in full leather, so perhaps that has more to do with it than anything else, maybe paired with a Mesh jacket, I would feel the effects more.
Overall, the R20 feels like a premium product, with quality that you know will last a long time.
Something that comes up with the R20 often is whether it is waterproof or not, given it is made out of the same materials as the ‘waterproof’ R30. Let me explain.
Is the R20 Waterproof?
Going completely against what Kriega says, I would say that the R20 is waterproof; however, I do so with a word of caution.
The materials used and the YKK waterproof zips are the same as the bigger, fully waterproof rucksacks that Kriega produces.
The only reason the R20 is not sold as waterproof is that there are two small slits on either shoulder that allow the straw from the HydraPak to pop out of to be usable.
If you are not using a HydraPak, then the slits close pretty securely.
I will say that I rode with my R20 in blistering Welsh rain for about an hour and a half (not using my HydraPak), and everything inside was bone dry.
A little note, I stash my purse, phone, earphones in the front compartment, which has no gaps or openings to be 100% safe.
If you wanted to go the extra distance, you could get two pieces of duct tape and cover up the small openings, and then you can be certain of all your stuff staying dry.
If you don’t want to take my word for it, you can get Kriega waterproof liners in various sizes with roll tops, or as I will get into later, you can add a drypack to the R20 for waterproof storage.
The Kriega R20 has been well thought out for riders’ needs; the bag, as standard, is ready to go with storage and comfort features that are more than adequate.
Kriega has taken things a step further by preparing the R20 for optional extras that you can add on to make the backpack work even better for you.
The backpack’s strength is in its versatility.
The R20 has two compartments that are both closed with YKK water-resistant zips.
The front compartment is a smaller section of the bag suitable for items you want easy access to, such as your wallet, glasses, etc.
The zip opens the full length of the compartment; it is a side zip, so it is easy to flip your bag round to your front to gain access quickly.
Just to point out, I did manage to fit my 10.5” tablet into this pocket in its case, without too much bother, so it is a good size.
The main compartment opens fully from one side to the other, allowing easy access to items at the bottom of the bag.
It has an internal sleeve pocket that can be used for a water reservoir and/or a back protector.
It has a compression strap that you can tighten to keep things in place.
Also in the main compartment is a zipped mesh pocket suitable for loose change and other small items.
The R20 is fitted with 4 compression straps to tighten to keep the load secure and in place.
I noticed using my R20 the difference it can make when your backpack is sturdy and doesn’t move all over the place, it feels at one with you and the movements you make when riding.
A regular backpack lets the contents move around, and it can be quite distracting.
Where the R20 truly comes to life is with the optional extras you can add on.
What I found most useful with my R20 was the option to throw in a Kriega HydraPak (I am sure non-branded but same-sized reservoirs would also fit).
For days when I will be doing a lot of riding hours, staying hydrated without having to stop and get my water bottle out all the time is a massive help.
It is particularly great for Summer riding; when the days are hot and all my helmet vents are open, it is easy to get a dry throat.
The HydraPak slots into the sleeve in the main compartment, the tube/straw feeds up through the shoulder opening (either shoulder), and then using velcro tabs, attaches to the harness on the front of the bag.
All you then need to do is reach for the mouthpiece and drink until your heart’s content.
Being inside the bag, you will be surprised how cool the water stays. A little tip is to throw some ice cubes in the reservoir with your water for extra cool longevity.
You can also add a back protector to this pocket, and it will fit in with the HydraPak. That is a personal choice and not something I tried as I stuck to my D30 back protector in my leather jacket.
Another cool feature of the R20 is the ability to hook on a Kriega US-Drypack, either a US-5 or US-10 (or both).
The Drypack system from Kriega gives users the flexibility to build up as much waterproof storage as they need using the connectors.
With the R20, you get 20 litres of storage space.
If, like me, sometimes you may need a little more room, then purchasing an additional Drypack increases your storage.
Drypacks have roll tops and are waterproof.
They will connect up to the front of the R20 using hooks already supplied and fitted on the bag; all you need to do is hook them together and tighten everything up.
I went for a US-10 which proves useful when I stay somewhere overnight as it just means I can throw in the extra bits I need.
The best part then is I can remove it when I don’t need it and don’t need to carry the excess weight around.
You could go a step further and connect up a US-5 to the US-10, which would give you an extra 15 litres of waterproof storage.
Another pretty neat accessory is the Kriega harness pocket which is a small pocket suitably sized for a phone, small camera, sunglasses etc.
It hooks on to the harness straps on the front of any Kriega backpack.
This is a great little addition as it means you can keep the essentials at the front, and you don’t need to take your bag off to access toll money or your phone, for example.
Kriega uses a Quadloc-lite harness as the means for you to wear the R20.
How it works is you adjust the shoulder straps to the appropriate length using the handy embroidered dots on either side to make sure you line things up correctly.
Once adjusted, you click the plastic clip together at the front, which sits roughly on the centre of your chest.
The harness allows for a full range of movement as it is angled away from under the arms, so you don’t feel restricted in any way.
The harness transfers weight off the shoulders around to the chest and body to give you a more balanced weight distribution for riding comfort.
There is also an optional waist strap that you can secure, which will give a little more stability for off-road riding.
I have a bad back with damaged discs in my neck and lower spine, so backpacks generally for me are a bit of a no-go.
That was until I decided to load up an R20 one day with all the stuff that I lug around in my over-priced Louis Vuitton handbag and a bottle of water to test the weight out.
Once I had adjusted the straps to fit and locked the harness, I couldn’t believe the lack of weight I felt across my shoulders.
The back and harness padding is bulky but makes everything very comfortable, and the balance of weight across the body means there is no singular pressure point from doing all the work.
I did try the R30 too, where this differs is there is a second locking mechanism to double lock into place.
I came a little unstuck with this, and I suspect any ladies who have been blessed (or cursed) in the chest region will too. The double Quadloc was far too restrictive on the front and made things very uncomfortable.
Generally, men won’t have this issue, and the double locking harness may provide better stability in this case.
The R20 is shaped to be slightly curved in line with the human spine. It is quite stiff in its shape; I found the curvature made the backpack feel more natural in its fitting.
Overall, I find the R20 very comfortable and can ride all day wearing it.
If you load up with an extra Drypack you start to feel the weight, and I would still recommend using a Drypack as a tail bag or panniers if on a long trip to lessen the load.
Style and Visibility
The Kriega brand is well known in the motorcycle community, and the simple styling of the R20 screams quality.
The bag is largely blacked out, except for the reflective Kriega logo on the front and reflective panels on the harness.
The reflective panels light up brilliantly in the dark, but I would suggest that they need to be a touch bigger to be truly effective.
It is an understated backpack, built for function and performance.
A huge selling point for me with the R20 was Kriega’s 10 Year Guarantee.
How many other backpacks offer such a lengthy guarantee?
“Kriega’s goal from day one was to build a reputation for the best quality products on the market, offering the highest standards of functionality and craftsmanship.
Kriega packs are constructed from some of the most technical fabrics available today. Add to that a strict attention to detail in the design and production process, and you can be sure that Kriega products will exceed expectations.”
You can read all about the Guarantee on Kriega’s website.
Any issues in the first instance should first be reported to the retailer where you purchased your bag. The guarantee starts from the date of purchase.
Less Good Bits
I did state earlier that the Kriega R20 is “near-perfect”. Well, anything near perfect has to have a few niggles to make it so.
These are the few points where I think the R20 isn’t so great:
- It is not 100% waterproof, I have given you a tip to make it so, but those pesky yet useful openings on the shoulders of the harness have the potential to get things a little damp.
- The curved shape of the backpack means that packing can be a bit tricky. If you were trying to place a laptop in there for example it would be best placed at the front of the compartment with a jumper separating it from the back, that way it can stay flat and not be under any pressure.
- It’s quite expensive. The price will put potential customers off despite the quality you get for the money.
- Maybe some bigger reflective details would be good particularly on the front of the bag.
Overall the Kriega R20 is an excellent backpack built for purpose and ready to go the distance time after time.
The premium materials, solid construction, and well-thought-out harness design make for a great quality backpack that is comfortable for long days on the road.
Top all of that off with additional storage options and a HydraPak, there isn’t much not to like.