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Wolfman vs. Giant Loop 60L Tail Bag Comparison Test

 Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag vs. Wolfman Luggage Boulder Beta Bag

Published on 12.19.2014
Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag vs. Wolfman Luggage Boulder Beta Bag

Die hard off-road riders live by the mantra ‘Less is more.’ Leaving behind any unnecessary gear pays dividends once out on the trail. The lighter the load, the easier it is to ride fast and negotiate tough terrain; but at what cost to comfort?

Most of us look for a happy medium when it comes to packing light, carrying just enough camping gear to be relatively comfortable while not upsetting the handling of the bike. Off-road specific soft luggage offers the promise of carrying a good amount of gear without negatively impacting your ride. A horseshoe-shaped tail bag (or duffel-bag-with-legs) maximizes volume and allows you to pack heavier items down low for optimized weight distribution. In addition, their contoured shape keeps a slim profile so you can squeeze through tight spots.

Two of the most popular bags in this category are the Wolfman Luggage Boulder Beta Bag and Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag.

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Giant Loop and Wolfman Luggage are known for building some of the toughest off-road bags in the industry and these two tail bags have gone through several iterations over the years to perfect their designs. Both bags carry a “Made in USA” tag proudly and offer 60 liters of storage capacity. They’ll swallow enough camping gear for a weekend or week-long trip, as long as you pack reasonably light. If not, you can strap more gear on the outside of these bags.

Durability and off-road performance are the major design drivers behind these bags, but they also need to be convenient to use. We tested the Wolfman Luggage Boulder Beta Bag and Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag during several off-road expeditions to flush out their strengths and weaknesses. Our tests took us through all types of conditions from the sweltering hot deserts to high mountain trails and even torrential rains, all in an effort to determine which bag offers the best combination of performance, convenience and value.

Durability and Construction
Both tail bags are designed to be nearly indestructible and include double pull ‚‚YKK zippers and a storm flap to keep rain from penetrating the outer shell. Inside each bag are three seam-sealed, roll top inner bags that both companies claim to be 100% waterproof. The waterproof bags from both companies are made out of denier polyurethane coated nylon cloth material.

The outer shell of the Wolfman Boulder Beta is constructed with ballistic nylon laminated over vinyl material. A padded bottom with a grippy surface helps prevent the Wolfman bag from sliding around on the bike.

The Giant Loop tail bag stands out with its more rugged appearance. The outer shell is made of heavy-duty truckers tarp and the legs of the bag are reinforced with ballistic nylon to give it additional protection in a fall. The straps that attach the Giant Loop bag to the motorcycle are a thicker material than the Wolfman’s and we would expect them to be more resistant to fraying over time. However, the Boulder Beta’s mounting straps are removable and replaceable should they ever fail. On the Great Basin bag three of the mounting straps are removable and replaceable, while the other two are sewn into the bag and would require repair if ever damaged.

Winner: Giant Loop

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Ease of Installation
Both the Wolfman Boulder Beta and Giant Loop Great Basin bags use a rackless universal-fit attachment system that makes them easy to install on nearly any motorcycle in minutes. Front straps loop around the passenger peg mounts, while the back of the bag is secured to the luggage rack. Additional straps cross over the top and sides of each bag to compress gear down tightly.

The Wolfman bag keeps it simple by using a total of 8 straps (4 attachment straps, 4 compression straps). The Giant Loop bag follows the same basic design but adds an additional center strap for the rear luggage rack attachment and another center compression strap over the top, for a total of 10 straps.

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While we’d rate both bags as being easy to install, the additional straps of the Giant Loop bag can make it a little more complex to put on. Even though the Giant Loop bag requires only one rear mounting strap (unused straps can be detached), we opted to use all 3 available straps to maximize stability. Installing the Giant Loop bag went smoothly on our KTM 990 Adventure test bike. However, when we installed the bag on our KLR650 test bike, there was no center attachment point available on the stock luggage rack. We were able to overcome this problem by drilling a small hole in the plastic luggage rack for the center strap.

Winner: Wolfman Luggage

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Packing and Accessing Gear
The two bags differ the most in their designs when it comes to packing and accessing gear. The Giant Loop bag opens from the back of the bag while the Wolfman opens from the top. Wolfman makes it easy to get into their tail bag with a large top opening that gives full access to the interior. The rear flap opening on the Giant Loop bag is much smaller, which makes it harder to pack and search for items.

The Wolfman Boulder Beta is listed as 60+ liters, so it may have slightly more volume than the Giant Loop Great Basin Bag. You can pack noticeably more gear into its stouter legs and its more square design makes packing long flat objects easier. The rounded top corners of the Giant Loop bag make it harder to use the available space and it takes more time and planning to get the same amount of gear into the bag.

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Both the Boulder Beta and Great Basin tail bags include a set of three waterproof inner bags that are shaped to fit (2 legs, 1 center). However, the Great Basin’s central inner bag was much smaller than the available space, causing us to leave some of our gear outside of the waterproof bag. A larger center bag would keep gear more organized and protected from the elements.

Winner: Wolfman Luggage

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Trail Performance
One of the most important considerations for off-road riders is how well the tail bag performs on the trail. Any movement in the bag while you are riding hard can throw off your balance or cause straps to begin to loosen. It’s also important that the bag has a low profile and doesn’t get in your way during stand up riding.

This video filmed during our testing demonstrates how much each bag “jiggles” while riding on rough terrain.

Both bags perform well during aggressive off-road riding but the Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag is the more solid of the two. The Great Basin’s two additional straps and stiffer trucker’s tarp material help keep gear in a motionless state. The Giant Loop’s small legs and straps that attach directly to the center of each leg are another reasons the bag jiggles so little. The Wolfman bag, on the other hand, has strap connection points on the front of the legs (rather than the center) and generates more movement.

The extra movement of the Wolfman tail bag was barely noticeable while riding but we did encounter mounting straps that had loosened slightly on a few occasions. This could become a problem if you don’t check your straps regularly on longer rides.

The Giant Loop bag is nearly one pound lighter than the Wolfman bag, and even though it’s slightly taller, the sloped back design gives the rider more space to move around during aggressive stand up riding. You can also mount the Giant Loop Saddlebag further back on the luggage rack to keep the bag out of your way. For better mass centralization, some riders prefer to attach these bags over the rear passenger seat.

Winner: Giant Loop

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Water Proofing
Both manufacturers claim their bags are 100% waterproof when used with their inner dry bags. While we did encounter a fierce storm during our testing, we had to camp in the rain and packed wet gear into the bags. This made it impossible to tell if moisture was from the rain or if it was introduced during our packing. For a more controlled test, we performed a top-down spray test on the bags for 10 minutes to simulate a persistent rainfall.

Giant Loop Waterproof testing
When it rains it pours in Southern California. Perfect for waterproofing tests, that is unless you are getting rained on while you are packing.

The outer shells of both bags are not fully waterproof, so we expected to see some moisture when we first unzipped the bags. Wetness could be found inside both bags, with the Giant Loop bag accumulating the most. We inspected the waterproof inner bags and found no moisture had penetrated the Wolfman Bags. Looking inside the Giant Loop’s waterproof bags, we were able to detect a small amount of moisture.

We further tested both the Wolfman and Giant Loop inner waterproof bags by submerging them in water for several minutes. We were surprised to find that both the Wolfman and Giant Loop waterproof bags allowed water to pass directly through the fabric (not through the roll top).

While these bags should offer enough waterproofing for all but the most extreme weather conditions, just be aware that your gear is not safe from moisture if you submerge your bike in a river crossing.

Winner: Wolfman Luggage

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Special Features
Each bag has its own special features that differentiate them from each other. The Wolfman Boulder Beta has a large removable waterproof inner pocket that goes over the top of your gear inside the bag. This provides convenient access to documents, maps or snacks. Two compression straps on the pocket allow you to compress gear down inside the bag to make it easier to zip the bag closed.

Wolfman boulder beta waterproof pocket
The Boulder Beta Bag includes a large waterproof pocket that helps cinch down gear in the bag and offers convenient access to paperwork or snacks.

Another convenience are the removable utility clip-on straps that attach to the back of the Wolfman Boulder Beta bag. These mounting straps allow you to securely attach a tent, camping chair, sleeping bag or other items to the outside of the bag without repurposing the top cinch straps of the bag. We also liked that any gear you strapped onto the Wolfman bag did not impede access to the bag’s opening. Any extra gear mounted to the exterior of the Giant Loop bag covers the opening of the bag and needs to be removed before you can access the bags zipper.

Once you take the Boulder Beta bag off the bike, Wolfman makes it easy to carry with a top handle and a set of concealed side straps. This makes the Wolfman Boulder Beta Bag ideal for Fly-n-Ride trips. Giant Loop does not provide any special handles in their design of the Great Basin Saddlebag. However, the top cinch ring offers a grab point.

Wolfman luggage boulder beta carrying handle
The Wolfman Boulder Beta Bag includes grab handles on the top and sides that make it a good option for a fly-n-ride trip.

The Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag offers some notable extra features as well. A heat shield is included that can be attached to your exhaust muffler to help prevent bags and straps from melting. With either bag, a heat shield is a good safeguard. You’ll need an additional heat shield if your bike has dual exhaust.

We appreciated that Giant Loop included elastic loops on each strap that can be used to secure any extra slack in your straps. The Wolfman tail bag requires you to trim the straps to size or tie the slack straps into a knot. Trimming straps to size can limit reusing the bag later on other bikes.

Giant Loop Heat Shield and elastic strap loops
The Giant Loop Great Basin bag comes with a single heat shield to protect your bag from melting while elastic loops help keep slack straps tidy.

Securing your luggage while on the road is a big concern for many Adventure Riders using soft luggage. Giant Loop incorporated a small chamber into the bag material that allows you to slide a cable lock through. This allows you to lock the bag to your bike when parked. In addition, the dual zippers with metal pull tabs allow you to lock the zipper closed with a small padlock. While it’s not as secure as hard panniers, this should dissuade all but the most determined thieves from tampering with your gear. Wolfman does not offer any integrated security features on the Boulder Beta Bag.

Giant Loop Pass-Thru sleeve cable lock
A cable lock can be run inserted into a special pass-thru sleeve on the Giant Loop bag, allowing you to lock it securely to the bike. (Photo courtesy Giant Loop)

Winner: Tie

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And The Overall Winner Is…
Although the Wolfman bag grabbed one more category win over the Giant Loop bag in our comparison, the value given to each category depends on the individual rider. The more off-road focused riders will appreciate the ruggedness and performance of the Giant Loop bag. Others will find the ease of packing and accessing gear with the Wolfman Bag more compelling. The Giant Loop bag has a lower price tag and includes a heat shield, while the Wolfman Bag has more capacity and a plusher feel. Some of the special features of each bag may further sway potential buyers one way or the other.

In our eyes, the Wolfman Boulder Beta Bag is a lot more convenient to use. It’s a versatile bag that’s easy to live with on long trips and we never dreaded opening it to search for items. The Wolfman Bag had good durability and performance on the trail but for hard-core trail rides, we’d opt for the Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag. It stays locked to your bike like cement and makes you forget you are even carrying luggage.

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Tail Bag Specifications

Adventure Motorcycle Tail Bag Weight No Liner
(lbs.) 
Weight W/ Liner
(lbs.)
Width
(in.)
Height*
(in.)
Price
(USD)
 Wolfman Boulder Beta4.96.432.58.25$449.99
 Giant Loop Great Basin4.55.629.2510.0$427.50
* Measured from top of seat

Shopping Options

Wolman Luggage Boulder Beta Bag
Revzilla Rocky Mountain ATV/MC
 
Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag
Revzilla Amazon.com

Photos by Bill Lieras

Author: Rob Dabney

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10 thoughts on “Wolfman vs. Giant Loop 60L Tail Bag Comparison Test

  1. I own both bags and find your conclusions to be spot on. If my trip is rough off road then I go with the Giant Loop if it’s more adventure street and some dirt then the Wolfman is the way to to. I use both on my KTM 950 SE.

  2. A friend had the GL bag on our OBDR Route 4/5 trip last Fall. He struggled with it constantly, and injured both thumbs trying to zip and unzip them… the zippers on it are very tight and difficult to use. Later in the trip, I would have to help him zip the thing shut again because it’s so hard to use, and his poor fingers were in such bad shape.

    What I’ve found works for me (on my DR650) are a set of the Givi E20 plastic panniers (20L each), coupled with a MotoFizz Medium bag on top (36 to 52L depending on whether or not you expand it — I try not to). Everything fits, except my sleeping bag gets strapped to the top/back of the MotoFizz. The ‘Fizz isn’t waterproof so everything in it is packed into dry sacks.

    The best part are the panniers are way more durable than I ever thought they would be. They’re all scratched up, but they’ve never broken. Sure, the top may pop open when you go down, but they don’t break. I use an extra bungee strap on each one to ensure the top doesn’t open very far if it does pop loose. But this works quite well.

    Should I ever need an alternative to this setup, I think that Wolfman bag would work well.

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  4. I agree with some of the previous commentators: the Giant Loop Great Basin bags are really tough stuff and sufficient for short trips with minimalistic packing. However their toughness becomes a big disadvantage, once you have packed them full and want to close the zipper! Extremely hard to get it closed and things get even worse when the temperature is around freezing. The big advantage is that the bag fits almost any bike without a rack. I will be using it on my KTM 1050 Adv were it fits almost perfectly and has sufficient space for shorter trips. I will however continue using my Enduristan Monsoon bags (which served me well on a three-month Canada trip and still show no sign of wear) on my CCM 450, once it is equipped with a decent rack. Sometimes you need to pack more, like on my hike-and-bike trip last year in Norway which I will repeat this year, were I also needed to cary hiking gear including boots. With the Enduristans you can still add a large bag on top of the bike, which will be difficult with the Great Basin. And it’s always easier to close a bag like the Enduristans simply by rolling the material, than to close a zipper under tension.

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