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ADV NewsMosko Moto Backcountry 35 V2.1: Modular & Feature-Packed Panniers

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35 V2.1: Modular & Feature-Packed Panniers

The most versatile pannier system on the market?

Published on 08.18.2021

Not to wax philosophical, but designing motorcycle panniers seems to mimic plotting out one’s path through life. Bumps in the road are inherent throughout the lifespan of a thing, so toughness, adaptability, and a well thought-out structure are key to reaching the desired destination. In the Backcountry 35L version 2.1, Mosko Moto may have come up with what is perhaps the most feature-rich pannier system currently available. 

Treading a line between soft and hard panniers, the Backcountry 35 setup features two 35-liter soft bags, mated to a robust attachment system which remains mounted to the bike’s pannier racks. A hard backing plate on each pannier utilizes an innovative wedge system with a locking latch for quick mounting and removal, without the use of straps.
Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers

Multi-layer construction using heavy-duty materials on the outside provides simultaneous impact and abrasion resistance, while waterproof inner bags offer protection from the elements.

Is it the ultimate adventure travel luggage setup? Read on and decide for yourself…

What’s New

Version 2.1 of the Backcountry 35L has several key updates, which have been introduced over the course of development through versions 1.0 and 2.0. 

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers

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A new spring-loaded pin latch retaining system replaces the old rotary draw latch setup, and makes removal and installation of the panniers a bit quicker and more convenient. The bags can still be locked to the racks and there is the additional security of the “locking bar” added to the roll top. Either a heavy-duty locking strap, or more compact cable lock is available to secure this new system, and a stash pocket inside the beaver tail is provided to transport the smaller of the two locking options.

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers
Removing and installing the bags has been made easier and quicker with the change to the new pin-latch system in version 2.1.

The interior waterproof liner material has been changed from welded PVC to welded polyurethane vinyl. With less layers involved in its construction, the more malleable PU material is much easier to install and position than the previous generation liners. Also, the chemical makeup of polyurethane does not have the same reaction with Alkaline solutions as PVC, allowing it to be cleaned with a wide variety of solutions, without fear of damaging the material. Perhaps most convenient, the lighter-colored inner bags in the version 2.1 offering make seeing the contents that much easier.

The rear sewn-on pockets from version 1.0 have now been replaced with an optional Dry Bag harness. The Backcountry 35 has attachment points for this new harness system on both the front and rear of the panniers, allowing for up to four of the harnesses to be attached at once, and each are compatible for transport of a wide variety of things.

Mosko Moto Backcountry Soft Panniers

More nuanced changes are also woven into version 2.1, such as the change in the ladderlock buckles for the beavertail from stamped to a new custom molded design for improving both durability and ease of adjustment.

Further storage options are now available behind the beavertail, with the addition of Molle webbing and a new tool holder, and the beavertail itself has been beefed up with the addition of an extra layer of Hypalon.

Mosko Moto Backcountry Soft Panniers
A stash pocket inside the beaver tail is provided to transport a cable lock or other personal items.

For those wanting a more symmetrical overall luggage width on bikes with single-sided exhaust, a 25-liter Backcountry pannier is available, which can be run on the exhaust side through the use of an available offset kit from Mosko Moto.

How They Performed

Mosko Moto Backcountry Soft Panniers

Even before mounting on the bike or loading these panniers up with anything, one thing is noticed right away by simply removing them from the shipping box — weight. For soft bags, these are hefty pouches. Going through the various bits for the assembly and installation process, the reason for the weight becomes clear.

Step one is mounting the backing plates to the pannier racks. The two injection-molded glass-filled nylon plates, plus aluminum pucks, and steel screws and washers add up to over four pounds alone. The combined weight of the two bags is around 18.25 pounds. When compared to most hard panniers, there is still weight savings to be had and there’s a distinctly solid feel to both the mounting system and the bags themselves.

Mosko Moto Backcountry Soft Panniers
Mosko Moto Backcountry 35 Panniers
The wedge mounting system offers a simple and robust way to attach the panniers to luggage racks.

Both the mounting wedges and hardware pucks are designed to fit a wide variety of pannier racks. Five slots on the wedges allow the pucks to be positioned on most any rectangle-ish pannier rack, and the articulation on the inside of the mounting pucks is designed to mate with a variety of different rack profiles from various manufacturers. For pannier racks with cutouts for exhaust pipes, like some stock BMW racks, an offset kit is available from Mosko Moto which provides a flat surface for the wedges to mount to. Once a position is chosen, mounting is a simple and quick process of threading and lightly tightening eight screws with the included allen wrench.

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35 Panniers

For carrying the panniers around off the bike, the top retaining strap seemed to be the go-to handle most often. While there is a dedicated carrying handle on the back of the bag, I found I mostly used this for removing the bags from the wedges. When riding without the bags installed, concern about damage to the permanently-mounted wedges faded after a few spirited rides which introduced them to a few rocky surfaces. The glass-filled nylon plates appear durable to the point that if one of these gets damaged, you’ve likely got much larger problems to contend with at that point.

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35 Panniers

Diving into the construction and materials used reveals a profusion of purposeful design. In the most basic terms, the Backcountry 35 is a two-part system: an inner bag, and an outer bag. The inner bag is fully waterproof with RF-welded seams, which has its own independent roll-top closure system, and can be removed from the outer bag for transport if desired. The outer bag is a highly abrasion-resistant shell with an almost dizzying array of features to adapt and modify the system based on one’s travel needs.

Mosko Moto Backcountry Soft Motorcycle Panniers

Acting both as armor and storage location, the Backcountry 35’s beavertails are constructed with Hypalon and 1680D ballistic fabrics on the outer shell, a layer of foam in the middle, and 22oz nylon on the inside. Six compression straps allow the beavertail to expand or compress as needed. Plenty of extra webbing on the compression straps allows for storage of most anything you’d rather not have inside the bags, such as wet or muddy items. Molle webbing is also featured inside the beaver tails, which allows a range of additional items to be attached behind the protective shield.

A dedicated tool holder is positioned near the top of the bag behind the beaver tail for larger items commonly carried on a backcountry adventure, such as a hatchet or saw. For “light” adventure, this tool holder proved convenient. Over more extreme terrain, adventure bikes do tend to really shake luggage around, and while lighter items like a saw would likely stay put behind the velcro strap holder, the weight of a hatchet allows the tool to slide vertically when the going gets rough. A second retainer strap over the top might prove to be a personal addition to these bags, for my part.

Mosko Moto Backcountry Soft Motorcycle Panniers
Behind the beaver tail is a dedicated tool holder for items commonly carried into the backcountry like a hatchet or saw.

It’s worth noting, even the Beavertail compression strap connectors have impact resistance in mind. While plastic Duraflex buckles are used for attachment points on the back and sides of the bags, Mosko Moto custom designed molded aluminum buckles for use on the impact surface of the bag, which better slide and survive in the case of a getoff. Another small point (literally) is the addition of a tiny tang on the hook of the buckles which prevents the straps from easily becoming disconnected.

Various attachment points allow for a myriad of expansion options. Perhaps most notable is the swap from the sewn-on rear pockets of version one, to the new ‘optional’ Aux Pox Dry Bag detachable harness system. The front, back and bottom of the Backcountry 35 bags still have Molle webbing for attaching any of the large or small accessory bags.

Mosko Moto Backcountry Soft Motorcycle Panniers
Mosko Moto Backcountry Soft Motorcycle Panniers
The Aux Pox Dry Bag harness can also be used to carry other items like a water bladder or tool roll.

New to the system are the five holes seen on the front and rear of the bags, which serve as attachment points for a 5-Liter Aux Pox Dry Bag harness. Once attached, the harness can either be used for the Dry Bag itself, or as an independent storage location. Pass-through loops on the inner Dry Bag allow it to be attached elsewhere on the Backcountry 35, freeing up the harness for other uses such as storage of the Fatty Tool roll, two side-by-side fuel bottles, or a 2-liter Dromedary water bladder. A notable feature for myself was the hole at the bottom of the Dry Bag harness, which provides access to water without removing the bladder. This system allows for water transport and use similar to the water tap feature on the Hepco-Becker Gobi hard cases, yet in a vastly more modular way.

Mosko Moto Backcountry Soft Motorcycle Panniers

Another addition since the days of version one, is the locking bar. Either a steel core locking strap, or retractable cable lock can be used to secure the panniers to the bike and prevent them from being opened. While the steel core strap is more robust (and perhaps more of a deterrent to any would-be thieves), the retractable cable lock is much more compact for transport, and there’s a dedicated storage pocket for it on the inner surface of the beaver tail.

Mosko Moto Backcountry Soft Motorcycle Panniers
On top of each pannier is a ‘Locking Bar’ which can be used to both lock each bag to the bike and keep its contents secure.

Saving what is perhaps the most noticeable update for last, the rotary draw latch setup has been replaced with a spring-loaded pin-latch system to secure the bags to the bike. While this might seem a minor change, over the course of several days of daily use, it quickly becomes a welcome feature. Sliding the bags onto the wedge, the new system secures itself with a click. Removal is just as easy by pulling a tab and lifting up on the bag. While the rotary latch system worked fine, there was the occasional “fumbling” with the latch using one hand while lifting the bag with the other. The new system is a much cleaner design, and appears robust. Time (and a lot of trail abuse) will tell how it holds up.

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers

Typically, a set of luggage gets durability tested over many rides. In the case of this review, this process was sped up tremendously on only the second adventure by throwing my KTM 1090 Adventure R with Backcountry 35’s mounted headlong into terrain that sometimes bordered on ridiculous.

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers

Sand, steeps, rocks, bigger rocks, tight trails, jumps, and technical offshoots both shook everything up like a can of paint in a machine, as well as bashed and scraped the bejeezus out of things. Like the version 1 days, the Backcountry bags remain secured in place, and contents experience limited shifting around once the compression straps have been adjusted as needed, while velcro strap keepers tidy up excess webbing. Redesigned fasteners made adjusting straps easier and the new PU liners feel more malleable, making whatever one is toting around more accessible. Access to the roll-top has also been made quicker and more convenient with the addition of a swivel to the keeper straps on either side.

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers

After our extreme test, the Hypalon exterior of the beaver tails took the most abuse of any surface on the bag by far, both from scraping rocks, trees, bushes, and occasionally the ground itself when the bike decided to take a nap. Aside from appearing dirty afterward, the material seems impervious to damage in a typical adventure trail ride scenario. Continued testing has yet to reveal any weak points in the luggage system thus far.

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers
Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers

Who Are They For

Judging a book by its cover usually isn’t a good idea, however, in the case of the Backcountry 35L panniers, the name itself is a good indication of their intended use. These panniers are most at home in hard travel situations. While Arnold Schwarzenegger driving a tank to Whole Foods does accomplish the task of grocery shopping, it’s a bit excessive. Comparing a pannier to a war machine is perhaps silly, but these things could survive a war, arguably better than any other pannier system currently available.

Abundant expandability options means the Backcountry 35s are adaptable for everyone from the casual weekend traveler, needing to carry only the basics, to the around-the-world trekker, toting everything necessary to live off of a motorcycle for an extended period of time. The universal mounting plate system, plus the ability to mix and match the 35 liter and 25 liter bags with the optional offset kit means these panniers are a viable choice to consider for anyone riding anything from a 250cc bike, to a 1250cc bike.

Our Verdict

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers

Exceedingly high build quality, an expansive feature list, and cool styling are the beginning of a long list of reasons any adventure motorcyclist should give Mosko’s Backcountry 35 system a look. I had the opportunity to put the older version 1.0 panniers through months of brutal testing, and they held up better than any system I’ve tried thus far. Not bad for a company’s first product offering. Still remaining Mosko Moto’s flagship product, Version 2, and now 2.1 of the Backcountry pannier system improved on those same robust qualities, and added new features which make the system more user-friendly, and more functional. While heavier than other soft pannier systems, wrapped up in that comparative heft is a feature set and durability which can withstand the most grueling adventure trips, and do so for years to come.

Mosko Moto Backcountry 35L Panniers
Mosko Moto has a new limited edition ‘Woodland’ colorway (olive green with orange highlights) arriving soon.

Although the Backcountry 35 luggage system is currently available in its standard black/grey colorway, it should be noted, the limited-edition orange collection bags used in this test are sold out at the time of this writing. But word is from Mosko that they’ll be offering a new limited edition ‘Woodland’ colorway in November.

What We Liked

  • Stout construction and high build quality.
  • Long feature list.
  • A myriad of expansion options.

What Could Be Improved

  • Comparatively heavy for a soft-pannier system.

35L Backcountry Panniers Specs

  • CONSTRUCTION: Ballistic Nylon and Hypalon outer shell with 22oz TPU inner bags.
  • CAPACITY: 70 Liters (total for both bags)
  • DIMENSIONS: 20″ tall x 15″ wide x 8″ deep (excluding aux pockets)
  • WEIGHT: 10 lbs each with hardware (excluding aux pockets)
  • MSRP: Starts at $750 with Bags & Pannier Mounts

Shopping Options

Mosko Moto

Photos: Stephen Gregory, Jon Beck & Spencer Hill

Author: Jon Beck

Jon Beck is fulfilling a dream of never figuring out what to be when he grows up. Racing mountain bikes, competitive surfing, and touring as a musician are somehow part of what led Jon to travel through over 40 countries so far as an adventure motorcycle photographer, journalist, and guide. From precision riding for cameras in Hollywood, to refilling a fountain pen for travel stories, Jon brings a rare blend of experience to the table. While he seems happiest when lost in a desert someplace, deadlines are met most of the time.

Author: Jon Beck
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