How do you carry your stuff? Tail bags, tank bags and side cases are great for touring, but for short hops and commuting – especially when the bike has to be left unattended – many riders say shoulder bags are the answer. Aerostich has been refining their bags for over 20 years, and though often imitated, their Courier bags have a lot of fans.
Aerostich’s courier-style shoulder bags actually come in four different sizes: Letter, Dispatch, Courier and Parcel. I chose their most popular size, the Courier, which is big enough to engulf a regular size briefcase. But I decided it’s better to have more space than I might need than too little. Though I stuck with the standard Cordura construction, Aerostich recently started offering their bags also in waxed cotton. My devotion to conspicuity led me to choose “Hi-Vis Lime Yellow” from the seven available colors.
Though motorcycle-writing standards mandate I use the word “bulletproof” at least once, I’m going to instead describe this bag as a “life of the owner” investment. Cordura is tough stuff, and the lid edges on this bag are turned down, then top stitched – a technique that leaves the bag stronger and more durable. All Aerostich shoulder bags have a waterproof liner and their lids are secured with ITW Fastex side-release buckles and a wide band of hook and loop. I gave the bag a good water hose test with some balled up newspapers inside and found a few drops of water could only get in through the top two corners, since the lid doesn’t hang over there. However, snugly buckled up, I feel pretty confident my phone and other stuff would stay dry in all but maybe a daylong soaking on the highway. The two-inch strap on the three largest sizes includes a detachable Ultrasuede-covered, high-density foam shoulder pad, and is easy to adjust for length using a cam lock buckle. Comfort for a shoulder bag depends a lot on how long you’re in the saddle and how much weight is in the bag. But since the Courier is designed to lie on your back more than hang from your shoulder, I found it no more restrictive than a backpack and comfortable for a 30-mile commute with a moderate load.
What’s a moderate load? The Courier easily engulfed two binders, a netbook, a small thermos, lunch sack and three good-size textbooks. It would accommodate any laptop or a standard briefcase with room to spare but would stow under most airliner seats. Though the Courier has two pockets inside, I opted for the “Pocket Organizer”($30) that can be added to the three largest bags to also hold stuff like my trusty Moleskin, phone, wallet, sunglasses and other smallish doodads. I’d recommend the organizer as it keeps all those little necessities handy and in plain sight, though the yellow lining of Aerostich bags does make small items easy to find. Another option I’d recommend is the “Stablilizer Strap” ($9), which keeps the bag from sliding or flapping at speed, while still making your belongings easily accessible.
Speaking of accessibility, this is the real virtue of a bag like the Courier. I like having everything at hand, rather than having to shed a backpack or sort through pockets. All Aerostich shoulder bags also carry a handy key clip, so once I reach my parking slot all I have to do is grab my keys, lock my helmet and head off across campus to my office.
The Aerostich Courier Bag, reportedly made by the same guy in Duluth for the last 15 years, sells for $92 plus shipping. More information, reviews, specific size and color options and shipping details can be found at www.Aerostich.com
• Good looking
• Easy access
•Wife may start calling it “your purse”
(Photos by Ron Davis)