Altrider Hemisphere Saddlebag Review

Why the Altrider Hemisphere Saddlebag is my favorite piece of kit: multi functionality that just plain works. It’s comprised of two main pieces; the inner roll-top dry bag and the outer holster system. It attaches quickly and securely and holds 40+ liters of gear.

The deets, straight from Altrider:

  • 100% designed and manufactured in the USA
  • Backed by limited lifetime warranty
  • 40 liter main compartment with roll top design is completely waterproof with proper use
  • 2 exterior stash pockets for easy access for tools, extra tire tubes or 1.5 liter fuel bottle
  • Includes custom compression sack for main compartment
  • Tough Ballistic and vinyl coated polyester materials designed for off-road abuse
  • Ballistic nylon webbing and metal cam-lock buckles ensure bag is completely secure
  • Hard plastic stiffeners in holster provide strong stable platform to keep gear in place securely
  • Reflective side logos provide high visibility in low-light conditions

Installation

The great thing about this set up is its super easy installation and removal and the fact that it works without additional side racks (which I’ve come to hate). For attachment there are two main lower straps for attaching to your frame and one main upper strap for attaching to your fender or luggage rack:

I start by attaching the rear hooks seen above to my luggage rack and then hooking up the straps for frame attachment. I snug up each side little by little by tugging on the free end coming out of the plastic buckle. After that’s done, you’ll have the holster on the bike, ready to be packed how you see fit.

At this point, it’s worth pointing out that, because of the shape of the Altrider Hemisphere Saddlebag, it’s possible for the bag to come in contact with your exhaust, or push your body panels onto the exhaust if your bike has that type of setup. When I had the stock pipe on my WR250R, I didn’t use any type of standoff and the bag did push the out plastic guard onto the hot inner muffler and melted it a bit. So if you still have your stock pipe on your WR250R, it is worth noting that you should still use some sort of standoff or heat shield.

With my new FMF Q4, I decided to use a DrySpec Heat Shield that I got from Revzilla but Altrider makes a nice one as well.

Once you have the holster securely in place it’s time to grab the inner dry bag and think about the gear you’re going to be packing. The inner dry bag for the Altrider Hemisphere Saddlebag has a unique shape that somewhat resembles a weird pair of trousers. There are two “leg” portions that go down into the holster portion and then an upper main portion with a roll top for waterproof-ness. All seams of the inner dry bag are taped as well. Note: the inner drybag is shaped to match up with the holster while installed so take care to notice which direction is which when packing and setting up your system.

I find it easiest to pack the leg portions with the inner bag off of the bike. This makes it easier to stuff things down into the deepest areas of the legs as well as manipulate your items to fit the shape of the bottom of the leg so that you’re packing as efficiently as possible.  As always, it’s a good idea to pack your heavier items toward the bottom to keep your CG low but also keep in mind things you might need to access quickly. Once I have the legs packed, I will go ahead and work on stuffing the legs into their pockets of the holster, leaving the top unpacked for now. This gives me the ability to fiddle with the arrangement of things toward the top of the bag and work out the position of things I might need to access quickly but still want to have completely protected from the elements.

Once everything is packed, it’s time to hook everything up and compress the load. You simply roll the top of the dry bag at least 3 times (to keep water out) and then attach the clips to their spots on the holster. Do not connect dry bag clips together. This design both gives you more packing room and allows you to better stabilize the load.

Then there are two compression cinch buckles for the legs, and two for the main (upper) part of the bag.  The upper straps have a bit of extra length so it’s easy to lash additional items to your kit without using any extra straps (think tent poles, rain suit, etc).

Strapping additional items on top for quick access:

Speaking of quick access…

The holster of your Altrider Hemisphere Saddlebag has two exterior, quick access pockets that you can get to with little fuss and without disturbing your main bag. This is a convenient place for items like your tool kit, spare tubes, etc. This compartment isn’t protected from the elements so keep that in mind.

The Holster

The holster style setup of this system is what separates it from a similar setups you may have seen from Giant Loop. The great part here is the versatility. When you reach camp, you can quickly disconnect the inner bag from the holster and set up camp. You can then undo just two straps to remove the holster from your bike and go shred the trails OR – and this is my favorite part – go run some errands for camp. Grab some groceries, pick up some fire wood, or fill the holster with ice and add your favorite beer.

Additional Photos – click for full size:

Final Thoughts

Overall I highly recommend this bag and would buy it again immediately if needed. It’s spacious, simple, fast, and a lot cleaner than the type of set up that uses racks and separate bags.

Pros:

  • Fast installation and removal
  • Flexibility/Carry luggage and run errands
  • Durable and waterproof when used correctly

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Straps aren’t easily replaceable (but you can buy just the holster if you need to replace)

 

What do you think? We would love to hear your thoughts on the Altrider Hemisphere Saddlebag in the comments below!


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