You may be wondering why a thoroughly road-going dude is writing a review about Wolfman gear, which is made primarily for the off-road crowd. Wet is wet, regardless of what kind of surface your tires roll on, and those of you who put down heavy miles know that crappy gear just dies off early. I have found through my moto career that dirt stuff is often built robustly, and if it works, I'll use it.
The other reason a road junkie like me has Dirtbike Dan equipment strapped up to his bike is that I ride with a group of cats who straight-up refuse to hotel it. We don’t like rain. We simply expect it. The campsites we find to crash range from grassy fields to muddy river banks. So by now, it should be fairly obvious why most of us have a dry bag. I've been using the Wolfman Renegade Dry Bag.
The full-disclosure, anti-disclaimer
Before we get into the review, let me just say that I think I might be the most honest gear reviewer out there. Why? I don’t really talk much about the stuff I hate, and if something on a product sucks, I just flat-out say it. No one is giving me this gear. I buy it just like all the other people who shop at RevZilla. (Though in the interest of full disclosure, I do get the ZLA employee discount.)
Wolfman Renegade Dry Bag first impressions
Dorky name. No doubt about that. Strike one. Seriously, Renegade? To be fair, that is about the end of my complaints with this product.
I unpacked the dry bag, and it looked sturdy. Nice thick vinyl, heavy-ass stitching, a reinforced collar up around the closure. We’re looking good here. I destroy equipment. I am hard on everything, and I expect it to hold up, and when it finally gives up the ghost, I expect to send it back to the people who made it to repair it, and have it returned to me so the abuse cycle can begin afresh. I also expect outdoorsy/motorcycle stuff that costs plenty of dough to be built to go toe-to-toe with my abuse.
I use the Wolfman bag exclusively for toting my bedroll. I have an old bedroll I made out of a moving blanket and some snaps. It is thin. It’s great for summer camping, but that’s it. It pulls double duty in cold weather as a sleeping pad. If I roll it super-tight and slam a ratchet strap around it, it juuuuust fits in the Wolfman. I have thicker sleeping bags. They are not going to fit in this thing. In a pinch, I have shoved some little stuff on top of my bedroll — cell phone, a deck of smokes, a jackknife — but for the most part, this serves strictly to give me one tiny area that is dry no matter what. I am totally going to get another one of these, but I think most people would be hard-pressed to make this their only bag. Wolfman bills this bag as being "a 'just right' size for carrying a sleeping system on overnight/multi-day rides." I won’t disagree with that too much. You'd just better be taking that multi-day ride in a warm area.
Officially, Wolfman says the bag is 18 inches long and 9.5 inches in diameter when rolled for use. Wolfman suggests a minimum of three folds of the opening before clipping it shut, which is pretty much standard operating procedure for dry bags, I think. If that size is not going to work for you, Wolfman makes bigger waterproof bags, though I haven't tested them.
Attaching the Wolfman Renegade to your bike
Normally, I would not shell out this much cash for such a small dry bag. However, the D-rings made this an attractive option. When you're touring on a non-touring motorcycle, more lash points are always helpful.
There seriously are eleventy-billion ways to get this thing on your bike. For you touring guys rocking a Tour-Pak or top box rack, this bag is really about the perfect size to lash down there, so if you need more waterproof space and you have rack space, this is the way to go.
Chopper guys/dudes with a sissy bar: Lash it vertically. What I do on my bikes is cinch my tent upright on one side of the sissy bar, and the drybag on the other. I use ratchet straps to lash each item to the bar, and then straps around the whole mess. It's rock-solid.
One suggestion: If you are going to use the D-rings, be smart about it. If you try to lash the D-rings to something without going around the pack, you are placing a lot of stress on the seams. (I actually rode with mine attached that way. It was totally fine, but why beat up your gear if you don’t hafta?) If what I described doesn’t make sense, please take a moment to appreciate the fine art I whipped up.
Long story short, this bag makes it easy for you to come up with an approach that works for a lot of different bikes and sitautions.
Performance and longevity
Performance-wise, this thing is impeccable. I have literally never, ever had a drop of water ingress this pack. It’s simple to use — dump your stuff in it, cinch it down, and go ride. I’m coming up on my sixth season owning this, and I used the pack at least once or twice through all of them. A few examples:
- Lowbrow Getdown 2013: 311 miles across Pennsylvania and into Ohio, with the rain coming down in sheets the whole time. I make camp and sleep in a nice, dry fart sack.
- Run For Your Life 2013: We run a few hundred miles into Kentucky with only a little rain. One guy lays his bike over several times in the mud trying to get into our campground. After the third time he went down, I threw my bike up on its stand in a precarious position to go help him. We got him squared away, and when I was 10 feet from my bike, an angel blew a smoke ring and my bike took a little asphalt nap, crushing my dry bag. Everything was fine. The bag suffered nary a scratch.
- Gypsy Run 2013: We didn’t have much rain as we burned several hundred miles up into New Jersey, New York, and back into the Keystone State. In fact, it was warm during the daytime the first day, but nights saw freezing temps. My bedroll and Wifey’s unmentionables were drier than Mom’s Thanksgiving turkey each morning when we got up, in spite of the frost. Testing this thing is nearly boring.
So, the quick summary is that this thing is bombproof. I will buy another. If you twisted my arm and made me say something bad about it, I’d tell you it was too expensive, at around $70 for a bag this size. However, it really isn’t. Buy once, cry once. This is not a cheap piece of equipment to buy, given what it is, but amortize the cost. Most of my dry packs have gotten holes quickly, and I don’t believe I’ve gotten more than a dozen hard uses out of most of them. Let me put it to you this way: If I stopped riding a motorcycle tomorrow, I would still buy this pack as my dry bag.