The Moto-Gods have been kind in the past few years as work and road-trips intertwined. This means that I end up carrying a laptop along even when two-wheel dancing in the rough. I’d pack it in a cushioned sleeve, then sandwich it between a thick towel, and clothes. This would then go into the backpack or a tail-bag, depending on the luggage I was carrying on the ride.
It is a system that has worked reasonably well over time. There is always scope for improvement, as with most things in life. This is why; I reached out in an effort to learn from fellow experienced moto-travellers. The suggestions that poured ranged from the simple & cheap, to those requiring a bit more effort and expense. Here’s a round-up on some of the key stuff that was discussed:
This was the most common way that 2-wheel travellers seem to be carrying their laptops on their motorcycle trips. Here, the suggestions ranged from sturdier protective cases like those from the likes of UAG & Thule – to brands like Air-Case, Gigza & their derivatives.
A pal from across the seas said he’d used a suitable density foam sheet on one of his trips. Taking a felt pen & cutter, he’d made a cavity to the exact dimensions of his laptop. He placed another, thinner sheet on the top and wrapped it up in a plastic sheet. He then used over-sized rubber bands to hold it all in place. He’d wrap the package in his thickest clothes and carry it along in his saddle-bag. To me it felt like a fair bit of work, but he vouched for it saying both, hardware & data returned intact after the ride.
Another pal suggested a few rounds of bubble-wrap over the laptop and things should be a-ok. It was an A-Ha moment when this cheap and quick solution suggestion came in.
At the other end of the bubble-wrap, came the suggestion of a Pelican case. They make cases that fit into the backpack/saddle bag. They also make these burly looking suit-case types that can be mounted as a tail-box. They are pricey, but said to be nigh indestructible. They come lined with protective soft foam inside, seals that keep out the elements and what not. I did hallucinate momentarily and saw myself carrying, not a laptop but some ultra-sensitive, weapon of world destruction inside one of those tail-boxes. Cheaper workarounds included using high-density foam in a sturdy suit-case.
WP Backpacks & Bubble-wrap:
A waterproof-backpack is recommended for folks who prefer hauling laptops the rolled-in-clothes way. Helps keep out the dust and grime when road hopping. Decathlon and Kriega are two brands/places that stock such bags. I use a vinyl-construction, welded seam roll-top water-proof backpack that I got off Amazon. A soft-cloth/thin bubble wrap sheet kept between the screen & keyboard was suggested as well – to prevent damaging the former. In-fact, someone even said they wrap their sleeve-encased laptop in a bubble-wrap envelope before carrying it in their backpack.
Many folks shared their concern over carrying the laptop on the back. This was equally, over rider safety as well as saving the laptop in case of a crash. Fair point & the solutions above should come handy.
Apart from the carrying and mounting suggestions, there also were suggestions over what kind of laptop would be suitable for motorcycle trips. Sizing and storage device type were the two main points that emerged through the conversations.
When it comes to laptops on two-wheels, the smaller the better, is what the general consensus was. An 11″-14″ form-factor was suggested by many. Couldn’t apply to me, but it might be handy for you if you’re considering buying one.
SSD vs. HDD:
Opting for a laptop with SSD storage was also strongly suggested. Fewer moving parts meant lower chances of critical component failure and better longevity. I agreed, as it was the HDD that had failed on my previous machine while the rest of the laptop was functioning just fine.
Ditching the laptop:
Lastly, there were a few suggestions that asked to look beyond the laptop and go flexible. An I-Pad + Keyboard combo or a Smart-phone & Keyboard were two of the brightest ones. I even got a (potent) suggestion for a Logitech (K480) keyboard that appears to be tried-and-tested combination with Android phones.
All-in-all, it was amazing chatting with fellow travelers and learning/reinforcing thoughts on carrying a laptop along on two-wheels. I am grateful to all those who took time out to respond over messages and calls. Here’s to seeing you all on the road someday…