Three years ago, setting out on an indefinite RTW trip with no plan and no clue from Phoenix, Arizona, I checked my gear over and gave it 24 months. 30, if I was lucky. I’m a wobbly rider; I crash, I dump the bike in rivers, I get stuck in rainforests, life happens, and all of my gear gets abused more than it needs to.
Fast forward to three years later, I’m in Sarajevo, Bosnia, preparing for another cross country rally, and my Mosko Moto setup is still going strong. Here’s what it has survived so far:
A 3-year trip across North and South America and the Caribbean
It has weathered the sands of New Mexico and Utah, stood its ground against a curious bear in Colorado, lasted the Trans Labrador Highway (including dangling off a logging truck crane), survived several crashes on rocky mountain trails in Mexico, and sailed the Caribbean on a hundred-year-old schooner for two months with stops in Cuba, Jamaica, and Providencia. All that salt and seawater had nothing on Mosko.
Colombians are passionate drivers, which I admire and respect, but filtering through traffic somewhere in Pasto, I got sandwiched between a bus and a car (I think the bus was trying to filter, too). I burned a hole in my pants on the exhaust trying to wriggle out of the situation, but the panniers remained intact.
Ten days of chasing Rally Dakar, carrying snacks, water, and painkillers for the competitors, getting lost in the dunes and sleeping at the rally bivouac – whenever there was any sleep – took a toll on me, the bike, and Mosko as I nearly crashed when a Dakar fan unexpectedly ran out in front of me on the road. Trying to avoid the overexcited Peruvian spectator, I veered into the railing where my right pannier got caught on something, nearly ripping the beavertail off. Keyword here is nearly: while the outer shell got damaged a little, the panier remained fully functional – and waterproof – since.
A can of spilled chicken soup inside the pannier
Note to self: never get cans with easy-opening lids. Finding your stuff soaking in chicken soup post-crash is not good for morale. Bright side? Dry bags are easy to wash.
Sandstorms in the Atacama can be nasty. For Dakar riders, they’re especially dangerous because they can change the landscape of the dunes overnight, rendering roadbook navigation almost useless and leaving the competitors battling huge mountains of treacherous sand. For rally support and media people like me, they can damage vehicles, especially the headlights and windshields. Having ridden through two insane sandstorms during the Dakar, I’m happy to report than while my goggle lenses were trashed, my luggage didn’t have so much as a scuff mark on it.
Getting caught in the middle of the rainy season in Southern Peru (did I mention I’m not great at planning?) meant several river crossings, including one in an excavator. The floods were so powerful the road had disappeared under a raging river overnight, but Peruvians are creative, and for a lofty sum of $7, I got a lift across. Bike in the front end loader, me hanging on the cabin door.
Six weeks in a container ship bound from Chile to Poland...
Mosko: 1, Atlantic Ocean: 0
On and off the road, at varying speeds and angles, rocks, gravel, tarmac, mud, cobblestones – I’m very thorough in my offs, but Mosko has, so far, weathered it all.
The beautiful thing about Mosko Moto is that it’s so versatile. For my three-day rally in Portugal, I simply packed the Scout duffle and took it on the plane as a carry on backpack. No fuss, no muss.
In a mad dash to make it to Hellas Rally Raid, the biggest cross country navigation rally in Europe, in time, I crossed Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania. The Swiss Alps were still covered in snow and ice, Italy was muggy and hot, and Albania was under torrential rain, which meant I went from 68 degrees to 30 degrees and back to 85 degrees in a matter of days.
Leaving Albania and crossing into Greece, I was stopped by a grumpy border official who was eyeballing my luggage with suspicion. “What’s in there?”, he demanded. I had gotten used to border guards simply checking my passport and waving me through in the Balkans, but this Albanian comandante was having none of it. However, after I explained that my left pannier was my bedroom (that’s where my camping gear lives), my right pannier was my living room (clothes, mini French press, essential oils), and my duffel was my office (laptop and photo equipment), he lightened up and let me pass.
Here’s a fun fact: tornados do not happen in Albania. An earthquake here and there, yes. Tornado? Never. Still, I managed to find myself right in the middle of one in Sarande, Southern Albania. That same tornado tragically killed several people in Northern Greece just hours later, but it had nothing on my bike – or luggage.
As I’m currently noodling around Sarajevo and prepping for the Bosnia Rally, my Mosko Moto panniers serve mostly as grocery bags. They’re giving other people ideas, though: my AirBnB neighbor, a local animator and motorbike fanatic from Sarajevo, is considering a pilgrimage to Mecca… on a bike. I have a feeling Mosko Moto will be his luggage of choice when he sets off to Saudi Arabia in the fall.Braaap,