Review by Reg Kittrelle
[This Saddlemen Explorer Map Pocket with Pouch Tangbag Review was originally published in American Rider magazine]
Multitasking, that’s the magic word today. If a product can’t handle doing two or three things at once, well, what good is it? Rising to this challenge, Saddlemen offers up its multifunctional Explorer Map Pocket with Pouch for use on flat or nearly flat gas tanks.
Consisting of a 9-inch-wide by 11-inch-tall map holder and a 9-inch-wide by 6-inch-tall zippered pouch, the Explorer provides that bit of quick-access storage where it’s handiest—right in front of you. These separate pieces securely connect to each other via two twist locks at the upper corner of the pouch. Additionally, the pouch is kept from flopping about by two sewn-in magnets at its bottom edge that match up with two other magnets in the map holder. This arrangement makes the pouch simple to remove or lift when you need to view the map.
The pouch is large enough to carry just about everything you might quickly need. I was able to stuff it with a small camera, a cell phone, sunglasses, a small notebook, a couple of pens, and a tube of sunblock without straining the zipper. A big advantage to this setup is being able to quickly detach the pouch and take it with you during, for example, lunch stops. A handy strap is included to make this even easier.
Saddlemen claims the map holder—which is manufactured from ballistic cloth and various vinyl pieces—is waterproof, but does not mention the pouch. As it is made from a ballistic cloth with a rubberized backing it is probably, at least, water resistant, which a short dunking proved. However, at the top and base of the pouch are audio cable ports through which your earphone cord reaches your iPod or similar device. These two ports would probably leak in the event of a strong rain.
The assembled Explorer attaches to your gas tank in one of two ways, depending on which model you purchase. For use on aluminum or composite material tanks (actually, tank covers) such as V-Rod and Buell models, one version comes with four 2-inch-diameter suction cups. For use on standard steel tanks, the other version features four large sewn-in magnets in place of the suction cups. Obviously, the suction-cup version can also be used on steel tanks. Each attachment method has its benefits and drawbacks. Magnetic mounts are generally thought to be ultimately more secure, but can scratch the paint if the mating surfaces are not kept clean. This scratching problem doesn’t exist with the suction cups, but they must also be kept clean in order to properly attach. Additionally, suction cups are not recommended on tanks with the more porous matte-finish paint.
Because the magnets are flush with the back of the map holder, and the suction cups are close to flush, the Explorer will only fit properly on tanks devoid of a raised center console such as the Harley-Davidson Dynas, Sportsters, and most of the Victorys. The Explorer will not fit correctly on the Harley-Davidson FLs.
The various functions of the Saddlemen Explorer Map Pocket with Pouch qualify it as a multitasker, ready to meet many of those on-the-road instant needs at an MSRP of $44.99.
For more information contact Saddlemen, 800-397-7709, 310-638-1222, www.saddlemen.com.