The Vaude Aqua Box Light is a lightweight and watertight bar bag made from a 100% recycled fabric called Econyl, which is also PVC-free, adding to its green credentials. The bag will hold up to 4 liters of gear, and is wide enough that it could easily carry a 25cm pump. Overall a really neat, light and useful bar bag that uses a rolltop closure, and is easy to attach to many bikes.
Easy to attach to many bikes
Holds a useful amount of kit
Wide apart attachment points can cause an issue with certain narrow bar bikes
Attachment points can 'dent' bar tape
Can stop use of a bike computer and/or front light
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Vaude has introduced a new line to their already extensive catalogue of touring panniers and handebar bags. This new series called the Aqua Light range includes front and rear pannier bags as well as the Aqua Box Light being reviewed here. As you'd expect from the name, it is a watertight bag featuring a rolltop closure to keep your kit dry, or dust free, whatever the weather throws at you.
It is also light, weighing in at 170 grams including the shoulder strap or 143g if you decide that you don't need the strap for that journey! Its 4 liter capacity is plenty enough space to carry a few essential tools, an inner tube, a rain jacket, and sundry snacks...
It attaches using two robust and slightly stretchy straps, which can be moved within the light grey attachment points to allow you optimum placing of the buckle for you setup. The loose ends can be tucked away into the attachment point too.
Vaude Aqua Box Light Bar Bag: construction
Along with the other Aqua series bags, the Aqua Box Light uses Econyl, which is a 100% recycled material made in Germany, and keeps its environmental footprint lower by not having to transport materials too far. Econyl is a PVC-free material, which keeps the bag more environmentally friendly too.
The waterproof seams use a 2D technology to weld the material together, which makes for a strong join. A simple rolltop design should make for a long lasting and robust closure. There is a 5 year warranty offered too, which is reassuring.
The bag comes with a strap which clips into the two roll top clips to allow you to carry it as a shoulder bag, should you need. However this does mean that the bag is carried open in this configuration. The alternative is that you use the roll top loop as a handle which can be carried in the hand. This means the bag will remain sealed to the elements.
Vaude Aqua Box Light Bar Bag: the ride
The fitting of the bag is very straightforward, you loop the strap around your bars and then secure it using a hole over the buckle, much like a belt with your jeans! However one thing to be mindful of, is that the attachment points are 25cm apart (at their widest) and because of this it wouldn't fit on my wife's flat barred road hybrid bike. There just wasn't enough room. The Topeak BarLoader did fit in this instance as it has narrower attachment points. Luckily, it fitted every other bike that I tried it with. The usual issue with older Shimano brake/shifters cabling clashing with a bag wasn't a problem, and in fact it sat very nicely between the bars and external cables (see photos below). It also fitted very nicely on a straight bar mountain bike.
It took quite a selection of tools, a tube, phone, wallet, a couple of rain jackets easily, and I weighed the bag at 1,300 grams. Although Vaude give a volume of 4 liters they don't specify a max capacity weight. My day ride kit selection meant that I didn't need to carry anything other than water on the bike or in my pockets, which I liked. I did wonder whether the weight would cause the bag to roll under the bars, but it held firm, even when riding rough cross country trails. You have the option to use the rolltop section as an extra securing function by clicking it shut under your stem. I didn't do this as I wanted to see how well the two attachment points worked unaided. Very well it turned out!
Something to bearing in mind however is when using it with drop bars and bar tape. You get an indentation on the bar tape from the attachment block (see photo below). It still stays very secure and doesn't roll around even when, in this case, it was on the narrow edge of an aero bar. The tape 'recovers' after a while and, in this case, the dent wasn't permanent.
One thing that is a perennial problem with bar bags is the conflict between fitting a bag and wanting other kit on your bars. I found that a bike computer (so that I could still run a rear radar such as the Garmin Varia or Bryton Gardia) fitted well on my stem, but there is often a problem with using a front bike light. However as the bag is quite shallow I was able, in some cases, to rotate the bag underneath the bars, which allowed a clear line of sight for a light to show the way or be seen by oncoming cars. The picture below shows this positioning. The cable routing will determine whether or not you can do this however.
Vaude Aqua Box Light Bar Bag: value and conclusion
The Vaude Aqua Box Light turned out to be a surprisingly versatile little bag, both in bikes that it would fit as well as its compact yet spacious capacity. It held solidly onto the bars, without rotating, over rough terrain, even with a decent weight of tools, clutter and a jacket. If you have a suitable cable setup it can even allow a front light to be used when it's rolled partially under the bars.
Value-wise it is good, being priced at $60.00 / £55.00. It is $26.99 / £12.00 cheaper than the Topeak BarLoader bar bag. However the BarLoader may be used in conjunction with a drybag bar system or as a standalone bar bag. If you only need a small bar bag and you have the required width to accommodate the wider buckles, then the Vaude is an excellent little bag. Both bags are broadly similar but have different shapes and buckle attachment spacing, so one may suit your bar and cable routing setup better than the other. The Vaude seemed more versatile in regard to the cabling types that it could accommodate. This was due mainly to its shallower profile. A 5 year warranty should allay any fears about the quality or durability of such a light bag, and it felt robust in the hand.
- Capacity: 4 liters
- Bag weight: 143g or 170g including strap
- Dimensions: 15 x 26 x 14 cm (H W D)
- Colors: Black or Bright Green
- Max weight (carrying): Not specified
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Over 40 years cycling in a variety of disciplines including road riding, commuting, a self-supported Land's End to John o' Groats trip, XC mountain biking and several Polaris Challenge two-day events. Adventure, escape and fun are the motivations for my riding. I also love bike and kit design and have fillet brazed a couple of framesets using Reynolds 853 steel tubing for myself. A very satisfying experience to ride your own bespoke bike!
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