For a long time now, I have been thinking about shifting the load that I carry on my shoulders to the bike for my commutes in the morning, the idea being that switching from a backpack to a bike bag might provide me with a gain in mobility. Now I finally had the chance to test the German-made Vaude Aqua Back pannier set to briefly tell you about my experiences and thus give you more insight into the advantages of the two rear panniers.
The first thing you notice is that, fortunately, Vaude uses very little packaging material. The two bags come folded in a cardboard box that you can put in the paper waste instead of throwing it in the bin for plastic, metal or composite materials. This reflects the green approach which has become a trademark of the outdoor manufacturer. Furthermore, according to Vaude, the bags are produced in a carbon-neutral way and do not consist of PVC, but of a PU-coated, lightweight textile fabric.
Once unpacked, you immediately realise that Vaude has equipped the Aqua Back panniers with a stable support plate, ensuring that they always stay securely in place on the rack and do not risk coming too close to the rear wheel. The fastening mechanism, called QMR 2.0 (Quick Mount Release 2.0), is also attached to the support plate. It can be adapted and attached quickly, easily and safely to almost any rack – no tools required, by the way! Adapters are included to fit the QMR 2.0 to tubes with diameters of 8 mm, 10.5 mm, 13 mm and 16 mm. In addition, the QMR 2.0 can be prevented from accidental and unwanted removal with case locks (not included). Speaking of removing the panniers, you can take them off by simply pulling the handle – the clips will then detach from the rack.
Let’s attach them to the rack
First, a quick piece of advice: If you want to prevent your luggage rack from getting scratched by the solid surface of the support plate, apply a few pieces of frame protection film at the points of contact. So far I have not had any scratches. With a volume of 24 litres each, the bags are similar in size to two cycling backpacks – they offer so much space that one bag will usually be enough for your daily commute to work. The Aqua Back bags also have an inner pocket with a slot and a zipped mesh pocket sewn onto it – great for small items that you want to have quickly to hand.
The material used by Vaude for its Aqua Back bags looks very strong and is 100% waterproof. The seams are also ultra-high frequency welded and, together with the material, make for a very robust combination – at least you have no need to worry about carrying a day’s shopping that might be slightly heavier than the specified maximum of 12.5 kg per bag. The rollable opening of the Aqua Back is located on the top and, together with the three clip closures, it can also be used to tighten the load inside the bag. On the front and back, as well as on the sides, both bags have a printed reflector that provides additional safety in the dark. It is also very useful that the Vaude Aqua Back bags have two carrying straps to make taking them with you easier.
The bottom line
I can really recommend the Vaude Aqua Back panniers! If you have a bike with a luggage rack, they are a great storage and transport option that is very well designed in every respect. The Aqua Back panniers are great to use, fulfil their purpose perfectly and look good as well.