VauDe Aqua Back 24l Pannier
Having done some research on the type of panniers to get I opted for fully waterproof - there's an argument that you are better off going for non waterproof ones, and keeping your stuff insde them inside waterproof bags, the logic being that waterproof panniers don't let the stuff inside breathe, so on long wet trips stuff can start to go mouldy inside. Workingon the principle that I don't plan to do any trips that are wet for long periods of time fully waterproof seemed to make more sense. There are a variety of makes and models out there to choose from. We alreay have a set of Ortiieb panniers so were keen to try something along similar lines.
The Aqua Back is made from a durable rubberised canvas style of material. It is essentially a large (24l) watertight bag, with a stiff plastic back, roll top closure, and various carrying handles. Inside the bag is a double pocket, one with a zip. Though it's of course handy to have these pockets it isn't really practical to put anything aside from paperwork and books in them as when the main compartment is full, the pockets are difficult to access. Once the bag is packed, it's a simple matter of pressing the to sides together and rolling them over a couple of times to create a watertight seal. There is a central strap with a buckle on one end, which fits a captive buckle in the middle of the outside of the bag which holds the rolled top closed whilst you then clip the other two buckles into their captive partners, one on each side of the bag. The fact that the three buckles have one half glued into the bag itself means that there's less to catch on things, but I do worry about what happens if one of them breaks as it won't be easy to replace.
The (blue) Aquabacks on their first outing to the mountains of Turkey. (photo courtesy of Jane Ireson)
There are reflective Vau De logos on the front and back of the bag - personally I would have liked to have seen a little more reflective material than just the logo. There is a wire loop to hang the pannier from when not on the bike which doubles as a rudimentary lock-loop that woudl need more than just a knife to cut. It comes wth a removable shoulder carry strap which clips onto two D-rings on the top of the bag to make lugging them around when not on the bike a little easier. The D-rings canalso be used to strap other bags down on top of the panniers when loaded on the bike.
The Aquabacks (blue) in Turkey.
Fixing To The Bike
There are two adjustable plastic clips on the back of the bag which sit on the frame of your pannier rack. As they drop into place the pressure of the rack on the clip forces it to close into a locked position so that they can't come undone without being unfastened. To unfasten them all you need to do is pull upwards on the rubberised handle that spans the two clips so you can remove the pannier from the bike with one hand. The clips can be moved from left to right to allow you to find the best spot on the rack to fit them (the panniers actually come with a second set of clips to allow for a range of rack frame sizes). In order to stop the bags from bouncing around as you cycle along there's a thidr attachment point, in the centre, lower down the back of the bag. It's a plastic hook which fits behind the metalwork on your rack and is fully adjustable to allow you to find the correct spot.
In Use / Summary
I really can't fault the bags. They are roomy, perfectly waterproof, robust, and practical. Considering the durable material they are made from they are not overly heavy (1,050g each). They retail at £58 each, a comparable price to their main rivals Ortlieb, but they have 4l of additional capacity per pannier (24l compared to 20l).
From the VauDe Website
Get out and explore that world around you! This waterproof “Made in Germany" rear pannier combo has roll closures that allow you to customize the sizes of the bags and seal them so that they're watertight.
Vaude Aqua Back Pannier Bag Features:
waterproof roll closure
removable shoulder strap
Vaude Aqua Back Pannier Bag Main fabric:
100% Polyester; 600 D Polyurethane coated;
Contrast fabric: 100% Polyamide; 210 D Baby Ripstop Polyurethane coated;
Lining: 100% Polyester; 200 D Polyurethane coated; Rain cover: 100% Polyamide; 190 T Polyurethane coated