Bar bags are rapidly becoming a symbol of the ‘alternative’ cyclist. They go against the obsessive focus on aerodynamics and the overly-serious environment of traditional road cycling. Gravel riders, bike packers and those going for long endurance road rides can all benefit from the added storage space this popular accessory offers.
With the Aqua Box Light 4, Vaude created a clean looking and highly functional bag. The design is simple and black, but the high-vis logos on the front and back increase the rider’s visibility. At only 150 grams, the bag is super-lightweight and won’t add any unnecessary pounds to your setup. It can also be converted into a musette style bag, making it great for commuting or shopping.
My previous bag had a tenancy to bounce a little on bumpy segments, which sounds initially tolerable, but actually has the same mildly infuriating effect as a vague clicking sound you can’t locate on your bike.
In contrast, this bag is surprisingly easy to forget about. It stayed put even when I filled it with a second pair of shoes, a portable charger and my lunch.The instructions suggest closing the buckle underneath the stem for additional stability, but I had no issue with the bag moving around.
The clasps are hard to close, but do their job to keep the bag in place. I would feel confident leaving my (empty) bag on the bike to pop in to a corner store for a second, as no one would be able to open the clasps quickly enough to steal it.
Safe and waterproof
The Aqua Box Light 4 is completely waterproof. Vaude uses a water repellent called Eco Finish that causes water to bead on the surface of the product but doesn’t use fluorocarbons (PFC) (which are environmentally harmful).
It operates like a dry bag—the top is rolled down then fastened with a buckle, creating a waterproof seal. As the seams are also waterproof, I would feel comfortable bringing this bag out for some adventuring on the rainiest spring day.
A stand-up bag
It’s most interesting feature is the way it stands upright when opened. Many bar bags have zips that face away from the rider, which force you to reach around and search blindly for your Clif bar. The Aqua Box Light 4 opens right under your face and it’s easy to see all its contents.
The downside of the waterproof closure system is that it requires two hands and a minor amount of dexterity. Some cyclists will be able to roll and clasp the bag shut while riding but others might have to pull over to close the bag.
Eco-friendly and socially responsible
Vaude manufactures the Aqua Box Light 4 in Germany using sustainable, climate-neutral materials and fair working conditions along the entire supply chain. It feels good knowing a product comes from a socially responsible company that cares about their workers, especially in an uncertain economy.