Gadling Gear Review: Vaya Pannier Hybrid Bicycle Bag

Vaya Hybrid Pannier Bicycle BagOnce upon a time I was a hardcore bicycle commuter. This means I still know what I like in bike gear because when you do enough time in the saddle, you get opinions about these things. Vaya makes good looking bike bags that will help you get your gear from point A to point B – and make it easy for you to carry your stuff around when it’s off your bike. I checked out their Pannier Hybrid, a bag that goes from your bike rack to your back.

Their pannier is a bucket style roll top back that closes with a big clip. I like the sturdy hardware and I like the easy to use clips that attach the bag to your rack. The liner is waterproof and the roll top closure makes sure your stuff will stay secure. The strap that keeps your bag from swinging around when it’s on your bike converts to a shoulder strap, so when you’ve unclipped it from your bike, it’s totally manageable, unlike my old Ortlieb bags.

There’s something about the configuration of this thing that I didn’t love, though. It doesn’t quite hold what I need for commuting – or perhaps I need two, as I can’t get away with just one. I put a pair of shoes (I ride in cleats) and a clean shirt in the bag and it was almost full. It’s a little narrow to hold the kind of stuff I haul around on commuter days. While my Ortlieb panniers are not great for carrying around, they’re easy to load and unload and hold lots of stuff.

There’s an external pocket on the back (the side that would be up against your bike or your back). I’m a little confused about what I’d use it for, though. Because it doesn’t seal, I don’t think I’d put my wallet or my phone in there. Maybe it’s for stowing a candy bar or other small things that you won’t be stressed about if they should go missing.

The bag is great looking, totally sharp, made from recycled bike tube material and super heavy-duty scrap canvas. You can pick your colors – that’s cool – and which way you want the bag built, for slinging over your left shoulder or your right. I really wanted to like this bag but my years of commuting mean that it’s not quite the bag for me. If you don’t need to carry around a lot of stuff – you want to stow your lunch and your laptop and maybe a book – then it will absolutely work for you.

The messenger hybrid is $135 from Vaya. While you’re poking around in their site, check out their other bags too. I didn’t love the hybrid, but the other bags look totally hot. Really.