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The 12 litre and 8 litre Aeroe Heavy Duty Dry Bags are – as the names suggest – heavy duty ways to store gear, with a unique strap fixing system. Made from super-tough fabric and totally waterproof, but twice the price of the competition, they are a serious investment for serious rides.
Aeroe is based in New Zealand and has a history of bike kit design – I've been testing a few bits of its kit, including the excellent Spider Cradle. The Heavy Duty Dry Bags are designed to work as part of its luggage system, but also work just fine strapped to non-Aeroe mounts.
The purpose of a drybag is ostensibly to keep your kit dry. Most are made for watercraft use, or to be carried inside a backpack, and therefore aren't that robust – and those that are tend to only be available in larger sizes.
For cycling, bags are typically smaller than for other sports, and need to not only keep rain, splashes and mud out, but also survive brushing past branches, rocky outcrops, and, in the worst case, possibly sliding along a track or rocky surface if you have an off. The Aeroe Heavy Duty bags give me full confidence that, should the worst happen, my gear will be unharmed.
The bags are TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), a 100 per cent waterproof material that's also very strong and flexible. Think fisherman's raincoat, that sort of thing.
Aeroe has welded the seams around the base and up the side of the bags, so no worries there.
The top roll-over fastening is similarly tough, with wide, triple-stitched nylon webbing around the mouth of the bag. The buckles on each side have D-rings stitched in for attaching other things – ropes, straps, and so on.
There's a big reflective 'A' on the base of the bag, and a smaller logo on the side.
So far, so drybag. Ortlieb does similarly tough bags, as do others. Aeroe has gone further, though, with a unique way to ensure your bags stay where you put them.
I've had first-hand experience of a drybag working its way out of a front holster and tumbling off a track on a long, rough descent, so anything that will guarantee it staying put is a good thing.
The Aeroe design is fiendishly clever, in the form of a patch of TPU fabric welded to the side of the bag, with slots cut in it through which slides a wide strip of captive fabric. The idea is that the strip is fixed at each end, with just enough slack to get a thick buckle (as found on Aeroe's racks) underneath.
So you pull out enough slack to get the first buckle through, then slide it the other way to get the second buckle through. Then, even if both buckles fail, there won't be enough slack for both to slide through together.
This sounds more complicated than it is to use in real life, and even if you're using thin straps it's still a great way to ensure the drybag definitely won't slip down. This is a particularly good thing if you're strapping the bag vertically to a fork or backpack. As gear inside the bag settles and moves under vibration, what was a secure fit can work loose, so ensuring the bag cannot move gives confidence to crack on through the rough stuff.
Aeroe recommends 4kg as the maximum load per bag, but I have no doubt they would hold a heavier weight easily.
The base of the 8L orange bag measures 15cm and the black 12L bag 19cm. Unrolled, they measure 52 and 62cm long respectively, and once rolled over three times, measure 40 and 50cm.
The materials, build quality and the standout technical feature make the Aeroe Heavy Duty Drybags an excellent choice for bikepacking and general use. The only discussion point is the price: €60.95 and €49.95 respectively for the 12L and 8L bags (that's about £52 and £42) – and that's before you attract the eye of the customs duty crew.
In these uncertain Brexit times you might get away without paying extra, and Aeroe promises to ship for free within five to seven days worldwide. Even with fast, free shipping, though, the Aeroe bags are at least twice the price of alternatives – so you really are valuing the retention system and deciding to pay the premium accordingly.
Is that value for money? Personally, having seen a £250 down sleeping bag go bouncing down a steep hillside after slipping out of a holster, I'd say yes. Paying £20 extra for peace of mind in any installation makes sense to me. Of course, I could have used a bungie or other sort of strap to retain the bag in another direction, but that's an ugly faff. I like nicely integrated kit, and that's what you're paying for here. That, and a two-year warranty.
Ortlieb's heavy-duty PS490 drybag comes in a 13L version weighing 290g, at £20. It features a loop on the base for attaching a fixing strap to, but would suffer lateral slipping along with every other traditional design. Emma really liked the £35 Altura Anywhere Drybag, with similar ladder features on the side to prevent slipping. Only issue there is it's a maximum of 5L, so not really big enough for a sleeping bag.
Many other brands offer bags around these sizes, but I wasn't able to find one made from the super-tough seam-welded TPU fabric. If you're not fussed on immersion-grade waterproofness but need rip-proof confidence, companies like Straightcut Design in Scotland offer bespoke drybag manufacturing for prices close to major manufacturer levels, but you get a perfect fit made from very tough waterproof fabric. I have one for my lightweight tent and another for my sleeping mat/folding campchair/cooking kit, which then Voile-strap to my fork on drj0n Bagworks Strap Decks. Literally and figuratively tidy.
The only thing I'd like to see Aeroe include is an air release valve. Not that packing stuff in is hard, it's just that bit easier with a valve to get that last bit of air out for a totally hard-packed feel and fit.
Aeroe has designed the bags to fit perfectly on its dedicated handlebar-mount Spider Cradle and Spider Rear Rack (review to come). As part of a system of super-tough yet very quick-release luggage, along with the 11L Quick mount Pod (also on test, with a review to come), Aeroe has developed an exceptional modular system with an exceptional price tag to match. But then, these drybags are likely to be the last ones you'll ever need to buy.
Tough and secure way to carry lots of dry gear on your bike for bikepacking trips
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Aeroe Heavy Duty Dry Bag
Size tested: 12 litre
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's for people willing to pay a premium for tough, secure, on-bike storage.
Store anything and everything you need on your ride in this heavy-duty, 8L capacity, waterproof drybag. With no extra straps or annoying cables, you'll enjoy securing or accessing your stuff as much as your ride, thanks to the quick release system.
To secure, loop the Rear Rack or Cradle's in-built straps through the drybags built-in loopholes – providing ultimate grip and a simple set-up.
Forget about your gear and focus on your ride.
Compatible with the Spider Rear Rack or Handlebar/Front Fork Cradle.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Weight: 233g & 308g (0.5 / 0.6lbs) [234g & 325g measured]
Load capacity: 4kgs recommended (9lbs)
Materials: Heavy duty TPU fully welded. Fully waterproof.
Designed in NZ, made in Taiwan
5-7 day free shipping
Can't fault it.
Excellent – totally bombproof and solid fixings.
Early days, but based on what it's made of it'll probably outlast you.
Not light, but still good for the quality and toughness.
Ortlieb Heavy Duty drybags are excellent and start at £20 – but they aren't available in these smaller sizes.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Brilliantly. Attached quickly, stayed put.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The strap retention design, which guarantees no slipping.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Only the price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's definitely a premium – you can get similar tough quality for half the money but not, as far as I can see, in a smaller 8L size. Emma really liked the £35 Altura Anywhere Drybag, with similar features, but that's only 5L.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
They're very good: they work perfectly, but it's a premium price. If these bags were £30ish I'd be giving 5 stars.
About the tester
I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe My best bike is: Nah bro that's it
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L