Vaude Alpin 25+5 cycling Backpack Review


Words by Robert Johnston
Photos by Adam Lievesley

VAUDE are a German brand that have gained a lot of popularity in mainland Europe with their eco-conscious outdoor gear. Their diverse range of products covers just about everything “adventure”, from tents and sleeping bags through to a range of apparel and footwear. Within this range are bags and backpacks for just about any use, including a series of bike-focused bags from slimline hydration packs through to multi-day adventure monsters. We were sent their Bike Alpin 25+5 backpack to put to the test through a winter of saddle time.

The VAUDE Bike Alpin 25+5 backpack is targeted at the multi-day adventure crowd, who are looking to transport a load of gear while still enjoying the ride. As you may have guessed by the name, the Alpin 25+5 sports a 25-liter main storage capacity, which can easily be expanded to 30 liters by undoing the zipper that runs around the circumference of the bag. Keeping you comfortable when riding is the Aeroflex mesh panel that sits against your back, allowing air to flow through and reduce heat buildup. This same mesh panel provides cushion and support, teaming up with some generously padded straps and a thick hip belt to keep the Alpin firmly put when riding. The main straps and hip straps feature a padded foam mesh to distribute the load whilst retaining a little air flow. In the chest area of the main strap is a sternum strap to provide extra pack security for rough descents, which is on a sliding rail to allow for placement in the most comfortable position.

Vaude Alpin 25+5 cycling Backpack Review

The main structure of the Bike Alpin 25+5 is reinforced with a lightweight steel frame to help maintain its shape regardless of the load inside. This steel frame forms part of the F.L.A.S.H. shoulder strap adjustment system, which lets you tailor the shoulder strap lengths easily to ensure you have the best fit. The majority of the materials are polyester with various PU coatings to aid their durability and weatherproofing, some of which is recycled from PET bottles. An Eco Finish water repellent coating is added to the outside of the bag, fending off some light rain without the use of environment-harming fluorocarbons. The Alpin is manufactured to the Greenshape 2.0 environmental friendliness standard, in line with VAUDE’s eco-motives.

The backpack features a vast array of pockets and compartments to cover just about anything you could want to transport with you on an adventure. The main compartment is cavernous and has the ability to be boosted a further 5 liters with the external zip, offering a large bulk of space to stow what you need. This compartment has a flap at the bottom that can be closed to section-off a separate zone, perhaps for wet or smelly used kit, or can be opened up to allow for easy access to the bottom of the compartment to grab deeply buried gear. There’s a sleeve to hold a hydration bladder tight, an exit hole at the top to route the hose out, and a clip on the main strap to hold the nozzle in a convenient place. The outside features two stretchy pockets on the flanks to accommodate bottles or similar diameter items, with pull-straps just above to hold them tight in place. Next to one of these is a fleece-lined pocket that’s ideal to store eyewear out of harm’s way. At the top of the front panel is a zipped pocket with internal mesh sub-pockets and a zipped compartment to keep valuables safe. Lower down is another, larger zipped compartment, targeted at storing tools and spares securely with multiple mesh sub-pockets and some loops for pumps and tools. Concealed behind this is a sleeved area for stowing a map safely. Below the lower entry to the main compartment is a pocket housing a rain cover, to keep the elements off in the worst conditions. The hip strap features a zipped pocket for quick-access snacks or other items. There are two hooks on the front designed to allow helmet straps to slide in but toothed to prevent them slipping back out.

Vaude Alpin 25+5 cycling Backpack Review

It took a little time to get the fit dialed at the back, with some experimentation required to find the most comfortable position for the F.L.A.S.H. strap system to keep the Bike Alpin 25+5 in the correct zone on my back. An initial estimation using the “L” position felt okay until the bag was heavily laden, at which point it felt overly restrictive. Using this system is not particularly intuitive or easy, but once you’ve figured out the method then it’s relatively quick. Changing to the XL left things sitting in a much more natural and comfortable position, so after a little tuning of the strap length on the shoulders and hips, it was time to hit the trails.

I’ll admit I didn’t put the VAUDE bag to the ultimate test of a multi-day adventure during testing, but I did venture out a number of times with the bag deliberately laden to mimic an epic ride. For the times I ventured with the Bike Alpin 25+5 lightly loaded, it was certainly more cumbersome than a more petite option, but that’s to be expected, and it was certainly not a nightmare to ride with. The stability of the bag is impressive in use, with the stiff back panel keeping things from flopping around at all without compromising the comfort. There are straps at about 1/3rd and 2/3rd of the way up the bag that allow you to cinch down the contents inside, which helps a bunch with keeping things solid when you hop or jump. The mesh does a great job at distributing the pressure on the back evenly and is definitely cooler than other bags I’ve used, but you’ll still inevitably end up with a sweaty back during hard efforts as it does prevent your jersey from allowing as much airflow. The huge, padded hip strap keeps things very snugly in place without any pressure spots, and negates the need to use the Sternum strap for anything but the roughest descents or jumpier trails. As with any bag chest strap, fastening it snug does create a pressure on your lungs that can make breathing feel slightly restricted, so it’s a good job that it’s not entirely necessary to use it for the most part.

Vaude Alpin 25+5 cycling Backpack Review

When the pack is on your bag, you can of course easily access the pocket on the hip strap, and can just about feel your way around the side pockets and goggles pocket. Otherwise, there’s a need to whip the bag off to access anything else. The plethora of options for storing items makes short work of organizing the essentials for easy access, and there was never any significant difficulty accessing anything thanks to the dual entry main compartment. The divider in the main compartment came in useful but can be a little fiddly to open and close, especially with kit in the bag, so you’ll ideally want to make the decision whether to use it or not when the bag is empty. The universal hydration hose holder on the strap is a neat touch, helping to keep things organized and prevent the dreaded hose flapping around on the descents. Whether the separation of the upper and lower front pockets was necessary or not I’m not too sure, but they both provide useful options for securing a multitude of items in place. The lower of the two pockets is particularly useful, with some well thought out and effectively constructed mesh pockets. Although it’s not its intended use, the map pocket proved to be a useful spot to keep some food relatively cool, as it’s buried and thus quite well insulated from your skin and the external air. Probably don’t want to forget you’ve stowed your soggy sandwich in there if you’re also using it for a map, though.

The weatherproofing aspects weren’t tested to the fullest, but a rain shower and complete ignorance of the availability of the rain cover led to the water resistance being put to the test. For the most part, the bag remained impressively dry inside, save for a few minor leaks through the zips and a couple of points that became quite saturated. Cleaning off mud was a mixed experience, with each of the different fabrics having their own level of “stick”, but the bag is still looking relatively fresh, nonetheless. The materials VAUDE have selected are suitably durable in the high wear areas and have avoided any thread pulling or major scuffing from trailside objects throughout testing. The helmet holder is very basic to the eye, but surprisingly effective at preventing the helmet straps from lifting out, even holding on to a forgotten helmet during some mid photoshoot side hits, much to my relief.

The Wolf’s Last Word

The VAUDE Bike Alpin 25+5 bag is a solid option for those looking to carry a whole load of gear on their rides. Whether it be a group’s worth of picnic food or kit to go on an epic overnighter, you’re provided with a comfortable bag that’s got a host of well thought out features and tricks up its sleeve.

Price: £110 / €126
Weight: 1170g

We Dig

Large capacity
Comfortable fit
Effective organization
Durable materials

We Don’t

Fiddly internal divider
F.L.A.S.H system not intuitive
Quite bulky if not filled


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