The Best Boxing Heavy Bag: The Aqua Punching Bag Review
The thrill of hitting flesh was just too much...
Boxers form special bonds with their heavy bags.
It's a love-hate relationship. You show up each day to try and kill it and it just hangs there taunting you - winning every single fight you have with it. But you love it still the same.
I was perfectly happy with my 100lb heavy bag and then Eddie Rivera, inventor of the Aqua Punching Bag sent me one of their water filled bags to try out.
For the last week and a bit I've been cheating on my heavy bag with this unique teardrop bag from Gloversville, New York, USA. I love my old heavy bag so I'm almost ashamed to admit it - but I'm certain that my week-long affair with the Aqua Punching Bag will turn into something more serious.
Yes, we really did have that good of a time...but let me start at the beginning...
THE AQUA PUNCHING BAG ARRIVES...
Eddie sent me two of their 21" water filled teardrop bags - a black one and a bad boy blue one.
The aqua punching bags (APBs) come in two sizes - 18" and 21" - and one of four standard colors - black, blood red, bad boy blue, or fireball orange. (Note: You can get custom colors if you're interested in ordering six or more.)
They ship, unfilled and deflated, in a box that weighs about 14lbs and measures approx 2.4ft x 2ft x 1ft.
UPDATE: There are now other aqua punching bags available including the Aqua Bruiser Bag including stabilizer harness and various slip ball punching bag hybrids. Check them out. (use discount code Commandoboxing for 10% off at checkout)
Which brings me to the first good thing about these bags - buying one online (use discount code Commandoboxing for 10% off) and having it shipped to you is not stupid expensive.
Aqua Punching Bags cost about the same as a regular 100lb heavy bag but if you've ever tried to order a heavy bag online then you know that your cost doubles after adding shipping.
You can buy heavy bags that are unfilled and have them shipped more affordably but then you have the hassle of going out and finding some rubber mulch or rags or some other kind of fill for it. A lot of people end up putting sand in their heavy bag which is the wrong thing to do.
That's not an issue with an Aqua Punching Bag - the fill is readily available - you just turn on the tap.
Alrighty - Let's See What's in the Box
When you open the box you'll find the aqua punching bag wrapped in plastic. The aqua punching bag is made out of proprietary blend of something with a vinyl base. Whatever it is - it's indestructible.
You'll also find a heavy-duty 1/2" eye bolt with a 1/2" eye lag screw, a filling nozzle, a plug, and a one page instruction sheet. There is no swivel or mounting hardware (chain, quicklinks, etc...)
READY TO HANG IT
No matter how eager you are to hang and hit the bag - at this point you'll actually want to stop for a second and read the one page instruction sheet - or wish that you had later.
When full, the 21" aqua punching bag weighs about 190lbs (18" weighs 125lbs) and the instructions say to hang it from something that can take four times that weight (don't forget that the floor also needs to take the weight).
I initially figured I'd simply take down my old heavy bag and hang the aqua punching bag in its place for a week or two to test it out. My heavy bag is bolted into a ceiling joist.
I have to admit that the weight of the aqua punching bag made me a bit uneasy - being almost double the weight of my heavy bag. Last thing I wanted to do was pull my roof down or crack the ceiling after hanging it. What ensued was a weekend project and engineering feat as I built a homemade heavy bag stand to hang both bags on.
Anyways - the thing to takeaway is that a full 21" aqua punching bag is heavier than a regular 100lb heavy bag - think about where you're going to hang it.
Once I got the stand built - hanging it was actually easier than hanging a normal heavy bag - because you hang it unfilled and then fill it.
Avoid doing it the other way around like the plague. Trying to maneouvre and lift almost 200lbs of a semi flexible bulb of water is a hell of a workout. I know because I had to move the bag after hanging and filling it. It was a three person job - one to hook and two to lift - not fun.
FILL ER UP
Once it's hanging, I'll offer two points for filling:
- Get someone to work the tap while you hold the nozzle in the filling hole.
- Put a bucket under the bag to catch the spillage.
To fill, you simply put the supplied nozzle on a garden hose, insert into the opening on the bag and turn on the water nice and slow.
Be sure to tilt the nozzle in the opening a bit so air can get out as water goes in. The bag will expand nicely and fill until its full - and you'll know when its full because water starts coming back out of the filling hole.
At that point you insert the plug and tighten with a philips screwdriver. Be careful here - don't twist too hard - the head of the plug is plastic and a screwdriver can easily damage it if you tighten too much. Clean up your hose and any spilled water and voila - the bag is hanging and ready for some punishment.
HITTING THE AQUA PUNCHING BAG
The instructions say not to hit the bag without covered hands so I hit it with uncovered hands. They were right - you wouldn't want to do that for long - it's not a good feeling at all.
Next I wrapped up and threw on some bag gloves.
Now, up to this point in my 16+ year boxing career I have been totally satisfied with my old 100lb heavy bag. I guess ignorance truly is bliss because I think I fell in love with the aqua punching bag after the first punch. I really didn't think there would be that much of a difference, but I'm not exaggerating one bit when I say that hitting this bag was nothing short of awesome.
Here's what I love so much about this bag and why you're going to love it too:
It barely moves no matter how hard you hit it...
...and that's super important if you attach it to any part of your house. The water absorbs and flows around your punch which translates into far less movement compared to a heavy bag that doesn't flex as much.
My jabs barely moved the water bag at all. My uppercuts barely lifted it. My straight rights and hooks moved it a bit, but nothing comparable to how wildly a heavy bag swings.
For this reason alone, as long as your roof can handle the weight, I'd recommend this bag for home setups. I always had a problem with my heavy bag in my garage shaking the hell out of the house when I hit it even after attaching a heavy bag spring to lessen the vibration. With the aqua punching bag, that vibration is almost non-existent. You still get the sound of your punches hitting the bag but it is no more or less than hitting a regular heavybag.
There really is less impact on your joints/bones.
Hitting this thing really is like hitting flesh and blood. It gives where a heavy bag doesn't. You can barely feel any impact on your hands at all, but you know it's there.
Heavy bags tend to compress over time as gravity pulls the fill downwards. You end up with a bag that is feather soft at the top and concrete hard at the bottom. That is not an issue at all with an aqua heavy bag.
Provides incredible resistance.
The 21inch version is almost double the weight of my regular heavy bag. That provides a lot of resistance to help develop more power and strength and gives you a great workout. This is not a bag you're going to outgrow anytime soon.
It's spherical - tear -drop shape is awesome for all sorts of punches including uppercuts. Up to now, my uppercuts got worked out at the club where we have uppercut bags. Now I can train them at home as well.
It's going to last forever.
This bag is indestructible. Nobody is strong enough to damage this thing. A bat can't damage this thing. I've been hitting and training with it for over a week and there isn't a scratch on it. I even dropped it from a height of about 5ft and it wasn't even phased.
Short of intentionally driving a screwdriver or knife into it - it is going to last through years and years and years of abuse. You can hang it outside, inside, and never have to worry about the fill turning into cement (like sand) or going moldy (like rotting rags).
IT'S NOT QUITE PERFECT
While the aqua punching bag easily won me over, it does have some issues to consider before buying it as your one and only primary training bag:
There is nothing to hit at body height. It's a tradeoff - I can't throw hard uppercuts on a regular heavy bag and I can't throw body shots on the aqua punching bag. If only they could combine the two (and I'm told a model is in the works...)
I live in Canada where it goes down to -40 degrees celsius or more. I currently have this bag hanging in my garage which is insulated but not heated.
Water freezes and expands when frozen. If the water in that bag freezes - it may damage the bag depending on how much flex it has (I don't know - haven't tried it yet), but even more likely - I think I'm going to have a block of ice that will not be hittable. It's supposed to snow this weekend so I'll update this once I've subjected it to a Canadian winter.
Eddie tells me they have two hanging outside year round and it gets cold in New York too. They add a jug of antifreeze to it and it keeps it fluid. I'll give that a go and see how it works.
UPDATE #1: Well it's finally spring here in Canada and I'm happy to report that my Aqua Punching Bag did great all winter. My concern as to whether or not the bag would freeze and turn in to a block of ice never materialized. I have mine hanging in my garage up here in Canada. I can report that it has made it through a number of consecutive days of -30 C weather and blizzards and did not freeze to the point of being unusable.
My garage is not heated but it is insulated so I'm sure it didn't get the full Canadian winter experience but I do know it gets below freezing in there because I always started off freezing my arse off in there every morning I go in to train.
The makers of the bag did advise that I could put antifreeze in the bag to help keep it from freezing. They told me they do that and have a couple hanging outside year round. I'm sure it's durable enough to withstand the elements and if the antifreeze keeps the water from freezing you shouldn't have any problems.
If anyone does leave out in the elements I'd be interested in hearing how you make out.
Moving it is a pain in the ass...
If I want to move my heavy bag - it's a fairly simple procedure that can be accomplished with myself and one other - or even by myself in a pinch. Moving a full aqua punching bag is at least a three person job unless you're built like Ronnie Coleman.
UPDATE #2: I figured out a simpler way to move the bag without having to empty it. I attach a rope to the carabiner, throw it over the beam the bag is hanging from and tie a foot hold in the rope as high up as I can. Stepping in the loop I made lifts the bag high enough to unclip it from the carabiner and it can then be lowered to the floor. There's enough friction from the rope/beam to keep from losing control of it. Roll it to where you want it, then hoist it back up. I needed to move mine (again) a bit further into the middle of the room and this worked like a charm.
TRAINERS AND COACHES
I reviewed the Aqua Punching Bag as a home consumer product but everything I've written here applies in spades to a club or training facility. This bag is perfect for all sorts of applications and is especially suited for new boxers and boxing for fitness classes.
As it is relatively low impact compared to a regular heavy bag - it is somewhat forgiving. We all know that punch technique is not always spot on with beginners or those using boxing as a means to get in shape and have heard our new boxers complaining of sore wrists, hands, joints, etc...
The Aqua Punching Bag will solve some of those initial problems - giving your new boxers a chance to strengthen hands and wrists without as much pain or risk of injury. That keeps them happier and coming back - so putting one or two of these bags in your gym or club is just good business sense.
On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best - the Aqua Punching Bag gets a 9.
The folks that make the aqua punching bag have generously offered Commando Boxing customers a 10% discount off the price of the bag simply for just being awesome - the coupon code Commandoboxing will be applied at checkout.
If you are in the market for a heavy bag - get an Aqua Punching Bag (use discount coupon code Commandoboxing at checkout for 10% off) - you won't regret it.
If you already have a heavy bag, then hang an Aqua Punching Bag next to it - it will bring a whole new dimension to your training.
Just in case you're still not sure that this bag is as good as I say it is - it has a 60 day return policy and 2 year warranty.
Buy an Aqua Punching Bag (use coupon code Commandoboxing at checkout for 10% off) - I'm 99% sure you won't be sending it back.
Full Disclosure: I wrote this review after Aqua Punching Bag contacted me and sent me a free sample to try. This is an honest assessment of what I truly like and dislike about the Aqua Punching Bag and have not received any kind of payment to write nice things about it. It's just a damn good product for boxers of all skill levels.