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review

Oxford Aqua V 20 Backpack

8
£54.99

VERDICT:

8
10
Very roomy and great for wet days and heavy loads – could use a laptop pocket, though
Very comfy for heavy loads
Roll-top closure is adaptable
Waterproof
No laptop divider
Weight: 
720g

The Oxford Aqua V 20 Backpack is a good commuter option for rainy weather and heavy loads. The back support provided by the waist and chest straps is excellent, and the padding is very comfortable. I'd like to see some internal organisation though, or at least a laptop sleeve.

Oxford's Aqua V 20 Backpack has gone wherever I've gone for the past month or so. My normal commute has been cut to one once or twice a week when I'm required to staff the office, and much of what I'd expect to carry in this backpack has been swapped for groceries and other odd cargoes.

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This is the Aqua V20's first strength over my usual bag. The roll-top is excellent at adapting to awkward shapes, converting me to this design – I don't think I could manage without the ability to lob just about anything in there.

2020 Oxford Aqua V 20 Backpack Navy - detail.jpg

Occasionally a new component (or bit of shopping) did manage to prod me in the back as I rode, as the rear panel is not rigid, but it's generally very comfortable.

2020 Oxford Aqua V 20 Backpack Navy - back padding.jpg

Inside I would really have liked a laptop sleeve for a bit of organisation and protection. That said, you can get laptop sleeves for next to nothing, so this too isn't the biggest issue.

> Cycle commuting: 14 hassles to avoid so you get to work easily

What the Aqua V 20 does exceptionally well is carry heavier loads. The shoulder padding is very dense and comfortable, while the chest and waist straps both help distribute the load and stop it swinging when you get out of the saddle.

2020 Oxford Aqua V 20 Backpack Navy - chest strap.jpg

The waterproof design has proved flawless in some very heavy rain. There's not much more to say than the bag didn't let in any water, and I'm confident it won't start to either – I've not been careful with this thing, but it's fine. It's been scraped quite a bit but shows no signs of wear.

2020 Oxford Aqua V 20 Backpack Navy - detail 2.jpg

There is a reflective print for a little extra visibility, plus a loop for a rear light. Oxford has also specced a small, waterproof zippered pocket for essentials – it's big enough for keys and a wallet.

2020 Oxford Aqua V 20 Backpack Navy - light loop.jpg

One slight issue I have is the length of the straps, as you end up with a lot of excess, and the system for folding it away is fiddly and ends up looking untidy. But then, technically this pack is for motorcycles, so the straps have to stretch over very bulky jackets. Trimming them takes seconds and in all other ways it's a perfect bag for cycling.

Value

At £54.99, it's decent value. Ortleib's Velocity 17L is £90 for instance, but you do get internal dividers. Evoc's Commuter 18L is even more expensive at £129.99, though again, there is more internal sorting going on.

For commuting in rain and carrying heavy or odd loads, the Oxford Aqua V 20 is very good. The only letdown is the lack of commuter-friendly organisation inside – but even that's an easily solvable problem.

Verdict

Very roomy and great for wet days and heavy loads – could use a laptop pocket, though

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Oxford Aqua V 20 Backpack

Size tested: (HxWxD) 50x20x23cm

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?

Oxford doesn't specifically say, but it's a waterproof rucksack aimed at commuters.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Waterproof roll top closure

Phyzibility - 360 degree reflective detailing

3 x Air Mesh padded panels for greater air circulation and comfort

Water resistant zipped external pocket

Wipe clean, waterproof construction with welded seams

Reflective webbing loop for tail light attachment

Adjustable chest and waist strap

Longer length straps for improved comfort when riding

Carry handle

Approx. size when filled: (HxWxD) 50x20x23cm

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
10/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well. It shuts out rain with ease.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Its support makes lugging heavy loads a bit comfier.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The lack of any internal dividers means delicate electronics can be sharing space with sharp objects and smelly kit.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It compares well, especially given the waterproofing.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? No – I need more compartments

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

This is a functional and good value wet-weather backpack with excellent heavy load support. With a few more commuter-friendly touches, such as a laptop compartment, it could be a nine.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 24  Height: 177cm  Weight: 62kg

I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!

Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.

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