Provided you have a rack, a tough, rugged, waterproof pannier in a relatively compact size is a really convenient option for commuting. The Oxford Aqua 14 Pannier ticks a lot of boxes for size, durability, water resistance, reflectivity and even price, but is let down slightly by the clips that fix it to the bike rack.
The pannier is made from an über-tough, heavy duty waterproof fabric with a shiny wipe-clean surface, and fastens with a clip-in roll-top closure. It's one of the most confidence-inspiring waterproof panniers I've used. Even the pocket that's accessible from the front has a water resistant zip, and the pocket itself is made of the same rugged waterproof fabric as the rest of the pannier.
In a downpour so bad that the animals were starting to gather in pairs, there was absolutely no doubt at all that everything in this pannier was going to be just fine. A (very) large Oxford Aqua pannier would probably be a contender for an update to the Ark.
A white pannier may not be to everyone's taste, but there is a black option available too, and both colours feature more generous than usual amounts of reflective accenting, including large chevrons across the bottom of the bag.
Inside, there's a single compartment with removable plastic stiffener for the base and a stiffened back to the bag, plus a large mesh zipped pocket. It's spacious enough for plenty of stuff for a commute, including a medium sized laptop, spare shoes/clothes and a bit of shopping too. It does taper quite a lot, but a 15in laptop just fits, with some space below it where it doesn't reach the bottom. Your laptop will need a protective case of some sort, though, as the bag isn't cushioned. The stiffener inside the base of the bag is removable, which gives a little extra space if needed.
The attachments for the rack are adjustable, and it's super-easy to attach – but this is also where a problem appeared unexpectedly. Although really easy to clip to the rack, it's not so easy to unclip, and the simple clips make it tricky to try to ease them off too. It's a real shame considering what an excellent commuting pannier it is otherwise; if you have to remove it when you arrive at work and/or home, so once or twice a day, it could become a real chore.
When you do manage to remove it, a plastic carrying loop makes it easy to carry around.
Price-wise it's comparable to others of this ilk: the Upso Potters Pannier Jez reviewed recently weighs virtually the same and is £45, while Altura's Arc 20 Roll Top Pannier is a penny less. Address the fitting – or rather, the removing – system and Oxford would have a comparable product in terms of overall performance too.
Tough, a useful size and could probably do double duty as a liferaft... just beware the stiffness of the rack clips
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Oxford Aqua14 Pannier White
Size tested: 14 Litres, Width 320mm, Depth 180mm, Height 360mm
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?
Aimed at commuters and those who use a bike for all-conditions errands. Rugged and waterproof.
A highly durable and effective waterproof pannier of a good size for day-to-day use.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
14 litre capacity
Roll-top clip fastening closure
Internal stiffener (optional)
Zipped mesh pocket inside
Adjustable clip fastening for rack mounting
Plastic grab handle
Tough, incredibly durable, reliably waterproof – just let down by the simple design of the rack mount clips.
Performed very well – waterproof and rugged – but not so handy if you want to remove the bag as the clips are tricky to get off the rack.
This bag will most likely outlive you and your bike...
Heavy but not intended to be a lightweight option as this is all about the durability and waterproofing.
Pretty good value for such a bombproof bag, though not a dissimilar price to many of its ilk.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. Kept everything dry and safe, but rack clips were tricky so it was hard to remove at will.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Confidence inspiring construction and waterproofing, simplicity of design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Rack clips were just too hard to get on and off, making it less useful as a day-to-day bag unless you intended to leave it on the bike.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not with the clips as they are.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? To someone who tends to leave the bag on the bike, yes.
Use this box to explain your score
While it's a very well-made and extremely effective waterproof pannier that should last for years, it could do with more user-friendly rack clips for day-to-day commuting.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.