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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Very roomy and great for wet days and heavy loads – could use a laptop pocket, though
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
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
Approx. size when filled: (HxWxD) 50x20x23cm
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.
About the tester
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.