Oxford’s Aqua V20 Backpack is a classic roll-top drybag with backpack fittings.
It has one main compartment and a larger exterior pocket with a water-resistant zip. There’s a light tab and a lot of reflective detailing down the front of the pack. Instead of a full padded back section, it has three cushioned panels, one for each side of your spine and one across the base. It also boasts both a chest strap and waist belt.
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The welded construction means it’s completely waterproof – there’s no fancy lining but my cargo stayed dry. I used packing cubes and a laptop case because there is no integrated sleeve, but the relatively narrow shape and the roll-top, which can be secured at different heights, kept everything secure.
Once on the bike, the straps and back section work extremely well, providing flexible comfort. The three deep pads in the inverted T pattern ensure most of the pack is held away from your back and, where it does touch, it’s plush. It also makes for better airflow, great for the warmer months.
The shoulder straps, chest strap and waist belt all have a lot of adjustment, which is useful if you’re tall or like to wear your pack low. The only downside is that the free ends are a bit untidy, so I’d be tempted to trim them.
I like the Aqua’s narrowish proportions, which mean you’re hardly aware of the pack when riding and it doesn’t impede glances over the shoulder in traffic.
I expected it to be practical and waterproof, but I hadn’t foreseen all the detail, the comfort, the extensive reflective accents and the fit.
You could spend a lot more on a commuter pack, but if you ride in all conditions and want something that keeps contents dry, you more visible and your bank balance happy, this is a good choice.
How we tested
Commuting on your bike can be more pleasant with the right backpack, but the wrong one could be an expensive mistake.
We’ve reviewed a wide range of commuter bags, from bike-specific packs to more versatile luggage hybrids, to help you decide which is best for your needs.
Regardless of bike size, we packed exactly the same kit for testing: a laptop, a packing cube with a change of work clothes, a shoe bag and a tool roll.
Also on test
- Altura Grid Backpack
- Brooks Dalston Tex Nylon
- Chrome Barrage Cargo 22X
- dhb Waterproof Rucksack
- Fox Transition Duffle Bag
- Ortlieb Atrack CR Urban
- Osprey Transporter Roll
- Rapha Roll Top Backpack
- Vaude ExCycling Pack