Published by Andrew on 13 December 2018
A waterproof backpack can be ideal on day rides or cycling tours if you're not using panniers. Richard Peace reviews the Oxford Aqua B25.
Oxford Aqua B25 backpack
From Oxford Products
Oxford is a UK company making an impressively wide range of their own brand products with the emphasis on both decent quality and attractive price points.
The Aqua B25 is a fully waterproof backpack for cyclists and motorcyclists with rolltop and buckle fastening. It looks extremely well-made from tarpaulin-type canvas with taped seams that I found to be fully waterproof in the rain. It’s a nice feature and for winter commuting in often rainy conditions I prefer this type of construction to rain-resistant bags that often come with a waterproof cover that you have to put on the bag when it starts to rain; I find that can be a bit of a faff. (For the exact difference between waterproof and water resistant and the pros and cons of both, see Bob Zeller’s article on choosing panniers here).
The Aqua B25 has a decent capacity of 25 litres and there are two zipped pocket openings on the back of the bag and two mesh side pockets. It doesn’t offer the flexibility of carrying lots of smaller items – like some water resistant bags do – as being material, it’s easier and more cost effective to sew in lots of pockets and organising sections on the inside of such bags.
However, I found the large capacity of the bag itself ideal for slipping in a largish laptop in a padded case plus hard drive and any extra bits and pieces I happened to be carrying. I often carry the laptop with me by bike and prefer it on my back as it cushions it from the jolts it might get in panniers.
The bag has securing straps that buckle around the chest and the waist, and the latter is actually velcroed onto the bag so you can alter the height a little up or down to a position most comfortable for your build. The straps worked well, keeping the bag tight to my body and stopping any roll, while remaining comfortable. My only real gripe is that if the bag is very full, the roll top part has a tendency to stick out into your line of vision when checking over your shoulder for traffic.
Competing bags from the likes of Osprey and Ortleib tend to be in the £80-£100 bracket, so the price tag here is also welcome.
Overall, I’m highly impressed at both the quality and price of this bag.
Oxford Aqua B25
From Oxford Products
About our reviewer
Richard Peace is the author of the official English-language guidebook to the Veloscenie Paris-Mont-Saint Michel bike route and the Sustrans guide to the London-Paris Avenue Verte. He also contributes to A to B magazine, Bike Europe and Eurobike Show Daily.