The Oxford Aqua Evo Adventure Seat Pack feels reassuringly tough, utilising a rugged Ripstop 400d TPU fabric and robustly stitched seams. The buckles and attachment points all felt strong and tactile, too - no issues regarding the longevity here. It's worth noting that the bag has a very rigid structure, which does help in keeping the bag stable, but does mean it's more sensitive to the shape and order of the kit you pack. With its highly competitive retail price, it's well worth considering, so long as weight isn't your primary concern.
Stable on the bike, not much sway
On the heavier side
Shape is quite rigid
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The Oxford Aqua Evo Adventure Seat Pack is the bikepacking saddle bag in Oxford Products’ range. Coming in at a wallet friendly price point, it's an inviting option for those looking to dip their toes into the world of adventure cycling without breaking the bank.
Although heavier than some of the more premium brands, in our testing we found the Aqua Evo is still plenty rugged enough and comes recommended as one of the best bikepacking bags for long rides and multi-day adventures.
Oxford Aqua Evo Adventure Seat Pack: construction
To get to grips with the Oxford Aqua Evo Adventure Seat Pack, I treated myself to a overnight excursion to the south side of the Cotswolds, and it must be said I was generally impressed with it. The 10 litre capacity, although not quite as spacious as some of the other packs on the market, was plenty of space for my two-season sleeping bag, a good set of thermals and my tarp packed down very small.
If anything, the limiting factor to the space inside is the hypalon panels on the sides and back of the saddle bag. They feel like plastic cards inside the material of the saddle bag, clearly designed to hold the shape of the bag more open. This works pretty effectively, although it does mean the shape of the saddle bag is predetermined, so arguably slightly less practical than say the dry bag and holster design of something like the Restrap Saddle Bag.
The mounting points are all really solid thoughout, which is nice to see. The bag naturally tends to sit more vertically than other saddlebags, and I found this helped to reduce that pesky sway that many bikepacking bags really suffer from. One thing to point out though, is that if you run a lot of saddle layback it will push the saddle bag into a more horizontal position, which in turn increases the sag.
The aforementioned hypalon panels also do a great job of keeping the bag secure. This really is the main turnoff for these kinds of bags, so actually for a likely very small weight penalty, I’m happy to see these included in the bag.
As for external storage, the Aqua Evo does also come with a bungee cord laced up on top, which is perfect for a pair of sandals or other lightweight items that need to be quickly accessed, and Oxford has also included some reflective detailing - both of these design features very similar to that of the Ortlieb seat packs, which is by all means no bad thing!
I was pleasantly surprised with the build quality of the Oxford Aqua Evo Adventure Seat Pack. The brand has used a 400D ripstop TPU material which seemed plenty tough enough to handle whatever I threw at it.
On the second day of the loop the weather was pretty miserable, with four solid hours of riding through the rain. But even with all that, there was no leaking or any water ingress in the slightest - top marks in that regard!
The welded seams held up really well and the roll top opening - which is pretty much ubiquitous for this style of bag - also passed with flying colours. The Aqua Evo is rated as IPX6, which means that even powerful water jets should be no trouble. But even so, for things you really care about, such as any electronics, it's always sensible to 'double-bag' them before heading out.
The buckles and straps all felt pretty robust as well. A mixture of heavy duty braided nylon, and the same ripstop TPU material which is seen on most of the bag. The hook and link seatpost straps held up pretty well, although it's fair to say they didn’t feel quite as secure as the equivalent Restrap straps - then again, that is comparing against a premium brand, and so that is to be expected. From my time with the bag, I have confidence that all the fixings and fittings will hold up over time.
Value and conclusion
All in all, Oxford Products has come up with something great here. The quality is great for the £54.99 price tag, with the only real sacrifice being an extra 150 grams over the flagship competitors such as Ortlieb, which sell its 11-litre Seat-Pack for £125. The materials and construction all feel high quality and the waterproofing also proved itself as well. All the main boxes are ticked for those looking to get into bikepacking on a budget
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