OXFORD AQUA V14 PANNIER
1064g White (as tested) £39.99
The Aqua V14, from Oxford, is a waterproof fourteen litre pannier with an emphasis on visibility. Whilst this shouts “commute” there’s more to this than being bright and being seen. With some neat touches, Oxford have come up with a tidily made bit of gear which serves its purpose very well.
Pros: truly waterproof, useful compartments.
Cons: a more flexible fixing system would be handy.
One hundred percent waterproof PVC panniers are nothing special these days, but nonetheless this is a good starting point for any cyclist. Fourteen litre capacity is not especially large, but should satisfy most commuters and many leisure riders. Not only is the material waterproof, it feels confidently rugged, too.
Welded seams are crucial to genuine waterproofing, so Oxford’s spec to their Chinese manufacturers is spot on. Mind you, a useful zipped outer pocket is only water-resistant for that very reason – there’s a zip. Mind you, in all but the toughest assault, this is likely to be a technicality.
Roll-tops or box-tops are a moot point when it comes to panniers. Personally, I like roll-tops, such as this. Some bigger loads seem to do better with a shaped-top, but the Aqua V14 isn’t a bulk carrier in any case.
The almost de riguer release buckles hold the rolled-top closed.
Internally, there’s a zipped mesh pocket to aid organisation. There’s also a “stiffener” for the bottom of the pannier, which can be fitted and removed easily. Some pannier, such as the UPSO Potters Pannier, have reinforced bases anyway, and I’m not quite sure that I’ll be removing the “stiffener”.
Externally, a bash-plate helps protect the fabric against too closer contact with the rack. Then, of course, comes striking zig-zag reflective detail.
Slightly unusually, there’s a polyester lining, offering additional protection for contents, and giving a rather luxurious impression.
Attachment to the rack is by two plastic hooks and a retaining bar. The former can be adjusted to position, and seem to squeeze over most rack tube sizes. There’s no doubt they hold firm when rattling over some of our rougher sections of cycle track. The fiddly bity is removing the pannier form the rack. Just pull by the sturdy, ergonomic, carrying handle and the limpet-like hooks bring your bike with it. A hand on the rack and a prise of each hook is required. That’s not a deal-breaker, but some may seek more sophisticated systems – such as Ortlieb’s or UPSO’s click and lift. The retaining bar is adjustable to fit different strut patterns, such as this Axiom and the Blackburn.
Our white looks bright and it has not taken much more than a wipe over with a damp cloth to keep it that way. The Aqua V14 is also available in black.
I’ve managed to comfortably load pump, tubes, levers, multi-tool – at the bottom – with office shoes, waterproof jacket, medium-sized laptop (in protective sleeve), lock, and sarnies. Even added a little convenience store shopping on the way home. Has not overburdened things.
In common with other panniers, overpacking the internal pocket can easily snag everything else, so it’s been home to wallet, phone, notebooks etc. In fact, except on wet days, phone in the external pocket has saved fiddling about.
There’s no doubting proof against water. As with any fabric pannier, just have a care if carrying sharps. On a similar note, there’s been no ill effect so far from the occasional scrape on an A-frame obstruction or the corner of a canal bridge, but don’t push the rugged looks too far.
White is certainly easily visible. In the dark further valuable presence from side and rear – especially helpful at busy junctions – seems to be effective. Certainly, they give a definite presence at twenty to thirty metres. Some have suggested that these reflective strips would be more effective on the black version.
Fundamentally, these are a rock-solid commuting or leisure pannier. Weekend away without a tent, sure, but multi-day tourers or beasts of burden will go larger.
Price is pretty competitive. Axioms Monsoon Hydrocore are a little larger and can be found heavily discounted on their RRP (89.99 / 39.99), but don’t have the same reflective credentials. Altura offer similar and slightly cheaper. Having said that, I’ve seen the Aqua V14 discounted on-line, too.
The only real grouse is the hooks. Something a little more sophisticated would certainly add to the Aqua V14’s rugged attractions.