Oxford Aqua Evo Adventure Top Tube Pack
The Oxford Aqua Evo Adventure Top Tube Pack is a simple, capacious and highly weather resistant model. The lower profile and solid Velcro straps mean it’s a secure fit, especially on thinner diameter tubing and though knee-brushing has been infrequent, it can also be tethered to the top tube and seat post, should you prefer. However, I have lined the base for soundproofing and general refinement.
Pros: Lightweight, good capacity, highly water resistant, velcro very secure- especially on thinner diameter tubing.
Cons: No ports for cabling e.g. charging lights and accessories.
Measuring 35x15cm and with a generous 1.5 litre capacity, the bag is made from 400D rip stop Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) often described as a bridge between rubbers and plastics. Smooth to touch and flexible, TPU expands without stress and its properties stay stable in extremes of temperature. An obvious choice for bike luggage and the smooth texture ensures it's easily wiped clean.
Electronically welded seams and a zipper garage continue the weather repelling narrative, although the zipper itself isn’t waterproof, hence IPX6. Not waterproof in the truly impervious sense but will resist water sprayed at high pressure. IPX7 will withstand full blown immersion for 30 minutes. Arguably the way forward for river crossings and similar extreme contexts, but otherwise, IPX6 covers most bases
Talking of which the base is very flat, means it sits nicely atop varying shapes and diameters of top tubes. From angular hydroformed 6061 and 7005 series aluminium alloys to thinner gauges of 531. Great if you are switching between bikes or wanting something for an older cyclo cross rig.
Internally it has a very thin foam lining. I’ve put tooling in a “pencil case” made from recycled inner tube for silence and refinement. Sturdy Velcro straps continue the dependable, universal fit narrative. Nonetheless (and this goes for frame fitting/bike packing luggage per se), apply some “helicopter” tape such as this Zefal Skin Armor , or old butyl inner tube to areas of the frame where bags touch. Retro-reflective graphics are always welcome, and the Evo Adventure’s are bold enough to be useful.
Test Bike/ Contexts
My fixed gear winter/trainer was the obvious host. I like to keep certain things close to hand on a ride-phone, snakes, spare tube, multi tool, micro jacket, or glove liners for example. Save for some bolt on designs (which I have attached using Topeak Versamounts ) I’ve found some models of top tube bag a poor fit on small to medium diameter top tubes, steel specifically. This leads to them rotating annoyingly, even when lightly laden, nudging knees and generally getting in the way. Along with Ursula, it sees hell (and sometimes high water), four seasons’ service. November was also wet enough that next door’s cat was nagging me about building an ark...Ideal conditions.
Overall performance has impressed me, especially given the asking price. With very efficient packing I was able to cram a decent amount in. Gore Tex Over-mitts, micro –jacket, liner gloves and a spare tube. When the weather’s been more predictable, I’ve left the liners and Gore Tex home, substituting these for the K-Lite Twin Port Charger . Next came CO2 cartridge and inflator, multi tool, tyre levers and cable ties.
I’ve placed these inside a pencil case made from recycled inner tubes to stop unwanted bounce and potential damage. Finally, I added a 600lumen Ravemen light- for roadside pit-stops, key finding etc. Even with this payload, the pack didn’t feel over-burdened, neither has it interfere with cadence- at least on the flat.
Out of the saddle, when climbing proper, I had to adopt a slight knees-out style but something I quickly accustomed to and less pronounced than some I’ve used in the recent past. Vibration and associated noise over washboard tarmac, rumble strips etc has been a moot point but lining and careful filling helps. Thanks to the long zipper tag, access to the compartment isn’t a major hassle mid ride. Less convenient than a magnetic closure but didn’t take me long to master - even in full finger gloves.
Did I mention it had been wet. Well, Monsoon has been nearer the mark at times. Location helps since the zipper is shielded by the rider. Nonetheless, nothing has become damp, let alone soggy during some torrential downpours. I’ve left ours in situ when treating the bike to a well-deserved sudsy bucket clean and passed my 3-minute garden hose torture test with similar finesse. As a precaution, I’d pop vulnerable stuff- cash, phones etc in a sealed “freezer” bag but this isn’t a reflection, or lack of faith in the EVO Adventure-I would with any luggage. Look closely and you’ll notice a few splashes of water on the butyl tube. This is just spatter thrown in from the zipper garage and body when I’ve pulled the zipper open .
Again, the bag’s location ensures it’s also protected from the thrills and spills. No issues with overhanging foliage, or signs of abrasion damage. Zippers can be a weak spot, especially if you’re of the stuff it to the gill's persuasion. However, no problems to date and no obvious issues here. Don’t be tempted to chuck it in with the machine wash though. A quick wipe-over with a damp cloth or shot of bike wash if it's particularly crusty.
£20 is competitive given the specification and overall performance. Passport Top Tube Pack offers 1.8 litres and top deck with clear window for GPS etc. Padding as standard may be another draw. However, the 210 denier Nylon is stitched, rather than welded, so not weatherproof to the same degree. Steve was seriously impressed with UPSO Tebay . Handmade from recycled Lorry tarp it’ll hold 1.5 litres, has internal side-pockets, is nigh on waterproof, grips the frame like a limpet. However, at £35 it’s a good bit steeper, too. Lifeline Adventure Top Tube Bag is £19.99 for the large version. It boasts a TPU coated 300 denier rip-stop polyester bag, welded construction, beefy Velcro and a cable point for charging tech.
Minor things and price-related compromises (a fully waterproof zipper would be welcome upgrades, even if it meant upping the price by a couple of pounds) aside, the Oxford Evo Adventure Top Tube Bag is a sensible size, seemingly stable and highly water-repellent. Well worth a closer look, whether if you’re bike packing on a budget, or just wanting to carry a bit of extra, easily accessible kit.