A Modern Backpack for Efficient One-Bag Travel
The ARCIDO OXNA is, without a doubt, the best backpack I’ve ever travelled with. Awesome design, superb comfort, and pure durability make this more or less the perfect backpack.
Among others, I’ve backpacked with a 55L Osprey, a 32L Jack Wolfskin, a 35L ARCIDO, and a 22L Patagonia. At 28L (I think it’s actually 29), the ARCIDO OXNA is just the right size for minimalist one-bag travellers, while allowing some extra space for more items if you need it.
To get a detailed overview, checkout this ARCIDO OXNA backpack review by Chase Reeves:
I know about ARCIDO because I found their original Kickstarter and eventually started contributing to their blog. This means I’ve really gotten to know the team and philosophy behind their products.
However, this review isn’t sponsored by them and I bought the OXNA with my own money, after previously owning the FAROE and the AKRA. I may be loyal to ARCIDO, but only because I genuinely love their products.
Here’s the main things you need to know about the OXNA.
The ARCIDO OXNA is Beautiful and Durable
Style matters in the world of travel and every wanderer has their own. As a digital nomad, I appreciate a bag that looks a bit techy, while still being cool. The all-black OXNA works for my style. The large mesh front pocket stops the bag from being too dull while keeping a generally minimalist design.
Meanwhile, the white interior offers a bright background against which my mostly dark-coloured travel items stand out. I like how the mesh back padding looks, with its simple but comforting feel. Same, too, for the straps, which are pleasantly contoured.
The OXNA is versatile; I’ve used it comfortably in a number of settings. The black aesthetics, hideaway straps, and side handle mean that it looks fine when I’ve taken it to an office. At the same time, it has a technical feel with rugged handles and water-resistant materials, so I’m confident trekking into jungles and mountains with this thing. Though designed more for an urban environment, ARCIDO’s products tend to hold up well in the great outdoors.
The OXNA is made of a recycled Kodra, making it both sustainable and technical.
It mostly feels well-made, but the mesh began to rip pretty quickly. The mesh water bottle holder can still just about support my one-litre steel flask, but there are some serious rips in the material. I’ve put this bag through its paces though, mostly using it in the rugged terrain of Ghana.
I’m also not overly keen on the shape of the main compartment. It becomes narrow towards the bottom, so you lose some visibility. I usually stuff a packing cube down there, but then there’s still empty space that needs filling or gets wasted. The bottom of the bag also looks weird when it’s not stuffed full, with the base sticking out a little. It’s not a massive problem, but it’s one small flaw in an otherwise beautiful bag.
Mostly, I just love how nice this thing is to wear. It fits close to your back and just kind of stays in place. There’s no movement, so you can be active with the bag on your back and hardly notice it.
OXNA: The World’s Most Functional Backpack?
ARCIDO value efficiency on the move and their backpack designs reflect this. Here are my favourite features:
Hidden Passport Pocket
Why don’t all bags come with this? Honestly, it’s been one of the most useful features. Firstly, I like having a dedicated wallet and passport pocket. These are the only two genuinely essential travel items and having a specified place for them means you always know where they are. They’re easy for the wearer to grab quickly while being hidden from everyone else.
Backpacks are fundamentally risky for travellers. Though I’ll always favour one over a suitcase, you always risk a pickpocket unzipping it. This actually happened to me in a bar in Ghana. I was ordering a beer while a man behind me unzipped the quick access pocket. Fortunately, I was smart enough to not put anything expensive in there. When your valuables are against your back, you travel with peace of mind.
OXNA Dedicated Charger pocket
Does anyone ever use two water bottle holders? Maybe they do, but I’ve always found one bottle to be enough. ARCIDO have removed the other one and placed a dedicated charger pocket, which I’ve used a lot.
Other backpacks include a zipped pocket within a water bottle holder, so you can use either-or, but I think the OXNA design works well. It fits a fair amount, too, so I often put my power bank in there as well as my laptop charger. My phone can then get a little juice while I’m sat on a plane, not using it anyway.
ARCIDO took a risk with their laptop compartments on the FAROE and the AKRA. Essentially, they’re a fully adjustable harness system, that can snugly fit any sized laptop and lift it off the bottom of the bag. Although I like the idea, the execution wasn’t great and honestly, it was just a faff.
For the OXNA, they’ve included the standard sleeve with a velcro fastening. It’s located up against your back, as it should be. All pretty standard, but they’ve just done it really well. I like that the laptop compartment opens fully so you can lay it out flat and that there’s some dimension built-in if you want to add a slightly bulky item, like a notepad.
There’s enough padding for me to feel confident about the safety of my laptop. It has a false bottom too, to protect your computer if you drop the bag.
OXNA’s Compression Packing Cube
ARCIDO bags often come with tailor-made packing cubes, designed to fit in the bag perfectly. I LOVE packing cubes, so this was a big pull for me to opt for ARCIDO over other brands. I feared they might not hold up well next to expert packing cube makers like Eagle Creek or Peak Design, but I was wrong.
The OXNA comes with just one packing cube. Unlike previous packing cubes offered by ARCIDO, this one is double-sided and compressible. As compression cubes go, this is one of the best . I’ve stuffed absolutely loads in there and there’s no sign of the zips or mesh breaking. It then offers significant compression, keeping all your clothes organised and making room for other items. I pair this with the Bellroy tech pouch and the ARCIDO Washbag: that’s more or less everything I need.
When I bought the OXNA, it came with another bag: the ARO. This little thing is genius. It’s a packable backpack, but the materials feel amazing. At 16L it’s perfect as a smaller day bag when you don’t need so much stuff.
I’ve used the ARO a fair amount for when I don’t want to risk my OXNA getting lost or stolen. For instance, it’s great for quick trips to the market.
While I like the high-quality feel and somewhat padded straps, I don’t love this bag as much as the OXNA.
With no back padding, anything you put in it will feel uncomfortable on your back. This is inevitable with packable day bags, however. It was a good idea for ARCIDO to release these together, but I’d rather just use the OXNA as a day bag. I view the ARO more as an emergency backup bag.
It’s nice to have a small bag just for your phone, wallet, and keys if that’s all you need, but the ARO isn’t great for this because it’s still a backpack. For that, I’d rather a sling-style bag. I’ve been eyeing up a few that I hope to try out soon.
Overall, the OXNA gets pretty close to being my perfect backpack. The mesh could have held up better and I’d like to see a main compartment that opens up more at the bottom, but these are small problems I can deal with. In terms of style, durability, and functionality, this is about as close to a perfect 10 as a backpack can get.