Brooks is a company with a serious history. The brand goes back to the late 19th century and as long as there have been bikes there has been Brooks. Throughout that long history, things remained remarkably unchanged. Products consisted of handcrafted leather saddles and bags for the finest connoisseurs. About 15 years ago that started to change.
Brooks started making more functional bags for city riding and touring. In 2013 a vulcanized rubber saddle called the Cambium made its way into the Brooks line of products. In some ways, the Cambium changed everything for Brooks. As the gravel bike found its way into the mainstream the Cambium became a darling of the community. All of a sudden Brooks found itself in a more sporting market. The new market had new needs and they looked to Brooks for the answers.
Late in 2020, the Scape line-up hit the market to answer the needs of the adventure cycling community. The Scape line-up isn't exactly early to the party. Instead of being first, Brooks took its time. It made sure it could build a product that matched its standards. This also gave it a chance to see what the needs were. The result is a wide-ranging line-up of high-quality products.
Whatever adventure cycling looks like to you there are options in the Scape line-up. There are pieces designed for more traditional touring and there are products for bikepacking. There are also options for short trips and everything lets you mix and match. We take a look at the big bikepacking bags.
Design and aesthetics
The Brooks Scape lineup has a design revolving around three collections. There is the Bikepacking Adventure, the Ride Around The World, and finally the Short Day Trip collection. You can translate those names as bikepacking, touring, or everyday riding.
What's important to remember is everything is modular. If you are looking to outfit your bike from scratch it's easy to choose an entire collection. The longer-range collections have pieces unique to their style of traveling but there are also shared pieces. The Short Day Trip collection is just a small portion of the bags that the other two collections share. There are also a couple of bags that aren't specific to any collection but pair with everything. It's a concise story of potential use cases but there is plenty of choice.
We had a chance to look at the Bikepacking Adventure collection. The pieces included the Handlebar Roll, Seatbag, Frame Bag, and Top Tube Bag. There is also the Saddle Pocket Bag which we left off, and the Handlebar pouch that attaches to the Handlebar Roll if you need more space. These are the bags that would work well on the longest adventures.
If you wanted to keep things a bit more compact you could leave the Handlebar Roll out completely in favor of the Handlebar Pouch. There is also a Saddle Roll Bag if you wanted less storage under the saddle. This combination of concise collections and modularity is one of the benefits of the Brooks vision. Instead of a bunch of products, there's a clear vision of how things can best work and flexibility for using them how you want to.
Whatever you end up choosing, the construction is similar. All the zippers are high-quality YKK pieces with protection from the elements and easy to grab pulls. The fabric is a dark green textured nylon that feels a lot like Cordura on the outside and has a PU coating on the interior. The seams are completely welded and everything is waterproof. Connections to the bike are handled via rubberized hook and loop straps. Anytime there is a buckle it's a noticeably high-quality silver brushed piece. The buckles contrast beautifully against the green with black details of the rest of the bags and are a real highlight of the design.
With a background in art and design, when I see a product with such a clear vision and clean aesthetic it's a signal. These aren't hastily thrown together pieces. They also aren't pieces born one at a time as an evolution of needs. Brooks has given its designers the space to look at the whole system and think through each piece. That's good for visual coherence but it's also in the performance details.
It's the details that take performance to the next level and those are everywhere you look in the Scape system. The frame bag and top tube bag have sharp corners and structured fabric. It's a sleek look but it also keeps them from flopping around and rubbing against your legs as you pedal. If they aren't completely full there's no noticeable loss of performance.
You can also find attention to detail in the places where there's likely to be abrasion or where straps connect. The rear section of the Seatbag has an extra durable coating. The places where the straps connect to the bags have extra reinforcement and if it's going to touch the frame there's a smoother fabric. Even the logos feel high quality. You can see the consideration everywhere you look.
Zippers can be a common point of first failure on a bag. Brooks puts high-quality YKK zippers to use and there are different zippers where it makes sense. The frame bag has a long zipper on each side. One side uses a fine-tooth zipper with a weather flap. If you need to route something out of the bag, without using the cable port, there's protection from the elements. On the other side of the bag, there's no flap and instead of a zipper with teeth, there's a track type of system without any teeth at all. It's tougher to move one-handed but totally waterproof and unaffected by dirt. Move over to the Top Tube Bag - likely to see more use and more elemental exposure - and it's a zipper with larger teeth. Considered, smart design and by extension performance at every opportunity.
Brooks has a reputation for making leather goods for the more refined cyclist. The Scape line-up is a system of bags with a more sporting vision but it doesn't stray too far from the reputation. Instead of leather, you will find technical fabrics but there is still an obvious thoughtfulness to each piece. Pick and choose what you need from the system or outfit your whole bike. Either way, the pieces are high performance and well designed.
Tech Specs: Brooks Scape bikepacking bags
- Capacity: 3 L
- Dimensions: W 460 x H 120 x D 60 mm
- Weight: 200 g
- Max Load: 3 kg
- Capacity: 8 L
- Dimensions: W 400-600 x H 180 x D 140 mm
- Dry Bag: 620 x 320 mm
- Weight: 500 g
- Max Load: 3 kg
- Waterproof: IPX4 Certified
- Capacity: 10-12 L
- Dimensions: W 350-400 mm x H 160 x D 160 mm
- Dry Bag: 740 x 280 mm
- Weight: 670 g
- Max Load: 5 kg
- Waterproof: IPX4 certified
Top Tube Bag
- Capacity: 0.9 L
- Dimensions: W 210 x H 110 x D 40 mm
- Weight: 100 g
- Max Load: 1 kg