Brooks, arguably the name in British saddle production for generations, has over recent years branched out into bags and more traditional bike luggage, all with that famous Brooks quality and understated design. The Brooks Scape range is the company’s first outing to the ever growing ‘bike packing’ style of loading bikes, so how have they decided to approach this fiercely competitive market?
For the test, we have the profile most will recognise (not on test are the Brooks Scape panniers); saddle pack, frame bag, top tube bag and handlebar roll. In addition, there are smaller modular pieces: a bar bag, one litre saddle pack and saddle pocket. These can be used independently for quick blasts to day trips, or as the ‘modular’ suggests, tether to the main packs for extra storage options. For a longer-term test, I’ll be doing a mixture of rides on a gravel and mountain bike, mixing and matching the packs to suit the occasion.
Unpacking the range from the cardboard backers with cotton fastening is nice, and no plastic in sight is always welcome when it comes to packaging. A single colourway of deep green fabric with reflective logos match the Brooks style. Clear instructions and all the important information including dimensions and weight are clearly laid out.
As with any packing system, it’s good to take some time to suss out the features and importantly how it’s going to fit and carry your gear before a shake down ride. Brooks’ instructions are very clear and it all makes perfect sense, so there’s no guesswork on the initial set up. This is especially welcome if this is your first foray into packing your bike with modern strap-on bags like these.
Brooks Scape Seat Bag
- 3kg max load
Brooks have gone for a fixed holster and removable dry bag system similar to Relevate Designs and Blackburn saddle packs you might have seen before. I really like this style as I find packing and repacking much easier off the bike.
The holster – in fetching 600d polyester, the same across the range – attaches via two beefy Hypalon seat post Velcro straps (using synthetic rubber noted for its resistance to UV and chemicals), and webbing straps passing through the saddle rails form the cinching down mechanism. Quality clips with cams to avoid strap slip under load, and there’s also neat Velcro ends to roll and secure excess strap after fitting.
The reinforced underside is designed to repel wheel spray and protect the inner bag from any wheel contact. A single rear loop and aluminium hook keeps the dry bag snug in the holster. Brooks also include a moveable (and potentially losable on a dark night in long grass…) snap buckle to secure the strap. With added daisy chain webbing and light attachment point, it’s looking very well thought through.
The dry bag has an impressive 50,000mm waterproof rating, a roll-top closure and a handy valve which means you can easily compress your load. This is something we have seen on Ortileb and Relevate Designs bags and rate very much.
Generally, this style isn’t too bad in terms of bag sway, and initial set up (stove, tent and layers out back) feels promising, so let’s see how things shape up after a few trips. Size-wise it sits in the middle of the seat pack sizes at 8 litres, minimum seat post requirement is 13cm for attachment. For sizing to the bike take into account the distance between the saddle rails and the top of the rear tyre, 20cm is about the minimum distance without danger of the tyre rubbing.
Brooks Scape Handlebar Roll
- 5kg max load
The Handlebar Roll is made from the same materials as the seat pack and again in a holster and dry bag configuration.
The tough 600d material dry bag features an adjustable double compartment internally, and closes on either side with a roll-top style like the seat bag. Fitting is via EVA foam spacers (plenty supplied) and two nylon webbing straps with aluminium hook buckle/anti slip grips and Hypalon patch to protect the bars, a head tube securing strap is also included with spacers.
For measure, I have mounted this on 710mm flat bars & 44cm ENVE gravel bars with some flare in the drops. Width wise on the drops I’m on the limit at full pack to access all the lower hand positions. Narrower drop bars will sacrifice a bit of that load space to fit, securing either end closer to the centre to give a narrower pack size.
Other features include a daisy chain webbing on the back for extra tethering to the head tube and a textured inside of the harness to help keep loads stable. The two-compartment dry bag is clever, in theory you could keep wet and dry gear separate. The sleeve runs the length of the bag giving you as much or little space in the separate compartments and is big enough for it to be a single space too. For the loading test, I opted to use the latter and got my sleeping bag, mat and bivi bag in, with the roll-top ends making the compression easy. With a bit, more patience I could get the tent (a lightweight 1 person model) in too with the poles lashed on the outside. Again, after spending time to fit and test ride, the harness is very solid.
Being part of the modular system, it’s possible to fit the small bar bag or the saddle pocket to the exterior of the holster for extra storage if required.
Brooks Scape Frame Bag
- 3kg max load
The single size 50,000mm rated waterproof rated frame bag comes with two compartments; the main one accessed on the driveside by a nifty one-finger pull on a quality YKK waterproof zip with a storm flap protection, and the other side a slim pocket with a KCC non-toothed closure ideal for small documents or a phone. Think very sturdy freezer bag slider in terms of closure.
There is a TPU cable exit hole up front, and an internal one between the compartments, plus a zipped internal pocket in the main compartment. At three litres capacity, there is good amount of space for your gear as part of a multi-day set up or day tripper, while still being able to run a bottle or two underneath in conventional bottle cages, frame size dependant of course.
With any bag, fit to the frame is something I really pay attention to. I don’t like bags that can’t be secured tight to the frame: movement when loaded is annoying, rubs the frame and at worst can rub you too. Brooks have lashing points fore and aft plus three on the top tube via welded rubber guides. The mounting strap they have gone for is a wide Velcro Hypalon-backed affair and I spent far too much time trying to get them tight to the frame, as I found cinching them down satisfactorily is quite hard. I got close but the thought of adjusting anything on a bad morning in the rain was not a good one. Fortunately, these straps are not fixed, I could slip a Voile strap through and voila, perfect secure mounting in seconds. I’m sure Voile could do a run of Brooks colour-correct branded straps, or you could substitute for your own. I will run the supplied straps for a longer term test but with back up…
Brooks Scape Top Tube Bag
- 1kg max load
The Waterproof top tube bag is a great shape and sits nicely against the stem and spacers on both my gravel and mountain bike. The easy-pull zip that has the neatest housing at the top, and gives room for a compact camera, phone and a battery pack, plus some cables. A TPU cable exit is very handy.
The construction of the Scape Top Tube Bag is nice and stiff, but unfortunately the same straps as the frame bag are provided, so if it’s not tight to the top tube it’s going to waggle. Again, I achieved the perfect fit by easily switching out for a Voile strap.
Scape Handlebar Pouch
- 3kg max load
No range would be complete these days without a little handlebar bag. This one is finished in the same tough, waterproof material with a coated YKK zipper and storm flap.
The bag’s attachment is solid, using nylon webbing and aluminium buckles with supplied spacers if need be. There’s also an optional leash for the head tube for extra stability, light fixing points and a reflective Brooks logo.
This pack is light, and keeps its form by foam stiffening only at the ends only, rather than others where the cylinder body is reinforced. This may prove deforming with heavier items so I’ll pack accordingly. There’s lateral points for a shoulder strap, or to fix the small seat bag to. The cylindrical handlebar bag attaches really nicely to the top of the handlebar roll.
Scape Saddle Pocket Bag
This neat little waterproof saddle bag can be used for essential tools, tyre levers, tube and CO2 carrying. Easy Hypalon strap with a cinching loop can be used to fit snugly to saddle rails. Being part of the modular system, it can attach to any of the main bags too, which is useful. I’ll be using it to stow a little first aid kit for multi day trips.
Scape Saddle Roll Bag
Finally, we have the Scape Saddle Roll Bag. Basically, this is a mini seat pack in construction with a roll top end, Velcro seat post strap and two buckles with cams to cinch straps snugly to the saddle rails. I’m looking at this as a likely contender for day trips when maybe the tool/spares game needs upping, or alternatively it will swallow a set of warmers and wind vest for those changeable weather rides.
Brooks Scape initial thoughts
It’s a great looking set of bags, priced similarly to competition and materials certainly feel tough. You can go lighter if long distance racing is your thing, but for rugged touring without time cuts, it looks ideal. I’m looking forward to getting the Brooks Scape bags properly loaded up for multi day rides and reporting back with some miles under them.
Last modified: 15th April 2021