Surly Disc Trucker with Brooks bike bags. Ready to go!

Brooks Panniers and handlebar bags, and some more.

Once I got my Surly Disc Trucker, it was time to think about the bags that I would take on my bike trip. The first instinct were Ortlieb bicycle panniers, but it came differently. I got all major panniers from Brooks England, which proved to be a great choice. Durable, almost all of them are fully waterproof and great looking.

When I started looking into panniers, I was checking all the Ortlieb bags. And while they're an absolute standard among bike travelers, I could not find any that would aesthetically fit the bike. They were either colorful or shiny. So, I looked further and came to Brooks. Brooks England is best known for saddles, mine is from them as well, but they do have as well a wide selection of bags.

Brooks Scape Handlebar Bag

The first bag that I ordered was the Scape Handlebar Bag. I knew that I wanted to bring my 13-inch MacBook, but really wasn't sure how to store it. This bag was the solution. The MacBook fits perfectly in a part that is protected by neoprene. Like a glove! Additionally, it has a little organizer, where I store all important documents, like my insurance card, my passport, and my vaccination card. The rest of the bag is big enough to hold a bag of repair equipment that I needed most, new tubes, pump, etc. I could also store all my most needed cables and power bank in there. Leaving even space for my food, even though I had to squeeze the croissants every now a bit... There's also a little bag on the outside, which I used for all kinds of things that could leak.

The bag is supposedly waterproof. And yes, for normal rain. When it was pouring though, I always had a garbage bag around it, for extra security. Worked really well, as I could click it in completely with the bag. Clicking in, means that there's a need to install a Klickfix on the bike to secure the bag. Worked great as well, it was very quick to un/attach the bag.

What was definitely great about this bag, and I guess for other handlebar bags, was the possibility to store all your valuables in there and take them with you when you go into a shop or get some food. You definitely don't want to take all your panniers with you when you go into a supermarket, but having the most important things with you definitely helps with keeping peace of mind. A note on that, I had credit cards, passport, and ID stored in different bags, to ensure that I would always have a fallback.

Brooks handlebar bag holding a baguette!
Brooks Handlebar Bag on the cutest bike path in Scotland
A bit of extracover for my Brooks Handlebar bag in heavy rain

Brooks Scape Panniers

Once I had my handlebar bag, I was convinced that I wanted to get all the panniers from Brooks. They're absolutely beautiful, simple, and have a great color. Perfectly matching what I envisioned for my bike. They had the big plus, that so many Brits started talking to me. And they're some of my favorite people to chat with.

I got four panniers, two for the front, the small ones. Two for the back, the large ones. They are a lot simpler than the handlebar bag, so not too much to say about them. They were very waterproof and never had any issues. They had a lot of space and were quite flexible in adding even more. While mine were fully packed, I always went shopping before I came to a campground. And I could basically store everything in them securely, even six packs of beer.

You need to adjust them though, depending on what side of the bike you want to attach them. That is fairly simple to do. To recognize later what bag belonged on which side, I added some battery-powered bike lights on the ones placed on the left side.

One thing to keep in mind is that you need to really tighten the screws. I made the mistake luckily before my trip and lost one of the stabilizing clips. It was possible to reorder them from their supplier though, and I took several with me on the trip. Definitely something to consider! Some screws loosened as well, and some I lost. But as it's only screws, these were easy to replace.

While being on the trip the panniers definitely lost a bit of color, but didn't get any holes or major damage. I'm going to impregnate them soon and I expect that they gain back a bit of color. If not, no problem. The color is charmingly called mud, and well, mud can look a bit muddy.

My Surly Disc Trucker on the Albula Pass in Switzerland. All Brooks panniers fully loaded.

On top of the Albula Pass in Switzerland

Fully loaded Brooks Scape Panniers in England. On my Surly Disk Trucker.
Lake as a mirror. With a Surly Disc Trucker in Scotland.

Ortlieb Dry Bag

While I decided against Ortlieb for the panniers, I got last minute an Ortlieb dry bag. To have a little bit of extra storage space. Very glad that I did that. Super waterproof, and I could easily strip it on between the back panniers. I used it mostly for my sleeping pad and to store my dirty clothes in it, to keep them separated from the rest. Through the volume of the bag, other things could easily be striped on it as well and were quite rock-solid attached to my bike.

gramm tourpacking Candy Bags

Last, but not least, I got some gramm tourpacking Candy Bags. And while they were pretty expensive, I was glad that I had them. The most important things were always reachable while biking. I had my dog tazer in them, even though I never used it. Sunscreen, glasses, the battery pack that I was using, and bananas. And yes, one day even a whole bottle of Cidre.

Gramm Packing Candy bags. With candy and Garmin
Gramm tourpacking candy bags. With a bottle of Cidre.
Great, but always losing the banana. The gramm tourpacking candy bags.

I'm realizing, that none of the choices of panniers and bags I had were cheap options. But I expect to have them for a long time, as they can all be repaired. That is really important to me. And I picked them all in colors I won't get tired of any time soon. I was also lucky, that there was a sale on Brooks when I decided on the bags, which made them more affordable. And the candy bags, I on the one hand decided to support a local, small business and I asked for them as a present for my birthday.

Last update: 14. January 2024
Mood: happy :)