The Land's End rear pannier from Brooks marries a simple, very waterproof design to an Ortlieb mounting system for a reliable touring option. It's expensive, though, and not quite as practical to use as the Ortlieb alternative.
Pros: High-quality and waterproof
The Land's End is one of a pair of new touring pannier designs from the back-in-fashion saddle and luggage veteran (guess what the front pannier is called). It's built in Germany, using Ortlieb's patented QL2 mounting system. While Brooks doesn't say so, I'd bet a Deutschmark that the Land's End is made for Brooks by Ortlieb itself.
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For those not familiar with the Ortlieb mounts, spring-loaded clips allow the bag to be fitted securely and removed from the rack with one hand, using the top handle. At the bottom, a sturdy plastic hook can be moved around an oval mounting track to the best position for security on the road.
Setting it up is slightly fiddly, involving a certain amount of trial and error to get the best positioning on the rack without any heel-strike. This process led to bodily injury for your reviewer (broken fingernail). You may even need to take a screwdriver to the lower hook if you need to move it between the upper and lower parts of the track. Once done, though, you get a quick and easy fit every time.
A robust plastic stiffener along the bottom edge protects against scuffs. All the parts are replaceable, though you should never need to.
Mounting on the rack may require the use of a plastic shim which snaps in underneath the hook. This is supplied and allows the bag to be adapted for pannier bars of between 8 and 16mm. Mine mounted without any rattling on rough roads, though on some racks I have had to use a wrap of insulating tape to get a snug fit.
The obvious comparison is with the Ortlieb Back Roller Classic. Brooks uses what it calls an 'exclusive waterproof nylon', but otherwise construction is almost identical, the Land's End being made from just three panels – front, rear and a long strip that forms the sides and bottom. These are welded with a good centimetre of overlap at each seam and that process was achieved flawlessly.
Inside, a rigid board, held in place by the screws used to attach the mounting system, gives the bag shape and allows Brooks to fit a full-width document pocket, with a zipped, mesh pocket on the front of that. That's very useful space and is all the partitioning required inside a touring pannier, in my opinion. It maximises the space for luggage, which Brooks states as 23 litres. That makes it a little bigger than the Ortlieb, and it's also slightly lighter, though there is no shoulder strap. I thought this was an omission, as carrying four loaded panniers into a youth hostel with no facility for slinging two of them over your shoulders makes for cumbersome work.
The Land's End also uses an Ortlieb-like roll-down design to both compress the contents and ensure a waterproof seal. As one user quipped on the Brooks website, 'the bag is always the same size as what you are carrying'. The main difference is in how you proceed from here. Ortlieb use three quick-release clips and the shoulder-strap to secure the rolled-down top. Brooks, on the other hand, has chosen a simple aluminium buckle, which is then hooked through one of three webbing loops on each side of the pannier, and pulled tight using the webbing loop through the buckle. It looks smart, especially as the webbing loops are mounted using a strip of stitched leather, and it did keep everything in place, but I didn't find it as easy to use. In particular, if I rolled the top over once, or three times, the buckle would be upside-down.
Brooks actually states a minimum volume of luggage, as well as a maximum. In use it becomes clear why. When there's not much in it, the pannier rolls down into a rather shapeless bag and you might run out of strap adjustment to keep it tidy. It's an aesthetic more than a practical issue, but if you are thinking of a waterproof commuting bag and you tend not to carry much with you, more suitable bags can be found, including the John O'Groats front pannier, which has a minimum volume of 12 litres and uses the same fixing system so can be mounted on a rear rack too.
> Read our beginner's guide to carrying luggage on your bike
My sample came in black. There is a reflective panel on the side but that is very small and in any case is hidden behind the straps and buckles when the bag is closed. It certainly is waterproof, shrugging off a good hosing and plenty of English autumn weather. Most people would probably think it's a better-looking piece of luggage than the Ortlieb too, but at £110 for a single pannier I think it needs to offer more than that to knock the German classic off its pedestal.
Beautifully built, highly waterproof and good looking, but very expensive, even next to an Ortlieb
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Make and model: Brooks Land's End Rear Pannier
Size tested: W:32cm, H:35-42cm, D:17cm Vol:19-23L (single)
Tell us what the product is for
Says the Brooks website: "Our new travel panniers are named after the famous Land's End to John O'Groats cycle route ... The panniers are waterproof, light and durable to meet the demands of long distance cyclists, without sacrificing style. The closing system of the bag featuring a stylish leather insert enables cyclists to adjust the volume of each bag from a minimum to a maximum, as follows: min/max 19/23 l."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
WIDTH : 320mm
HEIGHT : 420mm
DEPTH : 170mm
VOLUME : 19-23L
Made from waterproof nylon.
Rate the product for quality of construction:
German made, flawless quality.
Rate the product for performance:
It works very well and certainly does everything promised. I just didn't think the fastening buckles are the most practical option and I would want a shoulder strap.
Rate the product for durability:
Though I haven't thrown it into a river as I have with my Ortliebs (!) there's little here to suggest it won't have a long and useful life.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
A simple, fuss-free construction means no surplus weight.
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
The handle uses a simple rubber tube for padding. It's fine. Again, a shoulder-strap would make it more comfortable for extended lugging.
Rate the product for value:
The quality is excellent; the design is good, but at nearly twice the price of an Ortlieb it's not enough to win me over.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It holds a lot of kit securely with no rattles, it's tough and waterproof. I wouldn't hesitate to employ it for a long tour. For lighter loads, it becomes a bit shapeless.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I love the build quality and it is a good-looking bag.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No, sorry.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No – still Ortlieb for the win.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a top-quality pannier, but at £110 for a single bag it's very expensive, and I really couldn't see any reason to recommend it over the Ortlieb Back Roller range.
Age: 52 Height: 6'2 Weight: 73kg and holding steady
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
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