Many a bag had come and gone and still I had not found that something special that I could use with my bespoke suits, for casual yet stylish trots through the cities us Snap’s visit. Never mind that the Canadian Snap has the privallege of carrying me around and naturally it has to fit the level of travel I am accustomed to.
One day well I was looking through my local bike24.com website I noticed the Brooks Soho bag in natural leather. With a call I had it sent down to the local store for a look and the second it came out if its nice cotton protection bag I knew this was the one. BOOM! that smell of leather hit like walking into a fine leather furniture store well the light shone off in the way only natural leather can. Not too shiny, not to matt, but just right. Moving my hands over the outside further proved a nice experience that required many repeats.
Size was slick and narrow with a bit of length to be useful (w25 x h40 x d10cm). I had no problems fitting a 15 inch MacbookPro inside, and easily it carries myself “Monsieur Snap” with a 750ml bottle of Champagne where I can sit Incognito at many fine establishments. Most often then not though with the flap over its the perfect place for this Monsieur Snap to watch what is going on in private well things such as wallets, sun glasses, gloves are all tucked away to leave ones clothes free of bulk. For larger adventures with the whole Snap family there is the next bag which we will get to a little bit later.
A very nice plus is the removable straps. For either future changes or just to change the side of your body you want to carry the bag on well having the length/height adjustment in front. As mentioned the hardware connectors are Tanax type solid and high quality brass with nickel or chrome over top, also made in England.
Inside the top flap you can see the superb stitching and how the leather is fastened. A nice quality step with the brazed “MADE IN ENGLAND” finishing touch. What I forgot to shoot a picture of is how there is a security flap inside with a rivet that also serves as another security catch. This catch is very similar to the Barbican latch but with one extra hole to hang the inside case in I can usually keep a few pens and passport in this case/purse and it is moisture protected.
The pocket shown below is also very well built with a nice canvas material, strong zipper and all around superb stitching. Notice in the top right corner, the rivet that is used to hold this case inside the Soho by pushing through a thicker strip of leather with a punched hole.
A very tasteful and classy bag this is and to my dismay it has somehow been taken over by the German Snap (Wife of Canadian Snap) due to its more smaller demeanour and good looks. Be warned he is a classy fella.
Ah, but what is a Snap to do when Bonjour Snap, Belgium Snap, and Fat Snap also want to go through the city, or one needs to carry home a few extra bottle of the bubbly stuff, some groceries, or just more finds from traveling through the day in perhaps Marseilles?
Enter the Brooks Barbican in the hard leather. Where the Soho is feminine the Barbican is masculine. Stronger thicker Straps, bigger, more functional yet still all the classic English refinement that one would expect.
What is immediately different and noticeable is how much wider this bag is over the Soho. Although not as tall the extra width allows for the extra capacity (w39 x h28 x d12).
The shoulder strap trades the ability to quickly unlock and change the sides fasteners in return for a two way design. Also the protection/pressure pad for the shoulder creates a greater comfort when carrying a bit more mass and makes it look top style.
Once can either choose to have the strap straight over one shoulder, fastened across the waste which is really handy when on a bike as it restricts side movements.
Inside there is the safety latch to lock things in like in the Soho, and an even larger internal case/pocket. The internal pocket does not use the same rivet technology as in the Soho but rather a dual clipping type push button to fasten to the front face of the bag.
The larger internal case is also similar in having an internal coating to keep moisture out like the Soho does offer the greatly improved organization and storage. Outside pocket to fit a passport, pens, and the folding over action makes this a great daily man organizer. The Canadian Snap also uses an Ergon bag/Hydrapack for training as it is designed for this, so he easily can swap the important documents and meds with this case. The folding makes it go rather compact and is a nice feature. However the metal Brooks logo is absent on the larger internal case unlike the Soho. In the Barbican the extra space does allow for more Snaps to fit in comfort so it proves more popular.
So summing up both these Brooks bags are not what you would call cheap when compared against the typical plastic/nylon variety. However if you factor in that you can get on your Dutch type bike, fit in your tweed knickers, then add the Snap Family and some wine for a nice trip down to the Elbe River here in Dresden it is great tool. Hit the South of France and stay in a Carlton, or Ritz and have people come and ask you where to get such a nice bag and then the value starts to show. With a little love and a little basic leather care your bag will likely last many a years beyond your typical plastic/nylon junk well it gives support to a quality company still making things in England with great service. As time goes on the bag also will look better with age and maybe teach you a few things about the finer details in life as you start to notice all the subtle little stitches and details the quality makes.
In closing I find myself often comparing these bags to my Oxxford Suits where the concept less is more. The first time I had one made it looked good as it was fit for me, but when I took this home I was stunned by how simple it was and how it was only 3/4 lined. As the years went on and I went to other tailors I learned how it was all hand sewn and how the superior the construction was. 20 years later it still looks great, lasted and proved a great investment. Now I find the Canadian Snap walking in his Oxxford, rubbing the bag and not complaining that I am too heavy.
Fine English Craftsmanship is how I will define these two bags, and a refreshing stand to see quality over a flashy name. I very much think that Brooks is a great investment to a better life experience.
Have a browse through the videos and thank you for looking:
Brooks Soho Video
Brooks Barbican Video overview
The Snap Family all give this a top Snap Mark.