Ludo, have you toured before and where do you think you may want to go touring?
I ask, simply to put in context telling of my touring experiences over about 30 years, and recently in the last 3 years or so on a bike with mechanical discs, Avid BB7's (tried and true model)
I have toured in mountainy terrain like the Pyrenees back in the early 90s, on rim brakes of course, with many many long hairpin descents on Cols that the Tour go down. I used to have motorcycles and love going fast around corners, and braking hard into corners, and tend to ride sometimes like this on descents on my touring bikes. Yes, I have dragged the brakes a bit too much and / or just braked very hard frequently enough to overheat and start to melt my rim pads, and have had the brakes starting to fade and pulling over in time---but of course, we all used rim brakes and to avoid that, you simply dont overdo it, and especially DONT drag the brakes for more than 15 or 30 seconds or whatever, but rather let the bike run , do a hard short braking action with predominantly front brake, let off to let things cool a bit, then hard application again--never dragging all the time.
Bottom line, use common sense, keep speeds manageable, dont drag the brakes and rim brakes worked for all of us.
caveat-I'm a light guy which helps a lot
move ahead a few decades and when I dreamed of doing some trips in Latin America, I wanted to get a mechanical disc bike. Enough people by then had done lots of long, tough, isolated touring trips with them that I knew they were reliable and a viable option.
the robust aspect of mechanical did, and still does appeal to me for knowing that there is no danger of a brake line being damaged as with a hydro setup, ie fluid loss, or any risk of freezing temps coming into play also with seals going etc. For the types of trips I wanted to do, I knew there was always the chance that my bike might have to put up onto the top of a truck or bus with other material strapped up there, or that sort of scenario, so there is no way I would use an hydro set up, it just doesnt make sense.
re mech disc power and modulation etc--my experience now over the years with having ridden rather heavily loaded through Central America, about half of Mexico, and across France, has proved to me that my mech disc setup with Avid BB7's just plain works.
I get much stronger braking power with much less finger pressure required , compared to rim brakes, and although I rode through lots of very mountainy areas--specifically Guatemala and Honduras, I was very very pleasantly surprised by my pad life.
If push came to shove, I could probably get close to 10,000kms out of pads, BUT the major factor here is proper setup (properly aligned calipers) AND ESPECIALLY how you brake, and of course total bike weight (bike, load and rider)
I do not brake very much in general, and when I do, I never drag the brakes, and therefore keep heat buildup to a minimum.
HARD application, off, then let the bike run, and then HARD application.
Of course, specific conditions apply, but avoiding dragging the brakes is the key to minimizing heat buildup, which will wear pads away, and yes just like rim brakes, can lead to overcooking the braking system, brake fade and potential "holy sh.." moments.
Personally, I very infrequently had to adjust my pads, so not a big deal in the least, and as someone astutely pointed out, this keeps you on top of knowing how your pad thickness is doing, as well as making sure they are wearing evenly and not angled.
as a long time tourer, Ive always put an emphasis on learning and knowing how to do all my own maintenance on my bike, and yes mechanical discs did require a new learning curve on my part mucking around with them.
I made mistakes, but did learn how to do stuff properly eventually, so now I am confident with my abilities.
Not all people like doing mechanical stuff , nor have the aptitude, but I certainly like the fact that I now know my braking system fairly well and can deal with most stuff on my own.
Now of course, hydro discs have been used on mtb bikes now for ages, and those folks crash all the time and stuff, so clearly hydro setups are reliable and tough , and work fantastically, so the chances of stuff going wrong is probably very slim--I just preferred for my uses to stick with the more simple mechanical setups, and my touring using them on a bike carrying more weight than I ever have due to the places I was traveling in, has certainly proven to me that a good mech setup works great also.