I was looking for a new commuter and knew of 2 things: disc brakes and fat tires. There were a very few bikes on the table, including the Surly Straggler, Traitor Ruben, and the Jamis Aurora Elite.
Surly just introduced the Straggler which would have been awesome because I was already riding a Cross Check for commuting. But I already had a Cross Check...why have 2 of the same or very similar bikes. Then the Traitor came to my attention, but I am widely unfamiliar with the company. Finally the Jamis Aurora Elite was the winner. Why?
Reynolds 631 steel. Disc brakes. Geometry. Matching fenders and rack. It came equipped to ride. I was sold. But I can't ever just ride things stock so I upgraded.
I took the 4 year old Brooks off my Cross Check, swapped the Deore cranks off my Surly for lower city gearing, upgraded the shifters to 105 STI units, and then slapped a TRP Parabox hydraulic converter on the head tube.
My experience with this bike is that it is one of the best commuters and light touring bikes I have ever owned. It is a stable ride with a longer wheelbase than the Surly Cross Check. Handling is very predictable. The bike can handle weight without any rattles in the front end. And the hydraulic brakes are just an added bonus.
If you are in the market for a touring bike and have been looking at Surly's and Salsa's, I would put the Jamis Aurora at the top of the list. It comes better spec'ed at a lower price point than other similar bikes. With 3 models including the similar Bossanova, this should be your next commuter bike.