foxyrider wrote:Messy solution to a non existent 'problem'. Any advantages are outweighed by the disadvantages. The whole idea was to allow luggage to be carried on MTB's where traditional racks/saddlebag systems wouldn't work and for that use it works.
The key things when loading a bike are always the same - weight and bulk should be kept as low as reasonable for stability - a ratio of 40% front 60% rear weight distribution. These things might sound like repetition of old advice but there are good reasons for the advice and it's validity remains true.
the 'problem' that soft bags fix is panniers bouncing off over rough ground (including rough tarmac), they fix the problem where you only 1/2 fill a single pannier so taking two is 1kg of unused weight in the panniers alone, they fix the problem of the panniers sticking out and catching on things, they make ultralight touring much simpler, if you want to ride faster they're more aerodynamic, etc, etc.... but I guess if you tour mostly on good roads in easy surroundings then they may appear not to fix anything.
I would assume when the whole pannier idea was brand new lots of people made very similar (dogmatic) arguments about why they were the devils invention, not least that putting all that weight over the rear wheel (in addition to the rider) was sheer lunacy. But the world kept turning when panniers and racks came along. Now some people are experimenting with soft bags in the pre-pannier style, the world continues to turn. I really don't understand why people get upity/dismissive about strapping a bag onto a bike, I mean people have been doing it for decades...it's hardly a new idea.
If anything it's great that there are so many choices, and if you're prepared to ignore the magazine/marketing hype you can pick up some very inexpensive bags (in-frame, seat post, bar mounted, always on sale due to fashion) to replace or compliment any setup you can imagine. From traditional panniers, to Carradice style saddle bags to Alpkit style soft bags, it's surely never been a better time to try things out or copy designs and make your own. Mix and match, there's no law that says you must exclusively do one thing or another, or even your forthcoming trip must have the same luggage setup as the one you do after it.