I do wonder at my masochistic tendencies myself, there was a few times in Slovenia when I asked my self what the hell was I doing? I should have taken a photo of my legs at the end, scratched up by the undergrowth, stung and bitten my a multitude of beasties and nettles, they were a right state! On the flip side though, the places I got to and the things I've seen were worth all the discomfort.In fairness, I did mention it above
I'm genuinely in awe of the likes of yourself and your adventures, less perhaps of where you can go, more the level of discomfort you're willing to tolerate
A full set of Ortleib panniers, back and front along with the attendant racks, is actually more expensive than the full set of Topeak bags that I use. However, I concede that the kit that goes into them is a bit more pricy. I'm lucky to have a lot of it left over from my mountaineering/sea kayaking days, but it is getting a bit long in the tooth now. As for shopping, I carried an ultra light, Sea to Summit rucksack, it folded down to a minuscule pack size, yet could easily carry a reasonable size shop if needed.I have to admit to a certain frugality, too. A decent back packing baggage set up is not cheap, needs to be complemented with lightweight (read expensive) gear and really isn't a lot of use for doing the shopping
Never a truer word written, I am also equally envious of your adventures, as you've said before, it's just great to see folk out riding bikes and having adventures, however they choose to do it or choose to call it.It's easy to get distracted by "labels", especially online, but in the real world it's barely relevant. A majority of people I meet on the road who are the happiest, are the ones on the "least suitable" bikes - according to the internet.
At the end of the day, what's between the ears or beating in the chest is far more important than the bike under the ass.
Which is why folk like me who gravitate to the rough stuff, use bikepacking bags and pack ultra light. It means we can enjoy multi day trips off-road without being weighed down by our gear and having our bikes handling compromised. I would never use panniers and racks off road, far too much weight.I have done some light touring on canal towpaths and rail trails with front suspension and panniers. The thought of riding with panniers on terrain that needs full suspension does not appeal.