I once went on a ride with a touring bike club. There were about eight of us. For some reason I looked at the bikes, and realised that I was the only one on a factory bike. Everyone had a custom made bike, except me. Some even had their name on the paintwork. Lots of Ortlieb pannier bags, also. Nice gear, nice bikes. Serious tourers all of them. Not just getting the equipment for show. But I wondered whether my trusty Avanti factory bike was any less fit for the riding.
A while ago I gave away my semi-fancy bags to my daughter. It's nice to give things away, especially to people who will use them. Got some nice Tioga $50 bags from the bike shop. Not super stylish, but they do the job. No, they are not waterproof, but they have a plastic cover. Yes, that Ortlieb ad with the guy walking the bike across the river is very compelling. But I've never done that, and I'm not sure I ever will.
But there was a problem with the new bags. When I bounced down a hill, the bags worked their way to the front of the rack. So when I went to climb up the next hill, my heels were clipping the front of the bags.
Annoying? Yes. Very. I started looking at Surly catalogues, and Ortlieb catalogues. This is where I get serious, I thought. No more heel clipping for me. Sure, it's expensive, but good gear always pays for itself.
But then I thought again. I created this incredible bag stabiliser. It holds the bags at the back of the rack. Been there for 18 months or so now. Never missed a beat.
Yes, it is a shoelace.
Disclaimer: following the bike advice of andyjennings prior to your ride across the Sahara desert may lead to you only making it halfway.