Buying bike touring equipment is about calculating contingencies, and the main contingency you want to avoid is breakdown. If something breaks down in the middle of nowhere - from bike to bag - you're no longer able to move, and that's not good. Cheap bags, like cheap bikes do indeed break. Then there's Arkel. For a small Canadian company Arkel is spoken about with breathless enthusiasm - it's a true cult product. Each Arkel bag is sewn in Sherbrooke, Quebec - not China - and all materials are sourced from North America. Best of all is the way the bags function. Simply put, you can tell the bike is designed by real cycle tourists who wanted bags that were easier to load (front loading, not top loading), easier to find stuff when looking (lots of pockets), breathable yet extremely water resistant, and securely fitted to the bike.