Originally Posted by PNWcrazymike
If you're sticking to asphalt and ravel roads, please disregard my opinion.
If you DO plan on riding off road, especially rough roads that are seasonally washed out with ruts and exposed rocks or deeper sand, I don't recommend any kind of "hard bags" because when you have both feet down "paddling" the bike through said rough sections, inevitably on leg will get sucked under a hard bag and although it may not be broken, you'll swear that you just broke your leg. I remember this all too well from my GS days so my current ADV bike is getting "soft bags."
Again, if you're sticking to asphalt (no pun intended) your hard bags will be out of the way and not an issue.
I agree. Different panniers for different kind of riding. As said before soft bags are lighter and usually smaller than hard bags. Good things if you are really riding off road far away from any civilization. With hard bags fully loaded it's easy to get near the stated maximum load capacity.
Riding "high speed" gravel / tarmac inside civilized world you may need to consider more about protecting your items inside the panniers than the ultimate bike lightness and survivability. Also if your crashing with speed usually your bike starts sliding around. Grinding everything that touches the ground. Maybe hard bags are better in these kind of situations. While in off road crashes seem to be hard hits, usually without any sliding. In those kind of situations soft bags may be better for the bike but maybe not for the items inside.
To original topic. First I had alu-panniers. They were easy to pack, had plenty of room and where quite light. I had few light off road style crashes with those, no problems. Only few bends. Problem was they where too wide and had even too much space for riding alone.
I changed for pelican 1550 cases. They are not so easy to pack and they are a bit heavy. They are a lot narrower so its easier to drive in narrow tracks. I have had few crashes with them. Off road ones left only few scratches. Crash on racetrack grinded left case a bit but lid still closes perfectly and it's watertight.
My sw-motech quick lock racks are getting more difficult to install/remove after every summer. Maybe some day I have to get new ones.