It seems that one could save a lot of money by buying a package deal and sticking to just one brand of bags, but would there be advantages to combining different brands? IE Would it make sense to use Ortlieb Rollers as front panniers, Arkel T-42s as back panniers and a Carradice Super C as a saddle bag?
Are their specific pieces between these brands that stand head and shoulders above the competition? I would feel much better with at least a pair of Ortliebs as I'll be touring in the NW United States where the rain is no joke. At the same time, I'd like some more breathable panniers to prevent any mustiness that I hear can be a problem with Ortliebs.
Conversely are their bags from certain brands that fall far below the competition? Should I avoid a certain company's handlebar bag because of poor design? Are saddlebags from one of these top companies notoriously difficult to attach or maybe excessively loose etc.?
Also is their a good tip or trick for preventing mildew growth in the Ortliebs? Would silica packs work? Daily airing out? Is this problem completely overstated?