It is purely personal preference, but I have a hard time imagining a tent or sleeping bag/pad neatly strapped on a rack would be considered more "messy looking" than a pannier on one side only. Your choice though.
I just realized that you are the guy who posed about your "rackless experiment". If you don't go with the full rackless system, why not use the front panniers with the bag you had under the saddle. I thought it looked like a decent setup.
I don't always use those bags, last longer tour I had a four pannier rig, as it was late fall and I needed the room. All that was on top of my racks were my extra water bladders.
Interestingly though, I am leaving tomorrow for a short weekend trip, and the bags are the frame bag and two front and rear. Carrying extra clothing because I am riding to a convention, but everything fits with a lot less stuffed look than the pics in my other thread. Slowly getting some newer gear, this will be trying out the Outdoor Research helium bivy that I just got, though I am taking a hammock as backup in case I really hate it, never used a bivy.
If I could figure out how to get pics loaded from flickr my new rig is pretty interesting, a lot nicer looking on the new(old) Centurion.
... loaded with so much gear and clothing stacked and strapped on their bikes, that the book "Grapes of Wrath" and fleeing the dustbowl come to mind
ahhh Henry Fonda, high stacked trucks and sawdust in the transmission......makes me want to see it again, must be 30 years or more since Ive seen it.....I suspect it will stand up against that 30 years very well.
Want to hear that end bit from him again..."Ma, when something something some poor guy is there something something, Ill be there........etc etc etc." Funny what sticks in the memory bank, it was a strong film when I saw it, and I strongly suspect it will still be a strong film all these years forward.
great films remain great films, acting styles, filming styles dont matter.
I love film.