@NealH -- Those racks look pretty good. My only worry with putting racks on a bike without rackmounts is the weight you load take with you. Road bikes have geometry that isn't ideal for carrying touring gear; It will affect how the bike rides and handles so minimizing weight is still important even if the rack allows for more weight to be carried.
jordo99, Not to disrespect your creativity and effort, but at this size of "saddlebag" I would probably prefer a light rear rack, for lower barycentre and tight connection to the frame on rough terrain.
(I'm aware that using a rack might be crossing a line for some, but having done some touring without, I'd just suck it up next time. Might be an age thing as well.)
No offense taken. The bags were specifically made with road touring in mind and I would never consider taking my 15lb road racing bike off-road. I have a Lemond Proprad that I use for commuting, touring and occasional cyclocross and single track rides. It's got a rear rack on it and that's the bike I would use for "off road" touring...I would still be very confident in taking these bags off road though. I just need to split the gear across my saddlebag and a handlebar bag.
There are many people going rackless without issues. Over at bikepacking.net people who tour singletrack on mountain bikes are actually moving to rackless because there are substantial advantages over traditional racks. It's a bit confusing that a community focused on touring is coming to the opposite conclusion as you did.What problems did you run into and how did you carry the bags?
My guess is that you used a seatpost-mounted rack.
I tried that once and I wasn't even a mile into the ride before I knew I was going to sell/return it. It was a miserable trip because the rack was so unstable.
Eliminating the rack completely and attaching my bags directly to the bike (frame, seatpost, saddle, handlebars) has worked great for me and many others.
For anybody interested in rackless touring here's a pretty quick read on it:http://www.adventurecycling.org/resourc ... the-racks/