For day to day, routine trips, I prefer throwing my oversized purse in a steel mesh basket that is attached to the rear rack. When I'm feeling like a bike ride through the country side of France, I'll attach a wicker basket up front. When I have a lot of stuff to carry and there's a chance of rain, I'll attach my yellow Ortlieb panniers. These panniers are great for the bike but not very comfortable to carry through the Farmer's Market or store.
When I'm dreaming of the French Country side
Craig has differnt preferences, tending towards well-stocked backpacks and Arkel panniers. The Arkels hold the equivalent of a filled paper groceries bag. Craig routinely carries 2-4 gallons of milk or other bulk items from Whole Foods in these large panniers. Imagine biking up Glazier (between Huron and Green, 15% grade) with 50 pounds of groceries.
Great for bringing home milk and other groceries
The last few years of bike riding has taught me that there is not one all-purpose carrying device that works for every trip. It's good to be flexible and have some options. Not all trips needs super sized panniers and sometimes Michigan weather dictates weather-proof materials. And sometimes, the fantasy is better than reality.