After months of waffling, I finally made a decision in regards to saddle bags. I had really wanted aluminum cases, but could not find them (or make them) for a reasonable price. Instead, I went with the new Monarch Pass Saddle Bags
. They have the same capacity as the Expedition Dry Saddle Bags, but at 75% of the cost. The lack of waterproofing is no concern. None of my backpacks are waterproof and I've managed to get by for years with the help of zip-lock bags.
I also mounted a new "top box." It looks like ass, but will let me pack the bulkier items (ie, sleeping bag, tent, etc) without concern.
If everything stays on track, I leave for Deals Gap on Sunday.