My new Ion arrived! (Thanks Brad!). Obviously, the first thing I did was try out the new piece of gear. Here's the photo journal and my thoughts.
First & most importantly - everything fits!
I tried the hydration pack next to my back which just wasn't comfortable. After moving it to the back of the pack it was comfy and the pack was still adequately balanced. My sleeping bag and the water were ganging up on the bottom of the pack, though. You can see the unsightly bulge in the photo below.
Moving my gear to the bottom and my sleeping bag to the top remedied this and the pack shouldered more comforatably as well. It also eliminates the risk of the bladder leaking and soaking my down sleeping bag.
Unloading the pack... sleeping bag on top.
Gear under the sleeping bag, Thermarest PL3 deflated and rolled as a frame, hydration pack in the far back outside of the Thermarest.
Finally, pack fit and gear photos.
I plan on making a few modifications:
* Mesh pockets on the sides
* Bungee for wet gear on the rear
* Noseeum pocket in the lid (license, $$, key, first aid)
* Hydration pack pocket or maybe just hang loops on the inside.