I just finished my first round of modifications. First, I removed the hydration bladder. It was easy. I used a razor blade and a multi-tool knife serrated blade. I started in the middle of one of the long sides and cut a few stiches with the serrated multi-tool blade. Once I had a few stiches out, it was easy. You could kinda pull the stitches out from then on, you just had to cut off the string as it was getting too long every 5-10 stitches. I used the razor blade on the corners to get into the crack between the bladder fabric and the backpanel. Everything went smooth and after 10 minutes all I had left to do was the bottom edge. I didn't want to mess with this seam, so I just used my razor blade to cut the bladder fabric off as low as I could, and then cut off any dangling threads and called it a win. I'm excited for my scale to arrive so I can weigh this beast and see how many grams I've shaved off.
Next up was some strap cutting. I didn't want to cut the roll top strap or the side compression straps yet because I really need to get the pack fully loaded before I have an idea of how much extra strap I have. I might want to use the side compression straps joined to one another to hold a ridgerest on the back of the pack. If you were only going to use the side compression straps as compression straps, you could cut off a whole lot. Probably a foot.
The straps I did cut as the sterum strap, the two shoulder straps and the waist strap. I cut off 3.5", 6" x 2 and 8" x 2 respectively. Looking at the scraps, I've got a decent pile here. It could weigh an ounce. I'm guessing the strap cutting shaved off an ounce and the hydration bladder 1 to 1.5oz. I really have no idea though. Hopefully my scale gets here soon.
Oh and the melting the ends trick was awesome. It was very easy to do and gave very satisfying results. I love it. I also really like how neat my packs looks when I wear it and there isn't straps dangling everywhere. I would do this mod purely for aesthetics alone. Now I just need to get those side compression straps and roll top strap cut. I also am considering removing one of the 'organizer pockets' inside the hip pockets. I can imagine using one of these for my keys, but I don't know why I'd need two. None of my other packs even have these and there are very few things I carry that are small enough to even fit in here. On the flip side, I doubt they weigh much though. Probably 1/10th of whatever the bladder weighs.