Let me say first that I'm no expert with this pack. I actually just received it last week and haven't had the opportunity to hike with it yet. I have however loaded it up and walked around so I'll give you my initial impressions...
I loaded the pack with sleeping bag and clothing in the bottom enclosed in a compactor bag trying to leave them compressed as little as possible. Next went my food bag with about 8 pounds in it. On top I loaded my kitchen, my filter and my neo air rolled up. I then loaded the contrail in the front pocket. By loading in this manner, I was able to really compress the pack using the side compression chord. Made for a nice compact little brick. I didn't feel like the tent threw the load balance off at all but ymmv there. Also to note, this load with pack came in just over 20 pounds and felt great on my back.
As far as pads go, well I'm definitely no expert there either but judging from the room, I'd say a small prolite would fit nicely. I actually have a BA air core pillow that fits in the pad straps like it was designed to go there. Makes for a perfect back pad for me. The pack does come with a thin foam pad you can use as well so you don't have to use your sleep pad there.
As far as other things to consider,... One of the biggest selling points of this pack to me were the hip belt stabilizers and the load lifting straps. This is one of the few really light packs that include those and for me were a big deal. I like being able to adjust how the load rides. This would probably make a difference in how much you notice that contrail in the front pocket too.
I can't think of a whole lot more from initial impressions but if you have any more questions, I'm happy to answer what I can. Heck, I love talking about this pack!