Paul -- I'm not sure why I'm going w/ bigger -- I assumed my stuff plus food needed a "normal sized" pack but maybe not ... I'll drag my gear into REI and see. I'm tall and have thoroughly thrashed my body in 42 years so I sleep on an embarassingly heavy pad (40oz), solo (plus dog) w/ a 2.4 lbs BA Fly Creek 2 (which fits and contains my dog), and a 2 lbs bag. Outside of those (relatively bulky) luxuries I'm happy w/ all meals from a bag, boiling water in a ti bowl on a catfood can, not having a cup, thermawrap or light down, etc. So comfort on the big 3 and not a lot extras. Maybe I could pull off a smaller bag with that sort of gear?
Nia -- 5 or 6 miles around the neighborhood with the tags on, huh? Sounds fair enough. When I get down to two final choices I'll buy and do the home demo w/ my stuff that you suggest.
Paul again -- as for load lifters, is is kosher to pull them all the way in? I often do, but feel like I'm doing something wrong/counterproductive. Is there a philosophy about how load lifters should be adjusted on a properly-fitting pack or is it simply if it feels good do it?
thanks for the advice!