Thanks for a nice review Roger.
Perhaps outside the scope of this review, but since the subject of external frame packs has come up: do you have any recommendations for lightweight, commercially available, external frame packs that capture your "H - frame" idea?
Back in the old days, my external frame pack and hip belt could shift almost all the weight onto my iliac crests, or alternatively, onto the greater trochanters.
I find now, with increasing age, a decreased tolerance for prolonged heavy loading of the L5-S1 disk, and the SI joints. Anything much over 20 lbs all day, no matter how it's distributed over the shoulders or the lumbar area, starts to hurt.
Some of the individual pack reviews and comments above suggest some of these packs come close, but it sounds like you think the external frame is better at overall comfort - issues of durability, fragility and standing up to heavy brush aside.
Am I on the right track here? Any advice. How can I get most of the load back on the sides of my hips - the iliac crests - and still go lightweight?