Thanks for the compliments. I had never used a sewing machine until I attempted my first pack last month (which I resisted the urge to cannibalize for this pack since I think I will finish it in the future to a point where I am happy with it as a 2400 ci pack.
Well, in regards to carrying loads; in the pictures I had it filled with my main gear and some food to represent a 2-3 trip. And I have walked around the house with it loaded up like that and it feels good. I think keeping it narrow, shallow, and tall keeps the weight in close to the body. With the tarp and bivy combo I will be at a 8 pound base or so, with food and water added to that, and I think it will carry that 15-17 pounds comfortably.
Yes, no hip belt! Even with heavier loads in the past I still only alternated using a hipbelt off / on throughout the day and I think with these light loads its not necessary. Most importantly, the foam pad as a frame inside the pack gives it cushion as it hits my back.
Best of all.... this pack weights only 7.48 ounces!! And the roll top closure uses thin strips of plastic cut from a flimsy placemat type thing, fyi. I found a sheet off it at Hobby Lobby for 1.99.