A good review, Ryan.
I think that the seam failures you are seeing on the pack are related to the strength and type of the fabric. It appears that the seam is OK, but the fabric is tearing around the "score" line of the stitching.
The actual attachment (be it a seam, patch, strap etc) will always be a weak point in any sewing. Where you let multiple stresses build up in a single area, THIS is where a failure will occur. In this case the seam, a compression strap sewn into it, and it is used to hold a paddle: Seam + Compression + Mounting. Coupled with walking/movement and stresses from the inside (applied, perhaps, a bit unevenly,) this becomes a predictable point of failure. Lengthening the strap over the seam would eliminate this type of failure, in this case. Seperating the stress points is the same as distributing the load over an increased stitching area, in effect, strengthening the seam and strap/mount area with more stitching per inch and more fabric per ft/lb of stress applied.
The waist belt is a different problem. All of the above applies, but is accentuated by the "Figure 8" motion of the hips. As you walk, your balance shifts from left to right. The seam stress will roll from left to right, too...following your hips. With independent stays, (such as with the Porter or older Miniposa/Mariposa,) or with flexible internal frames (like the old Ghost,) this is pretty much accommodated by fabric movement. Both stretching, wrinkling and slipping contribute to following the natural walking motion of your hips. As weights increase, you find rigid frames need less rigid mount points to accommodate this. (My old training pack uses a 1/4" magnesium frame w/buckles to mount the waist belt. I think Gregory used large diameter rivets to accomplish this hip following.) I believe you have hit about the limit (with current technology) at 40-45 pound weight handling with rigidly mounted waist belts. I would expect seam failures for anything more. Your occasional "bail outs" for altitude ailing clients probably stressed these well beyond the 40-45 pound range, and, repeatedly with each step... Both types have their uses.
But I agree, this appears to be a good light weight pack, though the newer ones are 31.1oz, per their web site. I would miss the two lower pockets, though. My drinks have a permanent place there.
The water resistance looks really good to me. Spending as much time canoeing through the ADK's as hiking, I can really appreciate a highly water resistant, and, one that does not absorb water. My boat, paddle, spray deck and PFD weigh a bit more than 22 pounds. But rafting 300 miles, mostly across lakes, and other still waters through the Fish Creek Ponds/St Regis areas really precludes a pack-raft. Water is an inevitable companion.
Coupled with Phil’s review, Roman Dial’s and Andrew Skerka’s comments, this is one well reviewed pack.