I have a frameless pack, my Boreas hasn't had the frame in it since the day I bought it and it's been on six trips. That's my point of reference. It's LESS comfortable with my baseweight and a weekend worth of food than my Kelty, which is by no means a stunner.
Real life conversation and internet forums are different things. My "Rolls Royce" comment wasn't groveling at the quality of 5lb packs. Rather, it was a semi-sarcastic reminder that those heavier packs have some of the most time put into them in terms of improving comfort, since they're used by the majority of "traditional" backpackers with 50lbs of creature comforts. By design, they're anatomical and overbuilt. Very different from a Kelty frame bag from the 80's (whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is subjective!)
I can only say so many times that I agree that frameless packs are great for frameless pack loads. I've been practically preaching from the Ben 2 World playbook. That doesn't change the fact that realistic loads for a lot of ultralighters extend past this margin by the very nature of food and water.
I'm not the only one saying it; ditching a hipbelt on a 20lb load will eventually hurt your back. it isn't designed to carry like that. Your hips and legs, however, are. Stays or frames of some kind can be pretty critical, and I do see them get disregarded for a few more ounces.
Now, not to go on my own rant, but...
Ben. Don't take me bringing up fringe topics, devil's advocating, and touting around vague generalizations as me ignoring your posts. I'm trying to approach this from a lot of different angles. You are CORRECT when you say to pick your gear, then pick your pack, but it's not as simple as that.
It's a little annoying that you need to be an expert to have a conversation around here. I don't think it's unreasonable to make assumptions if you're getting your information from experience and good sources. I don't think it's wrong of me to bring up the topic just because I haven't finished a loop of the United States. If I was trying to compare ice axes, that'd be a different story, but I have worn a lot of backpacks and walked a lot of miles in the woods. I know enough to have a conversation, and that's all this is. It's more than a little annoying to have a constant reminder that I'm not 55 with the world under my belt. I know a lot of people doing this 30 years who probably know less than I do about the ground they walk on. If you think you know better than me, politely educate rather than dismiss. I give out the courtesy to people who know less than I do without hesitation; it's easy.
Nobody reads the thread (nobody reads this!), they skip to the end, but I've said several times that I'm not trying to convert or condemn. I'm trying to pull concepts that never get talked about into the light to better my understanding. Shoes and packs are subjective, so nobody ever judges, but it's not wrong to talk about best practices.
The article that Clayton linked (http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/how_packs_work.html#.UUTjxFvwKp2) talks about how the Jam was built to be super light and then slowly added 11 ounces worth of features that backpackers deemed necessary. Is it ridiculous to think that some of the sub-1lb packs made today are inadequate? Hardly! Everyone sees another ounce drop off the scale and suddenly, the long-term health of the spine is a little less important. This disregard for basic load distribution exists. I'm confident in it. I see it with some custom made packs and some traditional ones. Hell, my very own Boreas is a good example, despite being excellent with smaller loads it fails at a thru-hike load.
I said it once, I'll say it again. Nobody's gonna change their minds. Except, maybe, myself and other "beginners" (I'm getting past that)- and that's the point.
Jeez, guys. When I finish recovering from Surgery #3, I'm gonna see you on the big trails. Then I'll be twice as bullheaded...
I didn't pick the Gregory because I've got some misconception that it's the rolls royce of packs, and magically solves issues.
1. Camera gear requires a totally different suspension setup than a tent and a sleeping bag. These things are heavy and small, so a fullbody DSLR torquing around on the front of a GoLite Jam isn't gonna work. Tripods alone are like strapping a piece of firewood onto your back. My needs ≠ your needs, even if the weights are the same. I need a strong, active suspension for comfort.
2. Because I'm a photographer and a "camp mom" for lots of student groups, quick access to lenses, first aid kits, tarps, snacks, etc. means I value extra pockets a lot higher than most people do.
Looks to be my pack, but it's NOT necessarily everyone else's pack, and honestly, it's very separate from this conversation. It's a good example of a good suspension system, but as many people have said, the vastly lighter ULA packs do just as well with the 30lb loads we're primarily talking about, if not better.