Brian, glad to hear someone else is considering this topic. My problem seems to be similar to yours, volume, and weight. My micropuff pants for example, are as big as my sleeping bag. I choose some of the lightest gear in the world which meets my performance requirements; namely survival at -20C and safe mountaineering; still, volume is a limitation.
I just bought the Granite Gear Nimbus Meridian as my alpine pack; 65L, about 1600grams(3.5 lbs). It can strip down to about 1200 grams for summiting by removing the waist belt and lid.
It is not a perfect alpine pack, but I can fit most everything for a 3 day trip inside, with an axe, one trekking pole, one snow anchor, snow shovel, crampons, helmet, and tent poles on the outside.
Good points of the pack are the panel loading, comfortable suspension, 6 compression straps, huge lid, adjustable frame, upgradable straps, and perfect lid straps for my helmet.
Bad points mainly come with the light weight, in durability. I wish they had reversed opposing buckle pairs male/female, so the straps could be more versitile.. for example, currently two opposing side buckles can not join across the front of the pack because they are both male or both female.
As soon as time permits I am going to upgrade the standard shoulder straps with wide ones, as my 3-day winter mountaineering load is 20+kg. (list at my profile)
Please post a mountaineering packing list and your new pack choice?
I am interested in cilogear packs, but he does not show the suspension for any of the packs. When buying over the internet, large detailed and well-lit pictures of all angles of the suspension would help judge their geometry, fit, and comfort. I can only guess the straps are the weak point of the pack?