" Has a McHale pack been your go-to pack then when hauling heavy loads? "
well, ya. of course.
i know this is bpl, and i post here on the forums, and i do incorporate a lot of ul tricks in my kit.
i have the spreadsheets all sorted one way and another. all that caca.
do consider though. 2 yrs ago i did a 35 day unsupported slog. followed by a 24 day romp.
so the food load can be like, 60 pounds. of FOOD.
that's the food/supplies. not the gear. just the food.
when one looks at a 7 week solo, the picture shifts a bit of what matters, and what maybe not so much.
it moves all manners of priorities around. thusly you get posts from peter extolling the "reliability" of things some people would never sweat if it broke or not.
and as clever people have noted, the complexity of an Aarn is a very real thing, but so it the comfort and efficiency. it all works (or not) together to make up our individual kit.
heavy loads change things. one will not be served with a 70# weight that decides to shift a little bit on a steep brushy sidehill.
no matter how well you reduce the volume, a big load that gets a vote on things is going to do you dirt in a tight spot.
pack mass is not one of those things that scale up and down so cleanly as we might hope.
this is where i think some of the confusion/contention lies. we have people doing very different things, with very much the same descriptive names. ie ; when peter yaks on and on about using poles on sidehills, he's not talking about comfort and who has a new cuben pack, he's talking about using them in shear, to keep from sliding down into something fatally bad.
perhaps if one was a homeowner, and needed to drill a hole, they might get by with a 1/2" drill from harbor freight. that might be a sound purchase (not ...).
but if you showed up a the floor of a fabrication plant with one of those prc pos, you'd be laughed a fool off the floor (and rightfully so).
peters drill are all metabo these days. $nooty west germany kind of $tuff.
gear is like that as well to some extent. we most of us do many different things with our gear.
i have hiked with (most obvious time i noticed it) Ken Knight. his gear is spot on for what he does. next to his, mine kit looks like it was bought by a troll. it wasn't of course, it's just what works in the arctic.
like my packraft. people make lighter boats that will effectively float.
when i am floating, alone, on the ocean, in the wind, across a lead in the ice, and there's sharp slabs of it bouncing off the very thin hull of my alpacka ... a lighter boat suddenly seems not that appealing.
and so it goes with the tent, the bag, the pad, the parka, and the backpack.
so, when i post, consider that most/all my experience revolves around a long running romance with the north, and what it takes to succeed up there. ie : i'm never going to walk the cdt again. i mean .. why? when we've still got northern Quebec.
did Beacroft Trail yesterday with a much younger fellow. got my butt kicked BIG TIME.