"For high end packs are you really getting something worth paying for?"
Depends on how much you use it, I suppose.
I have read complaints about paying $800 for McHale custom packs. Well, that price is a pretty generalized statment. I believe that those who are taken back about the cost are comparing these packs to production packs made outside the U.S. . They are not in the same league, such as it would be foolish to compare Merrell custom boots ($1200) to those off the shelf. To me, they were a bargain, and I wanted to get the different models now before Dan retired.
One of my McHale packs, a Merke, cost under $500. Another, a Chasm, cost around $950. Of course it was full Dyneema. My large pack, a SCMII, cost around $950, and it is a Dyneema/Dyneema grid construction.
In my Merke, I carry weights anywhere from 10 lbs to 50 lbs and it can handle it. The weight of McHale packs have never concerned me. I always choose durability first before counting ounces, in packs, as well as tents, as I commonly camp at or above timberline in the Winds and the Uintas.
McHale packs are built to last, the stitching is impeccable, as well as the fit. The suspension is amazing.
I have never regretted my purchases from Dan. I am confident that these three packs will last me the rest of my life.