I’m very grateful (and somewhat abashed) for the analysis and discussion, folks. Thank you. This outpouring of experience and wisdom for a newcomer to BPL like me. (Matt's analysis of neck pain very interesting!)
Pack fitting must be a voodoo art. It’s really confusing to me. For example, consider that:
(1) The mfgr says the GG Crown fits 18-21. I am 18.5-19, meaning I’m within the stated range, but in the smaller end of the range, indicating the pack is perhaps a little *large* for me. But maybe the mfgr is being optimistic with the range.
(2) The pack hip belt seems to “want” to fit me so my iliac crest is about 1” from the top. Ideally the crest would be right in the middle of the hip belt, with crest about 2” from the top of the belt. The hip belt being further away from the shoulder straps than ideal (ie, the crest hitting high in the belt) would indicate a pack that’s on the large size--ie, the belt and shoulder straps should be closer together.
(3) Researching BPL, I found one owner of the Crown who reported a 19.5 torso (inch longer than me) and he reported the pack fit him well. I know that’s anecdotal, but if I use that as a datapoint, I could tentatively conclude size of pack is somewhere between “close enough to too large” but with this single datapoint it would be difficult to conclude "too small."
(4) When I load the pack with 27 lbs and take a short hike, it seems I get more weight on hips than on shoulders--the hotspot is in the lower spine above tailbone area, possibly thanks to this silly (well, silly to me) venting system on the backside that concentrates weight into small areas of padding. More weight on hips than shoulders generally warns of a pack that may be too large.
>>> All of the above would indicate that if the pack doesn’t fit, it falls on the side of being a little too large for me. Yet the consensus in this thread is solidly the opposite, that the pack is, if anything, too small for me. (If it’s too small for me with a torso of around 19, what’s it like for someone with a torso of 21--which is in the advertised range of fit? How much will the shoulder straps wrap on that guy? How level or even inverted the load lifters?)
Then I found one BPL report where an owner says: “I have the crown vc and it is an extremely comfortable pack for me. If the top of the frame sheet is just above your shoulders when you seat the hip belt where you like it the frame is the right length. The shoulder straps should just wrap over the top of your shoulders where it connects to the pack.”
That would seem pretty similar to my fit. The top of the framesheet sits about 2” above my shoulders and 1” below the bottom of my ears (when loaded with a near-max of 27 lbs). I don’t know how much “just” means for ideal wrap-over; on me the wrap-over is roughly 1” when I put a straight edge across my shoulder and measure to the attachment point of the shoulder strap. But if the pack sits “just above your shoulders,” it is likely the back-wrap of the shoulder straps will be an inch or two.
Another BPL poster says: “I doubt you will ever get a 45 deg angle on the load lifters on that particular pack [Crown]. The load lifter angle varies a lot pack to pack and person to person…That being said, in general, many of the packs nowadays have load lifters that are far from fully functional and really provide little actual function. Some are really only there for show. In order for load lifters to be 100% functional then the frame or stays of the pack need to extend almost to ear height. If the load lifters on any given pack are only attached to the pack material and not the frame then they are basically there for show.”
Well, maybe so. This pack does appear to be shorter (meaning Y axis, in photo above), wider (Z), and higher profile (X) than other packs of the 60L size I’ve seen. It doesn't even reach ear height. And, the frame is notoriously floppy, so I don't know how much lifting these "lifters" were ever designed to do. (They do, however, keep the shoulder straps off the back of the shoulder.)
At this time, I’m suspicious this pack is BOTH too large AND too small for me! So I’ll definitely be taking the advice of all the folks in this thread who wisely tell me to load it up and try it out. Will be able to do that in a few days, and will report back. Also I have an email into GG’s CS, will be interesting to see what they say…I’m open to their Blaze as an alternative.