It took me a lot of research to narrow down my big 3. I'm attempting for the Ultralight category for next summers PCT, but after months of research, ultralight is the way to go. (Base pack weight around 10 lbs with some stretches total weight reaching 30-35lbs. Here is a link to my blog where I detail my reason for choosing my big 3 http://emacthru-pct.blogspot.com/2013/08/big-3.html I understand your weariness with going with an ultralight pack, but some are very well made. I'm particularly happy with both the Gossamer Gear Gorilla and The ULA Ohm. I own roughly 8 backpacks used for back country camping and skiing (80L and 38L) and so many more. I do extensive research before I purchase anything. I played around with Prolite's Jam 50 and found I really don't like frameless packs. I'm still deciding between the Gorilla and Ohm.. They are a little different and haven't quite decided which is best. It's too late for me to return, but many cottage companies (these included) have excellent return policies. Both companies also make bigger packs, so thats something to look into if you would like more space.
In terms of shelter. I'm now obsessed with my tarp and bug bivy set up. My tarp, bivy, stakes and guylines, stuff sacks (everything needed for setup) weighs 17 oz. Its amazing! In my blog I talk about the advantages of a tarp vs tent set up. I thought it would be a hard adjustment because I have been a tent man all my life, but just the opposite... I never want to use a tent again unless in extreme winter conditions. I have the Big Agnes UL3 Fly Creek... which is perfect for 2 people and a dog... Not everyone wants to sleep under a tarp :) It's light weight (compared to other tents) and strong. Before I made the move to ultralight, its the tent I used on all my adventures. I found it on sale, and would look for the same. Most of these UL tents are crammed for space. It would be tough to fit the allocated 3 in mine.
Hope this helps. Good luck!