Thank you for your input! I am going with the Catalyst, while a large pack, it will fit the Bearikade Expedition for a through hike with NO problem. With 16 pounds of food (12 days), 4 pounds of water, it puts me at 34 to 35 pounds for the first few days hiking. As I eat through my food, the pack should become even more comfortable as time goes on. If it packs down well, I should be fine and have plenty of space to work with.
While I am pretty sure I could get away with the Circuit, I don't think I want that big of a can loaded down with food strapped to the top of my pack, nor do I want to pack food into my backpack and put an empty can on top. Just see it being unwieldy and tossing food around inside the can or getting smashed in the pack. Not to mention smells, bears, and going solo. I am kind of conservative when it comes to bears, and funny enough, I have never had a problem... food stays in the can.
S-Straps, they are going to order in for me. The J strap kind of dug into my left pec / rib cage at one point. It was the second pack with the J straps that I tried on that felt that way, the first one actually hurt. The other was another brand, not ULA, but I think it may be due to swimming and my back and lats pulling on the pack somehow. To show up on the left side within 5 minutes I am not sure is a coincidence. Called ULA, when I said I swim, customer service rep stopped me in my tracks and said that's all he needs to know, S-straps. He was a swimmer and cross country skiier. He said men with square shoulders, not sloped shoulders, should use S-straps.
There we have it! If you live in the San Diego Area, Nomad Ventures in Escondido has a few of the packs in stock. You can actually try them on, switch out belts, have someone help you that has experience carrying the pack, etc. They were very knowledgeable and helped get the pack of ropes set up comfortably in just a couple of minutes. Definitely worth the drive no matter where you live. I chose ULA ultimately, because I tried it on, felt the pack distribute the load, was able to move the belt up and down on the pack, and had assistance of a gal whose boyfriend loves the pack. She knew exactly what to look for, how to cinch it down, square the load, etc.
:-) THANK YOU!!!!