Nathan W. -- another HUGE "thank you" for all the trouble you've taken to share the details of the SMD Fusion 65!
LOL, I thought that -- once I had enough info on the Fusion -- I would feel CLEARER in my mind about the ULA vs SMD debate, but now I realize that it has only created more CON-Fusion!!!!
It sounds as though the pack would fit me very well (the Deuter Women's ACT Lite 60+10 does, as well, but it's about 1.5lbs heavier). But I'm still concerned about how much room there will be, esp. with a BearVault 500. I don't mind the dinky shoulder pockets, because I don't really use those anyway. It sounds like I could figure out a quick fix for the sternum strap.
So the remaining issues are: room in the main compartment; and the small side pockets. I might be able to do some MYOG modifications on the side pockets, but the main compartment "is what it is"...
Nathan, I think I'm in a similar place to you -- ULA Catalyst versus SMD Fusion 65...