Rating: 5 / 5
Great frameless pack - well-padded shoulder straps with load lifter tabs pull the pack in close. Use a rolled closed-cell pad, or a Z-Lite Short pad folded 2 sections wide, to get a very comfortable ride with 20 pounds; give up a little comfort and you can do 25 pounds. I don't use either of these for a frame. Instead, I fold a lightly-inflated Thermarest Prolite 3 (short, or regular in colder weather)pad, inside its chair kit, so it's about the same size as the back panel, with the chair stays facing inward, to get a virtual frame that handles 20 pounds very comfortably and 23 -25 pounds fairly comfortably. As a bonus, I can have a chair in camp without feeling guilty, since it serves two purposes. I use a Granite Gear pack liner instead of a pack cover. This separates the pad from the rest of the gear, and makes it easy to slip the chair/pad combo out and back in at lunch without having to repack everything.
This pack has a roomy expansion sleeve that make it equally functional for a weekend or a week with a three-season, near-ultralight load. I carry a tarp (MSR Twing), a down sleeping bag, down sweater, light down pants, and everything fits easily. The pack's compression system is unsurpassed by any other pack I've ever owned, and allows a tight load regardless of bulk. The six straps around the pack, plus the two closure straps on the top, really do an excellent job of controlling a shrinking load on a long trip, maintaining a stable pack the whole time.
Some people might only rate this pack a 3 or 4, because of its weight (about a pound and a quarter), and because they might find the external pockets skimpy, or that two are not enough. I've never had any problems with the pockets, functionally or being too few. And the extra quarter pound or so of weight over other frameless packs is well worth the extra comfort of the suspension.
I've tried the Virga against several other packs (including a Six Moon Designs Starlite and a Gossamer Gear Mariposa), and definitely prefer the Virga. It took a while to really learn to use this pack properly; however, I've worked out all the bugs now, and am truly happy with my Virga.
One caveat: if you vary from the ultralight gear selection (using a synthetic sleeping bag, a shelter that weighs more than 2 pounds, or a stove/fuel package that weighs more than a pound), you won't be able to use this pack year-round. When you add the extra clothing, food, and fuel needed for cold-weather trips, you'll probably exceed the comfort level of the pack. I've found that this pack works with my near-ultralight loads from about April through November; when temperatures drop toward freezing, I'm often back to using my Vapor Trail pack (though a couple of new pieces of gear and a little refining of technique are making this a less frequent occurrence.)