I spent months researching packs before I finally settled on this one. I chose it for comfortable fit and size. I lived out of it for five months while backpacking through southwest China. It saw everything a pack could see, and came out on top. For a smaller person (I'm 5'4 and 110 pounds) this pack is PERFECT. The weight balances well, and I never felt like I would topple over. The extra compression strap is great when the pack isn't super full, and the detachable brain came in handy when I didn't want to use my daypack. My only wish is that this pack had a few more pockets like Gregory does, but I ended up being fine without them (less opportunity to lose things). Instead, I used soft cloth bags to organize tiny things. All in all, I'm very excited to use it for future adventures. If you like packing lots of things, and can handle the weight, definitely bump up to a 65L model.
This backpack is awesome. I upgraded from a day pack, and this holds tons of stuff, but can compress down when less full, so it doesn't look enormous. The straps at the base were great for hauling the tent. The side pockets each held a 1 liter Camelbak waterbottle without any problem, and are easily accessible when wearing the pack. The pockets on the waist strap are super convenient for a small camera, chapstick, hand sanitizer, etc. The waist strap did leave some sore, rub spots on my hips after 10 hours of hiking, but I think it had more to do with me not being used to carrying a heavy pack, and the pants I was wearing did have any stretch in the waist. I almost got to test the whistle on a black bear, but my pack was outside the tent, and I was inside. I'll remove the whistle and keep it on me next time. Overall, great looking pack that works really well, and it was a total bargain on moosejaw.