Wandering Daisy, It’s not as simple as just taking my gear to a store. My gear varies greatly (in both weight and volume) depending on a TON of factors. This will become my go-to pack for all trips so it’s important for the pack to accommodate these weight/volume variances (ideally by compressing well yet expanding when more space is needed). It should also accommodate future gear developments like winter or desert backpacking- gear that I don’t have yet and can’t weigh or size up.
When I share gear with the GF she takes light-but-big items while I take heavy-but-small items. This minimizes her weight while maximizing her pack volume (her preference). On the other hand, I don’t mind extra weight as long as its tight, compact, and carries well.
Buying an ugly pack and slapping a pack cover on it goes against my philosophy. I am patient enough to hunt for a pack that is both functional and stylish. There’s no need to make compromises.