I needed more room for layers and other items on mountain hikes. My Loka was both too small and not comfortable when really loaded up, so I did a lot of reading to find something more comfortable. I became convinced of trying an insert in a proper hiking pack. I checked out all of the rear panel snowpacks, but I did not find one that fit me correctly. So I started looking for large panel loaders, and finally stumbled onto Seek Outside. Here is what I bought:
The company says they are made to order, and I had mine within 2 weeks. They are made in Grand Junction, Colorado. The only strange thing was that it smelled like cigarette smoke on arrival. Seek Outside told me they are a non-smoking facility and they were not sure where that smell came from. I removed the smell by wiping the bag down with vinegar and water.
The Exposure is huge. It has way more space than I need most of the time (5000 cubic inches, or 80L). But, mission accomplished, I have room for all the survival gear and can still fit any of my f-stop pro ICUs (I have a large, medium, and small). It does not come with any padded camera compartment, so that is up to you.
It is the most comfortable pack I've ever tried, by far. I haven't gone on a super long hike yet, but when loaded to the same weight where my Loka or Backlight 26L become uncomfortable, I barely notice the Exposure on my back. Seek Outside advertises their packs as heavy haulers, and while I am not likely to push it anywhere close to their claimed load capacity (around 100 lbs), I'm glad I got it. I usually end up with 20-25 lbs in the Loka, and the Exposure handles that weight easily.
Seek Outside uses a single external frame for all of their packs. It is highly adjustable. It is tall enough so the load lifters can do their job. The torso height is fully adjustable. You can change where the belt sits relative to the frame.
So, I gave up rear panel access for capacity and comfort on longer hikes. But being a panel loader, I can still get to the ICU and other items easily. The panel unzips about 2/3 of the way down the pack from the top.
The fabric is waterproofed. The pack itself is very light; just under 4 lbs. It came with 6 gatekeeper straps, which I use on the sides for compression.
It is quite pricey, but worth it I think.
I'll post more when I have more experience on longer hikes.