After much research, reading up and soliciting of passer-by's opinions, followed by an in-store weighted pack test while browsing, I settled on the Arc'teryx Bora 80 for my long distance hiking needs.
While a bit overkill for shorter 4-5 day trips, I found the Bora 80's large volume convenient for quick and easy trail packing while on extended hauls. The Bora 80 comes with a few standards such as detachable top pouch which converts into a fanny pack for day hikes, separate bottom compartment for stuffing a sleeping bag and multiple straps for cinching down to stabilize the load.
Major Pros: first, thick padding and a suspension system which makes it the Cadillac of extended hike backpacks, while this does add to the burdensome near 7 lbs of weight which many complain about, it is weight I am willing to carry if it means comfort during my long days on the trial, and comfort is one thing this pack provides. Second: an easy-access large front pocket, which I found convenient to store all my clothes for the trip. Could also be used to store the days food and needed easy access supplies. Lastly the pack boasts a large internal space with minimal frame intrusion for easy packing, which also made it easy to load the cumbersome bear bin.
Sadly there are a few Cons: The first being the two side pockets which are shallow, making it easy for things to fallout unbenounced to the hiker, and poorly designed and thus difficult for mid-stride access to the gear that hasn't yet fallen out. The newer model has addressed this issue, but I am not sure how effectively. There is also no water reservoir to store a camel back, thus one must be rigged McGuiver style. The pack is rather pricey in comparison to other packs in its class, but Arc'teryx makes their gear by hand and stands behind their product, so you are getting a quality made pack for your money. It is one of the heaviest packs on the market, and while they put the wt to good use, 7 lbs is still a lot of weight no matter how you pad it. If you are looking to cut down ounces at every corner, I would pass on this pack. Being a solo hiker on many of my hikes, I am fairly devout to cutting back on weight myself, but a comfortable pack is one area I am willing to splurge.
As far as fit goes, I am a 5'8, fairly broad shouldered medium build girl, thus I had no problem fitting nicely into the men's pack, for more petite females there is a female version. The pack carries its load well and disperses the weight to the hips nicely.
I would and have recommend this pack to friends who don't mind a little extra wt for the comfort, After some 300 plus miles of 1 tp 3 week long hikes on the trail last year, I am still happy with my purchase and am packing it up again for another 300 miles.