I won't know until I have the pack in hand but I am planning to mod it so the compression straps go under the side pockets. I'm not sure why kifaru doesn't do that ,I'm sure there is a good reason I'm just not seeing .I ended up getting the EMR II. Really like the bag. Don't like their frames though and how their bags mount to their frames on the top. For me, that area has continually had problems with making noise while I walk with the pack on, more so when it starts to get loaded up a bit.
Also on other packs....for those long side pockets which I like..... on other maufacturers designs... they pass thru the cinching down strap UNDER these pockets! Which I feel is logically a much better choice, because lots of times I need to use the straps to hold things unto the outside of the pack (such as predator seat cushion) and may need to really crank down on those straps, but I can't go too hard if there is something in the long side-pockets (such as a spotter) which might become damaged if that strap DOESN'T go under them but OVER them instead. And you go and crank down on the tightness. This creates the potential to have the tension from that strap possibly damaging things in those long side pockets.
Definitely go big. You can always strap down and cinch down stuff with the packs. But ya can't make space when you've maxed them out already.
EDIT: I like the compromise they did on this Fulcrum bag. You'll notice that they made the straps not go OVER the long side-pockets on that model.