I have one of the early ACW Berdan packs. If I remember correctly, Paul said it was from the first run, and I absolutely love it - although it's definitely heavier than my double bag.
As to the mess kit, I bought mine through ACW at the same time as the pack. I say "through", because they don't produce the mess kit. It was drop shipped to me seperately from the pack by Dixie Tinworks (www.dixietinworks.com/Individual%20Item ... 20Kit.html
). It has had some use, definitely not campaigner level. Thus far, all components have held up very well. I did modify the metal handle that's used for the fry pan, small boiler. It simply was too short and got too hot for what I considered healthy for my fingers.
I filed down the end like a knife tang, and took a piece of an ancient broom handle (narrower than most today) and drilled a slot to accept the tang. Adds a bit of non-conductive reach to the handle. And it's short enough that it lives in the mess kit. Along with a wooden spoon, and a small huck towel.
Take care of it like you would your tin cup or boiler and it'll serve just fine.
PS - Ethan, congrats on your new recruit! Definitely a class act!