It's been a couple of years since I went backpacking and at 72 I decided to upgrade some of my equipment, including the Camp Trails external frame pack (6+ lbs) I bought in the 1990s. I'm looking at the Osprey Exos 58 because of the weight plus I have an Osprey daypack which I like. Like most backpacks now days it doesn't have a side water bottle pocket which I prefer. I don't like the idea of using a bladder for several reasons but I 'm not sure of a good alternative. Most water bottle holders I 've tried over the years tend to bounce around a lot or I have a hard time finding a place to attach it. Any suggestions ?
The Exos 58 has two mesh pockets, one on each side, that hold pretty much any 1 liter bottle (hard-side Nalgene, collapsible Platypus, sport bottles, etc.) I hope I haven't misunderstood your question - I'm not sure why you think "most backpacks today don't have a side water bottle pocket." Offhand, I can't think of one that doesn't.
You need to be aware, also, that the Exos is an ultralight pack - for me (at 67), it starts getting uncomfortable with a 25 pound load; below that, they are a really comfortable series of pack. If your load, including food and water for however long you'll be out (or between resupply), is much above 25, you might want to look at different packs. In particular, I prefer the Kestrel 48; above 30 pounds, and the Atmos AG series might be perfect. The Volt 60 might also be a good choice for heavy and bulky loads. The Kestrel is a three and a half pound pack; the Atmos and Volt are just over 4 pounds.
The Deuter packs (especially the ACT Lite and ACT Zero series) are good load carriers, too.
Good luck. I still miss my Camp Trails Wilderness packs (I had both the external and internal versions); they had great water bottle pockets, sized perfectly for Nalgenes.
Thanks Glenn for your information. I was in REI about a year ago and most of the packs they had then didn't have pouches. The clerk mentioned that fewer packs were coming out with pouches.
This spring I 'll check out the backpacks in more detail. I live about 80 miles from rei and that's the best nearby option. I haven't seen the Exos in person yet, just pictures and reviews. I plan to get my pack weight down to 30 lbs. In the past with my Camp Trail pack the weight has averaged 40-45 lbs.
Hopefully I can check out the Atmos AG series and Kestal 48 while I'm there. I plan to bring all my gear to put in the packs to test both weight and volume.
The Exos 58 is appealing because of it's weight and awesome reviews on different sites but I remain open minded since it all comes down to how I like the fit and comfort. Availability is also an issue since I live in a rural area without too many shopping options.
Loc: Washington State, King County
Sometimes I use a hydration bladder with a hose, just to make it easy to drink along the way.
But when I don't, I've never found a pack with a built-in water bottle holder that I like. You can find if you look an add-on bottle holder that you can attach to the side of the pack waist belt, and that's what I prefer. There are rigid foam ones that hold their shape; those are easy to use insofar as it's easy to put the bottle back in place. I also have a nylon one that collapses small and is a little lighter, but I have to fiddle with both hands to put it back after drinking.
I'm a big fan of getting one sized to a half liter bottle. A full liter is, IMO, too much weight to put at my waist like that, and a half liter is generally enough if I'm not in a dry environment. The half liter size can also accomodate not only a standard half liter nalgene, but also a 20 oz gatorade bottle.
In terms of attachment, these typically have a sort of fabric loop with velcro to close the loop up. Some have an "open" loop where you just pull apart the velcro, put the loop behind a side strap, then close it. I don't like those, as I've had the experience of my bottle and bottle holder falling off of my pack that way. I like a closed loop, which is the same, except that the loop is stitched down at the bottom as well as the top. Have to unstrap the little side strap to get it in, or maybe shove the whole waist belt through the loop if it fits. In the latter case, the water bottle holder and bottle can fall off when you're putting on or taking off the pack, but is otherwise secure.
Maybe too much information! Hope you find something that works well for you.
It is difficult to find a good built in water holder. Even on my Osprey daypack it's not all that easy to reach back to get the bottle out and even harder to get it back in.
I've tried different water bottle holders in the past, including the velcro type you mention. When it's new it stays in place most of the time but with age it will fall off. A closed loop makes sense if I can find a good spot for it.
I like your idea of going with a 1/2 liter bottle. If I need more i could keep some in a light weight collapsable bottle in my pack but like you said it would have less pull on my waste belt.
It's good to see that someone else has been experimenting.
My big effort will be getting down to 30 lbs on my backpack. To me it's a balance between weight and comfort, meaning having a comfortable sleeping bag, pad, etc. Sleeping good at night is just as important as carrying less weight. I think 30 lbs would be a good balance.
Loc: Tacoma, Washington
I've pretty much given up on hydration bladders. For the amount of water they contain, they're heavy. And they take a lot of effort to clean/dry at the end of an outing. I like the flexibility of water canteens like the 1L platypus. I do worry about anything dropping out of the pack side pocket, but the platty seems to be the most securely held when compared to hard sided bottles. I don't sense any difficulty getting it out....and getting it back in while wearing, only a minimal challenge. The only time I use the second platty (2~3L) is for long distances between water holes or over nighting at a dry site - empty or filled it resides in the internal pocket meant for a bladder
I've never used a hydration bladder, mainly for the reasons you stated. I'm interested in trying a platypus bottle or even a Smart Water bottle since either would save weight over a standard bottle plus it would also work with my Sawyer Mini Filter that I recently bought but haven't field tested yet.
Loc: Tacoma, Washington
it all depends on what you mean by "work with". the platty and s.w. bottles will screw on to the unfiltered side of the mini. And neither will screw on to the filtered side, unless you make some sorta adapter. I go without such an adapter(I do have some misgivings about contaminated water dribbling down and effecting my good water) there is an adapter sold on Amazon that adapts the std. size sawyer so that either bottle will screw into the filtered side of that size filter. on a different note....I was disappointed in my smart bottle use...it developed a distinct off taste after a few days. this was, even with the constant filling and draining as my main water vessel. How they get the water to taste good after sitting for weeks on a palette in a hot warehouse evades me. as many other things do
I was thinking that the Smart Water bottle would be easier for collecting water rather than the included bladder. I'll experiment with different bottles to see what works best. Interesting about the bad taste with the SW bottle. May be best for the unfiltered water.
I previously used a First Need purifier for many years but decided to reduce weight and use the Sawyer.