When I first started this UL thing like most converts I became a zealot, and thus had very minimal packs without exterior pockets. I also used a hanky as my sleep system and sucked water from my socks. I've sort of stepped back from the ledge, though. (See Skurka and "stupid light.") There are now a few things that I think are worth hauling an extra ounce or two, and exterior pockets are one of them.
Like others, I detest carrying anything in my pants pockets, so a hipbelt pocket carries my pocketknife, chapstick, snack, compass, etc.
I prefer bottles to bladders because I always seem to lose track of how much is left in a bladder hidden away in my pack, and I like to carry the bottles in side pockets. Maybe someday I'll try a shoulder-strap pocket (the concept certainly worked well when I tried an Aarn pack). I've seen water bottle holders that are just straps designed to hold the neck of a bottle securely, and they look interesting, but I've yet to try one.
My raingear and shelter go in the front pocket for quick access when needed- all the wet stuff stays together.
For durability reasons I do admit that I like pockets made of solid fabric rather than made of mesh (ounces, again)- GoLite does it this way, as does MLD and others- at least as options. The Osprey Exos uses mesh, but it is very heavy-gauge mesh, not the tissue-thin stuff most UL cottage manufacturers favor in their more fanatically-marketed packs. But this is more important for the hipbelt and side pockets, not so much the front pocket. (My favorite MLD pack has a mesh front pocket.)