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MLD Packs and side pockets
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Dylan Atkinson
(atkinsondylan) - MLife

Locale: Bay Area
MLD Packs and side pockets on 04/27/2014 20:25:37 MDT Print View

I have, potentially, a very dumb question.

I tried on an MLD Exodus pack and could not, despite limbering up prior to this endeavor, reach the side pockets for a water bottle. Is it just me? Those who have MLD packs (not just the Exodus): are the side pockets difficult to reach? If so, what is your hydration method?

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
MLD and Side Pockets on 04/27/2014 20:47:12 MDT Print View

The pocket are hard to reach. Various options I have used with the MLD Prophet are:
-ask a buddy to hand you a bottle
-use a platypus bladder with hose
-Switch to using 20 oz bottles and the MLD bottle pouch that fits on the pack shoulder strap
-Stop, move all the weight to just one shoulder strap,and then reach for the bottle. This works fairly well once you get used to it. -----More agile people than I am might be able to avoid the stopping part

Edited by btolley on 04/27/2014 20:48:41 MDT.

Dan Goggins
(hjuan99) - MLife

Locale: Mountain West
SmarTube on 04/27/2014 21:17:45 MDT Print View

I also have an exodus and you are right, can't reach the water bottle from the side pockets. A few more options for you ->

1. SmarTube - I bought a SmarTube and will start playing around with it this summer.

2. Do stick's pretty much free water bottle attachment system ->

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: MLD Packs and side pockets on 04/28/2014 02:46:58 MDT Print View

Not just you. It was a deal breaker for me so I sold the pack.

Art Tyszka
(arttyszka) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota
Re: MLD Packs and side pockets on 04/28/2014 08:00:05 MDT Print View

Same here, it's my only complaint on the pack. I can get a 1L bottle out, but typically have to undo the hip belt to get it back, which isn't that big a deal with the amount of weight I'm usually carrying. In one of Mike Cleland's videos this is one of the advantages of going light that he demonstrates, grabbing something from inside the pack w/o stopping. Still, it would be nice if the pockets were at an angle that made grabbing a water bottle easy.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Nearly impossible on 04/28/2014 08:08:06 MDT Print View

On the Burn but I have my water in hipbelt pouches which in my view is better since it take many lbs off the back and transfers to hips. The burn is a much narrower pack than some of the others which increases the challenge.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: MLD Packs and side pockets on 04/28/2014 08:25:00 MDT Print View

I would agree that reaching around to get the bottle out while the pack is on can be tricky.

One trade off in side pocket pack design is lower, more angled and looser side pockets (easier to get stuff out for reach around on the go) vs. a taller, less angled and tighter top edge design ( more secure contents/ holds taller bottles and larger gear better).

The MLD pack side pockets are more toward the second design on that spectrum. It's all a personal choice and we go for the high security of never loosing gear (A core UL rule!) vs a bit of convenience in an easier reach around around a few times a day.

A trick to get out bottles on the move with taller more secure side pockets is to loosen the shoulder straps so the pack hangs down lower on that side and then reach around. The one shoulder strap off swing around also works for many.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Nearly impossible on 04/28/2014 09:02:16 MDT Print View

Mchale has a brilliant way of handling this. The pack is not made with sewn on pockets. Instead, the pockets are attached via two 'strips' of daisy chain which allow not only the pockets to be raised and lowered for individual preference, but also angled to permit virtually no reaching back.

Horrors - it may add a couple of ounces. ;)

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Nearly impossible on 04/28/2014 09:32:10 MDT Print View

This is an issue I have never really understood, though it is clear a lot people find this super important. I can kind of get it for old school backpacking where getting your 60 lb pack on and off is a major operation, possibly involving rocks or trees, a buddy helping out, and a good deal of grunting. But seriously with lightweight gear I don't get it. As pointed out above with LW gear it doesn't seem to be an issue - the "Clelland Sling" method is one of the advantages, like being able to stand on one foot without taking off your pack, taking off your trail runner, and shaking out the gravel. I try to time this ostentatiously when someone heaving a giant pack and looking very unhappy passes by :-)

However, I am a slow poke compared to some people on here, and welcome the excuse to stop, drink some water, and stare out at the scenery, unencumbered for a few seconds by having to watch out for rocks and roots where I am walking.

Edited by millonas on 04/28/2014 09:35:40 MDT.

Eli Zabielski
(ezabielski) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Re: MLD Packs and side pockets on 04/28/2014 10:14:18 MDT Print View

I have a Burn and Prophet. Carry a more narrow bottle like a 1L Smart Water bottle (or equivalent). The sides are smooth and it's narrower so there is less friction. Then to get it out I reach back and push the bottom of the bottle up and then grab it as it comes out the top.

Dan Goggins
(hjuan99) - MLife

Locale: Mountain West
Smart Water bottle on 04/28/2014 10:31:01 MDT Print View

Huh...that's odd. I just put on my exodus and tried a 1L smart water bottle and didn't have any issue with retrieving it when using two hands....

Ivo K
(joylesshusband) - M

Locale: Mid-Atlantic (PA)
Re: Re: Re: Nearly impossible on 04/28/2014 10:35:41 MDT Print View

@ Marko:

"[I] ...welcome the excuse to stop, drink some water, and stare out at the scenery, unencumbered for a few seconds by having to watch out for rocks and roots where I am walking.

But as I'm doing this, it makes me dependent. On others.

Consider this scenario:
Narrow trail, I’m moving pretty fast.
I have just 2 minutes ago passed a slower-moving train of 6 or 8 hikers, whom I asked for a permission to pass, and have not yet built a sufficient distance in between us. I stop to take a sip, the train passes me, and then once I am moving again, I have to beg them again to let me pass through since they are obviously slower. As a result, we all get annoyed.
To avoid this, I can try to time my water stops better. Which means that I will have my sip of water not when I wanted it, but when “conditions permit”.
I find this stressful – and diametrically opposed to my reasons to hike.

Being independent is much nicer!

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Nearly impossible on 04/28/2014 11:24:40 MDT Print View

Two words: Drink Fast

Or use the Clelland sling method. :-) Look at the end of this video where he does something nominally much more difficult than taking a swig of water, all while moving forward:

Also, IMHO if getting stuck behind a huge group of slow moving backpackers is for you really a formative issue, and causing as you say stress, then you may be on the entirely wrong trail for you?

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: MLD Packs and side pockets on 04/28/2014 11:24:52 MDT Print View


Thanks for joining the conversation to give us our thoughts on the "high" side pockets.

Can you tell us how much it might cost to customize the Exodus to lower the height of the side pockets?

Or would lowering them require the addition of another side compression strap to help secure the taller items like a water bottle?


Richard Sheward
(Shewie) - F
Side pockets on 04/29/2014 06:24:09 MDT Print View

I've just bought an Arc Blast from Joe and I'm a bit gutted that I can't actually reach the side pockets without dislocating my shoulder. It's annoying as I don't use a bladder but prefer a bottle instead.

So it's either a case of asking a buddy to grab my bottle or just stop and take the pack off.

Dan Goggins
(hjuan99) - MLife

Locale: Mountain West
On the arc blast? on 04/29/2014 07:58:03 MDT Print View

I have a MLD Exodus and an Arc Blast....if you can't reach the side pockets on an arc really wouldn't like an exodus then.

Maybe we just have really different body types, but I have no issue with the arc blast since it has lower pockets than the exodus and has a heavy forward slant...

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: MLD Packs and side pockets on 04/29/2014 08:12:08 MDT Print View

Dropping one shoulder strap as much as it will go often works.