One reviewer wrote that reaching water bottles in the side stretch panels was impossible, whereas another said they were easy to reach. I favor the first reviewer's opinion - It's nearly impossible to grab a water bottle while wearing the pack. Granted, I'm 62 years-old and my shoulders aren't particularly flexible. It's not really that much of a problem for me either - I simply ask my hiking partner to help. I've had other packs that are equally difficult, so I won't knock the Talon 22 for this. I appreciate that they provided space for two water bottles and a hydration pack. If you need to hydrate on the go, don't want to take the pack off, and don't have help, you'll probably want to add the hydration pack, or get a water bottle that can hook onto one of the many attachment points on the pack. Great pack! Very well constructed.