DIY Simple Shoulder Pouch for Backpacks

I need a shoulder pouch.

A downfall of some ultralight backpacks, like my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 3400, is the lack of features. One of which is the smallish exterior side-pockets. I can fit a one-liter Nalgene bottle and not much else in each side pocket. These pockets also aren’t forward facing, so reaching for them can be a chore.

So I decided to stop using them for water storage.

My Current Water System

I have a two-liter Hydropak Seeker Bottle with a Katadyn BeFree water filter and then a .5 liter water bottle. I usually use the small bottle for quick sips and the Hydropak for rest breaks. My goal is to somehow attach the small bottle to my shoulder straps for easy access on the go.

The Simple Shoulder Pouch

Here are some materials that you’ll need:

—A beer koozie, preferably of a more structured foam unlike the soft one I used.

–A pokey thing.

–Some cord.

–Pliers for pulling the cord through.

Step One

Bore some holes into the beer koozie, two at the bottom and two at the top. The closer to the edges the better as the pouch won’t bob as much.

Step Two

Run the cord through one of the bottom holes in the koozie. Leave the other side open so you can attach it to your shoulder strap via the strap itself or through any daisy chain from the sternum strap.

Step Three

Thread the cord back into the other side of the koozie.

Step Four

Run both cords vertically on the inside of the koozie to their respective top holes, and pull them through. Make sure to keep good tension so the base is snug. Running the cord vertically instead of an X shape lets the bottle slide in more smoothly.

Step Five

Tie a bad square knot to secure the top half to the shoulder strap.

Step Six


Admire your hiker trash self as you now have a functional shoulder pouch that also insulates your beverage of choice, and makes a great cell phone holder.

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Comments 3

  • Rob R : Nov 24th

    Why not just add a drinking tube and bite valve? ?

    • Jack : Nov 24th

      Those cost more money than I’m willing to spend, weigh more, and I don’t like drinking tubes because they’re difficult to clean. I like hydration packs for trail running though!

  • Douglas Doucette : Jul 11th

    Love it! I can’t seem to find mesh material around here & can’t sew well enough to make a fabric bottle holder. I have koozies & cord, can poke holes & tie knots so I will give this a try!


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