Hydration bladders are cool and convenient but they are a pain to have to clean out, if they tear you are screwed, and you really have limited use with them. I hate the cleaning process after using them, if you don’t dry them completely they can mold and if that is all you had for water storage and needed to boil water for purification or cooking, you’d be screwed. I am all about having gear that is multi-purpose which in my mind a hydration bladder simply is not, it’s just extra weight. I’d much prefer to carry an aluminum bottle which carries a less water but gives me the ability to boil for purification and cooking as well and here in the North East, water sources usually aren’t too hard to find. So I wanted a pouch that I could add to my every day bag to free up some internal space and hold my aluminum bottle and figured I would give the Rothco Molle Water Bottle Pouch a shot.
The Rothco Molle Water Bottle Pouch is certainly manufactured very well with 600D polyester and excellent stitching. With a water bottle compartment measuring 10.5” tall by 4” in diameter, it will easily fit a 32oz Nalgene bottle nested in a metal cup with room to spare. It’s front pocket measures about 6.5” by 4” and is about 1 1/2″ deep which is big enough to be able to store some necessities. The pouch comes in your choice of black, coyote or multi-cam so you do have some options to choose from, however for those of you who like olive drab, you’re out of luck which is unfortunate.
I can honestly say the stitching and zippers are good quality because I use an aluminum bottle which is probably closer to 11 1/2” and I force the thing closed on a daily basis, no sign of rips, tears or zipper failure with over a year of use in this manner now. My aluminum GSI cup fits down in the bottle pocket but it is a bit tight, the more I force it in and pull it out the easier it gets although it does tend to be a pain at times getting it out around the zipper area. Thanks to the well constructed seams, a little muscle won’t hurt it though.
We might as well start with what I don’t like about this pouch because it is a pretty short list. First off, it is NOT made in the USA,
however as a result of it being made in China, you can pick one up for under $20 bucks and it is worth every penny for sure. I would much rather spend a few extra bucks and pick up something American made, but I am yet to see a product of comparable design which is made here. The other two main competitors of this particular design would be Condor and Maxpedition, both great alternatives, but you will pay extra just for the Maxpedition name (plus its slightly smaller), Condor is much more comparable in terms of price and dimensions. A “feature” I am not very fond of is the fact that it has sewn in MOLLE straps. The straps are well constructed and reinforced with snaps that will certainly not let go with ease but I would have much rather had two detached straps so I can choose how I want to mount the pouch on my own. The only other two things I don’t like with the Rothco Water Bottle Pouch is that the front compartment has only one zipper instead of two, and it has build in D rings on either side, but no strap came with it to use the pouch on it’s own.
On to what I do like. I already mentioned, it’s very well made, the stitching is heavy and I’ve forced the zippers on the main
compartment closed time after time and no indication of any failure any time soon. MOLLE webbing is available on all four sides of the pouch so you have the ability to add some smaller pouches to it and/or change the mounting position (despite having the sewn in straps dangling to the side, guess you could cut them off if you really wanted to). D rings mounted on either side make it possible to use this pouch on its own with a shoulder strap which would be perfect for short hikes where you only need some bare necessities and not the full weight of a loaded pack. The bottle pouch has some padding in it which does offer a bit of insulation value and with a 4” diameter you can fit almost any normal sized bottle you want in there. The top cover has an opening you can run a hydration straw/hose through if you wanted to and also has velcro so you can slap on a name tag or morale patch of your choice. The front storage compartment can actually fit quite a bit in it, the gear I carry in it daily is:
- Ferro rod/striker with wooden handle and button compass
- Small BIC lighter
- A cotton ball covered in petroleum jelly and stuff in a plastic drinking straw sealed on both ends
- Two large bandaids
- A variety of tea bags
- A packet of Starkest Tuna in a foil pack
- Two small mayo packets
- A bottle of water treatment pills
- Aquamira Frontier straw water filter
There is also room to spare in there, I can probably get away with tossing in also a 99 cent throw away poncho and a mylar blanket if I needed to along with small knife or flashlight (but I already have those in another pouch on my bag).
In the end, yeah there are a couple minor things I don’t like about this pouch, and I am sad to say it is not Made in the USA, but overall I would certainly recommend it to anyone looking to use it on it’s own (just be sure to supply your own shoulder strap) or attach it to a MOLLE capable bag you already have. You will certainly get your money’s worth out of this pouch. I am actually debating buying a second one to put on the other side of my bag to use for storage of other gear but I will probably just end up buying another bag first anyway. Thanks for reading, more reviews on the way from CRRT. Be sure to check out our Facebook Gear
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