I went to Sportsman's Warehouse today and looked at some of the recommended bags in person:
The Kelty Redwing
is larger than it appears in online pics, with some nice features. I can see why people use it for a GHB or small BOB. It comes in both a standard/men's and a women's version. It looks like the Jansport
posted by NWmountaineer above is similar.
There are 2 long shallow pockets, one on each side, which unzip vertically. They look like they might hold some tall narrow water bottles like disposable store bought 1L bottles (Poland Spring, etc.), 1L or .75L Camelbak bottles, or narrow 24oz Nalgene bottles. Would probably also be good for soem food bars or a rolled up shirt. There is also a mesh elastic pocket on each side, below the vertical pockets, which could hold a wider plastic bottle or canteen like a 24-32oz Nalgene. The inside has a plastic pouch to hold water bladders, and a hole in the center back at the top to feed the drink tube through. I didn't see any kind of hook or loop though to hold the bladder in place. Looks like you could fit 2 bladders side by side in there.
The straps and belt are well padded. The Kelty packaging recommended wearing the belt above the hips, at the top of the hip bone (personally I don't like belly belts as I don't think the soft midsection is the place to be putting weight rather than a strong hip bone). It allows you to adjust the vertical placement of the belt through the use of some velcro inside the belt slot. However, I'm long waisted and small shouldered so I found that at the lowest setting the belt was still too high. In order to get the shoulder straps to actually sit on my shoulders I had to pull them so short/tight that the pack rose up too high for the belt to be in the right place. I found this to be a problem with many packs, though some of the women's versions were a better fit because the shoulder straps were placed better to begin with.
The sales person recommended Teton
bags, saying they were as good as Kelty but you didn't have to pay extra for the Kelty name. I checked out the Scout model. It had a number of well-sized outside pockets, several compression straps, and good easy load lifter straps. The shoulder straps and belt were well padded. One nice feature of the Teton bags is they give you about 10" leeway to adjust the placement of the shoulder harness in relation to the top of the bag/belt to give you a better fit. For example I was able to move the shoulder harness up a few notches to give me the right torso length. The Teton bags also had a nice lumbar support.
packs had a great back feature which was a mesh panel suspended from the pack frame to keep your back cool. The only size they had in stock was the 1900 c.i., which was too small for a BOB, so I didn't get to check out their larger models.
I wanted to try on some Eberlestock
bags, but unfortunately the only model they had in stock was the "Just One" bag. That's the huge, add-on and make it more huge bag. Apparently hunting season is starting soon here so most of the bags were sold out.
ETA: I was able to check out some packs at Summit Hut today:
The Gregory Deva 60
looks like a good pack and not overwhelmingly large. 3600 c.i., a good amount of outside pockets, with a bottom zip access and divider. It has a suspended mesh + padding back similar to the Marmot. It looks very comfortable.
The Kelty Moraine
also looks like a good bag, but not anywhere near the back padding or venting as the Gregory Deva and without the bottom zip access of the Deva. It comes in 2 sizes: 3600 c.i. or 3300 c.i. It has 2 shallow side pockets but a huge front pocket.