The Osprey Kestrel backpack has worked out well. I am not yet sold on the way the internal bladder works but the problems I have had may be a function of the way I pack. I think I just need to do some tuning. I have only used it twice for Wilderness Trekking School class.
Overall the Kestrel holds gear great and loads easily. The hip suspension is perfect. I think I need to do some shoulder strap adjustment to get it just so. But the hip belt is really comfortable.
The problem I have had with the internal bladder is that a full bladder causes the back panel to bulge out (into my back). What I think is happening however is that I pack my bivy inside parallel and directly against the bladder. When the pack is full the bivy pushes against the full length of the bladder and causes it to bulge against the back panel. I will try moving the bivy to the side and see if that helps next time I hike.
Time to whip up something to eat
I also picked up a GSI Halulite Minimalist cook set. GSI has cleverly designed several different cook sets for nearly every outdoor use. The Halulite Minimalist is specifically designed for a backpacker who just boils water for dehydrated meals and perhaps some coffer/soup/hot chocolate or similar.
The entire set cleverly nests with all the included components as well as a small gas cartridge and stove. I am using the Snow Peak Gigagpower stove. I have had this stove for years and it really works well. It folds up into a very tiny package and fits right inside the nested cook set. There are of course several other small foldup stoves that would work.
GSI Halulite Minimalist cook set (Image Courtesy GSI Outdoors)