I like making things last as long as possible and I wasn't about to toss a perfectly okay (yet raggedy) backpack that could last another year (or two) if the side pockets hadn't turned into a shredded mess. Oh, and by the way, I will think twice before purchasing a new backpack with that flimsy mesh junk again! You're probably thinking I'm crazy for making such a big deal over side pockets, but I really like side pockets... and hydration!
So... the day before (yes, the day before) the first day of school, I ripped off what was left of the mesh and proceeded to crochet a pocket. Basically, I made a cozy/cylinder using one of their water bottles and left an opening (where it attaches to the backpack)... so it was like a 3/4 cozy. I started out with a circle for the base (single crochet), then worked the side back and forth in a half-double crochet/diamond stitch pattern. Next, I found a large needle, some strong embroidery thread, and attached it to the backpack with a ton of stitches. I left the blue elastic strap at the top to help secure the water bottle.
I'm curious as to how well it will hold up throughout the year. So far, in spite of looking a bit eccentric, it's working out well and her water stays cooler during these 95 degree school days. The other side of the backpack looks basically like the first photo. I only had time for one side and ... well... that's another day.