Gear Review: GeigerRig Rig 1600 Hydration Pack…
Last Summer I received the GeigerRig Rig 1600 backpack for review as part of the Hydration Summit, sponsored by Trail Sherpa and GeigerRig. The Hydration Summit featured 15 high-profile outdoor bloggers discussing a wide variety of hydration topics from waterborne illness to keeping your kids hydrated on the trail. GeigerRig challenged us to do side-by-side comparisons between their new Hydration Engine and the other leading hydration pack manufacturers. My focus at the time was on the bladder and comparing it to the other leading brands on the market. Thus, I never got a chance to write a review of the pack itself. Now that I’ve had the pack for a while and put it through it’s paces, I thought it was time to let you guys know what I think.
GeigerRig: The Hydration Engine…
The whole thing centers around what GeigerRig calls, the Hydration Engine. It is a pressurized reservoir system that allows the user to spray fluid from the drinking hose instead of using suction. Pressurizing the system allows you to work with a stream of water. In Katie’s review of the Rig 500, she finds, “…the pressurization feature most useful when mountain biking; drinking while pedaling uphill and breathing hard was much easier than trying to suck out of a normal drink tube.”
Others also talked about the benefits of water pressure allowing them to share with their kids, share with their dog, clean up at camp, clean wounds among other things. All around, it seems to be convenient to have a pressurized water system. Personally, I found that I enjoyed having the pressurized system when biking, or climbing, a steep grade and exerting myself to the point that sucking water through a hose was difficult. I also enjoyed being able to spray myself with water when hiking in 100+ degree Summer heat. While hiking with a friend in remote Cold Spring Canyon, I was able to share my water without having to share the bite valve. I simply sprayed water in to his empty water bottle. I’ve also really enjoyed the convenience of being able to share water with Wiley on the trail without getting close enough for her to lick the tube.
What I really like about the design of the reservoir is the closure design. It’s a very simple fold-over clip design but it allows the entire top of the bladder to open making it incredibly easy to fill anywhere. It also allows the bladder to be turned inside out for cleaning. GeigerRig recommends turning the reservoir inside-out and placing it on the top rack of your dish washer. No more trying to use pipe-cleaners and annoying brushes to clean the bladder because you can’t get your hand through the opening.
There are only a couple of real downsides to the pressurized system. First is that it takes a few seconds to build up pressure if you don’t leave it under pressure the whole time. 15-25 pumps from the small ball pump lashed to the shoulder strap should give you enough pressure to spray. The second issue (potentially not a down side) I found is that I go through a lot more water. I have emptied a 3L reservoir on hikes where I would normally use less than 1L. For this reason, I found it advisable to get a flow meter for the tube so I can monitor my consumption.
“People who use GEIGERRIG hydration packs during activity report that they comfortably drink 30% more water than they do when using standard, un-pressurized, sucking hydration packs.” – GeigerRig.com
The most impressive part of the GeigerRig reservoir is it’s durability. The thing is damn near indestructible. When I did my initial testing I put all my weight on the bladder and it didn’t flinch. Bob Geiger produced a video of them testing the reservoirs for their breaking point and finally got one to pop at over 1,100 PSI. You might also like this video of GeigerRig trying to blow up a Rig 700.
GeigerRig: The Backpacks…
GeigerRig started developing their products to be used by the military in combat situations. All of their Rigs are made from industrial strength Ballistic Nylon. They are put together using heavy duty zippers and redundant stitching. The buckles and clasps are high-grade polymer plastics made to take tons of abuse. They’re also made to carry some serious weight and the padding on the shoulder straps is beefy enough to do so comfortably.
“We felt that [Ballistic Nylon] was perfect for our RIGS as we wanted to have hydration packs in our line-up that could take heavy abuse delivered by hard core outdoor enthusiasts and motor sports enthusiasts.” -GeigerRig.com
There are some specific design features I really like in these packs. On the Rig 1600, the removable waist-belt has easy access pockets on either side and they’re made from a stretchy nylon material so you can really stuff a lot in to those pockets. I like to use them for trail mix and my compass. I also like that the waist-belt is very wide, allowing the weight to rest on your hips much more comfortably. The Rig 1600 also has two small side pockets on either side of the main body of the pack. These give the pack an odd shape but I find them incredibly useful pockets for everything from first-aid gear to extra food. Perfect for anything you might need to get to quickly or often.
The main body of the Rig 1600 has 3 compartments: The reservoir compartment accessed from the back (it’s more than just a sleeve), the main storage compartment, and an outer “admin” compartment. The reservoir compartment fits the full 3L reservoir with room to spare. There is a bit of looped webbing at the top of the compartment that I use to hang my reservoir so it doesn’t slide down as it empties. I’ve managed to stuff a full 3L bladder and two extra (small) water bottles in this compartment. The main storage compartment is sizable I would essentially categorize this pack as a day hikers pack, but one could stash enough gear to do an overnight trip without too much trouble. The zipper for the main compartment goes about halfway down the pack on either side allowing for generous access. The “admin” pocket on the outside is generous as well and has multiple interior pockets for organizing smaller gear.
I also have the Rig 500 and it’s made with the same heavy-duty construction of it’s big brother. The Rig 500 is smaller and more streamlined, designed more for mountain biking or trail running. It will fit the 3L reservoir but is designed more for the 2L. The storage capacity is obviously much tighter than the Rig 1600 but there is still room for snacks, first aid and a spare shirt or extra layer.
The Bottom Line
These are heavy packs, and made to take a ton of abuse. If you're one of those people that's hard on gear and expect it to take a beating, you'll be happy with GeigerRig. The Rig 1600 is comfortable and carries a ton of gear. I use it all the time for day hikes and regularly stuff it with rain clothes, my hammock, snacks, my DSLR and lenses and have room to spare. I took it to Costa Rica and my wife and I were able to pack everything we needed for both us for an entire day in that pack without trouble.
The Rig 700 is a nice biking pack. It's a little too heavy for me as a trail running pack, and doesn't fit me quite as well as the Rig 1600 but it's still a nice, well made pack.
All of GeigerRig's Hydration Engine's carry a lifetime warranty against leakage.