Gear Review and Giveaway: Does Your Hydration System Suck? Geigerrig Has You Covered

Taking my Rig 500 for a long bike ride.
(D. Herscovitch)
When I first heard about the concept of a pressurized hydration system, I was skeptical. Did I really need to be able to spray water out of my hydration bladder? Wasn't biting the valve and sucking the water out good enough? It might be good enough, but when it comes to hydration on the trail, the more convenient it is, the better. And what if you need to spray sunscreen out of your eyes? Give your furry hiking companion a drink without pulling out a water bowl? Irrigate an open wound without a syringe? Drink without stopping your activity? As it turns out, traditional hydration systems might not be as convenient as you think.

Prior to hearing about Geigerrig I’d never thought about the benefits of having pressurized hydration system. As part of my participation in the Hydration Summit, Geigerrig sent me a Rig 500 to test out along with both a 2-liter and 3-liter hydration bladder. I haven't used any of my other hydration bladders since. From bike trails around Philadelphia to camping and hiking in Acadia National Park, the Geigerrig reservoirs go with me everywhere.

When it comes to carrying water around, using a pack that fits well is paramount; water is heavy, and if you're uncomfortable, you're not going to carry as much as you need. If I'm out on a hike in Southeastern Pennsylvania's characteristically brutal summer days, I'll carry three liters just for me. That's almost seven pounds of water. Add in the weight of my snacks, extra clothes, first aid supplies...you get the picture. The Rig 500 pack is constructed with ballistic nylon, has seriously thick zippers and is obviously meant to take a beating. It's ideal for day-long adventures, like the bike ride I took it on in June. I got my wallet, phone, camera, snacks and an extra shirt in it, but that’s about it. The pack itself weighs two and a half pounds, making it heavier than other day packs I've used. But if you know you're out for a hardcore adventure, the Rig 500 pack can keep up. The pack comes with a removable plastic panel to give it shape, but I found pulling it out made the pack significantly more comfortable, and saved weight.  

The real hero, of course, is the Geigerrig hydration engine itself. The engine is what sets the Rig 500 apart. All Geigerrig reservoirs have a compartment for water and a separate chamber for air. Using a detachable second hose and bulb, pumping the air chamber up means you'll have a steady stream of water at your disposal. It took me a few tries to actually spray the water in my mouth instead of all over my face and shirt, but once you figure it out, it's an amazing feature to have. The pressure did seem to decrease slightly as the volume of water in the reservoir decreased, but not to the point where it was an issue. The bulb is always handy, though, and an adjustment valve helps you let air out of the chamber if it’s too full, or as you gain elevation. But really, the best part is the fact that you don't have to suck on the valve to get water out!

Easy-to follow directions on reconnecting the tubes.
And for those of us who've had issues in the past cleaning out our hydration bladders, Geigerrig makes it easy. Both the air and drink tubes come off with a snap. Geigerrig designers anticipated that folks might have trouble remembering which tube to connect to each opening and labeled both. You can turn the entire hydration engine inside out, which means you can fill the reservoir with something other than water without fear of it never being clean again. (Bonus: the reservoir is dishwasher safe.) The reservoir's wide opening makes refilling a piece of cake, and the slide top closure is one of my favorite features.

Strategically placed openings are exactly where they need to be for both hydration bladder hoses, and the Rig 500 comes with a removable velcro strip around one of the shoulder straps to hold the bulb in place. Between the removable back panel, velcro strap and variety of compression straps on the outside of the pack, it's obvious the designers know we're all going to want to wear the pack a little differently. As if all of that wasn't enough, the Rig 500 comes with Geigerrig’s Adventure Passport, a small novel-sized booklet full of free ski lift passes and other awesome discounts.

Win a Geigerrig Rig 500 Ballistic Pack, Complete With a 2L Hydration Engine and In-Line Filter!

To enter, leave a comment on this post related to hydration. It can be a story about a time you didn't carry enough, about how your dog slobbered all over the valve of your bladder, anything you'd like. Be creative! Submit all entries by 5pm EST on Friday, August 24th. United States residents only, please! When you comment, be sure to leave a method of contact. I'll pick a winner using a random number generator and notify the winner on or before August 26th. To receive an extra entry, give the Adventure-Inspired facebook page a "like" and leave a separate comment letting me know you have. (If you already have, that still counts! Leave that extra comment!) Good luck!

Comments

One time I didn't screw my bladder lid on tight enough and didn't realize it. Halfway up a mountain I discovered that I looked like I peed my pants. True story. No bueno.
Katie Levy said…
oh Heather :) plus, I'd imagine it made it harder to stay hydrated without your full supply at your disposal!
fjellwalker said…
A long time ago, I was bike commuting home on a dark and cold winter's night.  I was about 4 miles into a 20 mile commute home and it was already hovering around 32 degrees.  I took a pull from my camelback (filled with warm water) and settled in for the boring stretch of the ride on the bike trail, focused on the cone of light ahead of my front wheel.  I started to realize there was a new sensation other than the biting wind, down my right leg.  To my horror, I saw that the bite valve had fallen off the tube and water from the reservoir was cascading down my right side.  Warm at first, then freezing and biting, I had a long cold commute home with no bite valve (lost) or water to drink (wearing it).
Katie Levy said…
 oh man, that's brutal! I can't imagine having to finish a long commute home with ice all over me. hope you made it alright!
Paul-Baptiste said…
While attending a conference in Denver, a colleague and I decided to sneak away one afternoon and do some sport climbing in Golden. I had all my gear neatly - read: very type-A - packed into my beloved Osprey pack, including my hydration bladder filled to the brim with water and ready to go. Our escape was successful. An afternoon of climbing! When we arrived at the cliffs I discovered that all the gear in the trunk had shifted and a bag had come to rest squarely on top of the bite valve. Of the 3 liters of water I had brought, I had perhaps a cup to last me a hot afternoon of climbing. I got to experience the lovely cracked lips and that nasty white stuff that forms on the corners of your mouth of dehydration that day, but I sent some amazing routes! My very next purchase was a shutoff valve. Lesson learned. (On a side note, the cigarette smell trapped in rental car carpet is easily released when you saturate it with about three quarters of a gallon of water!)
Perry Ligon said…
I have a bladder that's the coolest color of green ever since I used a certain electrolyte mix that stained it. I guess it's artistic and I even like the color, it matches my Salomon XR Crossmax trail running shoes, but from a sanitary point of view, I can't believe it's acyually clean. 

Washing hydration bladders can be a pain. Love the fact that Geigerrig has gone out of their way to make it easy and it's dishwasher safe as well, very cool! 
Katie Levy said…
 oh no! but at least you were able to clean the smell out of the rental car :) a leaking hydration bladder is the worst!
Katie Levy said…
 ha, awesome! you're right, washing them can be a huge pain. I love being able to get my hands in the Geigerrig reservoirs and really scrub them. It's so much easier!
Redgolo22 said…
Ive had the same bladder for four years now and its definately time for and upgrade. Especially before I start the AT
Katie Levy said…
 nice! are you doing the whole AT? I'd agree, the engines themselves are the true vital piece of gear to have. though the pack is great for short trips.
Rita Pang said…
I went out to vail last year with a camebak that kept leaking out of the fill opening. so I closed the lid by positioning a ziploc bag between the cap and bag. Methinks it's time that I got a new one, this geigerrig sounds pretty neat
T minus said…
Oops that last comment was me (vail story). Also liked on facebok!
Katie Levy said…
 now that's some serious finagling! it definitely sounds like you need a new hydration bladder. best of luck in the contest!
Emma said…
I don't have a hydration bladder, but I think it would be much easier to stay hydrated while backpacking. I can never find an accessible spot on my backpack for water bottles!
Emma Lawlor said…
Liked on fb, too! (that's me above)
Amy Hatch said…
At mile 75 of a 100 mile run ... pressurized hydration sounds awesome! That's when every little bit of extra effort seems like A LOT of extra effort!
Katie Levy said…
Amy, I can't imagine what mile 75 of 100 mile run feels like at all :) You're amazing! Thanks for the comment.
Katie Levy said…
awesome, thanks!!
Katie Levy said…
cool, Wil, you're in!
Nina Martin said…
I was reading the other comments and I was like, wow, there's no way I have a hydration story that can match the other people on here. Then I saw you will have a random number generator...ok! I'm sure I could say something about lack of hydration on marathon runs...but I'm really obsessed with the thought of getting into cycling/mountain bike racing. I saw the Women's Mountain Bike Race at the Olympics and have been really inspired by the crazy course and efforts by the top three women. I of course have to eventually get a better bike--I think my crappy commuter bike would crack in two if I tried to race it, even on roads. Anyways, something I want to save up for--maybe by the spring.
k8tlevy said…
I'm completely supportive of your desire to get into mountain bike racing or cyclocross as long as you don't do downhill mountain bike racing :) thanks for the comment, Nina!
Carl said…
liked
Carl said…
I don't have a hydration pack. Fumbling around for bottles is a pain.
k8tlevy said…
you don't have a hydration pack?! yep, you definitely need to enter this contest :) thanks, Carl!
Katherine Chan said…
I always make sure to bring water (and poor Gabe normally has to carry it) since when I don't get enough water, my hands balloon up and its really uncomfortable!
Katherine Chan said…
Also, liked on Facebook!
@jessicamacho said…
What in the... PRESSURIZED HYDRATION?! Is this thing for real? I long for the day when I don't have to lean up a against a tree or nudge The Hubs and request he push on my hydration pack so I can squeeze out the last few drops of H20. I learned to ALWAYS check my pack's water levels after this one time mountain biking in sandy, hot Arizona. I ran out of water within the first hour and was so parched! Never again!
Katie Levy said…
yes! isn't it amazing? I'd liken them to cell phones, in a way; we can live without them, but life's a whole lot more convenient with them. I can't imagine running out of water in Arizona, yikes! thanks for the comment.
Katie @advinspired said…
UPDATE: Random.org picked Jessica Camacho (@5202c5a71bd46bb24c6b031e84aa4eb4:disqus) as the winner! thanks so much to all who entered, and stay tuned...there's another fun giveaway launching next week!
Will Marquardt said…
I'm a bit late finding this article, but as a retailer and someone who rents camping equipment, I can tell you that Geigerrig is a solid company with really great products. People of use their hydration system just plain old like it better than what they have used in the past. Check us out at http://www.outdoorsgeek.com.