Review: GEIGERRIG pressurized hydration pack


February 14, 2012

Gizmag takes a hands-on look at the GEIGERRIG pressurized hydration pack

Gizmag takes a hands-on look at the GEIGERRIG pressurized hydration pack

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First of all, let's get one thing clear - conventional hydration packs aren't a problem that needs solving. You want a drink, you suck on the mouthpiece, it's as simple as that. Then again, standard-definition video, dial-up internet connections and friction-operated bicycle shift levers were all considered "good enough" at one time, too. It's hard to say if GEIGERRIG's pressurized hydration pack system will eventually join the ranks of HDTV, cable internet and indexed shifting, but based on my experiences with one of the company's test rigs, it could at least gain some converts.

The system is very simple and low-tech, which is good.

Instead of consisting of one water-only compartment, the GEIGERRIG's polyurethane bladder has an internal partition running from its top to bottom, splitting it vertically into two sealed compartments - one in the front, and the other in the back. Water goes in one compartment, which incorporates the usual attached hose and bite valve. Air is pumped into the other using a second hose attached to a rubber hand bulb. That bulb is mounted on one of the shoulder straps, where the user can reach it when wearing the pack.

The more air that is pumped into the one compartment, the more pressure it exerts on the adjoining water compartment. When the bite valve (mounted on the other shoulder strap) is pinched between the user's fingers, the air pressure causes the water to come shooting out.

So, what's the point?

For one thing, multiple people can drink from one pack, without having to swap germs. Users can also spray their sweaty faces and dirty hands, clean their gear, or hose off the various wounds that hydration pack-wearing types inevitably incur while partaking in their chosen activities. Last but not least, it's simply easier to squirt water into your mouth than it is to suck it through a long tube.

For the purpose of this review, the folks at GEIGERRIG sent me one of their ballistic nylon RIG 500 packs. Ideally, I would have liked to try it out while mountain biking, as that's what my existing CamelBak is pretty much exclusively used for. Given that the trails in my part of the world are currently covered in ice and slush, however, I decided that a simple run in the woods would have to suffice.

To test the RIG 500's stuff-carrying capabilities, I transferred all the bigger mountain biking items (pump, spare tube, tools, etc.) from my CamelBak into it. There was plenty of room, and the rig's internal mesh pockets helped to keep things organized. Next, I filled up the water compartment of the bladder. This was nice and easy, as it incorporates a wide-mouthed slide-top opening.

After hooking up the two quick-release hoses and sliding the bladder into its nylon pouch within the pack, I then pumped it up the recommended 15 to 20 squeezes. If you're wearing the pack while doing so, you can definitely feel it start to press against your back as the air pressure builds, but not uncomfortably so - a thick plastic plate in the pack helps distribute the pressure more evenly, and the outside back of the pack is well-padded.

The bladder also presses itself around the cargo items in the pack, as it expands with air. Should you subsequently wish to access one of those things, particularly if it's stored toward the bottom of the pack, you might have to use the release valve on the bulb to let the air out. Keep in mind, re-inflating only takes a few seconds.

Once I cinched up the chest and waist straps, I was ready to go.

Upon pinching the bite valve, a stream of water did indeed spray out. It certainly was nice to be able to quickly just shoot water into my mouth as I ran, although I did periodically have to give the hand bulb a few squeezes to keep the pressure up as the water level dropped. For people who don't want one more thing to think about, this might be a hassle.

GEIGERRIG promotes the fact that its system eliminates the sloshing-water effect common to traditional hydration packs, as the water has no empty space to slosh into. This is true, although I did notice that the bladder as a whole had a tendency to shake up and down within the pack as I ran. Stuffing a T-shirt or some other soft filler in above it would likely minimize that problem.

Upon completion of my outing, another useful feature of the system presented itself - not only can the bladder be turned inside out for easy drying, but it's also dishwasher-safe. CamelBak users who have tried rigging up systems for drying and/or cleaning their reservoirs will definitely appreciate this.

I also tested one of GEIGERRIG's inline water filters. This optional extra quickly installs between the bladder and the water hose, and uses activated coconut shell carbon to remove a reported 99.9 percent of cryptosporidium and giardia bacteria from lake or river water. It's good for processing up to 50 US gallons (189 liters), and is definitely a nice range-extending feature for those times where one fill of the bladder isn't enough.

My RIG 500 has a 2-liter (70 oz.) bladder, 500 cubic inches (8 liters) of dry storage space, and retails for US$125. GEIGERRIG's other packs range in price from $115 for another 2-liter offering, up to $145 for the 3-liter (100 oz.)/1,600 cubic inch (26-liter) RIG 1600. By way of comparison, the 3-liter CamelBak Alpine Explorer 30 sells for approximately $115.

So, is it worth the extra dough? Well, there is more to fuss over with the GEIGERRIG, but if the advantages of sharing, showering or shooting water into your mouth on the trail appeal, it might be the pack for you.

More details on the system are available in the mock infomercial below.


About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Not a new concept. The Bikestream bicycle-mounted pressurized system was trademarked and sold in 1989, followed by the Aquastream from the same company, now defunct.


Nice idea but it's an expensive way to solve the problem when you can already improve flow for free:

For a hydration sack in a big rucksack Make sure the sack is full and at the top of the rucksack. The higher it is the easier the water flows. If there are other (non-sharp) items about the sack, it will squeeze it and give you a bit of pressure. For either a rucksack OR a single purpose item like above

1.When you find you have lost a bit of pressure and have to suck, just blow a couple of breathes in to the bag. Once the air has pushed the water in the tube back it inflates part of the sack. This gives it pressure and there's no more sucking.

Cost: Free Ease: Very easy Problems: None - been doing it for years and never had problems.


Also better to have a spring based pressurising system. This system on top in one container, the lower enclosed container with the water. Or, have the pumping system just outside in reach to pump while trekking when the pressure is low.

Dawar Saify

A solution in search of a need and market. On the trail, KISS applies if you want to survive or just reliably have a drink of water.


WOW look at all of the boobirds. I have a Rig 1600 and I love it! I had a couple Camelbaks that I thought I was in love with till the bladders grew mold in them. I went through three bladders before giving GEIGERRIG a try. @ComedyBill Blowing into the tube does create pressure but who are you going to share with after you mix your saliva with the water? I think that this is why my drink tube and bladder always gets moldy.... I blew into my friends tube to show her how to pressurize the bladder and she dumped the water out. \"that\'s gross\" I bought my pack at REI and they were comparable in price to the Camelbaks there.


@Letmehike - If they are really comparable in cost that\'s great. But I can see replacing gas as being a bit of a pain (just another thing to do).

Only a tiny bit of water will come in to contact with your [highly toxic] air and surely on a standard sack OR this super-duper one - the water still comes through the hole you suck!?

As for mould prevention, here\'s a few ideas:

Regularly clean your sack and hose with sterilising tablets (e.g. Milton) Keep water in the system with NO AIR (got one at home that\'s been lying for months and no mould) Drain it all and store it in the freezer ComedyBill

@Comedy bill or you could just save yourself the pain and expense of buying a cleaning kit and just turn the bladder inside out and throw it in the dishwasher. simple facts: I have owned both and I like the GEIGERRIG better because in-line filtration, reversible bladder that I can throw in the DISHWASHER and the pressurization. If you have not even owned a GEIGERRIG then why would you be arguing these points? Go buy one and try it before knocking it. BTW, I registered the mountain passport that came with the pack and went to Angel Fire, Brundage, Alpine Meadows and Brenton Woods ski resorts for FREE. What other pack gives you that option?


@Letmehike - you\'re right, I don\'t own one of these and therfore maybe can\'t see what i\'m missing... But while I have several standard bladders and cleaning tools, I might as well use them till they\'re broken!

As for the mountian pass - I\'d need a rather expensive plane ticket first anyway...


I have a Rig 1600 and have been very pleased with it. The quality is very good and it does what it is supposed to do. The spray function comes in very handy, especially when riding in the desert in 40C heat and you want to cool down a bit :) Also, I.M.H.O. how a manufacturer stands behind their product is just as important as the product itself. In this regard GEIGERRIG was exceptional to me.


I always wondered why CamelBak was so popular. I hate cleaning mine. A dishwasher friendly pack makes a lot of sense. I\'ll be stopping by REI soon to get my fountain pack...

Juston Preble

A complicated solution for a simple problem. If you want pressurized water, just add rubber bands around your hydration bladder. Done, works fine. And no air in the bladder to allow sloshing water to give you away to the game while hunting, or adjust your balance while running. K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid.


As for cleaning a water bladder, a brake cable from a European bike has the barrel attached inline with the cable. Add a rubber washer from the hardware store, and it makes an excellent squeegee for cleaning the drinking tube. Denture cleaning tablets work well to clean the bladder itself, But I prefer lemon juice and baking soda. It creates scrubbing bubbles that cleans anything the bottle brush might miss. Leaves it tasting cleans too. After cleaning, I fill it about 2/3 full and inflate it soft. (allow for expansion as the water freezes) and store it upright in the freezer until it freezes. This will allow it to be topped off with water before using it. I have used the same bladder (3liter) for the last 5 years, and see no need to replace it.


I am curious how the Geigerrig waterpack system handles the cold temps. I gave my son this for Christmas and had read reviews for summer activities, but have not read one regarding skiing. With the exposed tubing and mouthpiece I am afraid it will freeze like many other water systems. What is everyone else's experience? Please help.


I can't help myself, but I need to weigh in on most of the post, most of which just sounds like a bunch of toddlers trying to out do the other how immature.

I'm not going to say which pack I have had for many years and as a result of heavy usage it's time for a replacement. But I gotta touch on a few points of children recommending the following crazy fixes.

Use rubber bands ? Have a spring, not sure what that means ? Toxic breath (air) Buying cable housing for cleaning ? Using denture cleaners, wow ? Asking about freezing, u didn't watch the video ? And last but not least by no means, K.I.S.S. I am so glad we as mostly AMERICANS didn't just agree to keep it simple stupid, if we had we would still be burning animal fat as candle lights, or for those that are true cyclist we would still be riding a bike that would have had a front wheel that was 5 feet around, or maybe still riding in a horse and buggy ?

As a cyclist during a long hill climb trying for your best climb yet, I rather bit a valve & get plenty of H2O, rather than trying to SUCH my water thru a hose when I know my lungs are already heavy taxed, but in no way am I saying one is better than the other, but more of personnel preference.

I do know this as with the very first c-phones some of you may still be just as happy with the BAG PHONE ?

I am in very much favor of In proving our technology rather that "saying that good enough" but like a spoon or for or zipper or Velcro something's just don't need improving, but what do I know.

I so know the difference between BLOWING & SUCKING, how about you all ??? ::--)) maybe I'm still using a type writer, or type setting machine ?

I'll let you guess ?


@neil429, I am no child, and I have been a hunter for more than 40years. I use rubber bands, and it works just fine. Clearly you have not even tried it. I would suggest reading comprehension classes, for that reading difficulty. I said a European brake CABLE, it is light weight, flexible, and will store in the space of a silver dollar. Yes, denture cleaner tablets clean other things too, believe it or not. Though I prefer lemon juice and baking soda (as I said). You might want to back off on that oxygen deprivation just a bit, since you can't seem to properly spell while posting. You BITE a valve, to SUCK water THROUGH a tube. If this is too complicated for you to handle while biking, then adding a hand pump and bladder system will clearly be beyond your technical threshold. In that case, Keep It Simple Stupid, should be your mantra. Making something more complicated than it needs to be, is not an improvement.

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