Geigerrig Rig 500 Ballistic hydration pack review

“Never Suck Again.” That’s the slogan for Ogden, Utah-based Geigerrig, a new company that has released a line of hydration packs that sprays water, eliminating the need to suck. Sound like a gimmick? I thought so too, until I put the Geigerrig Rig 500 on my back for the last two months during spring mountain biking and hiking trips. Now I’m a believer.

Geigerrig Rig 500 Ballistic hydration pack on a desert mountain biking trip.

The Geigerrig Rig 500 is a small hydration pack that I found to be perfect for short day trips on the bike or on foot in Utah’s outdoors. It’s a very well-built pack made from durable Ballistic Nylon, and has the most unique, innovative hydration system I’ve ever seen.

First, the reservoir is of the slide-top variety with a wide mouth for easy filling and cleaning. In fact, after a day on the trail and the subsequent scrubbing back home, I could reach in and turn the bladder inside out so it can dry.

Second, the bladder is pressurized by a pressure bulb, located on the left shoulder strap of the pack. Pressing the bulb a dozen or so times “pumps up” the bladder with air, allowing water to be sprayed out of the bite valve, eliminating the need to bite down and suck.

Third, the bite valve not only can switch on and off, but it sprays water in two steady streams without leaking, even if it’s fully pressurized and in the unlocked position.

Finally, working with this hydration system is made easier with quick release valves. The tubes are easy to release from the bladder for easy refilling and cleaning.

The Geigerrig Hydration Reservoir primed and inside the pack.

But the question remains, does spraying trump sucking when it comes to staying hydrated during outdoor shenanigans? For myself, I didn’t really see much advantage. First time out, I attempted to mimick the pictures found on Geigerrig’s website of a grizzled mountain biker nonchalantly spraying water into his mouth. But, alas, my aim was off and I ended up with a stream of H2o in my eye.

Going back to basics, I put the charged valve in my mouth and bit down. Water shot out in a steady stream and no sucking was needed to take a drink. But still, I had to wonder if sucking on a bite valve was such a huge problem that we needed a new hydration system that sprays? Well, aside from basic drinking applications, the Geigerrig does have advantages.

The bite valve of the Geigerrig pack that sprays and doesn't suck.

Ever have a buddy with you on the trail who forgot water and ended up wrapping his dirty lips around your bite valve? Gross. But with the Geigerrig, you can share your water with anyone by simply spraying it into their mouths, no bodily contact needed. Plus, I found it perfect for sharing water with my best buddy, as spraying water at the dog allowed her to drink without the need to stop, take off my pack, and pull out her water bowl.

Sharing water with the dog on a hike is easy with the spraying Geigerrig hydration system.

Another plus to having a pack that sprays is that you can clean stuff on the fly. While doing laps on the mountain bike at a recent multi-hour race, I used the spray to clean dust and dirt off the gears and chain.

Filtration can be very important on an outdoor trip, and Geigerrig also offers in-line filters that can be inserted with a  Plug-and-Play connector and stored inside the pack. Imagine not only never having to suck again, but never having to pump again? With the Geigerrig, you’d only have to fill the reservoir in a lake or stream, attach the filter to the hydration tube, and drink while the water is filtered in its way to your mouth.

The Ogwa Power Bulb on the Geigerrig shoulder strap. A dozen pumps charges the hydration reservoir, pressurizing the system so water can spray from the bite valve.

As for the pack, it’s a little heavier than others in the same class, but with the burly Ballistic Nylon, the Geigerrig pack is confidence inducing. I feel like I could slide down a mountain scree field on my back and not put a tear in the fabric. While hiking and biking, the Rig 500 is comfortable on my back, with ample padding and an ergonomic fit. I did feel a slight rattle coming from the pumped-up reservoir when descending particularly hairy technical sections on my mountain bike, but overall the pack is stable like a rock. The only downside is that the reservoir, when pressurized, bulges out and packs all your stuff in. While this is great for stabilization of your load, if you want to pull gear out then you have to depressurize the reservoir every time, then pump it back up when finished.

The Geigerrig Rig 500 is made from heavy duty Ballistic Nylon for super durability.

Overall, I’d say Geigerrig has a winner on their hands. The spray-don’t-suck philosophy behind this unique hydration system has legs, and I think it’s a worthy piece of gear for any outdoorsy guy or gal to have on hand when heading outdoors.

Here’s the product specs from Geigerrig on the Rig 500 pack:

Weight: 1.20 Kg

Bladder: 70 oz., quick-release valves for drinking tube and pressurization tube for easy refill and bladder removal, slide top for easy refill, cleaning and drying.

Zippers: Heavy Duty Size 8 Coil Zippers

Shoulder Strap: Ergonomic Fit, Terraced Overlay for Adjustable Tube Configuration and Power Bulb Configuration, Industrial Load Dispersement cut and padding

Chest Strap: Integrated slider chest strap

Additional Features: Plug & Play Reservoir Tube Connector, PVC Reinforced Compression Straps, Reflective Tabs & Zipper Pulls, Internal Storage Compartments and Organizer, Eco Rig Back Pads, Air Drive Ventilation, Heavy Duty Nylon Pack Handle and Vertical attachment hoops, I-Pod Ready Compartment w/ Waterproof Zipper Garage Removable Waist Strap.

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