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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bladders > Geigerrig Hydration Pack Engine > Owner Review by Art Tosborvorn

Geigerrig Hydration Pack Engine

Owner Review by Art Tosborvorn
June 5, 2015

Tester Information

Name: Art Tosborvorn
Age: 29
Gender: Male
Height: 5' 9" (175 cm)
Weight: 145 lb (66 kg)
Email: art.tosborvorn, at gmail dot com
Location: Palo Alto, California, USA

Backpacking background

I started hiking/backpacking a few years back, mostly in Yosemite and other California parks. I haven't done much overnight camping, but hope to do more this year. I also like taking photos on my trips. I carry around 35 lb (16 kg) in my weekend pack. I sleep in a tent, but am looking to move to a hammock this summer.

Product information

Manufacturer: Geigerrig
Website: www.geigerrig.com
Year of manufacture: 2011
Size reviewed: 3 L. The 2 L model is also available.
Listed Weight: 9.6 oz (0.27 kg)
Measured Weight 9.2 oz (0.26 kg)
Listed Size: 16" x 7" (40 cm x 18 cm)
Measured Size: 16" x 7" (40 cm x 18 cm)
MSRP: US $49.00
Limited lifetime warranty

Product description

I bought this hydration bladder along with a 20 L (1200 cu in) daypack (which I hope to review in the future). The bladder is very different from other hydration reservoirs in that it uses a pressurized system and consists of two separate layers of bladder, one inside the other. The innermost layer holds up to 3 L (100 fl oz) of water, and the outer bladder holds air. When the outer layer is pressurized, the inner layer is also pressurized. When the mouthpiece valve is squeezed open, the water is then pushed out of the valve. I find the company's slogan, "suck no more," quite appropriate.

The package consists of the bladder, a hand pump (similar to those used to blow dust off of cameras), a mouthpiece valve, and two tubes (one for air and one for water). All of these components are detachable for ease of storage and cleaning. I'll go through each component in more detail below.

The bladder

The bladder is blue on the back, and transparent (with Geigerrig logo) in the front. The material is cloth-like on the back, and plastic/rubber-like on the front. When I first received the product, there was some fraying of the fabric in the back of the bladder, but over the years this hasn't proven to be a problem. There are two insertion points that I can insert the provided tubes into. To insert a tube, I simply push the tube into the receptacle. To remove a tube, I press the button which unlocks the locking mechanism, and pull the tube out. One of the insertion points connects the air pump to the outer bladder, and the other insertion point connects the mouthpiece to the inner bladder. Closing the bladder involves folding the bladder along the pre-made bend, and sliding a black plastic clip onto it.

The hand pump

This has the size of approximately two ping-pong balls. The material is rubbery. On one end there is a hole with a ball valve to suck the air in, and not let the air out when pumped. The other end connects to the pressure adjustment valve, which is supposed to be adjusted so that the pressure in the bladder is suitable to the air pressure of the altitude the pack is used. This adjustment valve then connects to the tube which runs into the bladder. The daypack also comes with a small hook-and-loop strap to hold the pump to a backpack's shoulder strap. Note that the bladder could be used as a regular hydration bladder without this pump and that gives me a lot of flexibility. I could also pump up the pressure, disconnect the pump, and leave the pump at home or at the base camp. This would mean the pressure would decrease each time I drink from the bladder, though.

The mouthpiece valve

The valve connects to the tube from the bladder. There are actually two valves here: one is a squeeze valve that I could pinch to open the valve, and the other is rotational for open/close positions (to prevent accidental squeezing of the other).

Note: Geigerrig contracts Hydrapak to manufacture many components for them, so many of the components are compatible. Hydrapak logo is clearly visible on the tubes. I bought a mouthpiece cap as well as a magnetic clip that attaches to a sternum strap from Hydrapak separately. It would have been nice had these been included with the set.

Usage

Starting from an empty bladder, I begin by opening up the bladder and fill with water. I then fold the top of the bladder and slide the plastic clip on, trying to have as little air in the inside bladder as possible. With this, I put the bladder into the hydration sleeve of my backpack and run the tubes from the backpack's shoulder straps into the hydration sleeve. The tubes attach easily into the bladder with a simple push. After pumping up the air perhaps 15-20 times depending on how high up I am, I would try squeezing the mouthpiece. If the water doesn't come out or if the pressure is too low, I could pump more air in; if the pressure is too high, I could let some air escape by opening the pressure adjustment valve.

It is very important that I load up my backpack before I begin pressurizing the bladder; otherwise the bladder will grow to a size of whatever is containing it, leaving me with no space for other stuff. One thing that helps is if the hydration sleeve is hard and keeps its form. Both backpacks I used this bladder with (the included Geigerrig daypack and the Osprey Aether 60) both have hard hydration sleeves, so those helped pressurize and contain the size of the bladder. Otherwise, the stuff in the backpack would do the job.

The pressurized system allows me to drink water without having to suck from the bladder (something I don't really want to do if I'm tired from that steep ascent). It also allows me to easily share water with friends (who might be too tired to suck water out of their bladders). I also found it helpful in cleaning cuts, spot-cleaning my gears, etc.

To refill, I first depressurize the bladder. This is done by either letting the air escape by opening the pressure adjustment valve (this is slow), or simply pull out the tube from the hand pump. I prefer the latter. Once that's done, turn the valve of the mouthpiece off, and unhook the tubes from the bladder. Turning the mouthpiece off first will ensure that water in the tube will stay in the tube with the air pressure from the outside (like when I close one end of a drinking straw.)

Aside: I did not realize this at first and water came out every time I unhooked the tube. Poor design, I thought. So I emailed the only email available on Geigerrig's website: Bob Geiger, the CEO. Next morning, I got a reply from him with the suggestion.

Maintenance

The bladder is extremely easy to clean. I could easily turn it inside out and wash it like any other tableware. It is even dishwasher safe. To clean the tubes, I run water through them a few times. I sometimes add a bit of dish soap as well.

One thing I'm not quite sure is how to clean the air chamber. I have this scenario in my mind that if I go to a very dusty place and pump in air full of dust, the dust will get forever stuck in the outer bladder. I have not been to a place that bad though.

Field reports

I have used this hydration bladder numerous times, both on summer trips and up on a slope snowboarding. Here are some trips that I could think of with this pack:

  • 15 miles (24 km) day trip to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, California. Sunny, clear sky. Temperature somewhere in the 70 F - 80 F (21 C - 26 C). I filled the pack up almost full (plus 2-3 more plastic bottles, which proved to be way too much).
  • 50 miles (80 km) 5-day trek in Torres del Paine, Chile. Weather varied.
  • Many days on the slope near Lake Tahoe, California. Temperature around 30 F - 50 F (-1 C - 10 C).
  • 15 miles (24 km) overnight trip to Half Dome. Mostly sunny. Temperature around 40 F - 60 F (5 C - 15 C).
  • 16 miles (26 km) overnight trip to Mt. Whitney in Sequoia National Park, California. Mostly sunny. Temperature around 40 F - 60 F (5 C - 15 C).

Observations

My first trip to Half Dome with this pack proved that the pack was very easy to use, despite its seemingly complicated appearance. I did not have trouble figuring out the "right pressure." The water shot through the valves after 10-15 pumps, and it proved very helpful for cleaning wounds. One thing I wished I had was a mouthpiece cap (which I bought right after that trip), since the mouthpiece was dangling all over the place when I took my backpack off.

Refilling during the hike was also easy. It was also easy to refill from both the faucet and a running creek. (Geigerrig also sells an inline filter. I do not own that filter.) What I found out, though, was that although the bladder was great for drinking during the hike, nothing replaces a good old-fashioned bottle filled with cold water that I could gulp from while resting. So I normally carry both this bladder and a small bottle.

In colder conditions at Lake Tahoe, this pack also works great when I'm wearing gloves. The squeeze valve was big enough that my gloved hand was able to operate easily. For some reason, the water in the tube does not freeze that easily compared to my hiking partner's other brand of hydration tube. This is just an observation though, nothing scientific about it.

Having used it with different backpacks from small (20 L, 1220 cu in) to large (60 L, 3660 cu in), I find that the provided tubes were quite long. This means that it could go into a 60L backpacking pack no problem. With a smaller pack like my 20 L pack, though, the tubes have to be rolled around inside the hydration sleeve a little bit, and that could be a challenge. I always worry I might create a kink in the tube every time I put this bladder in a smaller backpack. An easy fix would be to cut the tube a little bit, but then I'm worried that it might not be enough for larger backpacks. I might just buy new tubes to have a set for smaller backpacks.

Summary

I have used this hydration bladder for 3-4 years now, and I have yet to find any problem. The build quality is very high, and the product is backed by Geigerrig's lifetime warranty. The bladder's two features I liked the most are the pressurized system and inside-out cleaning. The pressurized system was innovative and allows for many other uses of water aside from drinking. The bladder cleans very easily and does not need any special equipment to do it.



Read more reviews of GEIGERRIG gear
Read more gear reviews by Art Tosborvorn

Reviews > Hydration Systems > Bladders > Geigerrig Hydration Pack Engine > Owner Review by Art Tosborvorn



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