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Reviews > Hydration Systems > Packs > GEIGERRIG 700 Ballistic Pack > Test Report by Richard Lyon

GEIGERRIG RIG 700 BALLISTIC HYDRATION PACK
Test Series by Richard Lyon

Initial Report September 18, 2011
Field Report November 28, 2011
Long Term Report January 30, 2012


Personal Details and Backpacking Background

Male, 65 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.91 m)
Weight: 205 lb (93 kg)
Email address: montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Dallas, Texas USA

I've been backpacking for almost half a century, and regularly in the Rockies since 1986.  I do a weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips.  I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 13000 ft (1500 - 4000 m).  I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp.  Though always looking for ways to reduce weight, I'm not yet a lightweight hiker and I usually choose a bit of extra weight over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to expect.  Winter adventures are often on touring or telemark skis.

INITIAL REPORT - September 18, 2011

THE PRODUCT

700 BallisticThe Rig 700 Ballistic is a heavy-duty, feature-loaded hydration pack featuring its manufacturer’s patent-pending spray water dispensing system.  

Manufacturer: GEIGERRIG Hydration Packs, www.geigerrig.com
Listed weight: 1.20 kg (2.65 lb)
Measured weight: 1.15 kg (2.54 lb)
Size as measured: 19.5 x 10 in (49 x 25 cm) (measured at the widest point)
Water reservoir capacity, listed and measured: 2 liters (2+ qt)
Includes: Pack, removable back stay, two-chamber water reservoir, detachable hydration tube, detachable pressurization tube, detachable OGWA power bulb, and a second hydration tube with an in-line filter (pictured at right below).
Color: Black
Warranty: Two years against defects in workmanship or materials, plus a lifetime warranty against leakage from the hydration system.
MSRP: $130 US, $145 Cdn (from a hangtag on the pack)

The pack is made of 1680 ballistic nylon, a fabric said by GEIGERRIG to have been developed during World War 2 for use in flak jackets.  Whatever its other uses, it’s very stout.  Features abound.  The back of the pack has several heavy foam pads, with spacing to allow ventilation.  Sewn-in shoulder straps are “terraced” (GEIGERRIG’s word), with a cover over the top section to protect the hydration tube (right side) or pressurization tube (left side).  A slider-adjustable sternum strap and removable waist belt secure the pack to its wearer; these and the shoulder straps are adjustable.  The power bulb seats in a sleeve on which is printed “powered by ogwa.”

The main compartment is accessed by means of a zipper that runs about two-thirds of the way down each side of the front of the pack.  The hydration bladder fits into a pocket in the back of the compartment with an elastic band at the top and is held in place by a fabric loop at the top into which a plastic clip on the top of the bladder fits.  The main compartment has a mesh organizer pocket, zippered at the top, on the front side of the main compartment.

The front of the pack has two zippered PVC-reinforced pockets.  The right-side one is designated “I-Pod Ready” and has a port for a headphone cord.  Completing the storage capacity are two compression straps that run across the front of the pack and four daisy chain loops sewn down the middle of the front.

All zippers are “Heavy Duty Size 8 Coil,” and each has a rubber reflective pull.  Rather than a simple loop to hand-carry the pack the Ballistic, true to its hard-nosed style, has a full handle that looks like that on a suitcase.

COMPONENTSplugfilter
But the signature feature of this pack is its newfangled hydration system, invented by one of this new company’s founders.  On a GEIGERRIG one doesn’t simply fill the bladder, invert, thread the tube, and suck away.  As GEIGERRIG says, with one of its packs you’ll “Never Suck Again™.”  This hydration system has three features new to me.

  • The Hydrapak bladder has two compartments, one for water and the other for air.  This bladder has a translucent front and blue back so that when properly seated the air is in back and the water in front.  It also has a plastic slider across the top of the water compartment, first folded over and then very tightly fitted, that facilitates loaded and cleaning.
  • The tubes connect to the bladder by means of “plug and play” connectors (center photo above).  By depressing a button and twisting clockwise, each tube is disconnected from the bladder without losing a drop of water, as shown in the photos above left.  This allows removal of the bladder for refilling or cleaning without threading or unthreading the tubes from their ports.
  • And now for the main event: after filling the bladder and reinserting the tubes, by squeezing the power bulb air is added to the air compartment, creating pressure on the water.  There are two means of drinking.  I can bite on the bite valve and the pressure shoots water into my mouth.  Or I can hold the hydration tube close to my mouth and squeeze the bite valve and two small jets of water sprays out.  What I see as this system’s greatest advantage (if things work as they should) is that water can be sprayed - into my mouth if I’m thirsty, but also into a cooking pot, into a friend’s cup, into my dog’s mouth, on a wound for cleaning, and so on, in each case without exposing the recipient to a bite valve alive with my saliva.

THE ACID TEST

OK, does it work? I followed the manufacturer’s instructions as set out above.  It took about fifteen squeezes of the bulb to get the system to pressure I thought to be adequate.  Twist the valve, squeeze, and a healthy spray of water! Pressure can be adjusted if necessary.  Additional squeezes on the power bulb add pressure, a slight release on the power bulb valve will drain some air.

I wore the Ballistic on a two-hour day hike earlier this morning on Dallas’s Katy Trail, temperature at 78 F (26 C) when I started, and partly cloudy weather.  I started with a full hydration bladder and drank slightly more than half on my hike.  After three or four splashes I’d give a couple of squeezes, and I had no noticeable drop in pressure during the hike.  

The straps and buckles on the shoulder, sternum, and waist straps allow for a wide range of size adjustment, although I’m not too far from the maximum at the waist.  Once adjusted to fit my back the Ballistic sat just below my shoulder blades, right where I like a day pack, and the straps held their places so I didn’t need to re-adjust to correct any working loose.

Seating the hydration pack and connecting the tubes involved some trial and error, particularly fitting the clip at the top into the fabric loop.  But then I’m a mechanical idiot.  The pack’s 700 ml capacity is enough for a snack, rain shell, and sweater, my usual pack load on a day hike.  I used the inside mesh pocket for my wallet and one of the outside pockets for my mobile phone.

WHAT I LIKE

The pressurized hydration system.  This could be a real innovation.

Heavy duty ballistic fabric. Should be good for skiing.

Plug and play connectors. I hate having to thread the tube every time I fill a hydration pack.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Lots of features – there’s much that could go wrong.

FIELD REPORT – November 28, 2011

FIELD CONDITIONS

The GEIGERRIG has graced my back on nine day hikes, including three this past long weekend.  One was in Marin County, California; all the others were in various North Texas locales.  We are in the middle of a long drought, and I met with no precipitation on any of the hikes, although a couple of recent hikes began in a heavy ground fog.   Temperatures ranged from 40-95 F (4-34 C), and none of the hikes took place at an altitude above 500 feet (150 m) above sea level.

Pack load hasn’t varied much – rain shell, down or wool sweater, lunch, and sometimes a snack or two (energy bar or piece of fruit) in the pack’s main compartment, my wallet in the inside mesh pocket, and cell phone and car keys in the left side pocket on the front of the pack.  On the California hike I carried lunch for three.  I am adamantly opposed to piped-in music while hiking, so I haven’t used the iPod port.

I’ve found one other weekend use for the GEIGERRIG.  When not traveling my weekend routine includes some quality time with Babar, my Great Pyrenees dog, in our local dog park.  Frisky canines regularly use the water bowls supplied by the church that owns the park as footbaths or playpens, making them very muddy and unappetizing (to Babar as well as his owner).  So I take the GEIGERRIG and a small portable bowl, and Babar gets a private bowl for quenching his thirst. The GEIGERRIG is perfect for this, as I can squirt the desired amount into the bowl without having to remove the bladder from the pack, and I can later help myself to a drink.  

OBSERVATIONS

I’ll start with the Rig’s signature feature, its hydration system.  Not much new to report here, as everything has worked as it’s supposed to, as described in my Initial Report.  I’ve had no malfunction of any kind with the pressurized water system, which is especially useful at the dog park.  Twice I have also used the pressure to splash water on a scratch or cut prior to applying an antiseptic.  

I must refresh the pressure two or three times during a hike to use up the bladder’s entire two-liter capacity.  This didn’t vary with the time spent on the trail, so I doubt that there’s any leakage.  Depressing the bulb isn’t difficult and doesn’t take more than a few seconds.

The only drawback of GEIGERRIG’s clever system is that air takes up pack space.  When the bladder is full of air and water storage space in the pack can be scarce, making it difficult to extract an energy bar from the bottom of the pack and, on the California hike, making for a fully loaded pack.  700 cubic inches (11.5 liters) usually suffices for my three-season daypack needs, but it’s a squeeze with the GEIGERRIG.  I don’t consider this a fault, but a prospective buyer should be aware of this phenomenon.  In my case all it means is that if I consider acquiring another GEIGERRIG pack (a distinct possibility) I’ll size up.

My GEIGERRIG truly looks like new, not too surprising given that when carrying it I’ve been on wide trails with no overhanging brush.  In fact, though, I attribute most of this to the heavyweight materials and sound construction that were used to make this pack.  I’m looking forward to skiing with it; it’s that tough.

I continue to like the fit of this pack, which as earlier noted sits right across the top of my shoulders.  With practice I’ve been able to adjust the sternum strap one-handed to take account of one more or fewer layers.  I’ve never found carrying any day pack burdensome because of pack weight alone, so I don’t mind the few extra ounces/grams that went into this sturdy product.

THE GOOD

Durable
Wears well
Hydration system

THE NOT-SO-GOOD

Nothing's gone wrong yet!

LONG TERM REPORT - January 30, 2012

The GEIGERRIG Rig 700 has continued to serve all my requirements as a daypack, and looks and functions as if it were new.  Can’t ask for much better performance than that.

FIELD CONDITIONS

I’ve taken the Rig on six more day hikes, in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Montana, and wore it during my one ski day this snow-starved winter, at demo day at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Show, in Solitude, Utah.  Temperatures ranged from 25 F (-4 C) when skiing to a high of 75 F (26 C) on a day hike in Fort Worth, Texas.  The ski day included some snow flurries, and the day hike in Pennsylvania both spot showers and, later, a steady rain for about ninety minutes; the other hikes took place in fair weather.  Pack load was similar on the good weather days: rain jacket, spare midlayer, lunch, a few snacks, and my wallet and car keys (these latter two items in one of the zippered pockets on the front of the pack). 

Skiing was entirely inbounds, and all but the Montana hike were on established trails, either hard ground or an old paved service road.  In Montana last weekend I had hoped to hike on snowshoes, but the skimpy snowpack nixed that.  I did walk occasionally on snowy patches, with some bushwhacking amid the spruces.

PERFORMANCE

Fit.  I continue to like the taut fit across my shoulders, and after all my use of the Rig adjusting it at the start of a hike or after a break has become second nature.  I hardly know I’m wearing a pack.  I learned at Solitude that even when the air pouch is fully inflated I need not remove the pack to ride a ski lift.  The Rig is narrow enough that I can sit comfortably with all of my gluteous maximus comfortably and safely on the chair.

Protective sleeve Durability.  I began this section of my Report with my observation that the pack looks like new.  I made a significant discovery on my ski day – none of the water in the bladder froze during about seven hours’ exposure to subfreezing temperatures.  That’s a first for me, quite unexpected and very welcome.  I confess that I had purchased an accessory for the Rig, a heavy-duty insulated sleeve for the exposed portion of the water line (pictured at right).  To conform to BackpackGearTest.org protocols I didn’t use this during the testing period, and now I may not use it until seriously cold temperatures.  

The hydration system works as well as on my first hike.   The only problems I’ve had have been strictly the result of my forgetting to re-inflate the pouch by squeezing the bulb before squirting water out.  When I followed directions the Rig’s performance was flawless.

Capacity.  I’ve gotten used to the reduction in pack capacity caused by the air pouch.  What remains is adequate for my standard day hike kit, including lunch.  

THE BOTTOM LINE

I’ll continue to wear the Rig often after this Test ends.  I especially appreciate its sturdy construction and stout fabric, which make it ideal for inbounds skiing.  If I had to criticize I might say that some of the features may not be necessary for so small a pack.  I’m not sure that the daisy chain and compression straps are necessary; if I were to need them for gear I’d likely be carrying a larger pack to begin with. (Then again, it’s quite convenient to stow a rain shell through the compression straps in start-and-stop rainy weather.)  I miss not having hip belt pockets, but that’s a personal preference.  

These nitpicks don’t detract from my overall satisfaction with this heavy duty, highly functional daypack.  And I’ll never suck again if I can help it.

***********************

My Test Report ends here, with thanks to GEIGERRIG and BackpackGearTest.org for this testing opportunity.








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