Man using Geigerrig backpack

Review: Geigerrig Rig 500 Hydration Backpack

A robust and high quality 10 litre backpack with an exceptional hydration system. Ideal for minimalist hikers and bikers, or long distance runners roughing it on the trail.

The innovative and highly effective Geigerrig 2 litre hydration reservoir, complete with its own pressurisation system, is housed within the robust, comfortable and versatile Geigerrig Rig 500 backpack. Those who prefer to work hard at their sport instead of at extracting water from their hydration packs will love this whole system. And with a padded back panel, simple internal and external storage options, and made with super tough Ballistic ripstop, this is a backpack that will stick with you every step or pedal push of the way.

Geigerrig Rig 500 backpack: The stats

Capacity:10 litres
Reservoir capacity:2 litres
Gear capacity:8 litres
Pockets:5 – 1 hydration pocket, 2 internal zip mesh pockets, 2 external zip pockets
Weight:1.06kg (2.35lb)
Size:47 x 25.5cm (18.5 x 10in)
Material:100% Ballistic Ripstop nylon

Design features of the Geigerrig Rig 500 backpack

Reservoir

Geigerrig hydration reservoirThe 2 litre (70 oz) hydration reservoir has 2 quick-release valves: one for the drinking tube and one for the pressurisation tube. These valves make it super easy to remove the tubes for refills and cleaning, and to turn it inside out when you stick it in the dishwasher (it’s dishwasher safe). The slide top makes a nice big opening for easy refills, and also enables you to get your hand right in there for cleaning and drying. The slider can be a bit stiff sometimes, so it’s worth just taking a moment to line it up properly before you try to force it. But once it’s on there’s no chance that any water is going to sneak its way out of there.

Power bulb

Hydration air pumpWhen pumped the bulb adds air into the reservoir to keep the water pressure high. The bulb sits on the left shoulder strap and is secured in place with a removable neoprene strap. This, together with the quick-release valve, means that if you don’t want to use the pressurised system it can be totally removed from both the pack and the reservoir. You can also release the air out of the reservoir if you need to by squeezing the button. The tube that attaches to the bulb sometimes disconnects during high energy activity. This is easily popped back into place, and is a minor inconvenience just to be aware of.

Bite valve

Bite valve of hydration packAlthough it may look like a basic set up, the drinking valve of the Geigerrig provides excellent water flow. With the added pressurisation you can squeeze the valve with your fingers to use it as a spray to keep cool, share with others without sharing germs, or even use it to hose down dirty dishes or gear. The valve also can be taken off easily and replaced with a filter. The Aquamira Frontier Max water filter fits onto it excellently well for use on the trail, or as a gravity filter at camp.

Chest Strap

Sternum strap of bagThe integrated slider enables you to fit the chest strap to you. As with most unisex bags, this sits a little low on my chest to be comfortable when it is tightened, so I don’t quite get a tight enough fit for this bag to be very comfortable when running. It’s not too much of a problem when the bag is lightly loaded, but as soon as fill it with stuff I really need to tighten everything up. If the slider range was another couple of inches higher it would be no problem.

Removable waist belt

Removeable waist strap of bagThis is a really nice feature that I’ve taken advantage of a few times already – usually when out riding. I prefer not to do up the waist belt when on my bike, and having it flapping around in the wind is a definite no-go. It’s easy to remove, with heavy duty velcro straps that are super secure and comfortable when in use.

Internal storage

Geigerrig pack inside pocketsAside from the hydration reservoir pocket which fits a 2 litre bladder, there are also two zippered mesh pockets that are ideal for storing snacks, bike tools, bug spray, first aid kit etc. With a full water bladder, the main compartment is just big enough to carry a waterproof jacket and either your lunch, or an extra layer (but not both).

External storage

Gear loops and pockets on bagThere are two zippered pockets on the outside of the pack. One with a headphone port that is waterproof to safely store your smart phone in. I’ve yet to test the waterproofness of this pocket and am reluctant to as the zippers can sometimes work themselves open, and the hole for the headphones is by no means a tight seal. A nice idea, but a potential weakness in what is generally a highly robust bag.

External features

Geigerrig hydration packThere are two PVC reinforced compression straps that cinch down the whole pack really nicely for greater stability when on the move. And these can also hold an extra layer or jacket if needed. The vertical attachment loops are a nice addition that add more options for hauling your gear, and each shoulder strap also has a gear loop for clipping on extra stuff.

Back panel

Back panel of Geigerrig bagThe Eco Rig Back Pads are super comfortable and when the bag is strapped down securely cause no rubbing or abrasion, even when I’m wearing a vest top. The Geigerrig Air Drive Ventilation system ensures that air flows through the back panel. It performs pretty well in moderate activity and cool conditions, but turn up the thermostat and up the energy levels and the cosy pads don’t deal so well with excess sweat as well as a fully ventilated back panel – which is to be expected.


Geigerrig Rig 500 backpack review

The bag itself does a good job at carrying all my essentials for a short day of hiking, or biking out on the trails (or a full day for minimalist adventurers!). The Aquamira Frontier Max filter fits really nicely with the hydration system. I’ve carried it with me on some long day hikes where I knew I would guzzle my 2 litres of water in no time, and simply replaced the bite valve with the filter to drink mountain water directly from the water bladder through the filter. I’ve also used the Geigerrig hydration reservoir for multi-day hikes in other packs. The wide opening makes it really easy to fill up from streams or pools and, attached to the Frontier Max, can be used as a really efficient gravity filter to get clean water for cooking or decanting into other drinks vessels.

When is comes to comfort, the Rig 500 performs pretty well when cycling and hiking, but nothing exceptional. The bag feels secure and doesn’t rub when fitted properly, with the back pads providing a very plush cushion between you and the bag.
Where the Geigerrig Rig 500 really shines is in its way above average hydration system.

What I love the most about the Geigerrig Rig 500 backpack

The hydration bladder is one of the best I’ve ever used rivalling even the excellent Platypus and Camelbak systems. The tubes slide through the shoulder straps more easily that you might think to transfer the system to another bag if you need. And the tube connectors make the reservoir super easy to take out of the pack for cleaning and refills. These features are no different to other hydration systems – it’s the water flow that makes this system really stand out. The power bulb, at the end of the second tube, pumps air into through a second connector and into the bladder. As you empty the bladder of water, just keep pumping air back in to maintain high pressure inside the hydration reservoir.

Reservoir water port

Even without pressurisation, the Geigerrig valve is far easier to drink from than many other bite valves I have used. Water flows easily when you bite and suck. Add in the pressurisation and the ease of use and versatility of the system by far outshines anything else on the market.

What I don’t love so much about the Geigerrig Rig 500 backpack

The design for the adjustable chest strap is such that the webbing goes all the way around the shoulder strap. When I’m wearing a short sleeved top the rough surface of the webbing rubs on my biceps (and it’s not due to my bulging muscles!). I find this even more of a problem when I’m more energetic. Add in the issue with the chest strap positioning, as a small/medium sized woman, running with the Rig 500 just doesn’t quite provide enough comfort for me to choose it above other bags.  For me, this is a great bag for hiking and biking which doesn’t quite step up to the higher energy activities that it’s designed for. That said, it fits perfectly well on the Cool of the Wild designer (6’ 2” male with slim build). He doesn’t have any of the above problems when running. So ladies (and men with small torsos), this may not be the bag for you if you plan on using it for running or high energy/impact activities.

Verdict

I love the innovative and excellently well made Geigerrig hydration system. It is one of the best I’ve ever used offering versatility as well as ease of use and robustness. The Geigerrig Rig 500 bag is also an excellent choice for a day of biking or hiking allowing you to carry all your basics with comfort and ease. For those who want to carry the Rig 500 whilst running, it is worth trying this bag on before you commit, to ensure that the fit is suitable (especially women and slight men).

A decent and versatile backpack with an exceptional hydration system.

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Aquamira | Amazon

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