Product Reveiw: GeigerRig Rig 500 Ballistic

Staying hydrated while cycling, especially during long rides or hot weather, is very important and when I used water bottles I did not drink as much as I should have.  Taking my hands off the bars to grab the water bottle and drink was somewhat inconvenient especially when riding singletrack or hilly gravel roads.  This resulted in waiting until I was thirsty and gulping instead of continually sipping small amounts to remain hydrated.  A hydration pack definitely makes drinking during rides much easier and can be done while both hands are on the bars.

I first saw GeigerRig pressurized hydration packs and a demonstration of their Hydration Pack Engine at Interbike last year.  The pressurization feature and their durable Ballistic Nylon construction set GeigerRig's packs apart from traditional hydration packs.  Immediately I knew I wanted to try out one of their packs on my rides and see the difference for myself.  I needed a pack that was lightweight with enough storage for small items, maybe a jacket and had a 2L reservoir.  The Rig 500 seemed like the perfect fit.

 After receiving the Rig 500 from GeigerRig, I put it to the test on many gravel training rides, the Almanzo 100 and the Tour of Filmore, mountain biking on both the 29'er and fatbike and commuting to work (48 miles round-trip).  This was more than enough to get a feel for the performance of this pack.

Image Credit: Kristin Clark

I'll start with the pack itself which is constructed of 100% Ballistic Nylon making it super durable.  I have ridden in the rain with clothing in this pack and the Ballistic Nylon, though not waterproof, kept my stored items dry because it doesn't absorb much water.  The Rig 500 pack is full of these useful features:
  • a pack handle for easy carrying when not wearing 
  • two adjustable buckled compression straps to hold pack contents tight and secure
  • two external pockets which are great for keys, snacks and other small items
  • industrial size 8 coil zippers
  • a sternum strap that is easily adjusted to help support the weight of the pack and to ensure proper fit, especially if loaded with gear
  • a removable hip belt, which I did not use but may come in handy for hiking
  • two zippered mesh pockets in the main compartment that have plenty of room for snacks, hats, gloves, spare tubes, socks, etc.
  • shoulder straps that provide an ergonomic fit and support the load of the pack comfortably
  • a bulb holder for the bulb pump located on the shoulder strap that is easily reached for quick pressurization or depressurization by turning the release valve at the top of the bulb
  • main compartment with 500 cubic inches of dry capacity for larger items like a jacket, I have even carried a full size bath towel for showering when commuting to work
  • storage compartment that holds the hydration engine (reservoir) securely in place without any movement or shifting
The 2L (70 oz) hydration engine (reservoir) has two compartments, one for air pressurization and another for water.  The quick release valves on the hydration engine do not leak and connect easily to the drink tube and the air tube that contains the bulb pump.  The top of the bladder has a slide seal that does not leak and a wide opening for easy filling with fluid and ice cubes. 

Once filled, connect the air and drink tubes and place into the hydration engine storage compartment in the pack and lightly pressurize using the bulb on the front of the shoulder strap.

I really enjoy using the Rig 500 for those hot summer days and long rides where I know I will need to bring enough water to stay hydrated.  I put it to the first real test on an all day ride at the Almanzo 100 back in May.  With the warm weather that day and all of the hill climbing that the Spring Valley countryside offered, I was glad I had it with me.  The most beneficial aspect of this hydration system was that I didn't have to suck to drink, all I had to do was bite down on the valve and water sprayed into my mouth.  This was a welcome feature when I was breathing heavily on big climbs and sprints.

The only problem I had with the Rig 500 was when the hydration engine was over-pressurized water flow would be cut off and I would have to turn the release valve on the top of the bulb pump to depressurize it restoring flow once again.  I am not sure if this was due to pinching of the water line or if it caused the quick release button at the connection to be pressed.  After a while I learned how to keep the pressure at an optimum level to not interfere with the flow.  Other than this, the Rig 500 worked perfectly and its size is just right for mountain biking and riding long distance gravel.  It had plenty of pockets and room for the things I needed to bring along for the ride.  The back pads of the pack have channels to provide some air flow but where the pack contacted my back sweating still did occur on warm days.  The shoulder straps are comfortable and the sternum strap helps support the weight of the pack more evenly.

Cleaning the hydration engine was very easy.  The bladder can be turned inside out and placed on the top rack of the dishwasher or washed by hand.  Afterward it can be set out to dry.  The drink tube can be pulled out of the pack to rinse but I usually just leave it in while resting the pack next to sink and putting the bladder connection end under the faucet squeezing the bite valve to allow flow through the tube.

After many rides I have come to rely on this high quality pack/reservoir combo.  The Rig 500 has the storage space that I need without being to big or bulky and fits comfortably.  The hydration engine is convenient to fill, connect and clean but my favorite feature is the ability to pressurize it.  A pressurized reservoir helps me continuously hydrate while riding where I may not if just using water bottles.

The GeigerRig Rig 500 is available direct from GeigerRig for $135 and comes with a 30 day money-back guarantee.

Disclosure:  GeigerRig provided the review sample for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.

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