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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review: Geigerrig 1210 Hyrdration Pack

I actually prefer water bottles to hydration packs most of the time. In particular, when cycling, carrying anything on your back is just asking for trouble, and it's makes my back hot and uncomfortable. Hiking is another story. Here, you need a backpack to carry ancillaries anyway, you're upright so the back doesn't get uncomfortable, but it's still hot. Furthermore, hydration packs are hard to clean, difficult to share between people, and end up gunky. I usually end up buying new hydration packs every so often because of this, or just buying hydration pack compatible backpacks and then buying new bladders every so often, which is cheaper but still not ideal. Bottles last me almost a decade, by comparison.

Well, there was a Geigerrig Blowout on, so I snagged a Geigerrig 1200 for $50, about $80 off the usual Amazon price. The reviews were nice, and I was intrigued by the idea that there's a squeeze bulb that could pressurize the bladder, letting me eject a stream of water rather than having to suck on a bite valve. In fact, the motto for Geigerrig was "never suck again."

My first use of the pack was disappointing. It was hard to fill, and I still had to suck on the bite valve, despite pressuring the bladder. On subsequent use, I realized a few things. First, there were quick release buckles on the bladder's pressurization port as well as output ports. That means you could quickly detach the bladder and fill it up from the tap. Not only that, the bladder opens up completely so you could dump ice into it, for instance.

Next, the hydration bladder's pressurization bulb can come off the pressurization port. What this means is that before you pressurize, you must check the bulb's output valved. Otherwise, you risk pumping air from the bulb back into the atmosphere instead of pressuring the bladder. In addition, you have to ensure the valve screw is fully engaged. After doing all this, as promised, a push on the bite valve and you can get a nice stream of water, provided you keep pumping the bulb. Fail to do that, and you're back down to a trickle again, and you might as well just bite down and suck. In fact, biting down and sucking takes a lot less effort than pumping the bladder, so I'm not sure I'd use this feature much. In addition, pressurizing the bladder bloats the backpack a bit, which I feel, and is mildly uncomfortable. This is especially a problem when you've used half the water in the pack, for instance. In a word, this is more marketing than practical, so I suppose if you get into a water pistol fight while hiking, this would be just the bees knees for high capacity.

The rest of the pack is well designed, with lots of pockets, etc. And for the price, it's a nice big pack that can carry a lot of stuff. The bladder is also huge at 100oz of water, well over what I can get away for nowadays.

Do I recommend this pack? For the price I paid, yes. For full price? No way. And discount the value of pressurization. In practice, it's a pain to use. The ability to quickly detach and fill the bladder, however, is quite high, so that's worth paying a slight premium for, as is the ability ot use a dishwasher on the bladder.

Very conditionally recommended.

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