Gear Review: To Bolivia and Beyond – A review of the Rig 700 and filtration in a foreign land
Well, the Hydration Summit is coming to a close and I’ve had a lot of time to put my Geigerrig, filter and my Rig 700 ballistic nylon pack to the test in exotic locations.
I’ve taken my Geigerrig from cold mountain summits at over 17 000 feet to tropical jungles to dry deserts, It has gone zooming down the world’s most dangerous road and sat in the backseat to distract the kids and keep them hydrated on long journeys. Its been filled with water and juice and I’ve tested out both nozzle systems and even stuffed the bladder in the side pocket of my day pack to make more room for my sleeping bag. And now, I think it’s time to write about it.
Geigerrig gave me the Geigerrig 700 ballistic nylon pack (with 2 liter bladder), an additional 3 liter bladder, in-line filter, and 3 hoses with 2 different styles of nozzle. Oh, plus the High Adventure Passport. I want to take a look at each of the components, starting with the pack itself
GeigerRig Rig 700 Ballistic Nylon Pack
For those who are wondering, ballistic nylon is a synthetic material developed to be robust enough to handle the abuse of military like situations like deflecting shrapnel. For all you mountain bikers, you might want to consider this pack. It’ll take a lot to destroy or puncture this pack. Of all my hydration systems and packs, When I went biking down the World’s most dangerous road I knew this was the only pack I’d trust to the abuse. My decision was confirmed when the guy in front of me flipped over his handle bars and ground the elbow out of his shirt.
Although the Rig 700 comes with a 2 litter, 70 ounce bladder, I easly put in a 3 liter 100 ounce one and had space for my basic daypack needs. I’m glad I did as we dropped down the World’s Most Dangerous Road on our bikes from over 15000 feet down to a tropical and humid jungle. Unlike the other crew, I didn’t have to head back to the supply van to top up on fluids.
The pack comes with a formed plastic internal frame which, with the padding on the back makes it super comfortable and well ventilated. Aside from the main pocked with hydration sleeve and separate internal zip pockets, there is an IPOD / MP3 pouch with headphone slot which is pretty standard on new backpacks.
The pack is a solid day-pack which will hold up to a lot of abuse if you need it to.
And on to the hydration system.
The bladder is made up of 2 compartments. One is for air and the other for water. You pump air into 1 side and it pressurizes the water and forces it out. I’m sure many of us have blown into our other hydration bladders and ended up contaminating them with germs and energy bar leftovers to try to get the same effect, and then been disappointed when we have to suck out all that air just to get the last few drops. Geigerrig is engineered so that doesn’t happen and so that you get all the same benefits without dirty water.
If you haven’t checked out the Geigerrig youtube channel, I suggest you do. It’s a combination instructional site / mythbusterseque how much can a Geigerrig system take. Watch the pressure of dry ice and water cause a bladder to balloon out to the size of 2 basketballs. They’re built tough… but don’t try that at home kids! In day to day use the system is never going to take that kind of abuse, but it’s good to know it can.
The big feature of the Geigerrig, for which it has one numerous awards and recommendations is the fact you don’t have to suck. The water sprays out and as we’ve seen already in the summit, this means you can use it in a multitude of ways, including watering your dog, cleaning wounds and gear and more.
When I first used mine down the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia, my dentist had put in spacers the day before and I couldn’t eat any solid food, let alone bite on a hydration nozzle. The pain was excruciating. Problem solved with a pressurized system. A gentle squeeze with the fingers and I was a kid again at the water fountain.
Personally, I like my water flowing fast, so I wasn’t shy with pumping. As a kid, nothing was quite as disappointing as that water fountain that dribbled out water and forced you to almost touch your lips to that disease factory. I never have had that problem with the Geigerrig. Childhood nightmares BEGONE!
I was still thinking that the Geigerrig might be a bit of a novelty item until at ¾ of the way down the trail, in a tropical valley we took a break. There was nowhere to cool down until I remembered the RIG. After I soaked my head and back with my portable showerRig (patent pending… just kidding) I was refreshed and ready to go. And most people were eying my setup with a degree of envy. It gave me a thought for a black sleeve to turn this system into a solar shower!
If you’re going to do any huge drops in altitude you’ll have to do a bit more pumping. It’s just an air pressure thing, but you need to keep that in mind. On my recent trip down the Choro trail where we dropped over 6000 feet on the first day I found myself pumping it every 30 minutes or so to make up for the change in air pressure. On the other hand, any big climbs mean that the system can take care of itself!
We’ve talked nozzles before, but I like the 45 degree angle nozzle with lock that came with my Geigerrig. Although I only lock it for car travel, it’s nice to have the secondary shut off in case it did start leaking on a trip. The nozzle seals well and has held up to a lot of abuse.
The straight nozzle’s extra cover is a huge bonus, but admittedly I don’t use the straight nozzle very much. I like the extra protection from dirt, but I can’t get used to pulling the nozzle to open the secondary shutoff. I usually end up spraying myself!
Filtration on the trail
Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. So says the poet, but as long as it’s not salt water, you’re doing ok with the Geigerrig in-line filter. It’s a slim little filter, that like the rest of the system is quick connect. It conservatively handles 50 gallons of water filtration and more if your water doesn’t have particulates. Just snap it in-line and take advantage of the pressurized system for filtration without sucking.
While it creates more resistance, the pressurized filter does what it’s meant to do. It allows you to fill up on the trail from water sources (questionable or otherwise) and just drink as you go. You cut out the wait times of filtering or purifying by chemical treatments and get a jump-start on the trail! It obviously won’t flow as fast with a filter on it, but it does fulfill the spray as you go promise.
When I was hiking down the Choro Trail in Bolivia with a tourist I met on the way, we found ourselves out of water after heading up a long steep section. Fortunately there was a stream around one bend that looked beautiful. It looked beautiful, but there was enough traffic and wildlife to make you realize that5 any stomach bugs in the middle of nowhere weren’t worth it. I was fine as I de-pressurized, disconnected and scooped up another 2 liters in a few seconds flat. He on the other hand would have been forced to stagger on without water for another 2 hours or so before we reached a place where he could purchase more fluids. Fortunately, because of the pressurization I could fill his bottles without having a complete stranger sucking on my hydration system! After being heralded as his “Savior”, we safely made it on to our final destination for the day after 8 hours on the trail, well hydrated and ready for a break.
The strong collar on the bladder makes it easy to hold with one hand while refilling. I used it on the same hike to refill from pipes along the trail, waterfalls and even just pouring in clean water when there were no other options. The quick connect filter means you don’t have to worry about contamination from unfiltered water that ends up on the outside of your hydration system.
The Bottom Line
The Rig 700 ballistic nylon backpack is great for lightweight treks or for biking. The Geigerrig is my goto system for easy of use and versatility and I use it with whatever pack suits the needs. The benefits of the pressurized system are many and every time I use it I think of something new. The filtration system is a great, lightweight option to filter on the trail for those adverse to chemical purification or the time it takes to filter with hand pump systems.
Have you thought of a cool way to use the GeigerRig? I love to hear it!
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