Our team has spent the last few months investigating and using the hydration system designed by Geigerrig and it’s time to share a bit. Most people think of hydration systems as big plastic reservoirs with long straws attached to them and then end with a bite valve of some sort. Geigerrig however, has taken the time to come up with some compelling differences which makes their design highly effective for multitude of sports. We will talk a little about their Cadence Race Vest, but overall we wanted to explore the actual hydration system in greater detail as it powers all their bags.
In the beginning, the first hydration bladders were basically big plastic reservoirs with a rubber straw attached to it, so the definition that most people give you is pretty close to being dead on. These reservoirs would get stored in a race vest or slim backpack and the straw would then run to a clip on your chest. To get to the water you would bite down on the end valve and suck, its pretty simple. This has several drawbacks including maintenance and performance. The problem on the maintenance side is that they are very challenging to clean. In fact, most hydration providers also sell tools to clean those bladders. On the performance side, they work well, but when you are at pace and in full stride having to take time to suck water out of a straw can take a little out of you. Your breathing is already accelerated so having to inhale to get to the water is tough. Other brands have handled this with slight changes to the bladders, but overall they still work the same way.
Making it Modular
Geigerrig has attacked this model in a few different ways. First, they looked at the maintenance side and came up with a much more modular system. In addition to making it easier to maintain, they also made it more flexible to use. The primary hose easily clips off via push button and snaps firmly back into place after cleaning. The bladder itself is dishwasher safe. You simply remove the connected hoses, turn it inside out, and wash in the dishwasher. Because they made the whole system more modular, they also gave themselves the ability to add accessories. This includes add-ons like insulated tubing, virus filters, crypto filters, and a nano tube. Note, if you are on a big run or hike with limited water access then having an inline filter is pretty amazing. Drop your bag in a river and just go, no pumping, no iodine, etc. It’s actually quite ingenious.
Our team can note after repeated uses and numerous washings that the maintenance portion of the Geigerrig is really well-thought-out. Fair warning that the blue color on the back of the bladder does tend to run after the first two washes, but this disappears quickly. When we asked the folks at Geigerrig about this, they simply suggested washing it a few times before your first use anyway, so easy enough. We can also say that the modular system functions very well and that the hoses and enclosures seal nicely. Throughout all our tests we never experienced any leaking or any loosening of the fittings. They also changed the fill area from the industry standard “giant hole with a screw cap” to a foldable enclosure. In all honesty, this doesn’t affect performance at all, but there is no giant plastic cap to worry about.
The way Geigerrig went about solving the sucking issue was by adding pressurization. First, you need to create constant volume in the bladder which delivers the water without the need for a vacuum (sucking). To do this, Geigerrig added a simple hand pump to the front of the pack/vest. This pump is basically a rubber ball that once pressed pumps air through its own line into the base of the bladder, under the water. This causes the water level to rise and forces the water up and into the straw. Once you bite or press the end of the straw, you get immediate liquid. This basically means you can also spray the water, which makes sharing easier and enables it for additional uses. For example, if you need to clean off your glasses or goggles or clean a wound after a fall, then you can simply pump and spray. Geigerrig actually claims you will drink 30% more liquid when you use their system which may not be that far off.
In practice, we can say this works pretty well. When you start your activity, it takes less air pressure to achieve usage simply because the water level is higher, maybe four to five quick pumps. As your activity continues in the water level drops and you can choose to maintain the pressure originally added and continue to add to it, or you can press the quick air release button located just above the pump handle and remove all air. This means you need to fill it up every time you want a drink with any number of pumps. We always found ourselves going with a combination and leaving some level of air in the bladder, but adding too much air does create a balloonish sensation with the bag, so it doesn’t necessarily feel great with a ton of air in there.
Cadence Race Vest
We weren’t sure to expect from the Cadence given that most of the Geigerrig packs are more of the slimline backpack style, but we were pleasantly surprised at what we saw. The vest definitely integrates well with their hydration system, so things work together really well. The material is a poly mesh and breathes decently well when running. The vest weighs just over 1 pound and that is within the normal range for other competitors vests. They could probably use some additional mesh in spots to make it even more breathable to drop a little weight, but most people won’t even notice the difference.
On the left side is a velcro enclosed pocket that is capable of holding nutrition supplements like blocks or bars. On the right side, is a zipper pouch that his definitely big enough for something like an iPhone. Just above the velcro pocket you will find the “power bulb” which is where everything really starts. It works just like a blood pressure cuff in a doctor’s office, simply squeeze it several times and this adds air to the bladder. You will feel it airing up on your back and will quickly get an idea of necessary fullness levels. Then, just take the straw in your mouth and give it a small bite and the it instantly flows. The straw does clip on the upper chest strap and stays pretty snug throughout the run.
The Cadence Race Vest is available directly from Geigerrig for $145, but definitely check out their wide area of packs.
Overall, the Geigerrig hydration system is really something altogether different from what you may have come to expect from whats out there. Running is definitely a new area for them, but the Cadence vest is definitely a good first jump into the game. For hiking and mountain biking, I think its even stronger given the amount of options in their lineup. You can read more about Geigerrig on their website.