It’s an unseasonably warm day in late November. You’ve got thirty pounds or more in your backpack, you’re carrying a rifle, and your huffing and puffing your way up a rugged mountain side to get a shot on an Arizona Coues Whitetail buck.
If you’re anything like me, putting the stalk to the animal gets your blood pumping, you breathe faster than normal, and you’re usually sitting on your bum in an office rather than sprinting up the hill side. The last thing you want to do is have to suck water through a 3 foot long straw to get a drink.
This is why I’ve never liked hydration bladders. In theory they are a great idea. You can carry your water in your pack, and if you’ve got a good one, you can possibly carry more water than you otherwise would because your pack helps distribute the load. No fussing with canteens, bottles or bota bags. Sounds good right? Wrong – at least for me. I find drinking through a bite valve to be a pain, and pain enough to make me ditch the bladder and go back to more traditional methods of carrying water.
Apparently, there are more people like me. The good folks at Geigerrig seemed to have taken all my dislike for the hydration bladder and thrown it out the window with the introduction of their “Hydration Engine“.
I first saw one of their packs at a local big box outdoors store, and the bladder is what specifically caught my interest. After some reading online and seeing that they carried the bladders by themselves, I decided to purchase the 3liter version to fill the void where the bladder used to be in my Camelbak Motherlode.
When I got the thing home, I immediately took it out of the package and immediately filled it with water and air to see how it worked. My initial thought upon seeing the stream of water come out of the drink tube was “this is brilliant!”
Along with the normal water reservoir and drink tube, the Geigerrig Hydration Engine also has a secondary chamber in the bladder that holds air, and a second tube with a hand pump to fill the air chamber. As the air chamber inflates, it puts pressure on the water reservoir and when you squeeze the valve at the end of the drink tube, the water comes streaming out with good enough force to squirt a sustained stream at least a good five feet. Geigerrig’s claim of “never suck again” certainly appears to be true.
Now that the initial testing was over, it was time to look at the other annoyance I had with water bladders: cleaning them. The bladders I’ve had in other packs, both name brand not; did not clean easily. That, coupled with the fact I didn’t like actually using them is what caused me to write them off. With the Geigerrig, you can actually turn the bladder inside out and throw it in your dishwasher. It is quite possible this is an even better feature than the pressurized drinking itself!
That is as far as I’ve gotten with it so far. This weekend comes the first of real testing. I’ve got to put it in my pack and see how it rides. I also need to make sure it does not make a whole lot of sloshing noises as it empties water.
I have to admit that as impressed as I am with it so far, I am a bit wary of how the bladder seals shut, and only time and use will tell if it works as well as I am hoping it will. I’m also hoping that the initial air pressurization is enough to empty the water completely. The last thing I want to do is be putting a stalk on the buck of my dreams and have to stop and make “FSSSHH FSSHH FSSSHHH” sounds as I pump more air into the bladder to get a quick drink.
I can already say though, I’m pretty sure I want one of their packs for every day use, and to take with me on day hikes, 3D Archery tournies and more…