Limits
By Jeremy Berger
on 10.17.13
Photo by Jon Gaffney

It doesn’t take a degree in developmental psychology to know that guys have an enduring attachment to backpacks. Messenger bags, tote bags, duffels — all great, but backpacks are hands-free, versatile and have more sophisticated storage options for gear and the lunch mom packed…or whatever. Faced with a quick international trip or a tough physical challenge, we’ve usually got a backpack in tow, and at the 20th anniversary of the Vermont 50 ultarmarathon, we leaned on the Geigerrig Rig 500 ($130) for our hydration and storage needs during an all-day run.

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Located in Ogden, UT, jogging distance of the Wasatch Range, Geigerrig was founded in 2010 by ski and outdoor industry veteran Curt Geiger and his son Bob. The foundation of their hydration packs is a polyurethane bladder with one chamber for water and another for air. Each chamber has a quick-release hose attached; one pumps air to create pressure, and the other sprays water when you bite or squeeze the valve. It’s a remarkably simple upgrade to traditional hydration pack technology, but the advantages of pressure are big: you can share water without swapping spit, wash cuts or gear, or spray somebody slower than you in the face.

We packed the Rig 500 with an intermittently useful selection of goods, including plastic bags of sports nutrition, Body Glide, a first-aid kit, duct tape wrapped around a stick and toilet paper.

On top of that, Geigerrig offers a lifetime warranty for leakage on the bladder (probably more than you can say for your own), which is dishwasher safe and comes with optional in-line filtration. Just clip in the 1.5-ounce filter, fill up whatever water source suits your fancy, and drink without fear of cryptosporidium and giardia. The filter is rated for 50 gallons of filtration — more than enough to get you through an ultra or two.

The Rig 500 is among Geigerrig’s smaller packs, light enough that it didn’t weigh us down over 50 miles but with room enough for plenty of water and trail amenities. The 100% ballistic rip stop nylon bag carries 70 ounces (2L) of water and has a dry capacity of 500 cubic inches (11.47L), backed by sturdy pads that allow airflow and do a bang up job with load disbursement while jogging single-track. We packed the Rig 500 with an intermittently-useful selection of goods, including plastic bags of sports nutrition, Body Glide, a first-aid kit, duct tape wrapped around a stick and toilet paper. Pack the night before and you’ll probably have better luck.

In a category of products that rarely sees innovation, Geigerrig created a system that’s significantly better without raising the price much over a hydration pack of comparable quality. The Rig 500 is an ideal pack for a race, and even better for an unsupported run on trails without aid stations. If they make one in leather with a laptop compartment, we might just give up the briefcase for good.

METHODOLOGY: Limits Editor Jeremy Berger tested the hydration pack during the Vermont 50, an ultramarathon in the hills and mountains of Vermont.

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