Review by Coy Starnes
Rig 1200 provided by Geigerrig for review purposes.
Describing the Rig 1200 is no easy task but for starters, it is a 1200 cubic inch day pack with a hydration system built in. The pack itself is very tough looking and feels like it can really take a beating. The website says the fabric is Heavy Duty Dura-Oxkin but all my Google searches on the term referenced the Rig 1200 in camo. I’m not sure what the fabric is, but I got the camo version. However, the same pack can be had in black, and the website list that fabric as Heavy Duty Ballistic Ripstop. The website also says the camo version at 1.22 kg and the black version at 1.14 kg so the fabric may be slightly heavier considering the packs look identical. In the following paragraphs I will try to describe the features of the Rig 1200, but keep in mind, the website has all the details outlined very nicely, as well as several videos demonstrating the different packs and especially the hydration system
There are two main compartments on the Rig 1200 and both are about the same size. The inner most compartment is slightly bigger front to back but the hydration bladder takes away a little of the room when full and pressurized. The outer most pocket (furthermost from my back when worn) features a waterproof zipper. Inside this compartment is a key keeper conveniently located at the top and an iPod ready pocket hanging just below it. The iPod pocket has two zippered pockets at the top. The upper one is big enough for my hand to fit inside. The lower one is the same size but not quite as tall. Sewn to the face of the lower pocket is a fairly big pouch with a hook and loop flap over it. Beside this are three smaller tube style pockets. This picture should do a better job of describing it though.
At the very top of the pack (right under the tote handle) is a small pocket lined with a very soft fabric. It feel like a fleece blanket. I’m not sure what it is designed for but it is big enough for a phone or small camera but probably not both. There is a bungy cord crossing back and forth across the rear of the pack. The Rig 1200 does have two side pockets that are traditionally used to carry water bottles. I checked and found my 24 oz insulated bike bottle fits easily in either side pocket but quite a bit was sticking up past the top. However there is a compression strap on each side of the pack that goes right across the top of each pocket and goes right across the indention on my bottle. However, I doubt it would fall out even without the strap. But these pockets will likely see more use for small items like my phone and camera since the Rig 1200 features a 3L hydration bladder. Here is one of the pockets with a water bottle in place.
And now for the suspension. The shoulder pads are well padded and very comfortable. The left shoulder strap has a small mesh pocket to hold the inflation bulb for the bladder while the right shoulder strap holds the drinking tube, It has a clip to keep it from flopping around so much. The pack features a removable hip belt but it is not padded. It is basically two nylon straps that attach to each side with a hook and loop affair which goes around a D-Ring and fastens in the front and center of the wearer with one of those two prong snap buckles that slide together and you mash the sides to release. The 3L bladder fits in a zippered compartment accessed from the back of the pack At the bottom of this compartment is a small hole to allow any water that may get in (the bladder will sweat in hot weather if filled with ice water) get back out. The back side of the pack is also well padded and has several built up areas that allow for ventilation. Again, a picture may show this better than I can describe it.
The feature that really sets this pack apart from most hydration packs available today is the hydration bladder Geigerrig uses. They call it the “engine”. Some of the smaller packs feature 2 L bladders but the Rig 1200 comes with a 3 L bladder. The bladder is easy to open and close with a slider bar seal. It is dishwasher safe and the online video says to turn it inside out and place it in the dishwasher. This also makes drying the inside much easier than most typical hydration bladders. But what really sets the Geigerrig bladder apart from most bladders is the fact that the water in the bladder can be pressurized. This has several benefits. First of all, drinking is much easier, just point the end of the hose towards the mouth and press on the sides of the valve. In fact, since your mouth does not have to touch the drink valve, it can be shared with others. It also means you can spray water wherever needed. Say for instance you get a cut with a brier, this system will allow you to rinse any blood or dirt from the cut with clean water.
I also received an inline filter. Actually, it is another complete drinking tube assembly that is filter ready. I have not tried it out yet but Geigerrig claims it will filter water as you drink it. The same action that lets you drink from the spray forces water through the filter so there is no pumping like most filters. The website says it removes >99.9% Cryptospordium & Giardia and can treat up to 50 gallons of water.
I have already carried the Rig 1200 on a 4 mile day hike and really liked using it. I guess I could sum up my feelings by revealing that in all my years of backpacking I have tired several different hydration systems but always seem to revert back to bottles. After just one use I can see that this hydration system answers several misgivings I’ve had. Namely, it was easy to wash the inside of the the bag right from the start. I did find my arm is too big to easily slide down inside to grab the bottom of the bag to pull it inside out but my wife was handy so she did the honors. After a quick wash with regular dish detergent I was ready to fill it. I started by filling it with ice right from the ice dispenser on my refrigerator door. I then moved over to the sink and filled to the full line. Well, not exactly, my faucet is not quite tall enough to completely fill the bladder, so I ended up adding about 12 oz from a glass to top it off. When full, simply fold the top down one turn and slide the bar (similar to a zip-lock but on the outside instead of built in) into the slot and she is ready to go in the pack. Attaching the inflation hose and drinking tube is a snap (literally). I then pumped the bulb about 15 times and set out for my hike.
On the hike I was able to get a drink easily, even when I was out of breath. I only drank about half of my water on this hike but 3 liters is a lot more than I usually carry. I still had ice in the pack when I got home even though the temperature was 92 F during the hike. One thing I did notice was that the water would get pretty warm in the tube, but after just a few seconds of spraying it was ice cold, almost too cold. After several drinks I did notice the pressure had dropped, but a few quick pumps on the bulb had it back up. I should also note that pumping the bulb is not hard at all and does not get more difficult as pressure builds. The bladder also sweated quite a bit but did not soak the compartment it rides in. If you enlarge the photo below you can see the moisture, but other than that, I had no issues at all with the pack. I find it interesting that the camo pattern is an almost exact match to the rock the pack is sitting on.
I did not have a lot of gear inside the pack other than my rain jacket, knife, phone and some TP, but with 3L of water it was not exactly a light load. Anyways, the pack felt great. I did have to let the hip belt out nearly all the way and anyone slightly larger than me might have issues fastening the belt. For the record, I wear 38 jeans at the moment but they are getting a little big on me.
That’s all for now. Please check back in about a month from now to see how the Rig 1200 is doing. I plan to use it mostly for day hiking and for my bike rides when I’m on one of my regular bikes. I will try and see if I can rig it to work on my recumbent also.
Update Geigerrig Rig 1200 9/27/2011
Now that I have had the Geigerrig Rig 1200 a couple of months I have had several opportunities to use it doing various types of activities and it has performed great no matter what I was doing. My favorite and most numerous uses have been while riding my bike. I purposely skipped riding my recumbent during the past few months because I could not wear the Rig 1200 while riding it. I also used it on a three day canoe trip and on several day hikes.
My longest use was on a three day canoe trip on Black Creek in Southern Mississippi. When packing for the trip I filled the Rig 1200 (3 L) and carried another gallon in a milk jug, along with three 32 oz Gatorade’s and a half gallon of V-8 juice. I used the gallon of water to refill the Rig 1200 as needed. I was just about out of water on the third day but we passed a landing that had fresh tap water so I was able to refill with enough water for the rest of the trip. I could have filtered water with the inline filter but I forgot to pack it. Anyways, it worked out great for the trip. I started with the pack sitting on the floor of the canoe behind me so that I could get a drink while paddling but after a few hours on the water I saw that the pack material was soaking up river water. I then moved it up on my other gear in front on me and did have to stop paddling to get a drink but it was no big deal. We were on a fun trip and not a race. As a matter of fact we only paddled about 26 miles in the three days we were on the river. I did use a water bottle (32 oz Gatorade bottle) in my hammock at night because I could more easily keep a small bottle inside the hammock. Plus, the bugs were pretty bad so I did not want to unzip the bug netting to get a drink form the Rig 1200. However, I discovered that with about 20 pumps, I could fill a 32 oz bottle before the hydration bladder ran out of steam.
I used the Rig 1200 on several bike rides. My longest ride was 25.97 miles in 2 hours and 20 minutes. I had a flat on the way to work at mile 11 and so as not to be late for the meeting had a guy come pick me up. I ended up with a 2 hour break before starting back home. But the upshot was, by the time I started home at 1 PM it was in the mid 90s. By the time I got halfway up the mountain right at a mile from home it was 97 F and I had to stop and rest. While I was laid out in the shade, my daughter called, worried about me in the heat and insisted that she come pick me up. I must admit, she didn’t have to persuade me much. However, the Rig 1200 was great for the trip. My water was nearly gone but I still had a little ice some 4 and a half hours after leaving the house.
I also recently took up mountain biking. I used my Dynamik on one trip and borrowed a mountain bike from a friend for another ride before getting one myself. I have been on two more rides with my new bike but the Rig 1200 was with me on every ride. These rides were all 5 or 6 mile each and each one lasted about 2 hours. We found we had to take a lot of breaks because it was a lot tougher then road riding. I had a major crash on two of the rides but the Rig 1200 came through without a scratch each time. I came through with nothing broken but was real sore for a few days after both crashes. I did a complete flip during one of the crashes because I wrecked while climimbing a steep hill at an angle and when I lost my balance towards the low side I tried to put a food down. It was so far down that I just continued on in a roll, taking out a small tree in the process. The photo on the left doesn’t really show just how steep the drop off on the lower side of the trail was but you can barely see the Rig 1200.
I spent so much time riding that I really did not do that much hiking. For one, it has been extremely hot and at least while riding a bike I was able to create a breeze at least part of the time. But I still managed several day hikes. One of these was with my daughter and we hiked about 3 miles total. I carried my water in the Rig 1200 hydration engine and carried her water in a couple of bottles inside the pack. We did not share the water as Geigerrig says you can do because I am selfish with my water. OK, that is not the reason, however, I did find I liked drinking with the valve in my mouth. I found when I just mashed the valve and let it squirt water I ended up spilling a lot of water, especially if I did this while on the move. But the beauty of the Rig 1200 was that by putting her bottles in the main pack which is adjacent to the pouch that holds the Rig 1200 3L hydration engine, her water stayed almost as cold as my water with ice in it did. On another hike I only went about 2 miles but it was really hot. I packed a Kelly Kettle (Trekker) in the main compartment. It pretty much filled it but just shows how much room this pack has.
I know there are smaller and more nimble hydration packs including some by Geigerrig, but the extra capacity of this pack can come in handy at times. For example, on my last mountain bike ride we started riding early in the morning when it was only 51 F. I had on a light jacket and kept it on for at least an hour. However, when I did finally take it off it was easy to stuff it inside the Rigg 1200. I already had my mini-pump, a spare tube, camera, wallet, keys, cell phone and a few other essentials in the pack.
If there is one weakness in this pack it is that my hand is too big to easily turn it inside out for easy cleaning and drying. However, I found that I could easily clean it by adding a little soapy water, then sealing it and sloshing it around vigorously. Then a couple of rinses and it was ready to dry. I found that I could hang it outside over a stick big enough that it kept the sides from touching each other and it would dry in a couple of hours.
I’ll sum up by saying that the Rig 1200 is just an awesome hydration pack. With the 3L bladder full and the other gear I carried the pack is pretty heavy but I always found it extremely comfortable. On my bike rides I pretty much forgot I had it on as far as comfort goes. Even on the one long ride when it was 97 F at the end I did not find the pack uncomfortably hot to wear. I did notice it got a little hot when hiking in extreme heat but even then it is a very comfortable pack. Stay tuned for my final update.
Final Update – Geigerrig Rigg 1200 – December 2, 2011
I have continued to use the Rigg 1200 on a pretty regular basis and have not found anything new to report other than to say that it still works great. I have used it mostly on my weekend bike rides anywhere form 8 to 12 miles and lasting anywhere from two to four hours. I also used it for several more day hikes of around 4 miles that usually lasted a couple of hours . I used it recently on a 12 mile mountain bike ride. The route went around Blackwell Swamp in the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. This was a pretty flat ride compared to most of my rides. I went with a friend and our hope was to spot a few gators which are not very common this far north. However, I surely did not anticipate this. As can clearly be seen in the photo, I was wearing the Rigg 1200.
OK, that was photoshopped by my daughter as a gag, but we really were looking for gators. We did not see any and I complained so my daughter decided to have a little fun and make it happen. Here is the actual photo.
Now back to my findings. As mentioned earlier, I used the Rigg 1200 on several rides the past couple of months but they all have a similar theme. On the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge ride The Rig 1200 was with me for the entire ride as well as quite a bit of walking around the swamp in search of the elusive gators. As on previous rides, I kept a few snacks in the pack as well as my bike tools. Mainly a small pump, patch kit, spare tube, and a bike multi-tool. I carried my phone in one of the side pockets and my camera in the other. This ride lasted about 3 hours and I drank most of the 3L of water I had placed in it. It was pretty cool at the beginning of the ride (around 45 F) but had warmed up to near 60 F by the time we finished. This was similar to several other rides that started out fairly cool and ended on a warmer note. However, the Rigg 1200 was the perfect solution as I could start the ride with a warm jacket on and then when it warmed up I would stop long enough to stash the jacket inside the pack.
The Rig 1200 has continued to work very well as my hydration solution. On the Wheeler ride I only placed a 12 oz glass full of ice in the bladder before filling it with water, and by the end of the ride the ice was gone but the water still felt ice cold when I would get a drink. And as usually, my back did get a little sweaty but the pack never felt hot or uncomfortable on the ride. Here is a photo of what the trail was like for most of this ride.
This is a very comfortable pack. It is sized just about right for day hikes and fairly long bike rides. It held what I needed with enough room to spare so that I could take off my jacket and gloves when I started to get too warm. The hydration system (bladder) is tough and the pack is even tougher. I guess I’d sum up my experience with the Rigg 1200 by saying that it is a game changer as far as I’m concerned. I’ve tried several regular hydration systems and never like using them all that much. The Geigerrig approach is hands down the easiest to drink from and the advertizing slogan of ” never suck” is more than just a slogan. It works! Many thanks to Geigerrig and 4alloutdoors.org for the opportunity to test this awesome pack and hydration system!
I am from northeast Alabama where I spend a lot of my time divided among several hobbies that include backpacking and dayhiking, canoeing and kayaking, and just getting out enjoying nature.