By: Will

We recently tested the Geigerrig Tactical 1600 along with their proprietary Pressurized Hydration Engine and several bladders.  I personally tested the pack for about a week before handing it off to a law enforcement Special Operations Group (SOG) professional who really put it to the test.  The SOG professional hiked and ran (mostly) approximately 40 miles in the Arizona desert, all the while using the Geigerrig Tactical 1600 (The salt stains are still on the pack).

The main reason I passed the pack to him to test was because he is also a K9 handler and I believed the Geigerrig hydration engine would be a great asset to him as well as his partner.

My intuition proved correct and after the weeklong test, he was thoroughly impressed to the point that he is going to recommend the Geigerrig hydration system to his co-workers.

So, enough with the pleasantries, let’s get down to business and go through all the features found on the pack and it’s accompanying hydration system.

The Geigerrig Hydration Engine:

Long before the Geigerrig Tactical 1600 pack was envisioned there was the Geigerrig Pressurized Hydration Engine.  The hydration engine consists of a bladder, pump and hose.  Furthermore, while I really liked the pack, the hydration engine really shined.

The Bladder:

The bladder is super strong and has several salient points that shouldn’t be overlooked.  First off, the mouth of the bladder is just that, you can open it all the way by sliding the plastic bar off and undoing a single fold (easy to put ice in).  Re-installing is super easy as well and there really is no way to get it wrong to the point that your water leaks out.  For a detailed walk through click here   

Secondly, the hose connection ports (there are two) are both sealed so you can easily store bladders full of water and switch them out quickly without accidentally losing any of the stored water.  Our SOG friend found this to be super convenient when halfway through the chase he needed to switch out his empty bladder.  

The pack was literally thrashed during over 40 miles of harsh desert terrain and was actually a crucial piece of gear during its testing.

One of the coolest features is that you can actually remove the bladder from the pack, pull it inside out and wash it in the dishwasher!!!!!!!! That alone is a huge improvement and has me sold!

The process of switching out bladders is fairly straight forward and can even be done in the dark without artificial light.  Bladders come in two sizes, 3 and 2 liter capacity.

The pressure Pump:

The main reason the Geigerrig Pressurized Hydration Engine is called an engine is because it utilizes a pump to pressurize the bladder or bladders (when using a T coupling).  This is a really cool feature because, for years, I used Camelbak bladders that required the user to suck the water out of the bladder which, uses up much needed energy and more importantly, oxygen.  

Another problem with Camelbak bladders is their tendency to develop kinks in the hoses that in turn restrict the flow of water.  The Geigerrig system on the other hand, uses pressurized air to overcome the hose kinks and even negates the need to “hang” the bladder inside the pack as the pressure doesn’t allow it to fold over and create restrictive chambers.

Speaking of chambers, the Geigerrig bladders have a separate chamber just for the air so you are not mixing the pressurized air with the water.

The Hose:

Geigerrig tactical models come with an insulated hose that runs from the bladder to either the left or right strap depending on the user’s preference.  The hose end features a pressure release, on/off switch and an end cap.  I personally didnt worry about the on/off switch as I never had the leaking issues that plague my Camelbak systems.  

The pack itself comes with a handy built in hook that secures the hose and keeps it from swinging in the wind and touching the locker room floor (nasty). Last but not least, the hose features an insulated sleeve to keep the water from getting too hot.

The Geigerrig Hydration Engine can be adapted to run two bladders at once by using a “T” coupling (found at your local hardware store).  Furthermore, you can easily place the hydration engine in your non-Geigerrig brand packs.

Additionally, you can purchase the Geigerrig in-line water filter that is capable of filtering up to 50 gallons of tank water (think cesspool in the middle of the desert).  The filter is plug and play and is tested to filter out 99.9% of giardia, and cryptosporidium.

The Geigerrig Tactical 1600:

The Geigerrig Tactical 1600 is available in both coyote tan and black.  The pack itself is made out of 500D Cordura material and weighs approximately 3.2 lbs. The front of the pack features six rows of molle and four support straps with quick release buckles (not sure who makes the buckles). Additionally the bottom of the pack features two bedroll straps.

One of the coolest features is that you can actually remove the bladder from the pack, pull it inside out and wash it in the dishwasher!!!!!!!!

Each side of the pack features a side pocket that is slightly larger than your typical grenade pouch and are large enough to store useful items such as handcuffs, batteries, PVS-14 or gloves.  

The pockets are not big enough for your typical water bottle but a 12 oz gatorade bottle does fit.  I actually like the size of the pouches because they are not so big that you have tons of random crap to sift through in the dark when all you really need is that AA battery.

Moving on to the top of the pack, you will find a well reinforced drag handle and shoulder straps.  The shoulder straps are pretty cool, in that, they have multiple internal channels to keep the majority of the hydration hose protected from the elements.  Both shoulder straps feature these sleeves.

Depending on how the rig is set up, you will have the pump on one strap and the hose on the other.  The rig comes with a hose hook that is very similar to the one that Camelbak makes you buy separately (+1 Geigerrig!)  

At first I was apprehensive that the hydration pump would be bulky and become a nuisance but my fears didn’t materialize and the whole system worked like a charm.

The back of the pack features substantial padding and the airflow channels are aggressive.  This is also where the main hydration engine is stored via a zippered compartment.

The Geigerrig Tactical 1600 also features a load bearing waist belt which, I never use as they block access to all the toys.  This particular waist belt is removable and features molle webbing as well as a discrete  zippered pocket on each side.

GEIGERRIG Tactical 1600 review

Photo Credit: Geigerrig

The pack features three internal compartments:

1. Hydration compartment

2. Main compartment

3. Secondary compartment

The hydration compartment is pretty basic as it is designed to hold one bladder and the supportive pressure plate (it also features a water drain hole).  At the top of the pocket you will find a hook that is pretty useless, but left there to appease prior Camelbak users who don’t realize that it isn’t necessary with the Geigerrig system. 

The main compartment features a modest capacity compartment (16 cubic inches for the whole pack) as well as two heavy duty zippers that provide closure.  

The secondary front compartment is slightly smaller and features four pockets divided by see through mesh.  It also features an attached admin compartment that features two zippered pockets as well as a handful of misc. pockets for pens etc.  This is a really cool feature as it keeps you small items in one place and there is no need to be sifting through random crap to find the small items in your pack.

Suggested Improvements:

After using the pack for some time we came across some minor things that we felt needed to be improved.  Surprisingly Geigerrig was actually receptive and is making some of the changes which is always nice.  

The first issue we ran into was the adjustment straps on the lower part of the shoulder straps.  We suggest that they be widened and that a quick release slider buckle be integrated.  The narrower straps worked fine but required two hands to manipulate the slider buckle, especially when logged with salt.

Secondly, we suggested that they upgrade the size of the zipper on the hydration compartment which is a change that they have already implemented.  

Finally, it would be nice to see some small improvements like eyelet’s to drain water (all compartments), and some velcro loop on the front for IR glint tape or identifiers.

Summary:

All in all, the Geigerrig Tactical 1600 is a great pack for fast moving operations that require a light weight, small to medium sized pack.  I find it hard to imagine that we could have tested it in a harsher environment than we did.  The pack was literally thrashed during over 40 miles of harsh desert terrain and was actually a crucial piece of gear during its testing. Never once did the fabric or seams tear from excessive contact with mesquite and cacti.  Furthermore, while the zipper on the hydration pocket failed once, Geigerrig had already taken steps to fix the issue before we brought it up.

We would love to see production of the pack come to the USA and are eagerly waiting to see some of our suggested improvements materialize.  We believe the true value of the  Geigerrig tactical 1600 lies in the pressurized hydration engine that is by far the best system I we have ever used.  If you already have a favorite pack, you can still purchase the Geigerrig Pressurized Hydration Engine separately along with their in-line filtering system.  

Stay safe!

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Where to Buy:

Geigerrig http://www.geigerrig.com/hydration-packs/tactical-hydration-pack-1600.html

Amazon Geigerrig Tactical 1600