I wasn’t around to see the fad but rumor has it back in the early 2000’s hydration bladders were so in you could find them in every school, shopping mall and skate park.  I was busy filling up my hydration pack (downstream from goats and cows) a few thousand miles away in the sandbox, but I’m confident the craze back in the States owed a large part of its momentum to the number of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines being issued the liquid life dispensing packs.

My own journey through the world of hydration bladders has been a frustrating one.  Having one from the biggest name in the industry pop inside my rucksack was more than mildly annoying.  Replacing it with another brand (Stronger they said,  Better they told me) to find the bite valve had a propensity for sticking, gave me a very soggy feeling.

The world has spun a good number of times since then, the onward march of technology has raised the bar.  The Geigerrig Guardian is a significantly advanced hydration system: offering large volume and rugged construction.  Containing 70 fl oz of beloved H2O, the Guardian measures at only 17.5″ x 9″.  The shoulder straps stow away allowing this pack to turn into a pod, easily attaching to a plate carrier using the built-in Molle webbing.

Geigerrig Tactical Guardian
photo by Rex Nanorum

Totally new to me were the benefits of a pressurized drinking system.  A “power bulb” attached to the left shoulder strap controls pressure inside the bladder, allowing you to drink faster and easier or even spray water up to 6 feet.  Not that I imagine the 6 ft spray to be an advantage, but if you need to give something a quick rinse you have the pressure you need.  The straps on the pack also compress the bladder, further increasing the pressurized spray.  I filled the bag, cinched the straps and pumped the bulb twenty times.  I tossed it in my ruck and let rip on the bite valve.  I timed out more than one minute of full pressure water spray, after which I could still drink through the tube unpressurized.

The feature I’m most pumped about on the guardian is the modularity.  Using quick disconnect adapters, you can easily add in-line cryptospordium or virus filters.  No need for a separate fill-and-filter setup, just fill the drinking bladder and drink away for up to 50 gallons.

I also received a Nano drink tube: a 4 ft tube of only 4mm diameter.  This tube snaps in and routes wherever you like.  Easily slinking it’s way through Molle webbing, I found this to be a quick favorite.  The larger diameter tube is fairly stiff.  Good for keeping to form over your shoulder, not as useful if you want to put the whole setup in your ruck.  The nano tube is somewhat elastic and has a small clip to keep it where you want it.

Geigerrig Tactical Guardian
photo by Mrs. Rex Nanorum

Besides having an extremely tough drinking bladder, the guardian plate on the back gives additional protection.  Giving a very “Ninja Turtle” feel to wearing the pack, the guardian plate makes the likelihood of rupturing the bladder practically nil.  Tightening the straps around the guardian plate before you pump up the pressure helps to increase the squeeze felt by the reservoir.  This will keep the water pressure higher.  You can slam against walls or drop on the ground flat on your back and this thing will hold together.  Being designed for our Warfighters, the Tactical Guardian is seriously tough.

I’ve used, abused and punted this thing around for a few days and I’ve got to say, I’m sold.  Geigerrig has put together a beast of a hydro-pack.  If something this beefy is way overbuilt for your use, take a look here at their other offerings.  From magnum to mouse, they have a size to suit your needs.  All feature the QD hoses and the reservoir that flips inside out for dishwasher safe cleaning.

I was recently asked what one thing I would recommend to a Soldier going over for his first trip to the sandbox.

My final word on the Geigerrig Tactical Guardian:  This is an over-engineered water pack that you will see on my back for a long time to come.