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May 2003 Hydration Packs

Think Outside The Bottle

10 surprising uses for your water bottle.

We all know that collapsible water bladders are a light, compact solution for on-the-move hydration. But don’t limit these multitasking tools to mere drinking duty. New and recycled reservoirs have many uses beyond thirst-busting. You can use yours as a:

Shower: Fill it with warm water, screw on a push-pull lid, wet yourself, close the nozzle, soap up, then rinse off.

Urinal: On winter camping trips, guys will appreciate a .5-liter bottle for wee-hour relief. Wide-mouth reservoirs reduce the risk of annoying spillage.

Pillow: Fill it with air or water, and wrap it in a shirt.

Hot-water bottle: Fill a bladder with steaming water, tuck it next to your belly, and sleep comfortably under the stars.

Air conditioner: In the summer, add snow from late-melting drifts to your wide-mouth or zipper-lock reservoir, then tuck it against your back to keep cool. On sweaty winter hikes, refill your bladder with snow after each drink. Place it under your shirt–you’ll sweat less and convert snow into drinking water.

Folding bowl: When your bladder wears out, cut off the upper two-thirds and use the bottom to hold breakfast and dinner.

Flask: There’s no lighter way to tote a little wine or schnapps.

Waterproof storage: Zip or roll-top bladders can shelter maps, binoculars, and small cameras.

Cold pack: Speed the healing of strains, sprains, and bruises by applying a snow-and-water-filled bottle to the injured area.

Deadman: Fill a wide-mouth or zipper-lock bladder with snow, tie a guyline to the handle, then sink it deep in a drift to hold down your tent.

Among the most versatile bladders are Nalgene’s 1.5-liter wide-mouth canteens ($11), Platypus’s Big Zip 2 2-liter models ($23), MSR’s DromLite 2-liter bladders ($18), and Camelbak’s 2-liter UnBottles ($30).

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