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Preventing Freezing Bladders

Are there any "tricks" to keeping water liquid on an extended winter outing?

Question:

Are there any “tricks” to keeping water liquid on an extended winter outing? I’ve had issues with both bladders and Nalgenes. A friend had to slice open his hydration bladder to avoid carrying 2 lbs. of ice!

Submitted by - Jim - Madison, AL

Answer:

I do have a few tricks. First off, you can always start the day off with hot or at least warm water, which (brace yourself for another scientific phenomenon) takes longer to turn to ice than cold water. And at night, share your warmth with your agua. Stow your bottle or bladder inside the foot of your sleeping bag (pack it inside a waterproof bad or stuffsack if you’re worried about leaking.)

For bottles:

  • Opt for an insulated bottle, which will maintain a steady temperature throughout (most of) the day. Check out this review of some of our faves.
  • If you want to stick with your standard bottle, get a water bottle cozy, like this one for about 25 bucks. Or, you can make your own on the cheap.

For bladders:

  • On cold days, water quickly freezes up inside the tube. Get this insulating kit ($16) to held stave off the ice.
  • Another trick: After each sip, blow air back into the hose, forcing the water to return to the bladder, where it’s much more likely to freeze up. (This also prevents the bite valve from freezing).

1 Comment

  1. Diver

    The vodka or any alcohol in the bladder works, but be careful. Put too much into your water and you may have a problem. The freezing point of alcohol is much, much lower than the freezing point of water. So when you’re out in -20 or -30 temps, remember that your vodka-laced water is at -20 or – 30 too, even if it is still liquid. Drinking this stuff is a good way to have a potentially fatal case of frostbite in your esophagus. It’s happened…

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