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Advice on winter drinking system
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douglas girling
(dgirling) - F

Locale: Adirondacks
Advice on winter drinking system on 11/28/2008 06:31:47 MST Print View


I'm planning on running the 6633 Ultra Marathon in March - expecting temps in the -40 range

Question, do any of you have experience / ideas on drinking systems that would not freeze up. I suppose a camelback is probably the only realistic way to go - but was hoping not to wear a pack (and keep all gear in a sled) Any thoughts? And, if using a camelback - any good suggestions for insulating it and the hose?



Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
winter drinking system - AVOID ANY HOZEs! on 11/28/2008 08:16:11 MST Print View

Negative 40 is pretty freeekin' cold.

Just so you know, I work in the winter teaching camping in the Northern Rockies for NOLS - and I've slept out in negative 40.

About the water.

Do NOT be tempted to use any kind of hose. IT WILL FREEZE! I don't care what the advertisements say - IT WILL FREEZE. (trust me, you ain't goin' on a cute little ski tour for the afternoon)

When (not if) it freezes, it is a huge hassle to thaw out, requiring a stove, and a lot of time..

You want to go light? Do NOT take a thermos (unless you really like it, and are willing to take the un-needed weight)

The ONLY option is a well insulated water bottle.

The OR style water bottle holders are heavy and over designed - and ONLY fit the very heavy nalgene bottles.

Wide mouth soda bottles are a good solution (7up usually comes in one of these, search your grocery store). Wide mouth soft sided nalgenes are good too.

You'll probably need make your own water bottle insulator. Bubble wrap is the lightest. How are you with scissors and tape? Are you the arts & crafts type? If so, you'll do fine. Another insulation material is an old scrap of sleeping pad.

Do NOT use those aluminum fuel bottles in winter, the metal conducts cold differently than a soda bottle, and they are prone to freezing really fast.

good luck!

victoria maki
(clt1953) - F

Locale: northern minnesota
Re:hoses in winter on 11/28/2008 08:38:28 MST Print View

douglas, i agree with mike. i went snow shoeing last winter and had the brillant idea i was going to use my camelback...wrong....the tube froze within 15 min.,not good. i was wondering about a pot cozy(the kind for one pot cooking,soft material type) to cover a platupus, no hose, of course....and then wear it next to the body...might work.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
NO hoze in winter on 11/28/2008 09:55:53 MST Print View

No need to try and "wear" water. Make it HOT in the morning, and store it in something insulated.

That pot cozy stuff is awesome, and you can get it in rolls at the hardware store. Similar to bubble wrap.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Advice on winter drinking system on 11/28/2008 13:04:26 MST Print View

I go along with what Mike! said, but would add one extra thought. I carry water in the snow in PET soft drink bottles, and I carry them inside my pack against my back, a little way down from the top. This way the warmth from my back keeps them 'warm' - enough to not freeze.


douglas girling
(dgirling) - F

Locale: Adirondacks
Thanks on 11/29/2008 09:31:20 MST Print View

Thanks for all the advice.

I am quite keen on trying to make my own insulating system, and far prefer a bottle system to a hose system- any thoughts on how thick the insulation needs to be - say if I'm using bubble wrap, how many layers would you suggest. I guess I could always test this out in the freezer.



Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
winter drinking system on 11/29/2008 09:54:41 MST Print View

About the water bottle insulation - bubble wrap comes in so many sizes and thicknesses that there is no good answer. Are you skilled at arts and crafts stuff?

The thicker the insulation, the longer it'll take for warm water to turn into a brick of ice.

QUESTION: Do you have much winter camping experience? Cuz, keeping your bottle from freezing is a really basic requirement for safely spending time out in the cold. You say you expect negative 40 tempertures, and you better be skilled enough to have liquid water.

douglas girling
(dgirling) - F

Locale: Adirondacks
Winter experience on 11/29/2008 11:02:10 MST Print View


I've a fair amount of winter experience (up in the Adirondacks) but this isn't quite the Yukon.
Usually I just keep my bottles wrapped in my down jacket in my back pack (and in sleeping bag at night) But, I'm hoping to try and make something that is a bit more accessible for the run (and possibly even not have to wear a back pack) Ideally some insulated bottles that I could attach to a waist belt would be great (but this may ultimately be a pipe dream in those temperatures)
I'll plan on keeping a thermos in the sled (since I have a sled I can afford a bit of extra weight) or possibly insulated bottles in a polystyrene cooler? as backup And of course I'll have a stove in case things really hit the fan. But hopefully I can avoid having to melt snow during the race and keep my supplies in somewhat of a liquid form.


Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: winter drinking system on 11/29/2008 11:05:03 MST Print View

I tend to wear my water...just a preference and perhaps not the best option, but still an option. I fill a 2 liter widemouth platy with nice hot water, and simply store it inside the front of my jacket while i hike. It's sort of compressed between my jacket and chest/stomach and is mostly supported by my hip belt. It tends to warm me up and is literally impossible to freeze, unless you freeze too! To take a sip, I just unzip a bit and take a drink. I tried wearing it as a necklace after someone on here suggested it, bit it ended up being more comfortable to just place it in my jacket. As for a cozy, I remember someone made a very simple one out of 1/4" sleeping pad by cutting it to size, folding and using duct tape to keep the shape. You could try that.

bill rogers
(chiefcrazytalk) - F
re: bubble wrap insulation on 11/29/2008 12:40:14 MST Print View

i would think that this wouldn't help all that much for the same reason an air mattress doesn't keep you warm; air can circulate inside of the bubbles acting as a heat exchanger. i'd stick with a neoprene or an old sleeping pad, but i don't know, i've been wrong about things before.

has anyone done tests on bubble wrap?

douglas girling
(dgirling) - F

Locale: Adirondacks
re winter drinking system on 12/01/2008 08:23:27 MST Print View

Thanks for all your experiences - I'll definitely give the Platy in jacket front a try.

Re bubble wrap vs foam pad insulation - I'm running a little experiment right now to see which works best.
Standard Gatorade bottles filled with hot tap water placed in the freezer. One insulated in standard foam mat material, one insulated with bubble wrap (with the 1 inch blisters) so it gives the same thickness as the mat. Bottles are just covered with a single layer of insulation. There is an uninsualted bottle as a control. I am not going to try anything with sleeping bag material as this would be too problematic with insulation getting compressed or wet and so not too practical in real terms.

I'll let you know results (I didn't bother to measure the actual temperature of the water or the freezer since this is just a relative comparison)


Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: re winter drinking system on 12/01/2008 13:10:33 MST Print View

Douglas, I'd be interested in your results. Please post them when you are complete...along with some pics of how they are wrapped. Thanks!

douglas girling
(dgirling) - F

Locale: Adirondacks
winter drinking system insulation test on 12/02/2008 06:24:43 MST Print View

The results of my little informal test

Hot water from faucet (unsure of exact temp, but standard household hot water) In regular household freezer - temp approx 0 F.

Regular Gatorade bottle 20 oz

No insulation: Frozen solid in 6 hours

Bubble wrap (1 inch blister) insulation : Frozen solid in 18 hours

3/8 inch sleeping pad insulation: Frozen solid in 23 hours

Steve sorry don't have pics of setup - but it was very basic: I just formed a tube out of respective insulation in which the bottle fitted tightly. The insulation was a single layer and just joined at the seam with duct tape. To seal the end of the tubes I made a round plug out of the 3/8 sleeping pad that fitted nice and snug.

I was quite suprised that just a little insulation made a significant difference here.

I will verify these results today by repeating the test (with just room temperature water)

Just for curiosity I will add one bottle with 2 layers of slepping pad for insulation



Edited by dgirling on 12/02/2008 06:42:31 MST.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: winter drinking system insulation test on 12/02/2008 08:18:45 MST Print View

Thanks for posting that. You explanations are great, so no need for photos (I was curious how you wrapped them). Let us know how the double wrapped bottles go. I think I will be adding this to my winter setup...low weight increase for keeping water warm.
Thanks Douglas!

Brad Grissom
(bgrissom) - F

Locale: Denver
Lowering the freezing point of water on 12/17/2008 16:22:15 MST Print View

One of my thoughts related to a winter drinking system:

I've recently been curious about lowering the freezing point of water by dissolving salt or sugar into the water. From google, I found there are known formulas that correlate the amount of substance dissolved in a given volume of water for a reduction in freezing temperature.

I'd be curious if anyone has done the calculations to see if it is worthwhile, from an ultralight perspective, to carry some sugar packets, for example. You might argue that the sugar packets are helpful for energy anyway.

I would be careful of adding too much salt, much like the danger of drinking seawater.

I wonder what the freezing point of Gatorade is...

Excuse me if this has already been discussed, I'm new to the forum.

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Freezing point on 12/17/2008 18:10:11 MST Print View

Buck, the first aid guru at Backpacker mag, did an article on this. He basically rejected the idea.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Lowering the freezing point of water on 12/17/2008 21:28:37 MST Print View

Brad, welcome aboard!
Good thought process. I've heard similar, and it may be possible...however, for me, lowering the freezing point by 1 or 2 degrees means little when your dealing with extremely low temps. Keeping water in liquid form is simple at just below zero (Celsius), it becomes a challenge when the temps REALLY dip.

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
Mmmmm on 12/17/2008 22:03:41 MST Print View

Food grade - NOT ANTIFREEZE - version of propylene glycol might be pretty effective if dangerous.

Some piquant sentences from wikipedia:
It is also used in food, medicines, and cosmetics, often as a binding agent. Propylene glycol is "generally recognized as safe" by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in food. However, propylene glycol-based antifreeze should not be considered safe for consumption. In the event of accidental ingestion, emergency medical services should be contacted immediately.

Propylene Glycol oxidizes when exposed to air and heat. When this occurs, organic acids are formed viz. Glycolic acid, Glyoxalic acid, Formic acid, Carbonic acid & Oxalic acid. If not properly inhibited, this fluid can be very corrosive..."

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
Re: Lowering the freezing point of water w/Alcohol on 12/18/2008 13:57:40 MST Print View

Wasn't so sure about alcohol but This Link about "Ultimate Designer Party Ice Cubes" shows a guy freezing cubes with different alcohol content.

But people used to make apple jack by freezing the water out of the cider. So there might be a trick to it.

Edit: Spoiler alert:: save you the time:::
-20C/-4F for 24 hours slush-form was 20% alcohol. That is like 50% whiskey and 50% water. Using open cubes in your freezer may get different result than closed containers.

Edited by Paul_Tree on 12/18/2008 14:23:37 MST.

tkkn c
(tkknc) - MLife

Locale: Desert Rat in the Southwest
Water bladder hose freezing on 12/22/2008 16:46:47 MST Print View

My unscientific test this weekend, showed that bite valve on a hydration systems starts to freeze and have issues at 15 degrees F.