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Nalgene bottles, worth their weight
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b hitchcock
(slowoldandcold) - F
nalgene bottles on 03/09/2009 19:04:26 MDT Print View

i have used platypus at home and worked fine as hot bottle but have never trusted any flimsy(?) looking plastic topped bottle in my sleeping bag--so for a january 6 day scottish trip i bought my first hot water bottle---a 1 pint sigg---i thought its main purpose would would be keeping me warm but after a few days of sottish weather---mist/rain/sleet/hail/ snow and a sucession of bad camping spots(because of the short days i was looking for camp spots after dark) my s/bag was getting a bit damp and less lofty----the hot water bottle perked the loft up very well--conculsion--i found i didn t need the hot water bottle but my s/bag did

(dirtt) - F

Locale: So. California
roger on 03/09/2009 20:01:30 MDT Print View

Not meaning to derail this thread but, Roger you do that to people quite a bit and its really annoying.

You talk to people like your method is the be all end all and anything else is wrong or inefficient, sometimes implying people are just to stupid to understand (maybe not on purpose). I thought Id point that out to you, maybe nobody else has.

Scott Ridgeway
(ScottFree) - F
Insulating Qualities on 03/09/2009 22:17:00 MDT Print View

It's been mentioned that the Nalgene bottle will hold it's heat longer than a Gatorade or other thin bottle--which is true--at a cost of nearly four ounces. A scrap of thin foam or extra sock would provide equal or better insulation for a lot less weight. I'm not saying the Gatorade bottle is necessarily better as I'm not comfortably convinced it won't leak. I'm only saying that the insulating qualities of lexan come at an almost four ounce cost. (Nalgene = 5.6 oz. vs Gatorade = 1.7 oz.)

I should also mention that we often throw a hot Nalgene bottle in our bed at home on cold nights. I had one spring a leak after filling it with boiling water. A tiny hole on the side of the bottle started squirting hot water onto my naked stomach just after closing the bottle. I now put an inch or so of cold water into the bottle before filling to cool it down just a bit.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Insulating Qualities on 03/09/2009 22:21:21 MDT Print View

I don't carry them backpacking, but they're my bottle when climbing.
Duct tape a piece of accessory cord around them to clip to a harness/pack/etc. and you're good to go...smash it, drag it, bump it, scrape it, drop it, whatever.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: roger on 03/10/2009 01:26:23 MDT Print View

Hi Dustin

If that is how I came across to anyone, then my apologies. I am aware that I can be a bit direct at times: I think it may be a cultural difference between Australia and America. The difference between the two cultures has been seen elsewhere on the net, with other Australians.

In this case however, what I said was that WE do take all the usual precaution to stay warm. By implication, we are not super tough or anything special. I was not trying to tell anyone else what to do.

This is one of the problems of email: the words are there, but how are they meant to be taken?


Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: roger on 03/10/2009 01:56:48 MDT Print View

I took that as your personal experience Roger, but everyone reads things differently.

Roger, your experience is personal and everyone should read differently.

If Roger would read differently, everyone would know his personal experience.


Now how 'bout we all lighten up? Get it... "lighten up"?

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Nalgenes and boiling water on 03/10/2009 02:02:49 MDT Print View

Sounds like this could be a BPL feature article.

I think we need to solicit a little physics or engineering expertise for it. Perhaps someone would could give us the thermodynamic and heat transfer conclusions? Topics would include bottle type/material/thickness; proper temp to maximize benefit; etc. And of course lab and field testing to back it up.

For those using nalgene's, what type? Clear hard plastic (the colored ones) or the soft white plastic?

joe newton

Locale: Bergen, Norway
Re: "Nalgene bottles, worth their weight" on 03/10/2009 02:34:06 MDT Print View

I use a 500ml Wide Mouth Nalgene bottle in conjunction with a Platypus soft canteen. The Platypus is used for storing water and the Nalgene is used as a drinking mug, measuring jug (prevents dehydrated meals turning into slop!), hot water bottle and a pee bottle in an emergency! ;-)

christian gagas
(chummysaladbar) - F
nalgene type on 03/10/2009 05:12:02 MDT Print View

I only use the colored plastic type Nalgene for hot water. I found the translucent ones to deform when filled, easily slipping out of the cap keeper, which I like to use to steady, not hang, the bottle with, to keep my hand away from the line of fire...


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Insulating Qualities on 03/10/2009 09:13:01 MDT Print View

I had never thought of using a 'hot water bottle' for keeping warm. It seems to me that the extra weight of a couple of Nalgenes would weigh the same as a Montbell Ex Light jacket or inner pants. Plus you are using extra fuel to boil water. Then there is the risk of a leak inside a down bag.

I do own a few old Nalgenes, which I use ocassionally for special situations.

But to keep warm I will simply take the proper insulated clothing if necessary. It just seems more efficient. The one exception could be in deep snow and cold, when you would need to melt snow for your water needs.

Scott Ridgeway
(ScottFree) - F
Emergency Night Out on 03/10/2009 13:54:30 MDT Print View

No doubt that on longer trips, a warmer bag is more efficient. For a liter bottle, I use one ounce of fuel to bring it to a boil. For just a night or two, you gain a lot of warmth for a couple ounces of fuel. My main interest in this, though, is for day hiking and an unexpected night out without a sleeping bag. I want something I can tuck in my jacket or hug between my thighs. Up until this thread, I didn't know that collapsible bottles could take boiling water. Now I'm shopping.

christian gagas
(chummysaladbar) - F
Boosting Warmth on 03/11/2009 10:36:34 MDT Print View

Hi Nick,

I agree, proper insulation is the real key. But in wintertime, if you've got to make water anyways to have a drinkable supply, why not make it the night before and enjoy the free heat in your bag, perhaps needed a layer less to sleep well. I find that a boiled the night before bottle stays warm enough to be pleasantly drinkable throughout the morning as long as I am careful to keep it insulated (and what better cozy than your sleeping bag), and a second one can be brought to boiling in just a minute or two, giving me a bottle that will stay hot until I want to drink it in the afternoon, perhaps with a packet of Jello mix thrown in for flavor and extra calories. I really dislike trying to chug ice cold water in the winter, and even knowing that staying hydrated will help keep me warmer, I barely drink all day if all I have is cold water...not a good practice over a multi day trip! Anyways, it's what works for me!


Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
fuel weight on 03/11/2009 10:49:54 MDT Print View

If you are using a wood stove (i.e. Bush Buddy), then there is no added fuel weight. Boil water for dinner. Boil water for tea. Boil water for a hot shower (3 season only obviously). Boil water for your sleeping bag warmer. Boil away, it makes no difference!

I never considered boiling a liter of water to throw in my bag because of the added fuel weight. Now that I have a Bush Buddy Ultra headed my way, I'm thinking my wife will love a bottle warmer in her bag.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Boosting Warmth on 03/11/2009 12:45:15 MDT Print View

"I agree, proper insulation is the real key. But in wintertime, if you've got to make water anyways to have a drinkable supply, why not make it the night before and enjoy the free heat in your bag, perhaps needed a layer less to sleep well."


Yes, if you need to make water. I really try not to, and use creeks and streams if they are available. Water is the heaviest item we carry, and with the extra gear needed in winter I try to minimize how much water I carry. But I have been on trips where I needed to melt several liters at night. Extra down clothing weighs a lot less than even a single liter of water. I guess I have gotten use to drinking cold water, and probably stay better hydrated in winter/snow than other times. I don't do well in snow, warmth-wise, so I work hard to minimize my weight and keep myself safe.

Stephen Klassen
Nalgene bottle warmer on 03/12/2009 01:58:23 MDT Print View

For me, the PC and copolyester Nalgenes work, especially as a hot water bottle.

No matter how thick a bag I have, in long winter nights my metabolism drops so low for so long that the bag is no longer warm. I have used a -20 bag in a -2 hut and end up shivering early in the morning. The only warm winter nights I've slept were with a litre of boiling water in a PC Nalgene, insulated in a cozy.

I tried using the Nalgene bladder. It developed a leak at the seam. Soaked my thermarest. When I laid out the thermarest on a (looked to me) smooth rock it got dozens of pinprick punctures. After using my entire patch kit and my partner's, it still leaked. Fortunately that was 7 days into a 9 day traverse, so I only lost 2 nights sleep. I am unable to blame myself, so I have to blame the bladder.

I tried using the HDPE Nalgene - like others have said, it gets soft and squishy with boiling water in it, so I abandoned that.

I tried stainless steel water bottles, but they radiate the heat away way too fast, even with cozies. Way too warm when I first get in the bag, and cold by early morning when I need it the most.

For me, it's worth the weight.

Scott Ridgeway
(ScottFree) - F
Gatorade Bottle a No No on 03/12/2009 18:58:37 MDT Print View

I mentioned earlier that I tested a Gatorade bottle with boiling water and that it didn't leak. I just tested two others and they both leaked.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Nalgene Bottle... on 03/12/2009 23:31:59 MDT Print View


Edited by skopeo on 04/27/2015 15:14:54 MDT.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Boosting Warmth on 03/12/2009 23:45:32 MDT Print View

Interesting thread. I've heard of the hot water bottle method before but never was in such a dicy situation that I felt I needed to resort to it. However, I have the heat packets in case I need them, and I presume they'd accomplish the same thing on a cold winter's night.

Back in the day, one recommended way to warm cold feet was to sprinkle cayenne into one's socks, which served to dialate the capillaries and thus bring more warm blood to those cold little piggies. Another thing I've done is to add some cayenne to the hot cocoa nightcap before turning in; again, this will help dialate the capillaries. Also, stoking the ol' furnace by adding extra oil or butter (calories) to dinner will help one get through the night. Since I don't sleep well at high altitude, when I wake up in the middle of the night I always munch on some M&Ms and jerky, and this helps keep Jack Frost at bay 'till morn.

Dwight Mauk
(melnik) - M
Hot water in water bottles on 03/14/2009 20:24:15 MDT Print View

Be careful putting hot water in disposible water bottles. Most disposible water bottles are made of polyester, which is PET or PETE (or polyethylene taraphthalate) and has the #1 recycle number on the bottom. While PET is a semi-crystalling resin with a melt temp well above the boiling point of water, bottle resin is specially formulated to remain amorphose, and the amorphose resin has a glass transition temperature around 150-F. Which is to say it starts to "melt" at 150-F.

I believe the Nalgene bottles are polyethylene and polypropylene, both of which are semi-crystaline polymers with melt temps above the boiling point of water. However, even though they have melting points above the boiling point of water, they also contain an amorphose phase with a glass transition temp below the boiling point of water. It's the amorphose phase of the resin that gets soft when you pour boiling water in it, so while the bottle retains it shape because the crystaline phase doesn't melt, the bottle gets soft because the amorphose phase is well above its glass transition temperature. There are further complications with polymer chemistry and melt temperatures, because different types of additives and neucleators and crosslinking, etc.. can change the softing points of these resins, and I'm sure Nalgene has special formulations for their resins. I don't know that much about polyethylene, but I'd bet the clear polyethylene bottles are clear because they're amorphose, with no crystaline phase, and hence have a glass transition temperture well below the melt temperature of PE.

Fun with plastics....

Aaron Reichow

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: Hot water in water bottles on 08/16/2011 08:40:19 MDT Print View

Apologies for the necroposting, but thought I'd toss something more concrete into this thread.

Nalgene Materials

HDPE (non-transparent) -148 F to 248 F
Tritan (replaced polycarbonate) -40 F to 212 F

I've had boiling water in the the lighter HDPE bottles dozens of times. The do get more flexible when you've got boiling water in them, but that's normal.