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Transporting water in cold weather- tips needed.
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Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
Transporting water in cold weather- tips needed. on 12/26/2012 09:11:22 MST Print View

Hi everyone,

I'm tweeking how to transport water in cold temps (down to -20), and I was hoping some of you could share some successful systems you have used?

Andrew Skurka just did a winter backpacking presentation here in Colorado and recommended the Nalgene wide mouth collapsible cantenes.

My goal is to move away from hard side Nalgene bottles....

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Transporting water in cold weather on 12/26/2012 09:31:51 MST Print View

How much water will you be transporting? A soft Nalgene with a wide mouth could be placed inside the pack next to your back, to prevent freezing. I would want at least one hard Nalgene 1-liter bottle, which are easier to jam upside down into a snow bank (to prevent freezing).

(Edit for spelling)

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 12/26/2012 09:32:50 MST.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
3 liters on 12/26/2012 09:42:59 MST Print View

Hey Gary, to answer your questions, I think I would carry at most 3 liters at any time. I need to be able to put boiling water into the containers too.

I've been reading about the MSR Dromlite series too as an alternative.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Water transport on 12/26/2012 10:39:24 MST Print View

Rascal, you might consider getting an MSR 2L Dromlite, and also take a 1L Lexan Nalgene. They both can handle temps down to -20* F, and the caps are interchangable. The nice thing about the Dromlites is that you can hang them, and the cap is at the bottom (water freezes from the top down). For above freezing, the spigot cap is a nice and easy way to dispense water into your pot. I wouldn't trust the soft Nalgene cantenes or Platys at temps below 0* F--they might get brittle. Likewise the Nalgene poly bottles--I had a couple get spiderweb cracks and then shatter when I was in Antarctica at -20* F.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
perfect Gary on 12/26/2012 10:45:53 MST Print View

After reading a bit, I think you have offered the perfect solution. Will try this MSR/Nalgene Lexan set-up this winter and report back!

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Nothing is perfect, but on 12/26/2012 10:51:29 MST Print View

Don't forget the fire starters and the Honey Jack. You go, girl!

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
another question.. on 12/26/2012 10:55:17 MST Print View

Gary, do you know how I can tell if a hard sided Nalgene bottle is a Lexan bottle? I have a couple of hard sided already, and I don't know how to determine what kind of plastic they are made of.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Nalgene on 12/26/2012 11:03:22 MST Print View

If you can squeeze it and it gives somewhat, it's poly. If you can't, it's Lexan. All of the colorful bottles at REI are Lexan, no matter who makes them. The gray ones are poly.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
thanks. on 12/26/2012 11:13:03 MST Print View

Okay. I actually have one solid colored poly and one clear colored Lexan. I appreciate the clarification.

Gotta log off now. Thanks for the help!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Transporting water in cold weather- tips needed. on 12/26/2012 13:18:15 MST Print View

Hi Raquel

We carry 2 or 3 fizzy 1.25 L rocket-base soft drink bottles against my back in my pack. They stay warm enough there that we can drink from them.


Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: Re: Transporting water in cold weather- tips needed. on 12/26/2012 14:40:20 MST Print View

How much do these electrolyte mixes lower the freezing point? (I'll admit to being lazy and hoping someone has already figured it out, as I'm a recovering engineer that has forgotten too much real science).

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Transporting water in cold weather- tips needed. on 12/26/2012 18:26:50 MST Print View

Have you went to wash your hands and found that you only had mixed stuff in you water bottle?

Edited with Doug's help.

Edited by ngatel on 12/26/2012 19:49:01 MST.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Transporting water in cold weather- tips needed. on 12/26/2012 18:37:33 MST Print View

Nick, turn the phone sideways, the letters will be bigger and you might find it easier to type..... ;-)

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Transporting water in cold weather- tips needed. on 12/26/2012 19:55:45 MST Print View

Doug -

Wow! What a neat trick. Sideways - who would have known? I'll be back home to my computer on Tuesday and the Internet world will be better. Getting ready for a trip.

BTW, did you notice that I was able to post some pictures with my iPhone today? Not bad for an old Fart.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Carrying water for below 0F. on 12/31/2012 13:39:18 MST Print View

Philip at does a lot of winter hikes in NH and likes these insulators and bottles:

In the NH White Mtns, which can get to colder than -20F, the standard is Nalgene bottles with the OR water bottle parka:
You can make your own with an old foam pad and duct tape, or put bottle in an old wool sock.

Fill a bottle with boiling water in the morning and put in a water bottle parka and it'll be cool at the end of the day at below 0F. Store it upside down and any ice will form on the bottle bottom.

In temps below 10F it's really easy to get dehydrated; you should be eating and drinking constantly. Make sure you have a water bottle where it's easy to reach.

A small thermos filled with hot chocolate is really nice to have.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Camelbak solution on 01/01/2013 14:07:15 MST Print View

Camelbak makes several newer packs that have the hydration bladder in a zippered compartment directly behind the padded back.

My Camelback "Commander" hunting pack also ceame with a heavy, black neoprene hose tube insulating cover. Putting a chemical handwarmer in the backside of the bladder down near the outlet keeps hose water warm(er)and helps prevent freezing at the mouthpiece IF I blow air back into the hose after each drink.

And finally and "Old School" solution:
Wearing a wine bota (with water!) on its sling under one's shell. I replaced the original strap with 3/4" webbing and 2 (two) QR Fastex buckles for fast removal W/O needing to remove my shell. Works amazingly well.

Mark Montag
Water at -20? on 01/02/2013 01:07:12 MST Print View

The one variable I'm not hearing is the duration of the -20. Are we talking -20* night time temp drop or -20* open alpine w/ windchill - day hike or overnight? They both have a different strategy.

When dealing with extreme cold and assuming all "water" is frozen, and that water ice or snow is available. Carrying more than (2-3) liters of water weight vs. the weight of carrying a stove set-up needs to be considered in relation to the duration, maybe coupled with the end of the duration conditions - going to a warm vehicle or tent sleeping in the -20*.

Gotta agree with the avoidance of the soft Nalgene - I've had micro-pin holes show up in new containers during warm weather and dealing with the mess that follows - haven't carried one since. The Dromedaries & thick Nalgenes are nice but way too heavy - I like Roger's "soft-drink" bottle choice - I use 1L "Smart-Water" due to the narrow vessel - they fit into side pockets, squeeze into packs and don't feel so large inside a sleeping bag while fending off -20*. I would rather have (2-3) 1L bottles vs. (1) 2L-3L bottle / container.