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Winter Hydration

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Winter Hydration

Postby herdbull » Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:13 pm

So what's everyone using to take water with them on extended hikes in below freezing temps? By extended I would say 5-6+ hours. Quantity of water would be in the say 60oz-90oz range.

Hydration bladders run the risk of the mouthpiece and tube freezing up but they do keep the bladder closest to the body and somewhat protected by all the gear in the backpack. You could always blow the water back into the bladder each time emptying the tube but that seems like a big inconvenience. Water bottles can be used with insulated holders or insulated bottles themselves but are much smaller.

Any thoughts :?:

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Re: Winter Hydration

Postby schrund » Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:22 pm

I went with a BCA Alp 40 http://www.backcountryaccess.com/product/alp-40/. It stores the hose inside a zippered compartment inside the shoulder strap. I haven't had it freeze yet.
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Re: Winter Hydration

Postby TeamDino5280 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:28 pm

I usually do two 32Oz nalgenes with insulated sleeves and make sure they are wrapped with my other layers deep in my pack. I sometimes carry a stove on longer winter (or really cold) hikes so if needed I could melt snow. Or, I carry a thermos (on top of the two nalgenes) with hot tea. Another thing that works as a double whammy is to use Gatorade or other electrolyte drinks because it has a slightly lower freezing temperature than water and provides electrolytes. I never use a bladder in winter too much of a pain in the ass and unreliable.
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Re: Winter Hydration

Postby Dex » Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:41 pm

herdbull wrote:
You could always blow the water back into the bladder each time emptying the tube but that seems like a big inconvenience.



Really?

You are hiking for 5-6 hours in freezing temps and ...

I've never tried (I can handle the inconvenience of blowing back the liquid*) it but you could try putting a chemical had warmer in with the bladder. It would be an interesting experiment.

Gatorade might lower the freezing temp also.

http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/chem03/chem03228.htm

* The tube did freeze once - I had to take off the pack bend the tube to break up the ice and then blow it back into the bladder.
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Re: Winter Hydration

Postby nyker » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:02 pm

They do make insulated tubes for the hoses in camelbacks and similar bladders, which helps.

I would always have backup bottles with me in case the bladder leaked or froze.

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Re: Winter Hydration

Postby jaymz » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:15 pm

I recall someone at one point suggesting a tiny dash of vodka in your water - obviously not enough to affect your mental state, but enough to lower the freezing temp. Anyone ever try that, or was I being "punk'd"?

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Re: Winter Hydration

Postby Dex » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:24 pm

nyker wrote:
They do make insulated tubes for the hoses in camelbacks and similar bladders, which helps.



I use that also, but when my tube froze I didn't have it.
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Re: Winter Hydration

Postby Dex » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:28 pm

jaymz wrote:I recall someone at one point suggesting a tiny dash of vodka in your water - obviously not enough to affect your mental state, but enough to lower the freezing temp. Anyone ever try that, or was I being "punk'd"?


http://cocktails.about.com/od/mixology/f/alcohol_freeze.htm

Interesting idea, but it could increase your risk of hypothermia.

http://www.uihealthcare.com/topics/medicaldepartments/pharmacy/alcoholandcold/index.html
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Re: Winter Hydration

Postby DaveSwink » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:54 pm

I have hiked several times with folks who insisted on using a bladder in temps below the 20s. Neoprene over hoses, hoses run through the pack strap, mouthpiece tucked into their jacket, blah, blah. The setup freezes everytime, they dehydrate, try to drink straight from the bladder and spill water on themselves instead, it's boring.

IMHO, bladders are just not worth the effort/risk below 20 degrees. Bottles in pack side pockets are almost as bad. I have not experienced more than marginal freezing in bottles stored inside my pack, and turning them upside down makes even that minor freezing unimportant.

I have had partners use the insulated bottle jackets with success, but I don't care for the extra weight unless it's necessary.

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Re: Winter Hydration

Postby nyker » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:09 pm

Dex wrote:
nyker wrote:
They do make insulated tubes for the hoses in camelbacks and similar bladders, which helps.



I use that also, but when my tube froze I didn't have it.


Hence my second comment: ;-)


nyker wrote:They do make insulated tubes for the hoses in camelbacks and similar bladders, which helps.

I would always have backup bottles with me in case the bladder leaked or froze.

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Re: Winter Hydration

Postby Johnson » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:39 pm

Tubes freeze. Done.
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Re: Winter Hydration

Postby RyGuy » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:59 pm

herdbull wrote:So what's everyone using to take water with them on extended hikes in below freezing temps? By extended I would say 5-6+ hours. Quantity of water would be in the say 60oz-90oz range.

Hydration bladders run the risk of the mouthpiece and tube freezing up but they do keep the bladder closest to the body and somewhat protected by all the gear in the backpack. You could always blow the water back into the bladder each time emptying the tube but that seems like a big inconvenience. Water bottles can be used with insulated holders or insulated bottles themselves but are much smaller.

Any thoughts :?:

I don't use bladders/tubes at all in winter. The biggest issue is the tube freezing of course. Even with insulation, it really isn't wise. I made that mistake once on Grizzly Peak D with a buddy and will never use a bladder in winter again. I have the insulated Camelbak tube, and also threw 4 hand warmers in my pack to help ensure the water stayed liquid. When we started hiking, it was before sunrise and the temps were about 20F. It was a nice day, but the temperatures were slowly dropping and the wind was picking up as a cold front moved in. We were good for about 1.5 hours but by the time we reached the summit, it was about 5F and high (45+ MPH) winds. My tube completely froze up and my only option for water was to detach the tube, and put it under my layers against my chest to thaw. Took about 30 minutes, but then the problem there is it then got my under layers wet as it thawed. I re-connected it and begin the return trip. The temps were still in the single digits and high winds. The tube froze this time after only about 30 minutes or so. I needed water, so I pulled the bladder out only to discover that the water in there was also starting to freeze. Due to the high winds, I pretty much couldn't drink much from the bladder, and ended up getting more of an ice apron instead. I decided to just book it back to Loveland Pass, but ended up without water for another 2 hours. I was pretty de-hydrated when I got back to the car, and by that time the bladder was mostly frozen.

So my solution to this was to use Nalgenes, and a combination of starting out with hot water and insulation to help keep it that way for the day. (The "insulation" also serves other needs as well to be efficient with weight)

To start, I have a 5x4' fleece blanket that I line my pack with. The blanket is doubled up to provide better insulation on the outside walls. It also doubles as insulation to go with my bivy sack in an emergency. With the pack now largely insulated, I boil all the water in my 3 nalgenes at the trailhead in my MSR Reactor stove. Takes only about 2-4 mins per Nalgene depending on temperatures outside. I always have a backup pair of Smartwool Heavy cushion mountaineering socks I carry with me and they just happen to fit over the Nalgenes perfectly, and provide good insulation against the cold. I then place the hot Nalgenes with sock insulation into the pack. I also pack the MSR stove itself so I can boil more water from snow if needed. The Nalgenes, Stove and blanket sit at the bottom of my pack, and then other gear can sit on top.

I've been using this method for 10-11 climbs now and it works great. I had one climb where the temps were about 10-15F most of the day. The water in one Nalgene was still "luke" warm after I got back to the car 7 hours later. It had just sat in the pack and wasn't needed. The other added benefit of having the Nalgenes keep your pack warm is you can toss bars, blox gels etc above them, and they won't be hard as a rock during the climb. No need to use your pockets to try and thaw them. I also have found it helps storing headlamp/SPOT/GPS/Cell phone near the Nalgenes since they all benefit from not being frozen as well.

-Ryan
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