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Thread: Using a Hydration Bladder in the Winter

  1. #16
    Senior Member NH Tramper's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    North Conway, NH Avatar: Cannon Mtn.
    @yardsale: your point is certainly valid, anything can and will happen so you err on the side of caution. Nothing wrong with that. I carry backup because... well, you never know. I must say, though, I'm surprised that person didn't protect their spare clothes better with a plastic bag or dry bag. In case they fell in a river during a crossing, their hydration bladder burst, or whatever. I count on my pack to carry my gear, but I protect it separately.

    @KRobi: putting the bladder in a plastic bag... I like that. Clever.

    @Kevin: thanks for the link.
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  2. #17
    Senior Member Tim Seaver's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Aurora Boulderalis
    I still use a bladder most of the time in winter, which works pretty well down to about 20 degrees or so if you evacuate the tube. If it's colder, I just tuck the tube ( with valve closed) into the top of the hydration sleeve, next to my body heat. I have had less freezing issues than with bottles in general. Like a few of the other stories here - I took a major wipeout on a mountain bike across three sets of railroad tracks in the rain long ago, going about 30 mph, and was spared any injury to my back, protected by a 1/2 full bladder which took the brunt of the fall. Let's see your Nalgene bottle do that!
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  3. #18
    Senior Member Raven's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    NH Seacoast
    I don't carry my bladder in freezing conditions personally.

    I found it interesting on reading a trip report this past year, however that someone felt in serious dehydration trouble after having had their tube freeze. Apparently he didn't realize that the top comes off the bladder and one can drink from a bladder just like a bottle, maybe with a little more care so as not to spill. (It may have been troll report)

    However, I don't see why someone with a bladder would need emergency water anymore than someone with a bottle. A bladder is more inconvenient IMO due to the freezing tube issue but the water is still there to drink simply by unscrewing the cap....just like a bottle.

    And bladders would be better in winter than a small mouth bottle, as is probably obvious to anyone who's carried a small mouth bottle on a winter hike...that usually only happens once.
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  4. #19
    Senior Member Dave Bear's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    Brookline, NH Avatar:Ice Cave on Cascade Brook
    Most often hike solo with my pup so the bladder/bottle police don't have any effect on what I carry! I find that I stay better hydrated and make better time using the bladder because I do not have to stop to drink and its very handy to me. I have learned independently many of the tricks Tramper has shared and since I tend to run hot even when moving somewhat slow I rarely have freeze ups just by blowing back through the line and tucking it in my shirt. I also keep the line next to my neck and it has insulation. If I crouch down to water my dog the the pressure on the bladder helps expel the water into my hand as he drinks from my hand not the hose. It also helps me carry and ample supply that does not need to be changed out. In single digits and lower I do use the bottle and cozy with spare water in the backpack. I carry the cozy on my chest strap where it is nearly accessible as the bladder hose and have gotten use to it being there. I do not like the constant scenario of having to drop the pack to reach for water which results for me even if its in a side pouch. The only time I have problems with the bottle freezing is if I mistakenly judge by my body temperature that it is warm enough to carry my bottle rightside up instead of up side down. This was the case out on Little River Sunday after a night out and the bottle got a thin layer of ice in the top that I had to punch a hole through. I do find it easier to keep the hydration bladder protected from freezing while camping because the bottles are less comfortable to sleep next to. Its a very rare occurence that I don't have a thermos or at least a smaller bottle that could serve as a back up and during crossover weather I will sometimes carry an empty bottle. Regarding gear failures, I have killed smaller camelback bladders during other seasons but never had a problem with the insulated three litre going on four years! Everything has pros and cons as well as conditions of better functionality! If you're in constant flex of evolving your style and methods with an open mind you will usually fair better than those under a governing body!
    Last edited by Dave Bear; 02-14-2013 at 07:16 AM.
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  5. #20
    Senior Member Sunshine Chris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Webster, NH
    Quote Originally Posted by tom rankin View Post
    i kind of reverse the process in the summer, cold water in the first bottle, and for the last bottle, freeze half of it and add water before the hike starts.
    great idea, i love it. Thanks
    A walk through the forest, a hike to a summit, a meander along the brooks: Communing with the natural world helps me find an inner peace that soothes my soul.
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  6. #21
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    CT Refugee now in NH
    Here is my experience.

    I used a insulated Camelback.

    -The motion from walking can help prevent the water from freezing.
    -The tube will freeze if you dont blow any water back into the resevoir.
    -If you load it with hot water (to extend the time until freezing occurs) the hose will get soft and fall off the nipple at the bottom of the bladder. Water will flood the insulation, and you probably wont find out until you are thirsty.
    -Once water in the bladder freezes in the field you have to boil water (for sterilization) and pour it into the resevoir. Refer to the above effect.
    -Even if you only need to refill a bladder which is not frozen, hot water will loosen that hose. So you have to spend more time letting the water cool before you put it in the resevoir.

    Bottles will also freeze. If you carry them upside down, the cap area will freeze last, making it easier to melt ice in the bottle.

  7. #22
    Senior Member Ed'n Lauky's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    Blairsville GA ......... Avatar-- On top of Starr King Mt.
    I always use a bladder when the temps are above freezing. I tried it in the winter but inevitably I would forget at some point to blow back on the tube and it would freeze. I have a good sized strap that I've attached to an insulated Nalgene sack and I carry the whole thing over my shoulder. That way I can reach for it and drink even while walking. I only have to stop when the bottle is empty and I need to change bottles.
    I used to look at my dog and think 'If you were a little smarter you could tell me what your were thinking', and he'd look at me like he was saying 'If you were a little smarter I wouldn't have to'. Fred Jungclaus

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  8. #23
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    New Hampshire
    Hmm. I have had the tube come off the nipple. I don't recall if I used hot water or not -- this was while XC skiing 15 years ago, or so. My Nalgene solution is to

    - Put the Nalgene in a cozy
    - Clip a 'biner through the cozy's loop
    - Clip the 'biner around the shoulder strap.

    This causes the cozy+bottle to slide to the back of my hip, where the strap connects to the pack. For access, I slide it up the shoulder strap, remove, drink, replace, drop, where it falls back behind my hip. I can do this without breaking stride. I does require both hands, unlike the bladder, to unscrew the bottle cap.

    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

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