Using a Hydration Bladder in the Winter

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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.
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.
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.