View Full Version : Hiking bladder freezing

12-27-2011, 01:56 PM
I bought a camelbak bladder for my hiking pack this summer and also got the tube that allows you to bend it in the directions you want and has a little insulation. With how good this tube kept things cool in the summer, I was hoping it would keep things from freezing in the winter. I have found out I was wrong. On the Hancocks the tube froze and I thawed it out in my jacket. After that, blowing air back into the tube kept if from freezing back up. Later in the week on Waumbek, it was frozen within a mile even with trying to blow air back into the tube after noticing some slush. On Monadnock a couple days later it froze most of the way up after a long period of no use while at the top. I had to struggle just to get a little liquid through.

Has anyone else had better luck with theirs, or do they have a tube that works better? I don't really want to have to use warm liquids while hiking just to keep drinking and I like the ergo bend on the valve. Camelbak has another tube I think with insulation, but it doesn't look any thicker than what I have. Any ideas?

12-27-2011, 04:43 PM
Bladders are generally not recommended for winter hiking. Some formal leaders (AMC) will not allow you on their trips with them. I've had mind freeze while XC skiing, even with insulation. I had another hiker with me once have his freeze. That said, I know at least one person (a grid hiker no less) that manages to use it. Not sure he does so on all days and in all conditions, but I have seen it in action in winter more than one time. Typically, one takes Nalgenes in a bottle insulator.


12-27-2011, 08:44 PM
I was hopoing it would work, but it seems to have its limitations. Both days it worked for the most part were pretty cold and quite windy. The day it didn't work well at all it was just cold (never got above 9 degrees). I had bottles of gatorade in my pack that were fine (like I always do) luckily. Normally I just intend to use those to fill the bladder though. I might try once or twice more to see if I can find something that makes it last longer. Just nice having the option to take lots of small drinks and not have to stop to get out a bottle.

12-28-2011, 09:59 AM
See also:

http://forum.hike-nh.com/viewtopic.php?t=1538 where I include a photo of the Nalgene+cozy in action - very easy to grab, drink, return while walking (Not, I admit, as easy as the hydration bladder + tube.)


http://forum.hike-nh.com/viewtopic.php?t=3530 (Rocket21 is the grid hiker I mentioned above - he uses a Platypus with better luck than the Camelbak)


12-28-2011, 03:53 PM
It's funny I came across this post, as I've been trying to create something to keep mine from freezing as well. I find that in the winter I do not drink or eat enough when hiking, as I don't want to stop, or don't stop for very long to keep from getting too cold. I just hate to take anyhting out of my pack when I'm cold : ( My tube freezes up and then I just don't drink (except when taking a real break which isn't very often). I've been considering making some kind of 'cover' or wrap for my tube, from old fleece and wool socks. Might sound silly, but if it helps even a little it would be nice. Especially since I don't plan on giving up winter hiking anytime soon! Not sure if it'll work, but I can't drink only hot chocolate with Bailey's in it!

Bill O
01-19-2012, 07:44 PM
Assuming the temps are well below freezing I would steer clear of bladders in the winter. They are just too hard to manage and keep from freezing.

Good old fashioned large mouth nalgenes are the way to go.

01-20-2012, 08:38 AM
I decided to give my bladder one last shot in cold temps this last weekend taking more care to keep from leaving fluid in the tube. When I left the trailhead to go up Zealand Rd to Mt. Hale, the temp was -9. When I first went to take a drink I was at the start of the trail up the mountain and the tube was very stiff even though I hadn't had any fluid in it yet. I took a drink and was surprised when fluid came through fine. I blew air back into the tube when done and even opened the mouth piece up some to get that last bit out of the bend (only piece without some insulation). Very shortly after that, I went for another sip, and all froze up. I guess I will only try it when it is close to freezing or above. Glad I had a couple bottles of gatorade in my pack like always as a back up. Yesterday I bought a couple insulated bottle holders and will be using those the rest of the winter I guess.

02-08-2012, 03:24 PM
I keep my water bladder insulated, but I find that the hose is better left uninsulated. When it freezes it will then thaw faster. I keep the bladder on my chest (where is is nice and steamy ) and I also keep the tube stuffed down my sweatshirt/shirt against my skin or just outside my innermost thin layer.

I keep the tube clear by purging the water back to the bladder as mentioned above, but ice will still form on the tube like artheriosclerosis. Keeping the tube in my shirt or stuffing the frozen bits into my armpit or chest area melts it rather quickly. I have taken a full hose that was solid and melted in less than 1/2 hour using the described method. This all seems like a bit of hassle, but I find it much more comfortable to sleep and hike with a bladder than a bulky Nalgene.

This all seems to work around 0 and a little below...I tend to avoid much colder than that so results may vary......

02-13-2012, 09:11 PM
I find that aged old scotch works best

JK... but bladder has to many moving parts for winter... think simple thick bottle with wide mouth