Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Ice, ice baby - winter water storage

 

Staying hydrated in winter is just as important as staying hydrated in summer. Staying hydrated keeps warm blood pumping around your body. In winter it's just harder to do, it's cold, your fingers are numb and either your hydration-bladder tube has frozen solid or you can't be bothered to dig that bottle out of your pack where you've stashed it to keep it from freezing.

In the summer I use Platypus bottles. Ridiculously light, pack down to nothing and are perfectly tough enough unless you kick them around the campsite like a football. Unfortunately in winter their narrow openings freeze up quicker than my ageing laptop trying to run two programs at once. In winter I switch to a Nalgene Wide Mouth Soft Cantene (48oz/1.5l 50g) for water storage. Like a Platypus bottle it rolls up to nothing when empty and is tough enough to store water in my pack, next to my back where my body heat keeps it from freezing. Even when it's not in my pack the 'Wide Mouth' opening ensures that I can almost always get some water out of it, especially if I store it in my shelter upside down so any ice forming overnight forms in the bottom of it.

For drinking during the day I use a Nalgene Wide Mouth 500ml bottle. Left behind long ago by 'ultralighters' for 3-season kit these tough but relatively heavy (90g) little bottles are great during winter. I use the 500ml size as it enables me to keep it in a chest/A-line pocket of my soft-shell jackets. This keeps the bottle close to hand (so I actually use it) and close to my body, preventing freezing that can occur if you leave your drinking bottle in your pack pockets. When I empty it I simply fill it up from the Soft Cantene that's nestled in my pack. The bottle has a few other tricks up it's sleeve. It doubles nicely as a warm beverage mug in camp for trips where weight and space restrictions mean you have to leave your beloved anodised insulated mug at home. It can also be used as a hot-water bottle. Filled with hot water just before bed and nestled next to your femoral artery this little bottle will keep warm blood pumping down to your toes all night. And, if you need to answer the call of nature in the middle of the night and you don't want to leave your snuggly cocoon then the 'Wide Mouth' opening means it's easy to use as a pee bottle...

What!? It's 95% water and sterile!

9 comments:

mcalisterium said...

I never even realised Nalgene had squishy bottle on the market. Noted for future reference. I love my Platy, but those wide openings look ideal...

Titanium said...

I'm a big fan of keeping the pee bottle clearly marked (visually and tangibly) and separate, but hey... sometimes... well, you know.

And also, Nalgene components are dishwasher-safe. Refer to the first sentence.

kate said...

is a flask of hot orange too heavy? and don't you just eat a bit of crisp white snow, that's the true ultra lightweight way ;)

James Boulter said...

Pee bottle, aint that what a titanium pan is for?........

Joe said...

Fraser - I couldn't even fine the squishy bottle on Nalgene's website! It might be discontinued. Amazon and BPL have stocked them.

Titanium - Yes, I know. When it's minus-lots-of-degrees and you don't want to get out of your sleeping bag there is only one thing for it...

Kate - ahh, I often take a small (330ml) flask for hot chocolate/berry drinks on day trips. When backpacking and every ounce counts it's one of the casualties when I'm packing.

James - is using a titanium pan the true definition of having a tinkle?!

Hendrik M said...

Yeah, you're right - the small Platys do freeze up rather quickly in minus degrees, but I always manage to get water out of them. I then usually massage the bottle for a while =)

But I like you system and might change mine to a widemouth and a small Nalgene, the advantages are obvious and its more practical.

Joe said...

Hendrik - this is more of my winter KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!) principle. I find that the less stuff I have to worry about and the easier it is to handle then the more efficiently I use it. I hope the Nalgene Wide Mouth Soft Canteen is still available, I might have to buy another just in case!

Chris (i-cjw.com) said...

Ach, this might be a little more information than you need, but... my Wide Mouth Soft bottle sprang a leak. Or rather, my Wide Mouth bottle that I was using as a pee bottle, sprang a leak. Thankfully not a major one, but enough to put it out of action. Which is annoying, as it was the best pee bottle I've yet found...

Joe said...

Chris - No, it's good to hear other people's experiences. I use soft bottles with my eyes wide open to their considerable reduction in durability over hard plastic bottles. Their weight savings are what attract me. I think all lightweight gear is a compromise of weight and durability. Lighter gear needs more skill to mitigate it's deficiencies and when it comes to pee bottles, for me, that means putting them OUTSIDE the tent as soon as they're used!