You need to insulate your water bottles in winter or your drinking water will freeze. The best way to do this is with a neoprene overcover that you can open without taking off your gloves. The overcover and bottle can be attached to the outside of your backpack for easy access or stored inside, where it will stay warmer for far longer.
There are 3 things wrong with most winter water bottle insulation systems today.
- You need to take off your mittens or gloves to unzip the water bottle insulation sleeve.
- You need to stop and take your insulated water bottle out of your pack because you can’t reach it while you’re moving.
- You need to take off your mittens or gloves to unscrew the Nalgene bottles that most people use in winter.
If you are mountaineering or winter hiking there are a lot of times when you don’t want to take off your mittens or gloves due to extreme cold or wind chill. Stopping to get a water bottle out of your pack is also inconvenient because you get cold when you stop moving. But, If you have to stop to get your water bottle out of your pack every time you need a drink, you probably won’t drink often enough and you can become rapidly dehydrated. The fact is, that continuous hydration, at a rate of 1 liter (quart) every two hours or 4 oz every 15 minutes, is required during winter sports such as mountaineering, snowshoeing, or winter hiking since your body loses moisture much faster in cold weather.
But don’t despair. Joel Attaway, at Forty Below has designed a water bottle parka system that overcomes all of these design issues. Forty Below is a small cottage industry manufacturer, well known within the mountaineering community for ultralight climbing equipment that is designed to protect you in extremely cold weather conditions.
Forty Below sells a closed cell foam water bottle parka called a Bottle Boot that uses a velcro closure system instead of zippers and can be hung from your backpack hip belt for easy access. I’ve used them for several years on winter hiking and mountaineering trips and never had to stop moving or take off my gloves when I needed a drink. At $19.95 each (1 L size), they can accommodate Nalgene or other 32 oz. bottles, and only weigh 3.8 oz. each.
Hunersdorf Expedition cold weather water bottles fit nicely into the Bottle Boots (see photo). If you’re into mountaineering, a lot of professional guides require that you bring Hunnersdorf bottles on expeditions instead of Nalgene bottles because they’re less likely to crack in extremely cold weather. They’re also easier to open while wearing heavy mittens or gloves and at $9.00 each, they’re an inexpensive luxury. Weight wise, Hunersdorf bottles are also a lot lighter than wide mouth 32 oz. Nalgenes with loop tops, weighing 4.4 oz compared to 6.2 oz. That might not seem like a big weight difference, but you’re going to probably need 3 bottles for most trips and there’s no reason for you to carry more weight in winter than you have to.
If you’re into mountaineering or winter hiking, I encourage you to visit the Forty Below web site and check out Joel’s other products. His overboots, vapor barrier vest, and brewing products (yes, that’s right), are all state of the art and worth checking out if you want a winter warmer (can you spot the pun?), or a warmer winter.
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