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How to Keep your Water Bottles from Freezing in Winter

One of my readers aked me how to prevent her water bottles from freezing while she was camping above treeline on Mt. Rainier.

96 oz. BPA free Nalgene Canteen - Big Mouth
96 oz. BPA free Nalgene Canteen – Big Mouth

If you’re in a harsh environment like this, there are a few ways you can prevent your water from freezing at night.

  1. If there’s snow, bury your full water bottle or bladders in it. Snow is an excellent insulator, and it will prevent your water from freezing overnight. I got this tip from Allen & Mike’s Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book: Traveling & Camping Skills for a Winter Environment. It’s an incredible winter camping guide.
  2. Sleep with your water bottle in your sleeping bag.
  3. Use water bottles or water bladders with a very wide mouth, like BPA-free Nalgene Canteens. These are available in a variety of sizes, like the 96 oz. version shown here. The wide mouth inhibits freezing at the top and freezing of the threads, so you can open the bladder to take a drink.
  4. Turn your water bottles or bladders upside down. This will prevent them from freezing around the top, especially during the day when you’re hiking.


  1. When you know your water is going to freeze, consider a fire/heat tolerant container. Metal “canteens” or water bottles can be put pretty close to a hot fire or camp stove and be thawed. Nalgene has a place too. While not as capable of “sitting practically *in* the fire”, if you carefully fill a Nalgene with preheated HOT water and are confident with it being threaded properly, some will bring it as a welcome warmth in the cold sleeping bag.

  2. I have neoprene river socks that I bring if, God forbid, I have to cross unfrozen water with my boots off.. For this purpose I have added additional insoles for cushioning but I remove them and slip my smart water bottle in during the night. The insulation helps keep them from freezing. With the extra insoles they weigh about 6 oz for the pair. Another use is as makeshift mittens if your gloves become frozen.

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