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Winter Water Bottle Insulation Hack: Neoprene Camera Lens Holder

Winter Water Bottle Insulation Hack: Neoprene Lens Cover

Insulated winter water bottle holders capable of holding 32 oz wide mouth bottles are in very short supply this year. The best-insulated carriers from Forty Below, Mountainsmith, and Outdoor Research are either sold out or back-ordered due to supply chain delays.

Here’s an alternative product, the XL Powerextra Neoprene Camera Lens Holder, that makes an excellent insulated winter water bottle carrier. This was suggested to me by a SectionHiker reader and it is an excellent hack, one that vies in quality and effectiveness with the above-mentioned insulated carriers that are specifically designed for the task. It’s also less expensive than those other insulated water bottle options.

Specs at a Glance

  • Material: 8 mm neoprene (waterproof, insulating)
  • XL Size dimensions: 9.64″ x 3.74″
  • Cap: Yes
  • Hip Belt Webbing: Yes
The Powerextra Neoprene Lens Case (XL) can fit a 32-oz wide mouth Nalgene bottle
The Powerextra Neoprene Lens Case (XL) can fit a 32-oz wide-mouth Nalgene bottle.

The Powerextra Camera Lens Holder can only be ordered in a 4-pack that contains lens holders in several sizes. The largest of these (the XL) is the one that’s compatible with wide-mouth Nalgene bottles. It also has all of the attributes that make a good insulated winter water bottle holder.

  • Insulated cap
  • Two zipper sliders with large zipper pulls
  • Webbing strap that you can slide over your hip belt

The XL lens holder can securely hold a 32 oz wide mouth Nalgene bottle (the milk white one), which is what I recommend using for carrying hot water for drinking on winter hikes. If you fill these bottles with boiling hot water in the morning when you wake up before your hike, they’ll cool off enough to be drinkable later in the day using the short term/long term water transport methodology I describe in Winter Water Bottle Insulation and Hydration: A Simple Approach.

The Lens Holder has a webbing strap sewn along one side.
The Lens Holder has a webbing strap sewn along one side.

Neoprene Camera Lens Holder

If you search the internet for insulated water bottle holders, you’ll find many that are open at the top and don’t have an insulated cap. They’re intended to keep drinks cool, not as hot as possible. You really want an insulated bottle holder with a cap for complete insulation.

The Powerextra Lens Holder has an insulated cap made with the same 8mm Neoprene as the rest of the holder. The cap is sewn on securely, so the lens holder is all one piece. It closes with two zipper sliders, not one, so if you break one, you have a fallback. Not having a zipper is preferable because it’s more durable (See: Why Zippers Fail) but the Neoprene Bottle Insulators from 40 Below that close with velcro are unavailable this year or in short supply and this is a good alternative.

The webbing strap is long enough that you can slide the Len Holder into your hip belt.
The webbing strap is long enough that you can slide the Len Holder into your hip belt.

The Powerextra Camera Lens Holder also has a webbing strap sewn along one side. It is long enough that you can slide it over your hip belt and hip belt pocket, or use a carabinier, or some other attachment scheme to attach it to your hipbelt. Alternatively, you can slide it into a side water bottle pocket on your backpack and carry it that way. I prefer carrying my insulated bottle holder on the back of my hipbelt (as shown above), out of the way, but you should experiment with what feels right for you.

While this is an unconventional use of a Powerextra Camera Lens Holder for insulating a winter water bottle, it’s a neat hack if you can’t find another insulated bottle holder this year or simply want to pay less for one. I have no idea what you’ll do with the other three lens holders that come in the 4-pack that includes the XL size shown above, but I’m sure you’ll think of something!

Disclosure: The author owns this product.

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  1. I made a simple one out of a sheet of closed cell foam and duct tape — the cheap stuff that comes as packing material sometimes.

  2. Great idea Philip! I’m a nature photographer, so this made me laugh a bit, but also realize I never thought of this myself, even though I have warmers for my lenses to keep them safe.

    As mentioned by Alex above, would closed cell foam from an old sleeping pad work as well as neoprene? I have some of that blue, cheapo pad sitting in my closet. Would tape up nicely with some gorrila tape.

    This will be the first year I try to store my water outside my jacket for winter use. Always a bit of a pain keeping water in there so it doesn’t freeze. Although the 1L smartwater bottles do fit nicely into internal pockets of fleeces and shells due to the shape.

  3. Maxpedition sells a couple of these insulated water bottle parkas and they come in two sizes: 12×5 and 10×4. The smaller of the two fits a 1 qt. Nalgene bottle well, and it comes with a pocket of the front. Only draw back is you will need to add “tac-ties” to make a hip belt loop.

  4. How about using wool socks for insulation. Works for my Smart Water bottle.

  5. I’m imagining that this would help a hot nalgene to last through the night in a sleeping back too. I already get from 11pm-3am or longer with a nalgene – perhaps this will give me an extra hour or two? Now what to do with the extra sizes…

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