how to keep your water supply from freezing in cold weather
When it's cold outside, you still need to drink water. In fact, it's easy to for dehydration to sneak up on you in wintry conditions—cold and altitude both blunt the body's natural thirst response, so you're more likely to forget to drink.
But even when you've packed plenty of water for your day in the backcountry, it's not always easy to drink it—especially if your drinking tube is frozen solid. We get lots of emails asking for tips on how to keep your water supply from freezing on snowy days. While we can't change the basic laws of nature—water WILL freeze in frigid temperatures—here are some ways to outsmart the cold:
- Start with warm water: The warmer your water supply, the longer it will take to freeze. Start off by filling up with hot (but not boiling) water instead of the cold stuff. Winter packs will usually have thicker materials and an insulated reservoir tube, which can help hold onto the heat.
- Keep it moving: Water freezes faster when it's sitting still, so try to keep things moving by sipping frequently (every five minutes or so). When you're done drinking, blow back into the drinking tube to clear water from the narrowest parts of the reservoir (like the bite valve and tube), which are usually the first to freeze. It can also help to carry a backup bottle with a wide mouth, since the larger opening won't ice up as quickly.
- Insulate, hydrate, repeat: Keep your water supply as close to your body as possible—if your pack is small, try zipping it under your jacket and routing the tube under your armpit instead of over your shoulder. On overnight trips, lock your bite valve shut and stow your reservoir at the bottom of your sleeping bag to keep it from freezing while you sleep.