Can You Put A CamelBak Bladder In The Freezer?

CamelBaks are great for keeping you hydrated but they aren’t get at keeping water cold. In summer I’m often sucking in lukewarm water on my hikes and while it’s still just as hydrating as cold water, it’s nowhere near as pleasant.

Just like how you freeze a water bottle overnight I was wondering if I could freeze my CamelBak bladder. Turns out you can and it’s safe to do it, but to do it properly took me a little bit of trial and error.

You can safely put a CamelBak bladder in the freeze as long as you don’t overfill it and allow room for the ice to expand. Ideally fill your bladder with half water and half air, making sure to leave the air in when freezing to make it easier to fill after it’s frozen.

The freezer is also a great place to store your empty CamelBak between uses to slow the growth of bacteria. Just make sure to detach the tube before freezing. Water trapped in the locking mechanism can cause damage as it expands. 

Freezing my CamelBak does seem to keep my water colder longer than ice cubes do because block ice lasts longer than ice cubes.

You just need to make sure you don’t overfill your CamelBak and cause it damage and make sure you leave air inside the bladder when freezing to make filling it with water easier.

Is It Okay To Freeze A CamelBak?

CamelBaks are freezer-safe, as long as you don’t overfill them. 

When water freezes, it expands pretty significantly. It’s the same reason you shouldn’t freeze some water bottles

But unlike water bottles, CamelBak reservoirs are soft with a bit of stretch. You’d have to fill the bladder almost to bursting before freezing to cause any serious harm.

Water expands approximately 9% when frozen so just make sure your bladder leaves some room for this expansion.

Freezing your CamelBak backpack is perfectly fine as well, but there’s no real benefit to doing so. Just thought I would say that as I know some people don’t like to take the bladder out and just refill in inside the backpack.

And lastly, just to be safe, I think it’s best to remove the tube from your bladder before freezing. Water trapped inside could damage the locking mechanism as it expands.

You can still freeze the tube and mouthpiece if you want, just disconnect both first. 

Pre-Freezing A CamelBak Will Help Keep Your Water Cold Longer

One of my favorite CamelBak hacks is to pre-freeze about a 1/2 full bladder on its side the night before using it. 

When you fill the bladder with water in the morning, it leaves a large, block of ice that will melt much slower than individual ice cubes. 

Depending on how how its going to be a 1/3 full might be better or you could even go all the way and fill up your CamelBak 80-90% full (allowing for the ice to expand) and then hit the trail with a completely solid block of ice that will melt over time.

While my CamelBak would keep water with ice cubes cold for four hours or so, a pre-frozen ice chunk often lasts six and sometimes up to eight hours or more, depending on the weather and how fast I drink my water.

Make Sure To Add Air To Your CamelBak Before Freezing

When I first froze my CamelBak bladder I filled it about 1/3-1/2 full of water and removed all the air from it as I thought this would be the safest option.

Safety was fine but what I found was the next day I had to run the opening under hot water just to be able to turn it and filling up my CamelBak bladder with water was nearly impossible because the water had completely molded and stuck to all sides of the bladder.

I had to slowly add water and wait for the ice to melt, bit by bit, until I could finally fill the entire bladder.

Later I realized the better solution is to fill my bladder half way with water but leave all the air in as well.

That way once the water freezes into one giant molded block you can still open the lid and you can still easily fill the rest of your bladder, making the preparation really easy. I do this religiously now as it’s so much easier than using ice cubes.

An extra tip to keep water cold longer in your CamelBak is to then fill it up with cold water from the fridge NOT room temperature water from the tap.

This will give you an extra hour or so of cold water throughout the day.

Storing A CamelBak In The Freezer Prevents Mold And Bacteria From Growing

This is a bit of a random tip but it turns out that storing your empty CamelBak reservoir in the freezer can help keep it more sanitary. 

As you may know, bacteria and mold grow and multiply in warm temperatures. CamelBak bladders are notoriously difficult to dry so they make the perfect breeding ground for mold.

However, in freezing temperatures, the mold essentially goes into hibernation (or at least grows at a much reduced rate).

By thoroughly washing your reservoir, air drying as best you can, and placing your dry, empty bladder in the freezer, it will remain nice and hygienic until its next use.

Another alternative is to fill up your bladder half full like we discussed and store it in the freezer with water in it. That way it’s full of ice and ready to go whenever you need it.

Freezing a dirty CamelBak isn’t helpful. The freezer won’t kill the bacteria. So make sure to wash your CamelBak

And remember, make sure you don’t freeze your CamelBak with the tube attached. Any moisture trapped in the tube port will expand and, if there’s enough, could damage the locking mechanism. 

Storing the tube in the freezer to keep it sanitary is fine, but ideally just disconnect it first.