Can You Put Boiling Water In A CamelBak Bladder?

When winter rolls around that CamelBak bladder starts to look like the perfect size and shape for a hot water bottle to either keep you warm in your sleeping bag at night or to keep your body warm on a cold trail.

Or, if you're like me and don't clean your bladder often enough, you may want to use boiling water in your CamelBak as a way to sterilize it and kill any potential mold that may be growing in there.

But can CamelBak bladders handle boiling water or are they going to melt and break?

CamelBak bladders are made from TPU and can handle boiling water without melting. However, boiling water can potentially damage the watertight seal, particularly at the tube port. Newer CamelBaks with tube release buttons are particularly prone to damage from heat. 

For this reason it's generally not recommend that you put boiling water in your CamelBak or sterilize it in a pot of boiling water.

Even though CamelBak bladders can’t be used with boiling water, they handle warm or somewhat hot water with no problem. If you want to drink hot coffee or tea from your hydration pack, let it cool to a somewhat drinkable temperature before pouring it into your bladder and you’ll be fine.

Can You Use A CamelBak Bladder As A Hot Water Bottle?

One of the common reasons people want to put boiling water in their CamelBak is for use as a hot water bottle or some sort of heat pack – either or the trail or at home for sore muscles.

It makes sense, it's malleable and a similar size and shape to a regular hot water bottle.

Using a CamelBak as a hot water bottle to keep you warm can work but it generally isn't the best idea.

For it to work well, it needs to start at a very high temperature and the last thing you want is for it to leak scalding hot water on you while you sleep. 

The thin plastic also offers almost no insulation at all so you can easily burn yourself through the plastic unless you wrap it in some sort of cloth to insulate yourself from the extreme heat.

If I was to use a CamelBak as a hot water bottle I would either use a CamelBak bladder I wasn't really using anymore (so if it breaks it doesn't matter) or I would boil water, wait for it to cool for a bit and then fill up the bladder with hot (but not boiling water) and insulate with some sort of cover.

A better solution for a hot water bottle on the trail is a stainless steel Nalgene bottle (or even a plastic one). Nalgene bottles are great for use as hot water bottles and are thicker and more durable than the CamelBak bladders.

The stainless steel bottles are ideal for the trail though as you can actually place them on the fire to boil (and sterilize) water for drinking. So you can heat up your hot water bottle wherever you are.

Just make sure to also insulate the bottle with a cover otherwise it could easily burn your skin.

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Can You Sterilize A CamelBak Bladder With Boiling Water?

Boiling water is a great way to sterilize the water and kill any harmful bugs of bacteria in there, making it safe to drink out of.

It can also be used to sterilize bottles and hydration packs too. However, can you use boiling water to sterilize your CamelBak?

While theoretically it should be ok to sterilize your CamelBak in a pot of boiling water the high temperatures could warp some of the gaskets and lead to leakage issues. It's better to use vinegar, bleach or some other form of chemical disinfectant (like Milton sterilizing tablets) as a way to remove mold from your CamelBak bladder.

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Can You Put Hot Tea, Coffee or Other Drinks In A CamelBak?

While boiling water can lead to warping and leakage issues it should be perfectly fine to use your CamelBak bladder with hot (drinkable) water for things like tea or coffee.

Tea and coffee are often drunk around or under 65ºC/150ºF which is well below the temperature rating for the TPU that CamelBak bladders are made from.

However, CamelBak advises against this mainly due to the fact that you will be drinking the hot beverage through a straw, which makes it hard to gauge the temperature or your drink and can lead to you burning your mouth rather easily.

There's also the fact that the thin plastic means heat radiates out of your CamelBak bladder pretty quickly so your coffee or tea will get cold quick unless you insulate it in some way.

There are a variety of ways to do this and I've outlined them in my article on how to keep drinks cold longer in your CamelBak bladder. The same principles apply to hot drinks as they do for cold drinks.

I (Personally) Wouldn't Drink Hot Drinks From A CamelBak Bladder

After the issues with BPA leaching into water from plastic bottles I am personally very careful about drinking hot beverages from anything made of plastic.

CamelBak bladders are made from TPU (a type of polyurethane) and they are BPA and BPS free. However, hot temperatures, and boiling water especially, massively accelerate the leaching of chemicals from plastic into your water or drinks.

While the idea of warm coffee straight from my CamelBak bladder on a cold winters hike sounds absolutely divine – the changes of some unknown chemicals leaching into my drink deters me from doing it.

For me it's better safe than sorry.

Also some people say that when you put hot water in your CamelBak it increases the plasticky taste you get from the bladder. So this would ruin the taste of my coffee anyway.

You *Might* Have No Issues Putting Boiling Water In Your CamelBak

CamelBak bladders are made from TPU plastic (thermoplastic polyurethane) which has a heat rating up to around 120ºC/248ºF which is higher than the temperature of boiling water.

This means your CamelBak bladder is unlikely to melt with boiling water.

From my own experience and what I could find from other the seals that connect the fill lid and the drinking pout to the main bladder also seem to be fine with boiling water and don't have any issues.

So if you do decide to go ahead and do this then you may not have any issues at all.

User JR Redding stated in this forum:

I've put right off the boil water in my Camelbaks without issue. The bite valve though was a quick connect Platy valve I think.

However, it's important to note that this was written in 2008 and in 2011 CamelBak made changes to their bladder adding the easy release tube.

Some people say the easy release tube is the most likely thing to be damaged by boiling water and this could cause leakage issues.

Why You Shouldn’t Put Boiling Water In A CamelBak Bladder

While it would be super convenient if you could fill your CamelBak with boiling water, and technically the materials can withstand the heat of boiling water, it’s still not recommended.

You risk damaging your reservoir and potentially burning yourself. 

You May Damage The Bladder

A CamelBak’s bladder won’t necessarily melt if you fill it with boiling water, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be damaged. 

The seal around the tube port is most vulnerable, especially on newer reservoirs with a quick release button. 

The mechanism that holds the tube in place and prevents leaking has a very small gasket that is prone to being warped by heat. You may not notice any leaking immediately, but it doesn’t take much to compromise your bladder’s watertight seal. 

User _Neoshade_ says this on Reddit:

You can melt the seal where the hose connects and it might taste funny.

User BitterSourpuss said this on Reddit about their experience using boiling water in a CamelBak:

I ruined a non-camelbak bladder by doing this. Platypus maybe? It started leaking where the tube connects to the bladder. The water warped a part of the seal I imagine.

You Might Burn Yourself

Even if you don’t mind risking damage to your bladder, putting boiling water in a CamelBak is unsafe anyway. 

For starters, the walls of the reservoir are very thin and offer little no protection from the intense heat. It’s going to be difficult to return your bladder to its pack safely. 

Even if you’re careful, drinking hot liquid from a straw is never a good idea.

Because you’re unable to judge the temperature of the drink until it’s already in your mouth, you’re much more likely to burn yourself. 

Making matters worse, the liquid in the tube will cool off pretty quickly, so rapid changes in temperature can sneak up on you as fresh liquid is pulled from the (still too hot) reservoir. 

What You Can Do Instead

If you still want to use your CamelBak for a hot drink, you can just wait for it to cool off a bit first — ideally until it reaches a comfortable drinking temperature. 

This way you eliminate the possibility of damaging your reservoir (CamelBaks can easily handle warm or slightly hot water) and burning yourself (either as you handle the bladder or take sips through the valve). 

It’s still best to avoid using a CamelBak as a hot water bottle. For it to work well, the water needs to start at a higher temperature than is safe to put in your reservoir, and the chance of boiling water leaking out and burning you is much higher than with an airtight bottle.

I’d recommend using a Nalgene instead. 

Plastic Free
Nalgene Stainless Steel Water Bottle (38 oz)
$34.99

Made from single wall surgical grade 316 (18/10) stainless steel and featuring the same size threads as the regular Nalgene widemouth this is the perfect bottle for those wanting the lifetime warranty and durability of a Nalgene without the plastic.

Comes with a rope pack loop lid attachment.

Buy Now at Amazon
03/03/2024 04:32 am GMT