7 Best Ways To Keep Water Cold Longer In A CamelBak

Nearly all modern CamelBaks have some built-in insulation in their packs, but in my experience, it’s not nearly enough to keep your water cold for long on its own. 

It’s especially bad on those hot summer days with the sun beating down on your back and your body heat so near the bladder. 

But is there anything you can do to keep your water cold for longer in a CamelBak?

The best way to keep your water cold for longer in a CamelBak is to add insulation — either by buying an insulated bladder, an insulating sleeve, or wrapping your bladder in DIY insulation. Using ice, filling with the coldest water possible, or pre-freezing a half-full reservoir can also make a big difference when combined with added insulation. 

Before I got my insulated reservoir, I wouldn’t use my CamelBak in the summer. Ice cold water is not negotiable for me when temperatures are pushing 100°. 

Now that I have one, and my water stays cold for the entire day, my CamelBak comes with me on almost every hike and bike ride. 

These are the seven best ways I’ve learned to help keep water cold for longer in a CamelBak. 

1. Add Ice Cubes

It probably goes without saying, but adding ice to your reservoir will help your water stay cold for much longer than cold water alone. 

Using as much ice as possible and using larger cubes will maximize the benefits of the ice.  

2. Pre-Freeze Water In Your Reservoir

Pre-freezing water in your bladder gives you a large, solid chunk of ice that will take much longer to melt than individual ice cubes.

  1. Fill your reservoir about ⅓ to ½ full with clean water (or up to ¾ full to let it melt into drinking water slowly as you go).
  2. Leave as much air in the bladder as possible, seal your reservoir, and stick it in the freezer with the fill-cap up.
  3. Freeze overnight. 
  4. In the morning, open your bladder and fill the rest of the way with drinking water. 

3. Start With Colder Water

The colder your water is when you set out, the longer it will stay cold. 

You can either fill your bladder with cold water right before leaving or fill it in advance and stick it in the fridge for a couple hours before you go or fill it with water from water bottles that have been kept in your fridge.

If you’re using ice cubes, be aware that pouring room temperature water over them will melt them part way and they won’t last nearly as long. So using water from the fridge will help your ice cubes to last longer and the water in your pack will stay colder for longer.

4. Use An Insulated Reservoir

An insulated reservoir is by far the best way to keep water cold for longer in a CamelBak. 

Compared to standard reservoirs that only keep water cold for a few hours, an insulated reservoir will keep it cold for most of the day.

You should still follow the other tips in this list (like using cold water and ice) but by insulating your bladder using an insulation sleeve you've going to get the maximum cold retention.

Best Insulated Hydration Pack
CamelBak UnBottle Insulated Hydration Crux Reservoir Set (3L)
$55.00 $40.73

Help the water in your CamelBak stay colder for longer or hot days, or stop it from freezing on cold days with this reservoir and insulated sleeve.

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03/07/2024 11:32 pm GMT

Make sure you get an insulated tube to go along with your bladder, for some reason not all insulated reservoirs come with one. 

CamelBak Hydration Pack Crux Insulated Tube

Keep your water cold on hot days or stop it from freezing on cold days with this insulated tube cover + tube. Backed by CamelBak's lifetime guarantee this is one of the best tube insulator you can buy.

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03/08/2024 12:52 am GMT

5. Get A Third Party Insulating Sleeve

If you don’t want to replace your entire reservoir, using a third party insulating sleeve with your current reservoir is the next best thing. 

While it won’t insulate quite as well as a reservoir with built-in insulation, the difference is pretty minor and some of these insulating sleeves are very high-quality and are even made locally in the USA.

Hydration Pack Covers/Bladder Insulators (Compatible with Camelbak)

Keep your water cool in the heat and help prevent freezing in the winter. Easy to install and made in the USA by a veteran owned business.

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03/08/2024 03:17 am GMT

If you already have a reservoir then buying an insulating sleeve to go over the top is going to be the most economical solution.

And don’t forget to insulate your tube as well, otherwise water that sits in it between sips will warm up pretty quickly. 

Hydration Pack Insulated Drink Tube Hose Cover Sleeve

Keep your drink tube insulated from the hot or cold with this drink tube cover. Fits over a bare drink tube up to 1/2" diameter and in felxible, durable and easy to install.

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03/07/2024 10:17 am GMT

6. Add DIY Insulation

If you don’t have an insulating sleeve, you can wrap your own insulation around your bladder before sticking it in your pack. 

Just be mindful that anything too bulky may not fit, there’s usually not a whole lot of extra space in CamelBak packs.

Fabrics like terry cloth, flannel, fleece, and wool provide the best insulation, but anything will help. I've read about some people cutting up old wetsuits and using the material to create their own insulation for their CamelBak bladders.

Using an extra layer on the back inside of your pack (where your back and bladder are closest) gives additional protection against your body heat. 

If I’m using one of my uninsulated bladders, I’ll often wrap it in a tea towel before tucking it into my pack. It gives an extra hour or two of cold water. 

Another great option is to simply tuck your CamelBak in your bag inside you sweater, jacket or any extra clothes you're taking with you on your hike. This will help to insulate it using just the gear you want to take with you and saving on weight.

7. Use Whiskey Stones Or Reusable Ice Sticks

If you drink anything other than water from your CamelBak and don’t want ice melt to water down your drink, you can use whiskey stones or reusable ice sticks instead. 

While they won’t stay cold as long as real ice cubes and they add extra weight that you're unable to drink, they’ll at least leave your drink tasting better all day and won't dilute it if you're drinking something other than water from your CamelBak bladder. 

Stainless Steel Ice Cubes - Whiskey Stones (16 Pack)

These reusable stainless steel ice cubes chill your drink without diluting it. They are made from food grade stainless steel that is 1mm thick with an interior of 35% glycerin + water which has a freezing point of -12ºC (10.4ºF) - keeping your drinks even colder than regular ice cubes.

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03/07/2024 01:22 pm GMT

Combine Insulation And Ice For The Best Results

The best way to keep the water in your CamelBak cold as long as possible is to combine insulation and ice. Neither will work nearly as well on their own. 

An insulated reservoir and a pre-frozen chunk of ice has always left me with ice cold water, even after a full day long hike.