If you’ve ever taken your CamelBak out for a hike or bike ride in the winter, you may have learned the hard way that the water in your tube and even in the reservoir itself can freeze – making it impossible for you to stay hydrated.
It can be extremely frustrating to try and thaw out a frozen CamelBak whilst still on the trail. It's better to be prepared and avoid it freezing in the first place.
There are a few simple things you can do to prevent your CamelBak from freezing in cold conditions, or at least slow it down significantly.
To prevent the water in your CamelBak bladder from freezing:
- Use an insulated tube and reservoir.
- Push the water out of your delivery tube between drinks.
- Take drinks more frequently.
- Wear your bladder under your jacket or coat so it’s closer to your body heat.
- Fill your bladder with room temperature or warm water.
If you’re relying on your CamelBak for hydration, the last thing you need is for it to freeze and become unusable. But as long as you know a few simple tricks to stop it from freezing, using your CamelBak in the winter is no problem.
1. Insulate Your Bladder and Drinking Tube
Insulation isn’t only great for keeping the water in your CamelBak cold for longer, it’s also very effective at preventing the water in your bladder from freezing in cold conditions by slowing heat transfer out of your tube and reservoir.
The water in the delivery tube is most prone to freezing because it has a lot of surface area and very little volume.
It’ll freeze long before the water in the reservoir itself. So the tube itself is the area you should first focus your attention to stop freezing from occuring.
If the tube itself freezes completely it can be extremely difficult to get it to thaw out while you're on the trail and without an external source of heat. You can use your body heat, but it's better to avoid it from freezing in the first place.
So, unless you’re out for a long time in pretty extreme conditions, it’s usually enough to only insulate the delivery tube.
While you can save a few bucks and insulate your tube yourself, picking up a CamelBak Thermal Control Kit is almost always going to be a more effective option.
Keep your water flowing freely even in the most harsh conditions. Features insulated tube plus a freeze-proof valve integrated cover to keep ice from forming in the bite valve.
The tube is covered from end to end with quality 10 mm closed cell foam and the mouthpiece comes equipped with an insulated bite valve cover. The quality is hard to match DIY.
If you’re out in more extreme conditions or will be out for more than a few hours, you may want to insulate the reservoir as well.
CamelBak makes insulated reservoirs that are really effective but, if you don’t want to shell out the cash, you can always insulate your own bladder.
You can get hydration pack insulators from Amazon which use neoprene (much like that used on wetsuits) to cover and insulate your CamelBak from freezer (or from hot temperatures too).
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.
Alternatively you can wrap your CamelBak in towels, sleeping bags or jackets to help protect them from the outside elements.
2. Push Liquid Out Of The Tube Between Drinks
Another approach to prevent the water in your delivery tube from freezing is to not leave any water in it that can freeze.
Simply blow the water from the tube back into the reservoir between drinks.
As long as the water in your reservoir doesn’t begin to freeze, you have nothing to worry about.
It isn’t my favorite method because I take pretty frequent sips and it gets a little annoying blowing the water out of the tube and having to pull it back through every time I take a drink.
That being said, it works really well for those who tend to wait a while between drinks.
But, if you’re anything like me, the next method may be your preferred option.
3. Take Drinks More Often
Taking sips more frequently from your bladder can also keep it from freezing, or at least from freezing so quickly.
The less time water has to sit in the tube, the less likely it is to freeze.
When you take a drink, you’re replacing the near frozen water in the tube with warmer water from the reservoir — effectively restarting the freezing process with each sip.
4. Keep Your Pack Closer To Your Body Heat
If you’re out for long enough or in cold enough weather for the water in your reservoir to also freeze, simply insulating it and managing the water in your tube may not be enough.
Luckily, you always have a pretty reliable source of heat with you.
The closer you keep the bladder to your body heat, the longer it’s going to take to freeze. In fact, if you keep it close enough to yourself, it’s unlikely to freeze at all unless you have much bigger things to worry about.
This method can also be used for the drinking tube. Rather than running the tube on the outside of your bag and clothing run it through the inside of your clothing instead so it's always near your body. This will mean the water in the tube is less exposed to the outside air and less likely to freeze.
If I’m out in really nasty conditions, I’ll often just strap my CamelBak on right over my base layer and throw my outerwear right over top.
5. Start With Warmer Water
The closer your water starts to freezing temperatures, the faster it will freeze. This is no a time to fill up your bladder with nice cold water from the fridge or to put your CamelBak in the freezer.
If you fill your bladder with ice cold water and head out into freezing conditions, it’s not going to take too long for your bladder to be a solid chunk of ice.
I’d recommend filling your reservoir with room temperature water for use in any below freezing temps and warm, or even hot (but never boiling) water, if it’s particularly nasty out.
If you don’t like drinking warm water, don’t worry. It won’t stay warm for too long.