How to Keep Water from Freezing while Winter Camping & Hiking

We may receive commissions when you buy through links on our site.

Imagine you set out for winter camping or hiking on a snowy winter. You have taken a sufficient amount of water with you to drink whenever you’re thirsty. After hiking for miles in the snow, you get really thirsty and you take out your water bladder to have some water.

But then, alas! You discover the water you carried with you is all frozen. There is no running water source even in distant miles away. Moreover, you feel too tired and thirsty to continue your journey without having some water. What an awful nightmare! Isn’t it?

You definitely don’t want to ever face such a frightful situation in your life. Therefore, it is very important for you to take all necessary preparations and measures required to prevent such mishaps before setting out for hiking or camping in winter

So, we’re here to help you know how to keep your water from freezing while winter camping and hiking. Take a glance!


Problems You Face with Water while Winter Camping

There are several problems that one might face with the water they carry with themselves during winter camping or hiking due to the impact of extremely freezing weather. Some of the most common and usual problems are as follows:

  • The water inside your bottle freezes.
  • The water might reach the cap thread or mouth of the bottle and freeze it completely making it too difficult or impossible to open.
  • The water will get too cold to drink as if it is stabbing your throat while drinking.
  • Because of all these issues along with the difficulty in opening the water bottle with gloves on you won’t drink enough water and get easily dehydrated, especially more while hiking.


tips for keeping water from freezing


Tips to Keep Water from Freezing While Winter Camping

If you’re planning to go camping next winter, try to follow the following to prevent the water you’ll be carrying from freezing.


1. Boil Water During Dinner

One of the most common fears of finding the water you brought frozen is in the morning after you wake up from sleep. As the temperature goes down at night, the water eventually gets frozen as the night advances. 

Hence, a good option to save your water from freezing at night is boiling them or heating them up during dinner so that they don’t completely freeze in the extreme weather.

However, make sure you don’t boil all the water bottles you’re carrying, save some in case you feel thirsty before going to sleep. Also, be careful, don’t drink boiling water before it cools down. Don’t burn your tongue.


2. Keep the Water inside Your Tent

This is a must if you want your water to be insulated. Avoid keeping the water bottles outside as much as possible. Even if you sit with your campmates in front of your tent to pass some time and enjoy the cold weather, don’t take your water bottle with you. Keep them inside the tent and have water from the tent every time you feel thirsty.


3. Keep the Water Bottle Inside Your Sleeping Bag

One of the best ideas to keep your water from freezing at night is placing it inside your sleeping bag near your body. Think about it. Why do you use your sleeping bag? To keep your body warm and insulated at night, isn’t it? 

Thus, if you keep the water bottle inside your sleeping bag it will keep it warm and insulated as well. Moreover, your bodily heat will further keep the water bottle warmer.


4. Use Bottles with Wider Mouth

Bottles with wider mouths resist the water in the top of the bottle freeze. Bottle with a narrower mouth freezes quickly. Moreover, it also keeps the water threads from freezing for which you can continuously drink water without the fear of having water frozen. 

Besides, it is easier to fill the water bottles with a wider mouth with boiling water rather than the ones with narrower mouths which has the potential to cause accidents if you try to fill them up without a funnel.


5. Bury the Water Bottle

Did you know snow is a good insulator? Well, it is. And so, burying your water bottle in the ground is a great option. If you think the snow will freeze the water bottle, that’s not true. It will rather keep it insulated. However, it is better to bury the extra water bottles that you need to preserve for the camping and won’t be drinking immediately.

Because digging the ground every time you need to drink water isn’t really convenient. Also, please remember to mark the places you bury the water bottles. Don’t lose them. It is even better to bury them in an open floor inside the tent if there’s any. It will keep them more insulated, protected, and easy to track later.


6. Cover it with Snow

If covering the water bottle with snow feels like a hassle, then another easier alternative to it can be covering it with snow and keeping it inside the tent. This will help as well. But you might fear what happens if the snow melts away. Well, if the temperature is water-freezing, why would the snow melt?



Tips to Keep Water from Freezing While Winter Hiking

There are many ways of keeping your water from freezing while winter camping. But in the case of hiking, there are only a few methods. This is because you will be in a continuous movement rather than being static at one place. Below listed are the best tricks and options to keep your water from freezing during winter hiking.


1. Heat-up the Water Before Setting Off

You might not need to boil it, but it is better to heat up the water at least enough to be drinkable before setting off. Hence, it will last longer without freezing. Moreover, you can also boil some water for later use. But just make sure you don’t drink the boiled water mistakenly before it gets cooler and burns your tongue.


2. Keep the Water Bottle or Bladder in the Backpack

You might want to keep the water bottle hanging outside the backpack or the side pocket of the backpack since it makes it easily accessible while hiking, but that’s not a wise option in winter. Because this will cause your water bottle to freeze easily and quickly. Thus, it is better to preserve it inside the backpack rather than outside.  


3. Carry the Water Bottle or Bladder Close to Your Body

Keeping the water bottle or bladder close to your body is always a good option in case of both winter camping and hiking. Because the water collects your body heat and remains insulated. A smart idea for it can be keeping the water bottle or bladder inside the inward pocket of your winter jacket.


4. Turn the Water Bottle Lid Side Down

This might sound weird at first, but if you think a little deeper you will realize that if you keep the water bottle’s lid side down, then the water inside the bottle receives less exposure to the cold air. The upper portion of the water bottle will remain warmer. But make sure the lid is closed tightly so you don’t spill the water and ruin your other hiking essentials.


Things You Must Do to Keep Water Warmer in Both Winter Camping and Hiking

The two things mentioned below are something both winter campers and hikers should definitely have with them to keep the water they’re carrying with themselves insulated.


  • Use Insulated Bottle: Insulated water bottles are the ultimate choice of most professional hikers and campers. These are very useful and effective for both summer and winter camping. They have better protection of the liquid inside against the outer atmosphere. Therefore, it is a must for winter camping and hiking.


  •  Use Bottle Insulators: Bottle insulators are an extra cover over the water bottle that is designed to keep the bottled water and insulated. They are made with different materials and fabrics that bear good insulation. Hence, even if you’re using an insulated bottle. To protect your water from extreme weather, it is better to use bottle insulators as well.


Water Bottle vs Water Bladder: Which is the Better Option for Winter Camping?

You might be a fan of water bladders because of their convenience of drinking quickly without the need of opening the water bottle. But the harsh truth is water bladder is not really a wise option for winter camping and hiking. 

You might wonder, why are we saying this whereas water bottles have the risk of getting stuck due to freezing for which it might not be able to open but there are no such risks for water bladder.

But what about the water deposited in the pipe or hose of the bladder getting frozen for which you won’t be able to drink at all? Not only that, the water in the bladder gets more exposure to the cold air outside than the bottles because of the hose used for drinking which is very hard to prevent from freezing.

You will have to keep drinking water every short while to make sure the water in the bladder has a good movement and doesn’t store in the hose. That’s a lot of hassle which you don’t face even half using a water bottle. 

Moreover, drinking water again and again without being thirsty will cause you to have more of nature’s call interrupting your journey. Besides that, it is also difficult to fill up the water bladder with boiling water from such a small hose without burning yourself. 

Hence, by now it should be clear to you that the better option among water bottles and water bladders for winter camping or hiking is water bottles. Especially, the insulated thermos ones because of it being less troublesome to maintain and preventing more the impact of the outer environment.


Best Water Bottle Options for Winter Camping and Hiking

Let’s have a quick look at some of the best water bottle options for winter camping and hiking.

water bottle in winter

Nalgene Bottles

One of the best water bottle options for winter camping or hiking is Nalgene bottles. They have wider mouths and are very easy to clean and maintain in winter. However, there have been cases where the Nalgene bottle cracked while winter hiking due to the tension between the outer weather and the water inside.

Therefore, it is better to use Nalgene bottles with high-density polyethylene to prevent such mishaps. They also comparatively weigh lighter than other Nalgene bottles.


Hunersdorf Bottles

Hundersdorf water bottles by Liberty Mountain, also called Relags bottle, is one of the highly recommended water bottles by professional mountain hikers and climbers. Unlike Nalgene bottles, they don’t have a piece of plastic that connects the lid to the bottle.

Hence, they’re easy to unscrew and open with gloves on. Moreover, they are also easy to clean in wintertime.


Insulated Thermoses

Insulated thermos flasks are the most popular travel water bottles. They are most popular because of being able to keep water or other drinks like tea or coffee hot in any weather with extra protection from the outer environment. 

But they are not always preferred by winter hikers and backpackers because of being too heavy. Apart from that, most insulated thermos flasks are also a bit of a hassle to open with gloves on.

But if you’re willing to ignore these downfalls, go for insulated thermoses with wider mouths, flip-top, and a carabiner hook attached to it for easy and safer placement in the backpack or your jacket. Some of the best options are as follows:

  • Thermos Direct Drink Flask
  • Thermos insulated bottle
  • Zojirushi insulated bottle
  • Clean Canteen insulated wide
  • CamelBak Forge Insulated
  • Hydro Flash insulated wide mouth


Wine Botas (Wineskin Bota Bags)

Wine Botas is a pretty good option for winter camping and hiking. They are very lightweight and easy to handle and store. You can easily carry them under your jacket without feeling uncomfortable because they are thin. 

Also, because of the material they’re built with, they don’t absorb much cold but more heat. However, never use cheap Wine Botas as they easily leak.


Worst Water Bottle Options for Winter Camping and Hiking

Below are two water bottle options that might sound like a great idea for winter camping or hiking but really aren’t. Here’s why.

PET Bottles: Pet bottles might seem like a great idea for winter hiking or camping since their performance is great for other seasons but they are not ideal for storing boiling water. 

They might insulate your water properly but still, you will not get warm water to drink as you’ll not be able to put boiling water before setting off in them. Hence, it’s better to not go for it.

 Non-Insulated Stainless-Steel Bottles: One of the advantages of using stainless steel water bottles is that you can heat them directly on fire to warm up the water. 

But the issue is that these bottles change their shape with the change of the weather. And thus, the lids of the bottles might get too loose causing leaks or too tight causing it to jam.


How to Select a Good Water Bottle Insulator?

If you haven’t got an insulator for your water bottle yet, make sure to get one before your journey. Keep the following qualities in mind before selecting the insulator.

  • Should insulate the bottle lids too.
  • Avoid insulators that need to be unzipped.
  • Choose an insulator with a carabiner clip.

One of the most preferable options for bottle insulators is Bottle Boot by Forty Below. It is easy to open as it uses Velcro instead of zippers. However, you can also go for a Hunersdorf bottle insulator though it doesn’t cover the bottle lid properly.


DIY Water Bottle Insulator Ideas

You know you don’t have to make extra expenditure buying a bottle insulator, you can just simply make one by yourself. This isn’t as tough as you think it would be. Here are ideas to make DIY water bottle insulators with.

  • Wool Sock
  • Mitten
  • Metal-Coated Bubble Wrap
  • Beer Cozies
  • Old Foam-Cell Sleeping Pad (Shaped)
  • Flexible Insulation + Duct + Velcro


keep water from freezing winter camping


Tips for Using Water Bladder During Winter Camping

If you’re firmly determined to use a water bladder ignoring its drawbacks, here are a few tips you must follow to prevent the troubles of freezing water.

  • Sip water every 5 mins to keep the water circulating, especially in harsh weather.
  • Blow the water back from the hose to keep it clear.
  • Try running the hose through your clothes or use a separate insulator for the hose to resist water freezing.
  • Don’t feel up the bladder completely as it might cause it to crack, rather keep some space for better water movement.


Final Words

Hopefully, the tips and tricks we suggested below will help you in the best way to prevent water from freezing while winter camping and hiking. It is a huge headache to figure out how to keep water from freezing while winter camping and hiking which keeps on bothering you the whole journey. 

But you need not worry since you know the tricks now. So, focus on your journey and have fun!