When we moved to New Mexico we learned firsthand how important it is to stay hydrated and cool while hiking. Something we found to be helpful was keeping our water bottles cold throughout the hike. It’s just so much easier to drink enough when your water isn’t tepid and warm. In this article, we’ll go over the best ways we have found to keep water cold while hiking. Let’s jump in.
- Freezing a partially filled water bottle overnight can keep the water cold for a very long time.
- Investing in an insulated water bottle or thermos is an effective way to keep water cold (or warm for the winter).
- A high-quality water bladder offers a hands-free option for staying hydrated and keeping your water cool on hikes. Highly recommended!
- Wrapping your water bottle in a wet cloth can help cool it down with evaporative cooling.
- Utilizing natural shade, rivers, and lakes can help you stay cool during hikes.
Using an Insulated Bottle or Thermos
When it comes to keeping your water cold while hiking, using an insulated bottle or thermos is a nearly perfect solution. If you are going to be hiking often we recommend investing in a good insulated water bottle. The insulation that keeps water cold while hiking also keeps drinks hot in the winter,
- Temperature Regulation. Insulated bottles maintain the temperature of your water, keeping it nice and cold even in hot weather conditions.
- Extended Cooling Time. With their insulation, these containers keep your water cold for extended periods. This ensures you have chilled water (or whatever you’re drinking) throughout your hike.
- Durability. Insulated bottles and thermoses are usually made from high-quality materials. This makes them more durable and suitable for rugged outdoor use than many water bottles.
- Condensation Control. One of the biggest advantages of using an insulated bottle is that it prevents condensation from forming on the outside. This keeps your backpack and other gear dry and keeps your hands cleaner.
- Use When Not Hiking A good insulated bottle or thermos can be used every day all year long. We use ours all the time, hiking or not.
- Added Weight. Insulated bottles and thermoses are heavier than regular water bottles. If you are trying to keep your gear as light as possible this might be a problem.
- Limited Water Capacity. Insulated bottles hold less water for their size due to the insulation layer. So to have enough water you will need to carry a larger bottle. To offset this we carry a frozen bottle in our pack to refill our insulated bottle as we hike.
AEXPF 40 oz Insulated Water Bottle, Stainless Steel Vacuum Sports Bottle with 3 Lids, Durable Leakproof Metal Thermos, BPA-free Flask Jug with Strap for Gym Camping, Indigo Black Gradient
Trebo Water Bottle 64oz with Paracord Handle, Half Gallon Food-grade Double Wall Vacuum Stainless Steel Insulated Jug with Straw Spout Handle Lids, Leakproof Keep Cold & Hot, Ombre: Indigo/Black
Investing in a High-Quality Hydration Pack With Insulated Bladder
When it comes to staying hydrated on hikes, investing in a high-quality hydration pack is a wise choice. It ensures you have a sufficient water supply, it keeps your water cold, and it keeps your hands free as you hike. You can either get an insulated pack or buy a bladder insulator. Both will keep your water cold for hours.
There are several benefits to using a high-quality hydration pack:
- Large water capacity. Hydration packs comfortably hold a significant amount of water. This allows you to stay hydrated for longer periods without the need for refills.
- Insulated reservoir sleeve. Hydration packs often come with insulated reservoir sleeves that help keep water cold. If they don’t you can buy an insulator bag to do the same thing.
- Hands-free hydration. With a hydration pack, you can sip water through the tube without having to stop or slow down your hiking pace.
- Convenient access and organization. A high-quality hydration pack is a suitable replacement for your regular hiking pack. They are comfortable to wear and have all the compartments and pockets you are used to.
- Comfort. The design of hydration packs distributes the weight of your water evenly, minimizing strain. You will be able to carry more water, more comfortably, with a hydration pack.
While hydration packs offer many advantages, it’s important to be aware of a few potential drawbacks:
- Requires proper cleaning and maintenance. You can’t just throw your hydration pack in the dishwasher after your hike like you would a water bottle. Hydration packs require regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent the growth of bacteria. This isn’t difficult but it does add some extra work.
- Initial cost investment. Compared to other methods hydration packs generally come with a higher upfront cost. This is starting to change as they get more popular. Our recommended pack below costs about the same as a high-quality thermos and offers more features and convenience.
Lunidry Insulated Hydration Pack Backpack with 3L BPA Free Leak-Proof Water Bladder, Keep Liquids Cool for Up to 5 Hours, Daypack for Hiking, Running, Cycling, Hunting, Climbing
Universal Water Bladder Insulator Bag for Osprey, Platypus and CamelBak Hydration Backpacks; 2-3L Hydration Bladder Insulation Sleeve - Interior/Exterior Mount, Hang Hole, Tube Ports
The Frozen Bottle Method
The frozen bottle method is a popular technique for keeping water cold while hiking. We almost always freeze a spare bottle to keep in our packs for the end of the hike. To do this take a partially filled water bottle and freeze it overnight before heading out on a hike. The frozen water serves as a natural ice pack, gradually melting throughout the day keeping the water cold.
- Extended cooling time. The frozen bottle method ensures that your water stays cold for a longer duration compared to ice cubes.
- No extra weight. Using frozen water eliminates the need to carry ice packs or bulky insulation, resulting in a lighter backpack.
- Limited water capacity. When water freezes it takes up about 9% more space. This means that you are carrying 9% less water than you would otherwise. This can be a drawback for longer hikes where you need a larger water supply.
- Potential bottle damage from freezing. When freezing the water expands inside the bottle which may lead to cracks or leaks in the container. It’s important to use proper freezing techniques to help prevent damage. (discussed in the next section)
Freezing Techniques to Prevent Bottle Damage
To prevent bottle damage when using the frozen bottle method, follow these freezing techniques:
- Leave space for expansion. Do not fill the water bottle to the brim. Leave about 20% of the bottle empty to allow for the expansion of the freezing water.
- Avoid turning the bottle upside down. Placing the bottle upright during freezing minimizes the pressure on the lid and reduces the risk of leaks.
- Check for damage before packing the water bottle. You don’t want to show up at the trailhead with no water and a soaking wet backpack.
Wrapping Your Water Bottle In A Wet Cloth
Wrapping a water bottle in a wet cloth is a simple and inexpensive DIY method to keep water cold while hiking. This method utilizes the natural process of evaporation to create a cooling effect. It’s cheap and simple and lasts as long as you have water to wet the cloth and the weather is warm.
The wet cloth method offers several benefits for hikers looking to keep their water cold on the trails:
- Evaporation Cooling. Air passing over the wet cloth causes the water to evaporate, absorbing heat and creating a cooling effect. Science!
- Extended Cooling. The wet cloth also insulates the water bottle, keeping it colder for a longer time than leaving it exposed to ambient temperature.
- Inexpensive and Accessible. This method requires only a cloth and water, making it a cost-effective solution. It can hardly get any easier than this.
While wrapping your water bottle in a wet cloth can be effective, there are a few drawbacks to consider:
- Periodic Re-Wetting. The wet cloth will dry out over time, requiring you to re-wet it to maintain the cooling effect. If you forget your water will get warm.
- Mess. For this method to work the water bottle and the wet rag need to be exposed to the air. As you can imagine having an exposed wet rag while hiking leads to wetness and mud. It’s a minor issue but something to be aware of.
How It Works
The wet cloth method works by utilizing evaporation to cool the water bottle. When the cloth is wet, the water on its surface evaporates as warmer air passes over it. This process absorbs heat from the water bottle, lowering its temperature and cooling the water inside.
The Importance of Staying Hydrated and Cool on Hikes
We can’t talk about keeping your water cold on hikes without taking the opportunity to talk about hot weather safety. We’re parents, it’s how we work. Dehydration and heat-related injuries pose significant risks when hiking in hot weather. By understanding the symptoms of dehydration and heat-related injuries you can take the appropriate steps to avoid a medical emergency. Also never forget to bring a well-stocked hiking first aid kit every time you go hiking.
Recognizing Dehydration Symptoms
While hiking, stay alert to the signs of dehydration. Common symptoms are excessive thirst, dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, and dark-colored urine. These symptoms indicate that our bodies are not receiving enough fluids. If you see any of these signs take immediate action by resting and hydrating. If the symptoms don’t go away after a short while use some electrolyte powder from your hiking first aid kit.
Understanding Heat-Related Injuries
Heat-related injuries, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, can be life-threatening if not quickly treated. Common symptoms are nausea, headache, confusion, rapid heartbeat, and even loss of consciousness. You can reduce the chances of a heat-related injury by staying hydrated and keeping your body cool. Please watch the video below to learn more.
The Connection Between Hydration and Body Temperature Regulation
Hydration plays a critical role in regulating our body temperature. This is why hydration is critical during physical activities like hiking. This helps our bodies maintain a stable internal temperature through sweating. Proper hydration also enables our bodies to function optimally, ensuring that we have the energy and stamina to withstand challenging hiking conditions.
By understanding the importance of staying hydrated and cool on hikes, recognizing the symptoms of dehydration, and comprehending the connection between hydration and body temperature regulation, we can prioritize our well-being on the trails. Remember to bring an adequate supply of water, utilize the methods discussed in this article to keep water cold, and take regular breaks to rest and hydrate. With these strategies in place, we can embark on our hiking adventures with confidence, remaining safe, comfortable, and fully immersed in the beauty of nature.
Before You Go …
Now you know several effective ways to keep water cold while hiking and you understand the dangers of heat-related injuries. Before you leave we would like to recommend checking out our guide on picking the right foods to take hiking. We think it would be interesting and helpful for you. Have a wonderful day and we will see you on the trails!
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By Summer and Bill
Summer and Bill are the dynamic duo behind Adventureite.com, a blog dedicated to inspiring others to explore the great outdoors. With a combined lifetime of experience traveling and adventuring across America, they have a wealth of knowledge to share. From hiking to camping, kayaking to travel, Summer and Bill are passionate about helping others discover the beauty of the natural world.