Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Water Containers in The Alpine

For many people, the BPA scare over water bottles really started making people question how they carry water in the backcountry.  Of course there is the hydration bladder, however for many climbers who spend their time in the alpine, the chance of the hose freezing is just too risky.  I have seen many homemade versions of a hydration bladder which greatly minimize the chances of the hose and/or other components freezing, but at the end of the day, a bottle with an insulated carrier is the safest method of containing water.

A hydration bladder with insulated hose and cold weather valve guard.
My personal choice has very little to do with the potential health risks regarding BPA water bottles.  I choose my bottle based on functionality and weight - seeing as these are two primary concerns in the alpine.  Fortunately, my choice also has me protected health wise, seeing as Nalgene's Ultralight series has been BPA free from the beginning!  I choose the wide-mouth 32oz. ultralight bottle for a number of reasons.

First of all, when melting snow I want an easy target to pour water into the container without spilling it - so small mouthed bottles are out.  Second of all, I like to drink fast, so the wide mouth enables this.  I do however, use a "splash guard," which helps me not spill all over, and also makes pouring much easier.

A water bottle with a splash guard, to help with pouring and drip free drinking.
The material the ultralight bottle is made out of is definitely more pliable than the "unbreakable" Nalgene bottles that most people use.  I actually prefer the pliability of the ultralight bottle because it allows me to pack it easier, and it also seems to distribute heat better.  On those cold nights on Denali, I like to boil up water and pour it into the bottle, and then throw it into my sleeping bag.  For whatever reason, the "unbreakable" style of Nalgene's always seem to burn me, whereas the ultralight bottles seem to maintain just the right temperature.

Depending on the length of the climb, I will generally pack one to two 32 oz. bottles and one 16 oz. bottle.  The wide-mouth, ultralight 16 oz. bottle (with the lid strap) from Nalgene seems to be the hardest one to find in stores, but it is by far the most convenient in my eyes.  I really like to have a small bottle to put in the top lid of my pack, so I have quick access to water without greatly altering the weight distribution.  Additionally, this makes the best alpine thermos, when combined with a lightweight neoprene cozy.

The best alpine thermos combination, a 16 oz. bottle and a neoprene cozy.
At the end of the night, as I'm enjoying a hot drink out of my 16 oz. wide-mouth ultralight Nalgene bottle with it's neoprene sleeve, and there is a nice warm 32 oz. wide-mouth bottle with a splash guard in it at the bottom of my sleeping bag, I think to myself, "Man, I wonder if I put enough product placement in this blog - maybe they should pay me?"

I don't work for Nalgene, but this is just the system that works for me.  Please, feel free to share your hydration system in the alpine with us!

--Andrew Yasso
Program & Expedition Coordinator

1 comment:

balers said...

Galvanised steel is a commonly used material, and the least expensive option. Lightweight, easy to transport and adaptable to above or below ground installations, a steel tank’s drawback is its shorter lifespan due to corrosion. These tanks are often lined with polyethylene to ensure water quality.