View Full Version : Water routine for all needs, without cold hands?

11-07-2013, 13:49
Have you found a good routine for collecting/treating/using/storing water, while avoiding freezing hands in cold temps?
How do you collect water without touching it and getting gloves wet?

I figure you need treated, and/or warm water for:
Drinking (treated and cold)
Washing hands for food prep (warm and treated; hand sanitizer is insufficient)
Washing pot (warm and treated)
Washing self (warm and treated, esp. for women; ideally cloth should not dirty re-supply)
laundry (warmish)
hot water bottle (hot)

Best I've thought of: collect water in a dirty bottle/bladder or with a pump (use partially-submerged ziplock to scoop?), treat by running through a filter into bladder/drom/bottle, fill pot from that supply, or with dirty water for boiling, decant some for washing into another container after boiling and before eating, use rest of boiled water for food, pouring off to avoid dirtying pot, heat extra treated water or boil more to wash pot if need be, then boil even more water for hot water bottle, and to wash self for bed?
Finally: How do you hang clothes to dry? in your vestibule (where)? What if they smell like food from dinner?
Thanks for any ideas!

Tipi Walter
11-07-2013, 14:09
There's cold and then there's cold. In most winter situations water gathering and storage is of no real concern. A pump filter comes in handy to gather water up from a tiny pool (esp now that we are in a mini Southeast drought). To help in silt clogging, the pump filter intake can be placed on a large dead leaf atop a small water pool and allowed to slowly sink to get water. Plus, a frozen pump filter can be stowed in the down jacket for 30 minutes to prepare for pumping.

In real cold, like -10F, water storage and retrieval can be a challenge. You want to avoid all bladders with hoses and stick to a single pot and a couple nalgenes and/or platypus bladders w/o the hoses/bite valves. In-shelter all-night water storage at -10F is usually a challenge but I've had good luck by wrapping my day's water in my down parka when I retire. I will never put a water bottle in a sleeping bag with me since, uh, the down cocoon must be kept dry at all costs.

Two options for severe cold---
** Fill your cooking pot with untreated water and let it sit by your tent overnight. In the morning it will be mostly frozen so you just set it on the pot and start cooking.
** Take a one gallon ziploc bag down to the spring and fill it untreated for in-camp use---either boil it directly, filter it or keep it overnight if possible. Pulling ice out of a ziploc isn't hard and the bag itself is disposable.

Cold fingers? They will come no matter what and yes the pot has to be cleaned on occasion.

11-07-2013, 14:22
This is one good reason to use a filter...you generally don't have to get your hands wet to use one.

11-07-2013, 15:46
I don't pump water and I don't get my hands wet when obtaining water unless I want to. If need be I take my gloves off to obtain water. I seek to take water from the uphill side of a trail as it's flowing downhill over rocks like at a waterfall(mini waterfall), at riffles, and rapids as often as possible. I try not taking slack, back eddy, or dank water(sometimes you have no choice though). I look for certain types of vegetation growing in the water as that can help get a clearer picture of the water quality. It depends on how cold it is and the water source. I obtain water routinely with a water bottle or clear sided Platypus. I've gotten very good at wearing gloves, obtaining water from these places, and not getting my hands wet. Colder it is the more concerned I'm about getting my hands and/or gloves wet. When on really cold winter hikes or very wet hikes I typically have WP glove/mitt shells that go over my main insulting gloves/mitts so it's really a non issue for me. Prefer transferring water from the opaque water bottle to the Platy looking at it inside the Platy. Lots of things are going on inside my head as to the quality of the water. Treat if I have one shred of concern about the water quality. I typically treat 10% or less of the time in the U.S. on hikes. http://www.backcountry.com/platypus-platy-plus-bottle-cas0448?CMP_SKU=CAS0448&MER=0406&CMP_ID=PLA_GOc001&mv_pc=r101&mr:trackingCode=03FA6850-1635-E011-9ACB-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA&mr:device=c&mr:adType=pla&mr:ad=35536722465&mr:keyword=&mr:match=&mr:filter=55454421585&mkwid=sRB2Rfp3H_dc|pcrid|35536722465&origin=pla&gclid=CN_U7-iy07oCFSNp7AodbhcAFg

11-07-2013, 15:59
I don't know of any great ways to completely keep your hands from getting wet without your gloves also getting wet. So I usually remove gloves to get water into my primary filtration medium. I don't usually hike when it's close to zero, generally 20s and 30s. That means that managing a filter is doable. If it's below 20 it is so much harder to keep hoses and filter mediums from freezing.

That said, I tend to use a scoop to fill my platypus gravity filter unless the water is coming out of a pipe or from a waterfall. If it's deep enough I can drag the bag through the water and fill it that way but that's the exception, not the rule. So that I don't get my gloves wet I usually remove them for this task. A quick trip in my armpits or against my belly then back into my gloves again.

I like Tipi's put water in the pot the night before suggestion. Makes it easy to just put on the fire in the morning. Keeping your drinking water for the day from freezing overnight is a big challenge. I heat water and put it in the platy before going to bed and then bring it into the tent with me (downhill from my bag). Usually there is enough warmth trapped by the tarp to keep the water from freezing solid. The mass of the water is big enough to also keep it from freezing much in the bag. Again, though, this is in the 20s not in the teens and lower. Then I don't really know unless you make a cozy for your platy and heat the water before going to bed. That or sleeping with it.

Another Kevin
11-07-2013, 17:46
(If I'm saying anything that disagrees with Tipi Walter, believe him and not me. He's forgotten more about winter travel in Appalachia than I will ever learn.)

Until it gets cold enough that I'm melting snow for water, the routine doesn't change much. I never bring my pump in really cold weather, that's asking for trouble. A frozen filter element is no longer trustworthy because it may well have accumulated a network of microscopic cracks that allow bacteria to pass through unhindered.

I carry one Nalgene which becomes my Thermos (with a Reflectix jacket), my litre measure for treating water (when I'm not melting snow, I use Aqua Mira), and a container for pouring. If I'm treating three litres at a go, I'll measure out the drops for two, transfer dirty water to my bladder, add the reacted drops, measure for a third litre and treat that in the Nalgene. My cookpot can be a dipper.

Washing hands: Hand sanitizer *is* usually enough for safety, but if I'm concerned about the grime, a quick squirt from the bladder gets them wet, wash with soap and another quick squirt rinses them.

Cooking: If I've boiled water, I've sterilized the water and pot adequately. Often I'll boil the spoon in the pot at the same time. I can be sketchy about dishwashing (certainly, I wash dishes in untreated water) if I am going to boil them before I use them again. Also, usually all that I need to wash is my spoon, since I eat most often out of freezer bags. I can afford a squirt of treated water to rinse it.

Washing self and laundry: There's nothing wrong with washing the body in untreated water - certainly, if the water is clean enough to swim in. And it's mostly the rinse water that makes a difference, because soap is an awfully effective disinfectant, too. Maybe the ladies will want to avoid getting untreated rinse water up their nether regions (being a gentleman, this is less of a concern for me), and none of us wants to get it in the eyes, but I imagine a squirt from a bladder would suffice for a lady to rinse the area in question, as it does me for face and hands. In cool weather, I may take the chill off the wash water by dashing a pot of boiling water into a half-bucket of cold. My routine is to soap up myself or my laundry from a little bit of water in my cookpot, rinse my body using a bandana in my larger bucket of water, and rinse my socks, briefs or T-shirt in the bucket once I'm done bathing. Since I'm a weekender and short-sectioner, I don't trouble to bathe or do laundry on the trail in the winter unless I have an explosion or something. The bath is more of a three-season routine.

Keeping water unfrozen: Hot water in the Nalgene, in a Reflectix cozy, is usually not frozen by morning, I've been known to wrap up my water bladder in my raingear and use the package as a pillow. That keeps enough body heat flowing into it for it not to freeze. And if water stored in your cookpot freezes, well, it's already in a good place to melt it again. Since I'm a weekender and short-sectioner, I'll occasionally sleep with a hot water bottle. I'm essentially never without a bailout option in winter. If (God forbid) something leaks into the down, I go home.

11-07-2013, 20:26
I use filter during summer with miox pen, winter miox or boil. I love the pen because ill just make that bleach cocktail which is good for everything (water treatment, medical emergencies, cleaning etc).

The new sawyer mini looks like a great product will fit in your jacket to prevent freezing. Just stick it in dirty bottle and use it like a straw.

I always keep changing my water routine, plus different terrain change everything up

11-07-2013, 23:26
We're getting in deep here about gloves but I have gloves that have WP or highly WR finger tips(one pr with just a WP pointer finger tip, good for pinking your nose) as well as Neoprene ones I'll use on some hikes although NEVER has it crossed my mind to opt for gloves or mittens based on not getting my fingers/hands wet when obtaining water. My glove collection matches my shoe collection. Batman, 007, The Men In Black, and Maxwell Smart have their toys. I have mine. :)

Just Bill
11-08-2013, 01:57
Take a one liter plastic water bottle, cut off the top. Even in the summer a dipper cup is handy to have regardless of your method of treatment. In the winter, use a hole puncher to punch two holes- make a handle with cord- no wet hands.

Melting snow is like making stew- you need a bit of broth to get it started. Make sure your pot is a bit bigger than normal and has at least a half inch of water in it, warm the water a bit over a stove or in the coals of your fire and feed in the snow until your soup is done. Bring a coffee filter if you are worried about particulate in your snow. Yellow snow should be brought to a full rolling boil for one minute.

Don't worry about washing your clothes for food odor- the bears are sleeping. If you find you stink a bit- just smoke your clothes and/or yourself by the fire.

A few drops of Doc Bronners peppermint and a cotton cloth make for a fine sponge bath to satisfy your neat freakiness.

Fire is your friend- it will warm you and all the water you need.

11-08-2013, 09:35
The answer is terrain dependent. I don't have a problem with wet hands where I camp, since there's seldom such a thing as surface water. I usually have to melt powder snow for water and like Just Bill mentions, some time and care is needed.

I heard a tip once about using disposable latex gloves over glove liners. I carried them for years and never used them. If you routinely find surface water where you winter camp, they may come in handy.

11-08-2013, 11:21
I used a nalgene bottle to gather most of my water. Lots of times I simply held it by the opened and attached lid allowing the bottle to dip into the water so my hand stayed dry.

Some/many of the hygiene issues you mentioned i didn't do often especially when very cold out. Using a jetboil however made hot or warm water available when I did desire it.

They also have solar showers, big bladders that are made to heat water by leaving it in the sun, and they do work if you have the sun, but wouldn't work for a thru, and I wouldn't expect anything actually 'hot' in the winter - warm maybe.

Wet laundry was dried either by wearing it, taking a long lunch while setting them out in the sun, or by attaching them to the back of my pack while I hike. It's a long damp process at times.

Another Kevin
11-08-2013, 12:22
Melting snow is like making stew- you need a bit of broth to get it started. Make sure your pot is a bit bigger than normal and has at least a half inch of water in it, warm the water a bit over a stove or in the coals of your fire and feed in the snow until your soup is done. Bring a coffee filter if you are worried about particulate in your snow. Yellow snow should be brought to a full rolling boil for one minute.

I always bring a coffee filter. If I can't have real coffee I'm Not Going.

It's generally not too difficult to find clean snow to melt, so Bill's remark about yellow snow is a joke, of course. :D A more important point is not to use pink snow (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/2013/07/09/wonderful-things-dont-eat-the-pink-snow/). It's violently laxative, and the algal toxin that makes it so is not denatured by brief boiling. Refilling from a stream of snowmelt (where there was pink snow above) once left me doubled over with cramps for a day and a half. Fortunately, I was indoors when the reaction started.

11-08-2013, 13:52
If you find you stink a bit- just smoke your clothes and/or yourself by the fire.

Fire is your friend- it will warm you and all the water you need.

Yes and Yes!!! Fire is huge in the winter. And smoke baths - I love them. Can't speak highly enough about them. Will they make you smell like roses? No, of course not. But they are warm and take the edge of the smell with a whole lot more comfort and less mess than the watery method. Of course, it does nothing for caked on mud. Then you have to grit your teeth and get out the bandana. Just be sure that it dries next to your fire before it freezes for the night. :D

11-20-2013, 09:31
This forum is grrrrreat!

Thanks so much for all the great ideas.

Guess in really cold weather, you can boil lots of water and just let it cool for various needs.

Shoulder season is the tough one.

But these tips will really help.

P.S. - I'm a coffee snob too, but I gotta say: Starbucks instant got it right.