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  1. #1
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    Default Hot Water Bottle hack

    Have any three and four season backpackers or campers tried this hack on those chilly nights when you just can't seem to get warm enough to sleep?

    1. Heat water with your stove, it doesn't have to be boiling.
    2. Carefully put the water back into your Smartwater bottle or whatever you use (a small funnel helps) and replace the cap.
    3. Stuff the warm/hot water bottle into a dry sock, and fold the top over on itself.
    4. Snuggle and sleep.

    If you're ground camping, this can be done without getting out of your sleeping bag, just like making breakfast inside your tent or vestibule.

    Hammock hangers may have more logistical problems to solve, but it might be worth it if you're really chilled.

    It's nothing but a modern method of what Scouts, trappers, and even Grandma Gatewood used to do by taking flat rocks warmed by the fire and putting them under the duff and moss they used for a sleeping pad.
    Hiking is the best teacher, it grades on a curve.
    AT miles: 255.5 / Total miles: 905.27

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  2. #2
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Several threads on here talking about doing this, pros and cons. I've never had any water bottles leak, but it is a slight risk. It does make one nice and toasty.

  3. #3
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    This works great! Use a Nalgene stuffed in a wool sick for best results. I've used one near my feet and one on my chest during cold nights in the Whites while sleeping in a hammock. -36!

  4. #4
    Registered User Elaikases's Avatar
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    When hiking a little gear light in Virginia this spring with late snow flurries, I did this with my water before hiking and it worked great.

  5. #5
    Registered User LIhikers's Avatar
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    Not only does this keep you warm but it keeps your water from freezing too.

  6. #6
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    My wife did a guided hike in Mongolia once, and they had very rough weather, it was really difficult to keep warm while sleeping, even as she carried the best expedition-grade bag we own.
    Their guides teached them to use the hot water bottle trick as you described.
    But then they discovered the bodywork-trick (means, before heading to the bag do some 10-15 minutes of bodywork - no matter which kind of) and they loved this even more.
    Several times the guide/cook did the cooking by means of hot stones in the stew, and after cooking handed the still very warm (cleaned-up) stones to the tourists. Worked better than the hot water bottle.
    But be careful to not heat a stone over the stove - might explode.

  7. #7
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    Putting the water bottle in a ziplock bag is an easy backup if there is a leak.

    Folks don't realize that heating a bottle of hot water weighs a lot less than bring extra gear to cover unusually cold conditions. In very cold winter camping conditions, I heat two bottles, one to be used right of way and the other I put in an insulated water bottle carrier (that I use for winter hiking), when the first bottle cools down, I take the other one out of the bottle carrier.

  8. #8
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    Yeah, the last thing you need at your camp site is exploding rocks. River rocks are the most likely culprits.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo L. View Post
    My wife did a guided hike in Mongolia once, and they had very rough weather, it was really difficult to keep warm while sleeping, even as she carried the best expedition-grade bag we own.
    Their guides teached them to use the hot water bottle trick as you described.
    But then they discovered the bodywork-trick (means, before heading to the bag do some 10-15 minutes of bodywork - no matter which kind of) and they loved this even more.
    Several times the guide/cook did the cooking by means of hot stones in the stew, and after cooking handed the still very warm (cleaned-up) stones to the tourists. Worked better than the hot water bottle.
    But be careful to not heat a stone over the stove - might explode.
    Hiking is the best teacher, it grades on a curve.
    AT miles: 255.5 / Total miles: 905.27

    Author of "Hiking Into Trail Days"



  9. #9
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Putting the water bottle in a ziplock bag is an easy backup if there is a leak.

    Folks don't realize that heating a bottle of hot water weighs a lot less than bring extra gear to cover unusually cold conditions. In very cold winter camping conditions, I heat two bottles, one to be used right of way and the other I put in an insulated water bottle carrier (that I use for winter hiking), when the first bottle cools down, I take the other one out of the bottle carrier.
    Yeah, HW bottles are an absolute staple for cold weather camping, used by zillions of folks in the mountaineering community, I just plain don't see any objection if simple care is used to make sure the cap is on right and tight. If you really are nervous about leaks, do the zip-lock thing. I've been using UL Gatorade bottles for this for 12-15 years, even on 3-week mountaineering expeditions where consequences of a leak are dire, zero problems.

    On the AT, I saved weight for about 7-10 days when I swapped from my 20 degree bag to a 40 degree bag a bit early. I was just very careful about campsite selection and used a hot water bottle at night, and was fine in temps right around freezing. Really rough guess is that a HW bottle, sometimes 2, makes maybe a 10 degree difference in bag warmth.

    One key point: you don't want to "blow your wad" with the heat wise right off, that's why slipping the bottle into a sock works so great; it moderates the heat output, making the bottle last most of the night with some warmth, vs. very toasty right off, but cold in a few hours.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Yeah, HW bottles are an absolute staple for cold weather camping, used by zillions of folks in the mountaineering community, I just plain don't see any objection if simple care is used to make sure the cap is on right and tight. If you really are nervous about leaks, do the zip-lock thing. I've been using UL Gatorade bottles for this for 12-15 years, even on 3-week mountaineering expeditions where consequences of a leak are dire, zero problems.

    On the AT, I saved weight for about 7-10 days when I swapped from my 20 degree bag to a 40 degree bag a bit early. I was just very careful about campsite selection and used a hot water bottle at night, and was fine in temps right around freezing. Really rough guess is that a HW bottle, sometimes 2, makes maybe a 10 degree difference in bag warmth.

    One key point: you don't want to "blow your wad" with the heat wise right off, that's why slipping the bottle into a sock works so great; it moderates the heat output, making the bottle last most of the night with some warmth, vs. very toasty right off, but cold in a few hours.
    Good to know you've never had problems with Gatorade bottles with hot water....assume it's not boiling water?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    Good to know you've never had problems with Gatorade bottles with hot water....assume it's not boiling water?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Pure boiling water poured into a G-ade bottle will distort it, though I've found it still works just fine as a regular bottle this way, but it did make me nervous, and once the bottle was distorted, I no longer used it as a HW bottle. I now pour 4-6 ounces or so of cold water into the bottle first, then pour the hot water on top of that, and that process seems to keep the bottle from distorting.

    Another option some folks in my circle use is one of those polyethylene Nalgene's, much lighter than a regular lexan Nalgene, 3.5 ounces vs. 6.5. But I thoroughly trust my 1.6 ounce G-ade bottles, having used them this way so long.
    Last edited by colorado_rob; 12-06-2016 at 10:39.

  12. #12
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    Thx I'll give it a shot


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  13. #13

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    Double post
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 12-06-2016 at 11:17.

  14. #14

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    Wheres the hack?
    People been putting hot water in bottles as long as have had bottles

  15. #15

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    I use a nalgene, for its heavey duty superiority!

  16. #16
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    The clear plastic Nalgenes hold up to hot water a lot better than the milky white variety.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The clear plastic Nalgenes hold up to hot water a lot better than the milky white variety.
    Yup...that's the ticket!

  18. #18
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Hunersdorf water bottles.

  19. #19
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    I'd like to add one thing about placement. This may or may not be true but I learned somewhere that placing the water bottle between your legs, near your crotch area is the best way to benefit from this. Supposedly, by putting it there it's near your femoral artery and it heats the blood as it flows by there, and the blood flows throughout your body and makes you warmer. Like I said, I don't know how much difference it makes but that's where I've always placed it and it works for me.
    I may never get to thru hike but I'll never get through hiking.

  20. #20

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    If temps, expected lows in the 20's or slightly lower (using my 30 degree bag) I carry a 16oz Nalgene. 1/2 the size of their common and about half the weight.
    I too put between my legs at crotch area.
    Never considered using a sock.
    Use the water to make warm chocolate milk in the morning.

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