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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 12-14-05, 02:30 PM   #1
SAB
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How to keep water from freezing

It's been quite cold here and so far I haven't figured out how to keep my water from freezing, even during relatively short rides. Forget regular water bottles - they freeze up in no time. This morning it was 15deg F and I tried a small camelback underneath my outer shell jacket. The water bladder was fine, but the drinking port and about half of the tube froze - and this was the "winterized" neoprene covered one! I had the tube tucked inside my jacket and just left the drinking port right outside my collar. Anyone try those Polar insulated water bottles? Any additives that can be placed in the water - like antifreeze (but non-toxic!)?
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Old 12-14-05, 02:42 PM   #2
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I've heard that blowing the water back out of the tube into the water bladder helps.
For containers try 2manybikes post in this thread
winter newbies
You can find them at target.

I still need to try these solutions.
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Old 12-14-05, 02:48 PM   #3
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some things to try:
fill water bottles the night before, room temp water takes a lot longer to freeze.

Insulated 16oz thermos that fits in cages.

1/2 liter nalgene bottles filled with warm water, placed upside down in the cages. For some quirk of physics, a water bottle freezes first at the top. By inverting a nalgene, the freezing doesn't initially affect the opening so you can still drink. You can drink on the fly with them, but its a two handed opening thing unless you're very dextrous.

Last ditch effort, if polar bottles or a camelbak don't keep it liquid, you'll just have to bring a stove and melt snow for water when needed!
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Old 12-14-05, 03:03 PM   #4
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Just remember,

DON'T EAT YELLOW SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 12-14-05, 03:16 PM   #5
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First of all, pure water will freeze quite quickly in cold temps. However, if you add Gatorade powder to the water, you will buy yourself some extra time.

Next, I use the Maxchill bottle: http://www.maxchill.com/ Yes, it is designed to keep your water cool ... and it works for that. But if you don't soak the Maxchill foam thing, it can also keep your water liquid in cold temps. It really works!! The cap can still freeze up a bit, but at least you should be able to open the bottle and drink right from the bottle.

Because I only have one of them, on my coldest ride this year I tried something that I should have thought of ages ago ... one of those "duh!!" moments. Before the UMCA 24-hour challenge last September, a friend of mine bought a package of inexpensive women's ankle socks, and a package of smallish, simple, wrapped elastic hair bands from Walgreens. He slid our bottles into socks, and put elastic hair bands around the socks at that indented part of the bottle ... to keep the socks up. Then he soaked the socks. It had basically the same effect as the Maxchill foam thing ... it kept the stuff in the bottles cool.

So I took that idea, and leaving the sock dry, headed out on a century this past November at -9C/14F. I had water in my Maxchill, and Gatorade in the socked bottle. Both remained sufficiently liquid for me to continue to drink the whole way around. They did ice up a bit after a couple hours, but not bad. And the simplicity of it all was almost astounding!!


All that said, when the temps get really cold you've pretty much got to resign yourself to the idea that your water is going to freeze. When the conditions are like that, I drink a couple cups of water before I leave, and then I ride loops so that I'm back home every hour or two, where I will drink another 2-3 cups of water or sports drink before heading out again. Or another option I've used is to plan the route so that I can stop at a convenience store for liquid every hour or two.
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Old 12-14-05, 03:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SAB
It's been quite cold here and so far I haven't figured out how to keep my water from freezing, even during relatively short rides. Forget regular water bottles - they freeze up in no time. This morning it was 15deg F and I tried a small camelback underneath my outer shell jacket. The water bladder was fine, but the drinking port and about half of the tube froze - and this was the "winterized" neoprene covered one! I had the tube tucked inside my jacket and just left the drinking port right outside my collar. Anyone try those Polar insulated water bottles? Any additives that can be placed in the water - like antifreeze (but non-toxic!)?
Antifreeze but non toxic = replace your water with your favorite mixture of Ethanol and enjoy...
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Old 12-14-05, 03:33 PM   #7
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What would happen if you duct-taped one of those chemical handwarmers to the outside of the bottle?
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Old 12-14-05, 03:42 PM   #8
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I keep my water bottles in jersey pockets under my jacket. I've ridden with bottles in single digit temps and never had one freeze up.

I also know guys who put their bottles in the cage upside down to stop the valves from freezing.
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Old 12-14-05, 04:22 PM   #9
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mix in a little number 7...
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 7.jpg (5.4 KB, 410 views)
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Old 12-14-05, 04:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikeInMN

I also know guys who put their bottles in the cage upside down to stop the valves from freezing.

Which doesn't happen to work, btw.
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Old 12-14-05, 04:47 PM   #11
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sugar and/or salt (=gatorade) make good anti-freeze. it won't stop freezing over long periods, though. alcohol would work, but the concentrations would have to be higher than you would like. the sugar and salt could crystalize in the tube of your camelback.
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Old 12-14-05, 06:09 PM   #12
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turning bottles upside down does buy extra time as a bottle freezes from the top first....I use straight nalgene 1/2 liters, because it's a more reliable opening when it does start to freeze.

its a trick while winter camping, you simply bury your water jugs upside down in the snow; the snow insulates the water, and it will freeze at the base of the bottle first. When you wake up, the neck of the bottle, being inverted, is still relatively ice free.


This is an arctic trick, and doesn't rely on ambient temp to work.

seriously first off, just try filling you water bottles the night before and leaving them out in the kitchen till the morning ride. Should work for average duration rides. Water is a very dense heat sink.
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Old 12-14-05, 07:59 PM   #13
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The easiest thing is to go to that thread posted by data junkie and look at the Stainless vacuum insulated bottles with a drink top like a bike bottle. They will keep your water from freezing all day long. Thermos sells them on line and they are at Target stores. You can get the push button flip top one for hot coffee, for your ride.
I just drank the coffee I had in my panniers for about 4 hours in 20 f temps on the bike. It was still nice and warm (not hot). When I post my snow ride pictures tonight there will pictures of the bottles on the bike.

After my four hour ride at 20f the water in my second bottle was just getting down to what might be about 45 ish. Still not quite as cold as the water in my refrigerator. The bottles were in the cages all the time.

Last edited by 2manybikes; 12-14-05 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 12-14-05, 08:02 PM   #14
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If you really need to put a bottle in a cage then get yourself one of those Ultimate bottles at a running/nordic store. They come with a flexible silicon nozzle. You can also get the fanny pack style holder for the bottle.... bottle included. I use it skiing and yeah, upside down. Water flowed for at least 1.5 hours.

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Old 12-14-05, 08:28 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka
First of all, pure water will freeze quite quickly in cold temps. However, if you add Gatorade powder to the water, you will buy yourself some extra time.

Next, I use the Maxchill bottle: http://www.maxchill.com/ Yes, it is designed to keep your water cool ... and it works for that. But if you don't soak the Maxchill foam thing, it can also keep your water liquid in cold temps. It really works!! The cap can still freeze up a bit, but at least you should be able to open the bottle and drink right from the bottle.

Because I only have one of them, on my coldest ride this year I tried something that I should have thought of ages ago ... one of those "duh!!" moments. Before the UMCA 24-hour challenge last September, a friend of mine bought a package of inexpensive women's ankle socks, and a package of smallish, simple, wrapped elastic hair bands from Walgreens. He slid our bottles into socks, and put elastic hair bands around the socks at that indented part of the bottle ... to keep the socks up. Then he soaked the socks. It had basically the same effect as the Maxchill foam thing ... it kept the stuff in the bottles cool.

So I took that idea, and leaving the sock dry, headed out on a century this past November at -9C/14F. I had water in my Maxchill, and Gatorade in the socked bottle. Both remained sufficiently liquid for me to continue to drink the whole way around. They did ice up a bit after a couple hours, but not bad. And the simplicity of it all was almost astounding!!


All that said, when the temps get really cold you've pretty much got to resign yourself to the idea that your water is going to freeze. When the conditions are like that, I drink a couple cups of water before I leave, and then I ride loops so that I'm back home every hour or two, where I will drink another 2-3 cups of water or sports drink before heading out again. Or another option I've used is to plan the route so that I can stop at a convenience store for liquid every hour or two.
If your going a few more hours without stopping use the stainless vacuum insulated bottles from Thermos, they have a top like a bike bottle. The water will not freeze for a very long time. With the sock over the bottles they will fit nicely in a cage.
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Old 12-16-05, 09:37 PM   #16
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I live in suburban New Jersey. You can't ride 20 feet in any direction without passing a convenience store, fast food place, starbucks etc. I never carry anything to drink with me, not even in summer. Why should I? In warm weather I can buy an ice cold drink, and in winter I can get something hot. Living in a high density area has its advantages.
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Old 12-17-05, 07:37 PM   #17
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Vodka won't freeze, even at freezer temperatures.

Not very good for hydration though. Try gatorade, or add a little salt, sugar and juice to water and see if that helps.
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Old 12-17-05, 07:48 PM   #18
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Vodka won't freeze, even at freezer temperatures.

Not very good for hydration though. Try gatorade, or add a little salt, sugar and juice to water and see if that helps.
Salt? I don't think so. To be effective, you would have to add so much it would cause stomach illness. Stick with the rest of the post, sugar, juice or gaterade. The comments about mixing water with something else are correct. Water's crystal latice is easily affected by 'foreign' soluble substances thus causing it to remain a fluid at lower temperatures. Unfortunately, the higher the water content, the higher the freezing point. I would combine strategies mix with juice etc. and use an insulated bottle or bladder.
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Old 12-17-05, 08:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cruentus
I live in suburban New Jersey. You can't ride 20 feet in any direction without passing a convenience store, fast food place, starbucks etc. I never carry anything to drink with me, not even in summer. Why should I? In warm weather I can buy an ice cold drink, and in winter I can get something hot. Living in a high density area has its advantages.

That's great.
That's terrible

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Old 12-18-05, 12:07 AM   #20
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SAB,

The stainless steel vacuum bottle is the only thing that will reliably work in cold tempertures. There are some slim line ones that might fit in a bottle cage but the best bet is to carry a small backpack instead of your camelback. I carry one in winter with an extra fleece layer in case I get a flat and need more insulation while fixing it. Also, the vacuum bottle will work better if it is out of the wind stream in a backpack and is partially heated by your body heat.

It works really well if you wrap the vacuum bottle in your extra clothing layer to keep it's heat in. The best ones to use for cycling are the lightweight ones that are used for mountaineering and don't have any fancy lids or handles. They are much lighter than the typical work lunch variety.

I feel mine full of hot tea and it stays hot for up to three or four hours. I go longer between drinks and then stop and drink a hot cup every 30 - 40 minutes.

It makes a winter ride very nice.
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Old 12-18-05, 10:03 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woof
What would happen if you duct-taped one of those chemical handwarmers to the outside of the bottle?
At -15C the water will freeze in 90 minutes as I learned tonight. The chemical footwarmers kept my feet warm though.
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Old 12-18-05, 10:36 PM   #22
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Maybe try routing your camelbak tubing through the loops of the shoulder strap. Keep the tubing positioned to one side and close to your body. Don't let the bite valve 'float' any more than necessary. That works for me. It was 20F here a few days ago. I had to unzip in the wooded sections and my tubing never froze during a 1.25 hour ride. The water was refrigerated and filtered (Britta).
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Old 12-18-05, 11:14 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hezz
SAB,

The stainless steel vacuum bottle is the only thing that will reliably work in cold tempertures. There are some slim line ones that might fit in a bottle cage but the best bet is to carry a small backpack instead of your camelback. I carry one in winter with an extra fleece layer in case I get a flat and need more insulation while fixing it. Also, the vacuum bottle will work better if it is out of the wind stream in a backpack and is partially heated by your body heat.

It works really well if you wrap the vacuum bottle in your extra clothing layer to keep it's heat in. The best ones to use for cycling are the lightweight ones that are used for mountaineering and don't have any fancy lids or handles. They are much lighter than the typical work lunch variety.

I feel mine full of hot tea and it stays hot for up to three or four hours. I go longer between drinks and then stop and drink a hot cup every 30 - 40 minutes.

It makes a winter ride very nice.
There are a few different kinds of stainless vacuum bottles that fit in cages. The Thermos one with the top like a bike bottle is the most convenient. There is one with a push button flip top for hot drinks that will fit in a cage too.
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Old 12-18-05, 11:49 PM   #24
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In Minnesota it gets pretty cold. i've ridden down to -23 degrees with about -35 degree windchill, and the water is going to freeze. you would have to supply energy to keep the water above 32 degrees (freezing) You can delay the freezing process. Another alternative is to use an additive to the water, such as gatorade, mentioned above. Here's what I do. It seems in cold weather your not that dependent upon hydration, though it's still important. If you drink before your ride and after your ride you will most surely maintain hydration. You can also get a drink from somewhere along your route. I just carry a pack of juicy fruit gum and chew on the gum. you would have to travel an extremely long distance, in the below freezing air, before you would suffer from the affects of not having hydration (water)
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Old 12-19-05, 06:33 AM   #25
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Polar bottle. Fill it up with hot water (not scalding hot but hot enough to drink and then some).
It keeps my water warm for 45 minutes in 15 degree temperatures. I predict it'll keep water liquid for about 2 hours in 15 degree temperatures.
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