Now that we are finally seeing some arctic temperatures here in Minnesota, don't let that discourage you from riding. Clothing choice is only one part of winter cycling, hydrating in freezing temperatures is another. Keeping hydrated in sub-zero temperatures can create some challenges. I have had the last four winters to to do some product testing and below ares some of my recommendations for keeping hydrated and preventing your water from freezing up.
Hydrapak Soft Flasks
The Hydrapak Soft Flask is a product that has been out for a while now that I have tested and found that it worked great during very cold temperatures. This soft water bottle works best during winter rides when you put it in a jacket pocket (I have a Gore Bike Wear jacket with 3 pockets on the back like a jersey) where your body heat keeps it from icing up. The nice thing about these flasks is that they collapse as you drink from them making them smaller in your pocket. If the bite valve does freeze up, bite on the valve crushing the ice to restore water flow. Hydrapak Soft Flasks come in various sizes and are available from Hydrapak.
Water Bottle with Tall Boy Coozie
This one is a little trick I learned from friends who race some of coldest endurance fatbike races in the Great White North including one of the toughest, the Arrowhead 135. You can implement this practice with insulated or non-insulated water bottles. Tall boy coozies (for 16 & 25 oz. cans) work the best because they cover almost all of the bottle. The shorter (12 oz.) version can be used but only protect half the bottle. I used packing tape to secure the top of the coozie to the bottle so it wouldn't slide off when removing it from my bottle cage.
I recently tested this idea using an older model non-insulated Camelbak Podium 21 oz. water bottle with the Gup Gum Gear Bottle Cage Coozie mentioned below during single digit temps for 3 hours. Stored upside down in my bottle cage kept the water drinkable for the whole time. It had just began to ice up after the three hours but storing the bottle in this fashion kept the valve from freezing up. I've found that the jet valve on the Camelbak Podium bottles performs better in the bitter cold than the standard water bottle valve.
Gup Gum Gear Bottle Cage Coozies
My friend Neil from Gup Gum Gear set me up with a pair of these Bottle Cage Coozies a couple winters ago and they are now standard equipment for my cold weather rides. Paired with a water bottle/tallboy coozie stored upside-down, this combination keeps my water drinkable in very cold temperatures for hours. The Gup Gum Gear Bottle Cage Coozies work with any standard size bottle cage and the flip open front panel makes installation easy. Available from Gup Gum Gear for $25 each or a pair for $45.
Hydration Pack with Drink Tube Insulator
On all day rides where temperatures are in the teens and twenties Fahrenheit I like to use my hydration pack. The problem is if you don't insulate the drink tube or bite valve, they will freeze up. I came across the Platypus Bite Valve and Drink Tube Insulator at REI and an idea was sparked. I used only the Drink Tube Insulator since my pack was a GeigerRig and the bite valve was not compatible. To keep my bite valve from freezing up I simply tucked it into my jacket at the top of the zipper where my body heat kept it from freezing and I was able to drink for hours. To further keep the hydration bladder from forming ice during extended rides, chemical warmers can be placed around it inside the pack. The Platypus Bite Valve and Drink Tube Insulator is available from Cascade Designs, REI and various other outdoor retailers for $19.95.
Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag
The Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag puts snacks and water bottles in your cockpit for easy access while riding. Store water bottles upside down in the Mountain Feedbag to prevent the nozzle from freezing up. Smaller (21 oz.) bottles work best so they don't stick out too much from the top of the bag. Pair this set up with some chemical hand warmers inside the Feedbag for extra warmth to keep your bottle ice free on longer rides or colder temperatures. The Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag is available from Revelate Designs, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $49 each.
Salsa Anything Cage/Anything Bag
The Salsa Anything Cage or Anything Cage HD paired with the Anything Bag is a great way to store that insulated thermos filled with your favorite hot beverage. This cage/bag combo can be mounted on forks with bottle boss bolts or in your frame triangle where you would normally mount your bottle cages. The Anything Cage or Anything Cage HD available from Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops for $30 and $35. The Anything Bag is also available for $32.
Stanley Classic Vacuum Insulated Bottle
|Image Credit: Stanley|
Bring along your favorite hot beverage to warm you up out on the trail in the Stanley Classic Vacuum Insulated Bottle. Designed to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold using vacuum insulation, this bottle will work great with the Salsa Anything Cage and Anything Bag mentioned above. It is made from 18/8 Stainless Steel and the insulated lid doubles as a cup. This 25 oz. version is available from Stanley, REI and other outdoor retailers for $35.