7

What winter cycling water bottle designs have been produced that enable a cyclist who rode two hours in sub-zero (°C) temperatures to drink without finding that the spout, or the entire bottle, froze?

I'm hopeful for the first of the following two constraints, but I'm sure the second cannot be satisfied:

  • The bottle can be inserted in a standard water cage, and
  • the cyclist can continue riding and drink with one hand.

I'm not seeking makes/models (what's sold in your region may not be available in mine, and the information will soon become stale). I'm in particular seeking keywords to use for searching on my side.

15
  • Side thought - do electroiyte drinks, or salty drinks, or sugared drinks have lower/higher freezing points, and if so is it enough to matter ?
    – Criggie
    Oct 11, 2022 at 20:28
  • 1
    How far below zero are we talking? At -1 °C, I wouldn't expect a regular bottle to freeze, provide the rider was moving (jostling the water) and drinking regularly.
    – Paul H
    Oct 11, 2022 at 20:39
  • 1
    @PaulH I remember whacking the bottle against a bench once when I was desperate for water. It kind-of works when the temperature is -1 °C or -2 °C and I had been out for an hour, but then it's also easy to just open the bottle. By the time it's -5 °C or -6 °C, no amount of whacking will do, and the bottle can't be opened.
    – Sam7919
    Oct 12, 2022 at 3:03
  • 1
    Sometimes putting a sock on the bottle can provide enough insulation, but freezing of the cap / spout can still be a problem if water remains there after drinking.
    – jpa
    Oct 12, 2022 at 6:48
  • 4
    @Criggie related to freezing point depression, I've linked one question at outdoors.se under my answer. Here's another, where the consesnus is again that you can't, and I conclude in a comment "if you added enough solute to depress the freezing point significantly, the solution would be hypertonic, and not very useful for keeping you hydrated"
    – Chris H
    Oct 12, 2022 at 13:05

5 Answers 5

5

I have a CamelBak Podium Chill which keeps the water from freezing for longer. The issue is that the spout will freeze, since water will be splashing and freeze.

A trick is to put the bottle upside down, so that the lid is submerged and the same temperature as the bottle. I've had this work down to about -12°C for a few hours before it became impossible to drink from.

4
  • 1
    This is the simplest nice solution to the problem. I'm not sure the bottom of my cage is quite as hygienic as yours to do this directly, but this second problem can be solved by confirming whether their "Podium® Mud Cap" can be inserted on their "Podium® Chill™ 24oz Bike Bottle".
    – Sam7919
    Oct 12, 2022 at 14:42
  • Intriguing also because I recall that filling the bottle all the way to the tip helped with at least getting a couple of sips before it all froze, and not filling the bottle meant that splashing water froze. Having a "body of water" in constant contact with the spout, especially on an insulated bottle, might just be the right approach. I'll find out in January.
    – Sam7919
    Oct 12, 2022 at 14:46
  • @Sam the dirt series chill has a dust/mud cap built in
    – Chris H
    Oct 15, 2022 at 13:58
  • 1
    @ChrisH Cool. So they have "chill", "dirt", and "chill + dirt". They also have "ice", which IIUC uses gel insulation instead of air pockets. But then there is no "ice + dirt".
    – Sam7919
    Oct 15, 2022 at 18:24
8

Not quite a bottle, but if a drinking bladder/backpack suits your riding styles then they will not freeze until you do. Sometimes known as a camelback or camelbak because of the product of a similar name. This fails on point 1, they are worn not put in cages.

I found that one's body heat slowly warms the backpack, and on a long hot summer ride it approaches body temperature (which is unpleasant to drink but that's a separate issue.)

To keep the line liquid, run it down the inside of your full lengthsleeve with just the end poking out. You can "drink from your wrist" while riding which matches your second point.

Personally in cold weather I don't drink a lot, and would easily do the entire 1hour commute both ways without taking water at all.


If the straw down the sleeve doesn't appeal, you can use a retractable key-fob to pull the hose behind you and into the pack, leaving a cloth lanyard secured to your shoulder strap to pull the straw out while riding.

12
  • 1
    It's easy enough to not drink at all, but I can feel the effects of dehydration (incoming mild headache, ...), oddly while not yet being thirsty. The flip side is overdrinking, where "going into the woods" wearing bibs and in deep winter is not quite an option. CamelBaks sound like a good idea, unless they invite drinking by being so accessible, making WC trips necessary earlier than usual.
    – Sam7919
    Oct 11, 2022 at 20:47
  • 1
    @sam that can be helped by drinking less at a time, but more often. In the cold, you don't sweat as much so the water doesn't leave via the skin. It may also help to suck a hard lolly/candy/mint to encourage saliva while riding.
    – Criggie
    Oct 11, 2022 at 20:50
  • 4
    I have used a camelback-style water system in frigid cold weather (-10 °F/-23 °C) with some success. The heat from the body does a fair job of preventing freezing (especially if it can be layered under a jacket). The drinking tube is the critical element that can freeze. I was able to keep the line from freezing by blowing the line clear of liquid back into the bladder after taking a drink. Granted, the potential for backwash is present, but the tube stays clear, the few drops of ice that may form in the tube is melted when taking the next draw from the bladder.
    – Ted Hohl
    Oct 12, 2022 at 1:06
  • 1
    @TedHohl I don't understand. The pack of water is adjacent to one's back, and the tube itself is adjacent to one's arm. Hence just like the pack of water remains frost free from body heat, likewise the tube should remain frost free from the arm's heat; no?
    – Sam7919
    Oct 12, 2022 at 2:44
  • 2
    @Sam I did not route the tube down my arm when I experienced the cold weather. It was a one-time event and wasn’t even on the bike. The tube was fully exposed to the cold and early on I discovered the potential for it to quickly freeze. Before it was too far gone I got more water through it, which melted the forming ice, and started to evacuate the tube when not actually drinking from then on.
    – Ted Hohl
    Oct 12, 2022 at 2:55
4

Freezing of a spout you can drink from is the biggest issue. Ice forming in the bottle itself isn't too bad unless it freezes solid. Drinking little and often can reduce freezing of the spout, but only in temperatures close to freezing.

Starting warm is also helpful, and is something I do when I have a really cold start, half filling my bottles with cold then adding hot (but not boiling) from the kettle.

There are standard size insulated bottles* like the Zefal Arctica that will keep the contents warm (max 80°C; I've used mine for coffee on the train to a ride), but in really cold conditions water around the top won't be warmed enough by the contents. A dust cap would help a little, suggesting the Camelbak Podium Dirt Series Chill might be an option. While these are meant as examples, they're international brands so you could be lucky.

There are vacuum insulated cups that both seal well and fit a bottle cage (I have one made by LifeVenture), some vacuum flasks fit, perhaps with an extra strap. But these can't be used while riding as they need 2 hands. In prolonged freezing conditions I do carry something like that, probably in addition to my main bottle.

I have once seen a vacuum insulated bike bottle supplied with a drinking cap, with a dust cap (possibly an older version of the Elite Deboyo Race. That might be your best bet, if you can track it down.


* Insulation works both ways, so bottles that are meant to keep things chilled in summer will also keep them from cooling too fast in winter.

8
  • 1
    Google "cold weather bicycle water bottle" Oct 11, 2022 at 21:53
  • @DanielRHicks One of those days AI may adequately address some percentage of the questions asked here, but there is little fear SE needs to shutter anytime soon, and some questions, even this simple one, cannot be solved without human intelligence and, especially, experience.
    – Sam7919
    Oct 12, 2022 at 3:00
  • @Sam - Did you try the Google? Oct 12, 2022 at 3:04
  • @DanielRHicks Yes, many times for one year now, complemented with visits to the local specialty stores to inspect the options.
    – Sam7919
    Oct 12, 2022 at 3:06
  • 1
    @DanielRHicks This may be one of those cases where google is producing localised results. When I use that search term (here in the UK) i get hits on multiple bottles designed for exactly this purpose. However the same search performed elsewhere can give quite different results
    – Andy P
    Oct 12, 2022 at 11:18
1

I usually fill a normal bike bottle as hot as my tap allows (~50°C). It stays nice and warm for half an hour and liquid for >1h in <-7°C weather. I accept that it will freeze at some point and try to drink more before it happens. Keep the spout open so it doesn’t freeze shut.

0

There are three approaches that can remove your thirst during winter:

Firstly, if you can find a thermos flask that fits a standard bottle cage, it might actually be large enough inside to contain so much water that it removes your thirst. The main problem is that market for such bike-compatible bottles would be very small, so you can't probably find such a bottle. The easiest way to make a thermos flask compatible might be to buy a normal (thin enough) thermos flask and somehow make an adapter around it. Perhaps by 3D printing and gluing, perhaps by making it out of wood, perhaps by some other manufacturing method. If you really want to cheap out, you could just make the adapter from a wrapping of duct tape around the thermos flask and then wrap a string at the correct location to make it thinner like bike bottles are thinner at some location to keep them stable in the cage. You won't be able to drink while moving, though, because most thermos flasks aren't designed for quick drinking but rather keeping contents cold or warm, but that shouldn't be a problem. It's perfectly acceptable to stop for a drink.

Secondly, you could fill a standard bottle with warm/hot water and then insulate the bottle around with thick clothes. That should keep the contents warm. There's no need to drink continuously, so if you for example find that the time you have to drink is an hour from starting the ride, test with various thicknesses of insulating clothing and various temperatures of water to reach at optimal insulation and optimal temperature so that the water is drinkable when you need to drink it. This, too, will not allow continuously drinking while moving, but you rather have to stop for a drink to be able to remove the insulating clothing around the bottle, but that shouldn't be a problem since there's no need to drink every minute, you can perfectly stop for a larger drink every hour.

Thirdly, you could of course replace the water bottle with a credit card. I'd say most cyclists are near enough a grocery store at least during some parts of their ride, so while thirsty and convenient, stop at a grocery store and you can find something to drink.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.