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Stoves Water Bottles Winter water management

How to Keep Your Water from Freezing

Stoves and Water Management

Recommended winter gear for melting snow and carrying water:

  • Stove (liquid fuel recommended for below 15º F)
  • Firestarter (flint and/or lighter and matches)
  • Nalgene bottle (32 fl. oz., weighs 6.2 oz.)
  • Small Nalgene bottle (Optional, 16 fl. oz., weighs 6.2 oz.)
  • Thermos/metal flask (18 fl. oz., weighs 11.1 oz)
  • Pot large enough for melting snow (I use the Snow Peak Trek 1400 Titanium Cookset, 7.4 oz)
  • Stove repair kit (if you use a liquid fuel stove)
  • Fuel (11 fluid oz. is usually sufficient for a weekend and 20 oz. for 3 days trips)
winter water management gear

NOTE: The methods I’m going to explain in this post are for trips in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. This is important because you may be hiking somewhere that has colder temperatures that require different methods. Here in Washington, I’m usually hiking between 2000–8000ft and camping between 3500–7500ft. What I consider “deep cold” is typically 5º F–15º F, which is when the methods described here matter. Otherwise, expect temps to be on average between 15º–35º F here in the winter. These are thermometer temps, not wind chill. In the photo above, I’m camping on a solidly frozen alpine lake at about 5500ft. The nighttime low was 6º F.

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Backpacking Booties Canister and Liquid Fuel Stoves Glacier Glasses Health Hazards Hypothermia prevention Leave No Trace Rain Pants Sleeping bags Sleeping pads Stoves Winter Backpacking Gear Winter Backpacking Safety Winter Planning

Before You Go…

If you are an experienced 3-season backpacker, realize that what you know about common gear, such as stoves, hydration systems, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and tents, will be different from what you need to know for winter conditions.

Know the Risks

Whenever you hike into the backcountry you expose yourself to dangers and risks, such as avalanches caused by snow, mud, or rock slides. There are hunters, falling rocks, falling trees, tree wells, and the risk of slipping off ledges, falling through snow or ice, suffering from hypothermia, snow blindness, frostbite, severe sunburns, stove accidents, etc.

Know the risks when you decide to go winter backpacking. Be prepared and bring what you need. Basic tips for staying warm and knowing what gear to bring are explained below. This is not a comprehensive discussion of winter backpacking or backcountry safety, but it does contain important things that you MUST know before going.