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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I road an 80 mile ride today in 90 degree weather and started-out with my CamelBak packed with ice water. By the time I used-up my two bike-mounted water bottles (yucky warm water) and started into the CamelBak, it was full of warm, plastic-tasting water as though I had never put ice in it. That got me wondering... should I even bother trying to keep water cold on long, hot rides? Is it even physically possible?

I did a search of these forums for this same topic and in 2008, a rider mentioned having a hydration backpack that had an insulated backpack that featured some magical reflective material that actually kept his water cold for nearly two hours. Unfortunately, the product no longer exists and I have not been able to find something similar in 2021.

Have any of you been successful and keeping relatively large quantities of water cool over long rides?

I'm considering buying a few thin freezer gel packs and putting them in the same pocket that the water bladder goes in in hopes of keeping the water cool, but I'm not sure if that'll just leave me disappointed and having to haul around slightly more weight and bulk for no gain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Edit: I see you tried it but ice in the Camelbak but it didn't work. My advice would be to drink the Camelbak water FIRST. When the Camelbak is near empty I would stop at a store and buy ice and water to refill if necessary.
I ride in remote areas where filling-up isn't an option (farm country), hence needing to carry a lot of water and some food with me. When I start riding early in the morning, it's not usually as hot and thus I'd like the cold water for later in the morning when things heat-up. Perhaps I'm wishful thinking that there's some way to keep water cool for a few hours.
 

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I've had success, but not for 80 miles.

For water bottles, get insulated bottles. The night before, cram the bottles full of ice cubes, fill up about halfway with water and let the bottles freeze overnight. The next morning fill them with water that has been refrigerated. When I do this with two bottles, I generally still have 'cool' water (slightly cooler than room temp) after two hours in 90 degree weather and stifling humidity. If you're driving to your riding start point, keep the bottles in a cooler, i.e., don't put the bottles on your bike when you drive over. Also, most thermal bottles have a 'closed' switch - keep it closed until you're ready to drink from that bottle. The open vent will allow the water to warm up significantly quicker IME.

Same holds true for hydration packs, but I don't put my Camelbak in the freezer - pack as full of ice as you can, add ice cold water, and keep the pack as cool as possible until you're ready to ride.

Keep in mind that there has to be thermal transfer to get cold water - if you add too much ice to your water bottles, you drink off the 4 ounces of liquid which leaves you with 24 ounces of ice, that solid ice block won't melt quickly.

Hydration packs are designed differently - some have minimal insulation to cool your back. Surely some are designed with insulating capabilities.

I have successfully transported chilled water and two chilled beers with an ice pack in my Lobo, and not drinking the second beer until two hours into the ride. The beers got a little shook up but they were tasty on our gravel adventure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If you're driving to your riding start point, keep the bottles in a cooler, i.e., don't put the bottles on your bike when you drive over.
I think this was one mistake I made this morning. The drive to the ride was 45 minutes, so the water was probably darn near warm before I even started. Next ride I will definitely have a cooler in the vehicle for pre- and post-ride drinks. Thanks for the tips.
 

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One thing to try would be to get a foil car window visor, and cut it up to devise a pocket for your camelbac pouch. These visors have captured air, so heat conduction is reduced. The foil can reflect some incoming infrared radiation. The improvised pouch would not weigh too much.

You could also do this with cardboard and aluminum foil. Which would be cheaper, so you could throw it away (properly) when its cooling effect (if any) has expired.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
One thing to try would be to get a foil car window visor, and cut it up to devise a pocket for your camelbac pouch. These visors have captured air, so heat conduction is reduced. The foil can reflect some incoming infrared radiation. The improvised pouch would not weigh too much.
Something like you suggest does indeed appear to be what's inside of some of the backpacks that are claiming "up to 4 hours of cool water". Problem is that all the backpacks I've found with an insulating layer are way too bulky for road or gravel cycling. I barely need any pockets for the backpack, just water.

This bladder with cooler bag is getting close to what I'm looking for, but is too big for my current CamelBak.
 

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Water is water. Sooner one gets used to drink it at ambient temperature, the better off one will be. Expecting cold water on a long, unsupported ride is just disappointment waiting to happen.
 

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I have both a water bottle insulated bag (made by TACX) and an insulated Camelback from the 90s. Both keep drinks cold for a long time. I've hiked all day with the Camelback on a hot day and it still had ice in it at the end of hike. Having said that on a Summer ride I don't use either. I freeze my insulated bottles which gets me at least 2 hours of cold water even on a 100 degree day. On such a day you really have no business riding longer than that anyways.
 

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Something like you suggest does indeed appear to be what's inside of some of the backpacks that are claiming "up to 4 hours of cool water". Problem is that all the backpacks I've found with an insulating layer are way too bulky for road or gravel cycling.
That's why I mentioned which model Camelbak I owned. It seems to retain cold water cold for hours. You're going to have to deal with the excess bulk if you want cold water.
Along with filling the bladder with ice, and freezing the bottles, you will have to choose which you drink from based on the temperatures and how fast they're warming up. If the bottles thaw and warm up quickly, you'll drink from them first, for example. Or alternate drinking from the bottles/bladder. Use caution filling the waterbottles if you intend to freeze them. The water will expand when it freezes and you can split a waterbottle. Try stashing your bladder and waterbottles in a cooler if you must drive a distance to a ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
...and an insulated Camelback from the 90s. Both keep drinks cold for a long time. I've hiked all day with the Camelback on a hot day and it still had ice in it at the end of hike.
That's why I mentioned which model Camelbak I owned. It seems to retain cold water cold for hours.
Which model CamelBaks do you guys use? Mine is insulated, or so it says, but it doesn't keep water cold any longer than my non-insulated one. I'm wondering if the "Mil Spec" (military spec) version of CamelBaks do a better job... although those backpacks mostly have no storage, which isn't quite what I'm looking for.
 

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I road an 80 mile ride today in 90 degree weather and started-out with my CamelBak packed with ice water.

That got me wondering... should I even bother trying to keep water cold on long, hot rides? Is it even physically possible?
You're fighting the laws of thermodynamics. If you want to keep it colder, longer, you need more insulation. Which of course isn't really practical.
Insulated water bottles filled with ice then topped with cold water will stay cold for 2hrs in 90° direct sun. I've tested this.
My camelbak MULE filled with ice and water will stay cold for 4-5hrs. But I'd never use that on the road.

I ride in remote areas where filling-up isn't an option (farm country), hence needing to carry a lot of water and some food with me.
Perhaps I'm wishful thinking that there's some way to keep water cool for a few hours.
I think you should re-assess what you're doing. Long rides in remote areas without support in extreme weather is a disaster waiting to happen. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are no joke.
Plan your rides in better locations of do shorter rides.

IMO the Camelbak is counterproductive. Yes it lets you carry more water, but it also covers a large portion of your back preventing your body from cooling yourself effectively by sweating. You're actually raising your body temp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You're fighting the laws of thermodynamics. If you want to keep it colder, longer, you need more insulation.
Yeah, I hear you. I keep reading hydration pack reviews with people stating, "I was out for several hours and my water was still cold!" I keep wondering if they're living in a parallel universe where the laws of nature don't apply!?!? o_O
IMO the Camelbak is counterproductive. Yes it lets you carry more water, but it also covers a large portion of your back preventing your body from cooling yourself effectively by sweating. You're actually raising your body temp.
A CamelBak is hardly my favorite way to carry water, but surely is the most convenient way to carry a lot of water. I found that wearing one is actually way less annoying than I thought it'd be. While you're absolutely right that it makes one's back sweat, I think it also blocks the suns direct rays (which is probably why the water gets warm so fast!)
 

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Yeah, I hear you. I keep reading hydration pack reviews with people stating, "I was out for several hours and my water was still cold!" I keep wondering if they're living in a parallel universe where the laws of nature don't apply!?!? o_O
What pack do you have? Are you filling it with ice?
You could try a hose insulator.[/QUOTE]

While you're absolutely right that it makes one's back sweat, I think it also blocks the suns direct rays (which is probably why the water gets warm so fast!)
It's not making your back sweat. Your back is sweating from riding. And the pack is preventing the sweat from evaporating. Evaporation is your bodys temperature regulation method. You're creating a two fold problem. You've reduced your evaporative cooling by a large percentage. And you've put on a large thermal insulator holding heat in your body. It's like wearing a thermal blanket on your back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
What pack do you have? Are you filling it with ice?
You could try a hose insulator.
I have a CamelBak BootLegger that is supposed to be insulated and has an insulated hose. I bought it originally for winter hiking and figured that the insulation should work in both directions... i.e., keep cold water from getting hot or hot water from getting cold. Perhaps I'm wrong about that. There certainly is no shiny, metallic-looking insulation material inside the pack so maybe this model is really just designed for wearing under a jacket in the winter to keep water from freezing but is lacking the true thermal layer that some other models might have?
 

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Your back is hot, your camel back may be insulated & some have lifting ribs to keep it off your back.
If your's doesn't have lifting ribs, add some made out of strips of foam insulation, add another layer of foam insulation between your back and the water bag inside the camelback.
Watch out for heat stroke, don't stop unless you are in shade!
 

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I have a CamelBak BootLegger that is supposed to be insulated and has an insulated hose. I bought it originally for winter hiking and figured that the insulation should work in both directions...
Yes, insulation works in both directions. But it does appear that pack is made for skiing and has minimal insulation.
  • Fits Under Ski Jacket: Slim enough to wear under a ski jacket ideal for keeping water from freezing in sub zero temperatures
Your temperature differential is much less when skiing.

Cold water (from your fridge) is 40°. If it's 90° outside, that's a 50° differential.

If you're skiing and it's 20° outside, having your water 40° is only a 20° differential. Pretty easy to do under a ski jacket.
 

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We have one of those insulated backpacks. That is where I got the idea. It was left behind after a scout campout, and we could never identify an owner and get it back to owner, so we just kept it. It is heavy, and doesn't work that great. Except for maybe an hour hike. Frankly, a mid-hike snack of cheese and salami if the food is 70 degrees is way better than if 85 degrees.

I also got the idea from: we had a campout, and a cold front made it colder than expected. I pulled a car window visor out of the car and laid it under the sleeping bag as one strategy for getting a bit of warmth when getting to sleep. It worked. The better car window visors, with foil and air space built in, are fairly well built and will stand up to some camping, and are not very heavy, and are cheaper than a pad from REI. They can be cut to size.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
If you're skiing and it's 20° outside, having your water 40° is only a 20° differential. Pretty easy to do under a ski jacket.
Yup, makes sense... especially if one's body heat is helping to keep the water warm.

Anyone have suggestions for a somewhat minimalist hydration backpack that does have decent insulation? By "minimalist", I mean that I don't want a full-blown backpack with 400 zippers and a ton of storage (I have CamelBak Mule for that.) For cycling, just one pocket is fine. The CamelBak Rogue looks ideal but makes no mention of insulation, making me think I should check-out other brands... but so far, the only brands that list insulation are some off-brands sold on Amazon, like this Mazama (?) one.
 
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