Nalgene Baby

Hiking Hack

In simple terms a Nalgene Baby is a hot water bottle but this hiking hack is not just a ‘one trick pony’ but rather a double hack as it also acts as a means to purify water.

My first experience with a Nalgene Baby was in 2012 when we did an organised hike in Bhutan and while the water was relatively clear of particulates in that part of the world, it needed to be filtered to remove bacteria, parasites and viruses. At the end of the day walkers were requested to drop their water bottles off at the camp kitchen before the start of dinner and while we were eating, the kitchen staff would boil water and refill our bottles ready for the next day.

The advantage of this timing was that at the end of dinner, you would put the water bottle which was still pretty hot, into the bottom of your sleeping bag to create a bit of extra warmth for bedtime. Just like a water bottle there are two key things to remember; you don’t want this against bare skin as there is a risk of burning yourself so a sock or buff created a barrier against your skin. And of course, you need to make sure the bottle is done up tightly.

Please note:

  • Water needs to be on full boil for 1 minute to kill bugs. Don’t just bring it to the boil if you are purifying water.
  • If you are above 1950 metres altitude (e.g. upper summits of Kosciuszko National Park) the water needs to be at full boil for 3 minutes as water boils at a lower temperature
  • Use modern BPA (Bisphenol A) free water bottles to reduce chemical contamination. Don’t use disposable bottles as they don’t cope with boiling water being so thin and flimsy and chemicals will leech into your water

Step 1: Bring water to the boil on your stove and let it boil for 1 minute or 3 minutes if at an altitude greater than 1950 metres. The downside of this hack is that it uses more gas and depending on your water requirements may be time consuming. It is however a great winter time option

Step 2: Pour the hot water into your water bottle being careful not to burn yourself

Step 3: Cover the hot bottle with a piece of clothing. Use either a sock or a buff depending on the bottle size. DO NOT put a water bottle containing hot water directly against your skin otherwise you may burn yourself. If you boil the water shortly before going to bed, you can use the bottle to warm up your sleeping bag



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