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Using hot water bottles as ‘cached heat’


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  • #1297188
    Kevin Burton
    BPL Member

    @burtonator

    Locale: norcal

    This is a trick I've been using for a while with pretty solid success.

    I thought of it independently but hammockforums has a sticky about it and it's a bit thread there.

    Wood is essentially cached energy from the sun. When you're burning it you're essentially releasing the energy stored 30 years ago.

    The problem is that it just shoots up in the air and is vanished.

    You can temporarily cache/store some of this heat in water. I usually heat 1L *just* before it boils (so that it doesn't create a gas) then poor it in a 1L platypus bottle.

    Then I throw this in the bottom of my sleeping bag.

    It works GREAT for the first half of the night but about half way though… roughly 4 hours it is somewhat luke warm.

    I was thinking that if I had a SECOND 1L bottle on the standby then I could swap it in. The problem is HOW do I do that?

    I was thinking that one could have a small insulating container JUST for this purpose.

    You could keep it outside of your tent and have it store say 3x 1L bottles that you can bring into your bag anytime you want more heat.

    You wouldn't want to put ALL bottles in at once because it would be too hot and also they would start to fade after about 4 hours.

    Also, storing 3x 1L bottles next to each other means there is less surface area for the heat to escape so they may last longer.

    It could mean much warmer nights and actually a way to pack in LESS weight since you could get away with less down.

    I already carry at LEAST 2 bottles now. Adding 2 more won't be significant weight.

    #1936554
    Travis Leanna
    BPL Member

    @t-l

    Locale: Wisconsin

    Using a warm/hot bottle is a trick to stay warm, yes….but I have some reservations…

    Before I go into my post, I'll start by saying that I haven't done the math for it all, so I dont know exactly how it works out weight-wise.

    Its true that platypus bottles do not weigh much. 2 extra 1 liter bladders will weigh about 3 more ounces. Then you need an insulating container for the bottles. Dunno the weight, but I'd guess at least 8+ ounces to be of any use, especially in cold climates when you'd actually need extra warmth. You also need to heat the water. If you use a fire, then you're not really out any extra weight, but if you have to use fuel, then you're talking an ounce or so per night. If you have to melt snow, then there's more fuel used. Then there's the hassle. Time and energy is used by you to collect, heat, and store said water.

    So to do all of this, we're talking at least another pound of weight (depending on fuel and trip length), plus the need to do so. Would that weight not be better served in your insulating pieces such as your sleeping bag or pad?

    I don't mean to disparage your thought, but I do question the practicality of it. If there is proof to the contrary, I will happily retract my doubts!

    #1936557
    Franco Darioli
    Spectator

    @franco

    Locale: Gauche, CU.

    The only way to have hot water (in freezing/sub freezing temps) 4-6 hours after boiling your water would be to use a vacuum flask..
    An insulating container will not be better than your sleeping bag plus you in keeping the water warm.
    You can get a 1L flask for about 17 oz or so, but of course that weight in down will keep you just as warm if not more so.
    (add to that the extra fuel and the air that escapes your bag when performing the change…)
    So the idea here would be to start with your standard bottle inside your bag , then when you wake up you transfer the water from the flask into another bottle and put that inside the bag.
    If nothing else you have water in the morning…
    BTW, an easy way to test insulating containers is to use your fridge (40f) or your freezer (0f)

    #1936558
    Steven McAllister
    BPL Member

    @brooklynkayak

    Locale: Arizona, US

    You could do two bottles at once before you go to bed. Put both in some kind of down layer, booties, vest, … inside your bag/quilt when you go to bed. It wouldn't initially be as warm, but may extend that warmth into the colder part of the night.

    I don't know how much it would last and besides who can spare down layers on cold nights?

    #1936565
    Derek Goffin
    Member

    @derekoak

    Locale: North of England

    This need hardly weigh anything. If you carry a 1 litre platypus already, if you use a cosy to keep food warm while it rehydrates and if you have spare mitts that you are not using whilst sleeping.
    Put near boiling water in the platy. I put boiling on 200ml of cold to keep the platy a bit cooler. Stick the platy in any mitts that are spare, plastic bags may make this easier so mitts slide over mitts. Then take your cosy which you have remade from sleeping mat foam to be an envelope for the platy too. Put the mitts and platy in the foam, close the lid. If you have a spare dry bag whilst camped put it all in that. The bottle will stay warm for 7 hours and in the morning you can unwrap it ot let out the last heat. Then your first drink is half warm in the morning.
    If you are concerned about laying on the platy and bursting it, the dry bag will save the day. This accident has never happened to me but it is clearly possible.
    The extra weight is your foam cosy less your old cosy and about half an ounce of gas per use. If you had to melt snow you would have had to anyway for your morning drink.
    Our foam cosy weighs less than 1 ounce and doubles as a sit mat.

    #1936590
    Jeffs Eleven
    BPL Member

    @woodenwizard

    Locale: NePo

    Seems like a lot of trouble and highly variable results, and potential fuel waster. A chemical hand warmer would be much easier/ reliable… although non-multiuse.

    Another 2oz of down in the bag?

    #1936591
    M B
    BPL Member

    @livingontheroad

    rocks warmed near a fire work OK too, no limit.
    In the days before furnace heating, this is what people did inside their houses at night to pre-warm their beds.

    #1936601
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    I'd suggest, if you want to use more bottles, to put ALL of them in your sleeping bag, perhaps with a sweater wrapped around them so they yield their heat more slowly. That will be a warmer environment for the second bottle, by far, than anywhere outside your sleeping bag.

    But, as others have said: for 1 or 2 nights, chemical handwarmers in each sock will weigh less, take no fuel, work better nad last all night. For longer trips, bring a warmer bag.

    I feel more strongly about mornings – waiting for the water to boil cools me off more than the BTUs I get from a hot drink. I prefer to just get up and get hiking. But I suspect some folks make the same mistake at night – staying up late while inactive around camp, cooling a degree or two (core temp) which takes a LONG time to recover from – perhaps not until you are hiking the next day if your sleep system is marginal for the conditions.

    #1936612
    Daryl and Daryl
    BPL Member

    @lyrad1

    Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth

    My wife recently returned from a trek in Nepal and they used warm water bottles for sleeping. They didn't replace them during the night, however, so it only addresses your existing use… not your replacement idea.

    #1936613
    Kevin Burton
    BPL Member

    @burtonator

    Locale: norcal

    I forgot to mention that I almost always use wood fires so packing in more fuel won't be an issue.

    It MIGHT be a good idea to experiment with using a neoprene or foam cozy for the 1L bottle and keep it in the sleeping bag with me.

    Maybe just some blue foam wrapping the platypus bottle.

    That might extend it a bit more and last into the morning.

    The cozy could also double as a sit pad…

    #1936616
    Ben C
    BPL Member

    @alexdrewreed

    Locale: Kentucky

    Its usually coldest just before the sun lights up the sky. It seems by then the water bottles are likely of little use. If you possibly could keep them warm over a long winter night, it seems that the best place would be inside your bag. That's likely the best insulation you're carrying and I can't see any reason not to keep it in there.

    I would agree with the alternative of carrying a warmer bag.

    I don't know much about the hand warmers. How long do they really last? I guess you could wait until late at night to start them easy enough. Are the chemicals in them bad stuff?

    #1936648
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    Ben:

    The non-reuseable hand warmers are cloth packets with iron fillings, salt, water and cedar savings inside. The iron rusts when exposed to the air and that generates heat over 8 hours. We use them in the kids' boots for downhill skiing when it is under -10F.

    They are about $2 normally, $4 at the shop at the ski area, but I stock up when Sierra Trading Post (1) has them on sale, (2) I have a 25-30% off coupon and (3) I'm ordering other stuff. Then they are 40-60 cents each and I order a few dozens of each type (hand, foot, etc).

    #1936650
    Ben C
    BPL Member

    @alexdrewreed

    Locale: Kentucky

    I suspected you would know the answer to that, David. So they don't really have anything too bad in them it sounds. Good to know.

    #1936653
    Kevin Burton
    BPL Member

    @burtonator

    Locale: norcal

    This is pretty much the ONLY way an ultralight backpacker is going to carry IRON !! :-P

    #1936655
    Bob Gross
    BPL Member

    @b-g-2-2

    Locale: Silicon Valley

    The non-reuseable hand warmers work OK as long as the packets are well-sealed to air. One guy carried many of those packets on a cold expedition with the intention of using four or five per day. Well, either the packets were old and stale or else they leaked air. Less than half of them worked at all.

    –B.G.–

    #1936699
    Tim Zen
    Spectator

    @asdzxc57

    Locale: MI

    I recently used an under a year old 1L, Nalgene Canteen (fold up kind) for a hot water bottle.
    It delaminated at the top where the sides are welded to the screw top area and sprung a leak.
    I am in a discussion with Nalgene about it, but at $9 bucks, I am not expecting much.

    Specs say it can handle 102C. I did not come close to that temperature.

    #1936702
    Franco Darioli
    Spectator

    @franco

    Locale: Gauche, CU.

    BTW, I am fully aware that I am beating a dead horse but I still don't get why folk don't try these sort of things at home first ….

    #1936845
    Michael Cheifetz
    BPL Member

    @mike_hefetz

    Locale: Israel

    @Franco – dunno if you are talking about the bottle delaminating or the chem stuff not working…but of course you are right.

    the bottle is pretty easy to test beforehand

    what I would do with the hand warmers (this is what we did in the army) is buy a bunch from the same batch and test one or two before each trip + visually inspect the ones you are taking just to make sure no nicks or holes in the packaging


    @Kevin
    – if you have a fire going..why dont you put a rock in it and then later during the night you can take it in the bag (of course wrapped in something like a fleece)- the advantage here is that the fire will ostensibly keep the rock warm for quite a while…

    Mike

    #1936846
    James holden
    BPL Member

    @bearbreeder-2

    i am a fan of hawt nalgenes, but do not use them to reduce the weight of the down … the reason they work so well in winter is that you are going to spend the fuel to melt the ice/snow anyways … in cases where you dont need to melt, they are useful as an EMERGENCY measure or where you have boiled water to purify it, etc ….

    bring the appropriate insulation for the temps you expect … and then use the hawt nalgene should it be colder than expected

    #1936849
    Gregory Stein
    BPL Member

    @tauneutrino

    Locale: Upper Galilee

    Hi,

    If you mix some potassium permanganate with sugar and add water (or snow and shake), then this mixture will be hot in 1-2 minutes. I've done it at my home lab (yes, chemistry was one of my hobbies).

    Not sure what to do with the chemicals after that… Not that eco friendly maybe…

    #1936850
    a b
    Member

    @ice-axe

    Hot water in a soda bottle is the primary reason to carry a stove at all in snow country for some of us.
    Otherwise we follow a no-cook strategy.
    As a side note, instant mashed potatos hold heat even better than water though you would want to have them in a ziplock container rather than your bottle.
    Gatorade and aquafina type bottles work fine as hot water bottles but just make sure it's HOT water and not ridiculously "hot to the point of melting the plastic" water.
    In practice it is pretty simple to have your stove set up just outside your shelter and ready to go for a quick liter of hot water in the middle of a cold night.
    As for fuel weight; if the intention is only to make hot, and not boiling, water you will find that a fraction of an ounce of alcohol or of an esbit tablet will do the trick.
    I know there are those folks out there that say they have melted soda bottles using this technique.. Well, don't use boiling water.. Just hot water right?
    As previously stated, this is probably best used as a suplement to comfort rather than a replacement for true insulation value.

    #1936861
    michael levi
    Member

    @m-l

    Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles

    Hot rock works well for me the few times I needed it. Having a sleep system that is accurately rated is the best solution though.

    #1936881
    Gregory Stein
    BPL Member

    @tauneutrino

    Locale: Upper Galilee

    IMHO:
    Nothing holds heat better than water. No matter what you add to it, plain water holds warmth best of all other materials. Heat capacity of water is 1. This is what I remember from school physics…

    #1936979
    Franco Darioli
    Spectator

    @franco

    Locale: Gauche, CU.

    Gatorade and aquafina type bottles work fine as hot water bottles but just make sure it's HOT water and not ridiculously "hot to the point of melting the plastic" water.
    In practice it is pretty simple to have your stove set up just outside your shelter and ready to go for a quick liter of hot water in the middle of a cold night.

    No and no
    Gatorade and Aquafina bottles do not make even remotely a good hot water bottle and for the reason you mentioned : you can't put boiling water in them.
    If you start with hot and not boiling water even inside a "cozy" after 4 hours or so at 40f you will have warm (at best) water not enough to make any difference inside a sleeping bag. Below freezing you will have cold water in an hour or so….
    As for heating up water in the middle of the night, well it might be simple in mild weather but it isn't in below freezing weather particularly on snow.
    The heat you (and your bag) lose by getting out of your bag and spending the time to start the stove, boil, put that in to the water bottle and go back to bed will be more than what you gain from having that liter of hot water.
    Please do keep in mind that bad advice for winter camping can kill.

    #1936995
    David Olsen
    Spectator

    @oware

    Locale: Steptoe Butte

    I have found I get 6 hours of warmth from a 1 quart nalgene bottle full of boiling water stuffed in a wool sock. This I have
    done for weeks at a time. I also keep my stove at the head of my bed so if I need more for one of those 14 hour nights, I can
    reach out and start the stove out from under my tarp and stay in my bag while the water heats. I use a whisperlight stove and
    carry extra fuel just for hot drinks and hot water bottles. On really cold trips I also bring 1 pint bottles and use them in the
    morning in my double boots to prewarm them and then tuck the still warm bottles in my parka pockets or the small of my back
    till camp is broken down.

    Of course you must keep your stove far away from any fabric,

    Be careful of spilled fuel as hazard of fire or contact frostbite.

    CO is a danger in an enclosed shelter.

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