Bumped to the top due to the appropriateness of the subject…..
Arctic Canteens, Steel Canteens, thermos bottles, hydration carriers: The one thing they have in common is that they will ALL freeze up in winter conditions so long as the ambient temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. How fast depends on the temperature. So, how do we keep our water in its liquid state while we’re out pulling security patrols or on OP/LP’s for our Neighborhood Protection Area?
First, let’s look at what doesn’t work. The picture immediately below is a good example. This man’s LBE is set up for temps above freezing because the hydration carrier is set up on the outside of his gear, and he will eventually have a large block of ice on his back, depending on temperature, and if he’s in my AO, it will be sooner than later.
Sure, you can get yourself a couple of arctic winter or steel canteens that you can warm slowly over a fire, but that means stopping and taking your focus away from the mission, in this case, a security patrol or NPT OP/LP. Yes, the OP/LP is static, but the idea is to not be discoverable, and a fire, even an almost smokeless fire would help give away the position, right? That’s not to mention the extra weight and real estate on your LBE, patrol pack or ruck that the canteens will take up.
So, what can be done?
DTG’s alternative is a very simple method we’ve used for the last 5 years or so that works well. The water in our hydration carriers stays in its liquid state no matter how cold it gets, and after the first couple sips, is sometimes is warmed to tepid levels from the wearer’s body heat.
To do so requires the NPT member to adjust his LBE (or ‘kit’, if you will) for a winter set up.
Take the Hydration Carrier off the LBE and extend it’s small pack straps. Now adjust it so it’s worn over your outer shirt and under the liner of your field coat (for demonstration purposes, the picture shows the dummy wearing a t-shirt, but depending on your layering, it could be over an outer shirt or sweater). Now take the drinking tube and bring it up underneath the non-shooting arm and clip the bite valve up near the top of your chest wear you can reach it after you have everything, including your LBE, on.
The wearer’s body heat will keep the water liquid without causing loss of body heat when moving or sitting in one location for an extended period.
This is a great time to mention loose fitting outwear. It shouldn’t be so large as to be unmanageable, but it should be large enough to fit your hydration carrier underneath with a bit of slack.
There’s going to be some trial and error in this step as you must adjust your battle belt and harness larger so it doesn’t bind your arms and fits properly. Once you’ve put your LBE over your outer coat, your back is now clear, and your patrol pack or ruck will carry very comfortably.
You will also find that the LBE and patrol pack or ruck will provide a bit of pressure so that when you drink, it doesn’t take much effort. A word of caution: You must ensure you have a quality bladder and check for leaks when setting up. We’ve found the FILBE II Hydration Pack with the Camelbak ‘Antidote’ bladder doesn’t leak and can take a lot of abuse. YMMV.
And there you have it. This is how we stay hydrated during winter training and don’t worry about our hydration bladders turning into a chuck of ice.