Break the Ice

Source's Winter Kit Plus System & the Hydropak Snowstorm

    Photo: Greg von Doersten

Insider Beta: Winter Hydration

Use the following tips to keep your H2O liquid longer:
1. Before setting out for the day, fill your reservoir or bottle—carefully!—with near-boiling water. (Check your user manual first.)
2. Moving water is slower to freeze: Sip frequently to keep it circulating.
3. The hydration tube is your system's most freeze-prone point. Keep it clear: After every sip, blow excess water back into the bladder.

1.) SOURCE seals its entire WINTER KIT PLUS system—reservoir, insulated hose, and bite valve—inside a zippered mitten of closed-cell foam. Though you can slide the kit into a pack, we suggest you slip on the attached bare-bones shoulder straps and wear it under your shell. Why? When chilled inside a backpack at ten degrees, the swaddled hose and valve resisted freezing for 30 minutes but seized up after an hour; body heat will extend that window considerably. The reservoir—available in 67 or 100 ounces—is excellent, thanks to a glasslike polymer interior that inhibits grunge buildup. ($40; 303-417-0301, www.sourcevagabond.com)

2.) The HYDRAPAK SNOWSTORM fights off Mr. Freeze with a neoprene-covered hose and a capped bite valve. Once we pried off the frozen nozzle cap after an hour at ten degrees, the Snowstorm kept the water coming—but it was the consistency of a Slush Puppie, well on its way to ice. That's probably because the 100-ounce bladder, while buried deep in this daypack, is uninsulated. While the roll-top reservoir was easy to fill and clean, the pack's construction felt a little slight for backcountry duty. Stick to carrying snowshoes and lunch and you'll be fine. ($50; 866-549-0559, www.hydrapak.com)

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