Friday, February 12, 2021

DEC winter recreation tips: Food and water storage

thermosWinter recreation is fun and exciting. It can also be challenging and dangerous. Whether you’re going for a hike, a ski, snowmobiling or ice fishing, Hike Smart NY can help you prepare with a list of 10 essentials, guidance on what to wear, and tips for planning your trip with safety and sustainability in mind.

Food & Water Storage

Proper nutrition and hydration are key to a safe and successful hike, but winter’s cold can bring challenges. In extremely cold temperatures food and water can freeze in your pack. This makes it hard or even impossible to consume what you need to stay hydrated and energized. To avoid food and water freezing, try the following:

  • Insulate water bottles, hydration packs and tubes, and snacks to prevent freezing. You can use canisters designed specifically for the purpose or even wrap bottles and bladders in layers of extra clothing.
  • Break food into small pieces so it’s easier to eat even if it does freeze. Bite-size pieces can thaw in your mouth until they are edible, but breaking a bite off a larger, frozen item might not be possible.
  • Store food and water at the center of your pack to protect it from the elements. Organize your pack so items at the center are still easily accessible.
  • Bring a small backpacking stove to melt water if needed. You’ll also need a small pot or metal cup that can go over the flames.
  • Bring hot food or a hot drink in a thermos. Not only are items that start out hot less likely to freeze, but you can also reheat your body from within with warm food and drink.
  • In every season, choose foods high in calories and nutrients that will easily convert to energy on the trail. Always bring more food than you think you’ll need in case your trip runs long.

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.


3 Responses

  1. Boreas says:

    When winter camping, try to find a site where you can find clean, liquid water. You may need to break a hole in the ice, but boiling liquid water is much faster than trying to get boiling water by melting snow.

    When winter camping below zero, it can be helpful to boil water on your stove just before hitting the sack. This hot water is put in quart bottles, wrapped in socks/gloves and taken into your sleeping bag. One goes down by your feet, one on your chest or close by for hydration.

    While these are warming up your sleeping bag, boil another pot of water. Take this pot, put a lid on it, and bury it in deep snow. You can even put some food against the pot to keep it from freezing solid. The water won’t freeze because of the snow insulation, and when you get up in the morning, there is no need to melt snow to boil water for your morning hot chocolate. You can also bury hot water bottles separately that aren’t in your sleeping bag. The key is you never want to be melting snow when you are cold, but rather when you are warm! You can’t have too much liquid water in winter.

    You NEVER run out of liquid water. In an emergency or even on a lunch break, it takes too long to melt snow. But if snow needs to be melted, always put some liquid water into the pot and get it warming before adding snow. Melting snow without liquid water can damage the pot and also takes too darn long. Aluminum pot grippers are invaluable in winter.

    The longer you wait for your hot hydration, the colder you get!

  2. Pete says:

    You can get small metal pocket flasks at Walmart and other stores. These are probably intended for alcoholic beverages, but hold water just as well. They are rectangular, slightly curved, and designed to go in a pocket close to your body. They are not high capacity, but you will always have at least a little relatively warm liquid water available.

    • Boreas says:


      You can also get them in collapsible soft plastic. The problem with both is the small mouth. Difficult to fill from a pot, but certainly nice for a day trip – especially if it contains snakebite medicine!

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