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Can You Freeze Nalgene Water Bottles?

Nalgene water bottles in a row

There’s nothing more refreshing than taking a sip from an ice cold bottle of water on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, keeping your water cold can be harder than it seems. Tossing in a few handfuls of ice works for a while, but is there anything else you can do? Can you freeze a Nalgene water bottle and have ice cold water all day long?

You can freeze Nalgene water bottles, but make sure the bottle is only 2/3 full to prevent cracking. The water needs room to expand inside the bottle as it freezes. Just top off the bottle with cold water once you take it out of the freezer and put it in an insulated sleeve so the water stays cold all day long.

Nalgene water bottles can be frozen, but how do I keep it frozen over a long hike? Keep reading to learn a few tips for keeping your bottle cold longer.

How To Freeze A Nalgene Water Bottle

Nalgene bottle freezer

Nalgene bottles are perfect for two very simple reasons. They use a very simple design and extremely durable. Just unscrew the top, fill it up, and screw it back down. There won’t be any leakage and it’s almost impossible to damage them.

Let me clarify that! There is one way to accidentally damage your Nalgene bottle. Putting it in the freezer without leaving room for water to expand can make quick work of a seemingly indestructible bottle. As ice forms it will slowly works its way up and smash through the thin plastic lid.

So how do you protect your Nalgene bottle and keep it from cracking? It’s really simple! Just leave a few inches of room at the top of the bottle for expansion. Nalgene recommends only filling the bottle 2/3-3/4 full if you want to put it in the freezer. The cold isn’t a concern since Tritan plastic can handle extreme temperatures without becoming brittle.

Once you have a frozen bottle of water, it’s time to top it off and head off to whatever fun activity you have in mind. I also recommend picking up an insulated sleeve (On Amazon) on hot summer days. Nalgene brand sleeves can be pricey so you may want to shop around for an off brand option since they’re all basically the same.

I personally like the basic slip on sleeves since they’re easier to use, but heat can penetrate the top of them. Nalgene’s insulated carrier that has a zip on lid is better on long hikes when the weathers unbearably hot. It fully encapsulates the bottle and doesn’t let heat get in. This is also the best option in the winter when you have to worry about the bottle freezing up.

Will A Nalgene Water Bottle Break If Frozen?

Yes your bottle will most likely break in the freezer if there’s not enough room for expansion. You should only fill the bottle 2/3-3/4 full if you want to put it in the freezer. The lid is usually the weakest point on the bottle so that’s where it normally breaks. Sides may crack under stress, but Tritan plastic is surprisingly durable so that’s unlikely.

If you accidentally overfill the bottle and the lid breaks you can always pick up a replacement. They sell them at any outdoor store and most sporting good stores. You can pick them up on Amazon as well, but the price is prohibitively expensive due to shipping.

Replacement lids are about half the price of a new bottle on Amazon so you can make up your own mind. If you choose to go that route it might be worth looking into lids that have easy sip openings. I really like Nalgene’s On The Fly Top. It has a flip top so you can open the bottle with one hand and don’t need to screw off the lid. That makes getting water so much easier when you’re hiking with trekking poles or wearing gloves.

Use An Insulated Sleeve To Keep It Cold Longer

Insulated Nalgene Water Bottle Sleeve

I always avoided buying an insulated sleeve, because of the price, but they’re a real game changer. It will keep your ice frozen for a few hours on a hot day and refills won’t heat up so fast. I’ve frozen my bottle and had ice last 4+ hours on 80 degree days.

You get a slow trickle of ice cold water, but it will take a while for the ice to melt. I recommend either filling it halfway so there’s room for water at the top or carrying a second bottle to drink from at the beginning of the day. I’ve had to forgo water for a few hours, because I had one giant block of ice in my bottle. It does help ration your water since you can only take a few sips at a time, but it can be a pain waiting for it to melt.

All of the sleeve style sleeves are basically the same so pick out whichever one is cheapest (or prettiest). They have a bunch of different colored options on Amazon whereas my local outdoor store only had green and blue.

On longer hikes you may want to consider Nalgene’s insulated carrier that has a zip on lid. These are mostly used for winter backpacking trips where you have to prevent freezing but it also helps keep your water cold on hot days. The only downside is it can be a pain to zip it off and you have that lid flapping into your nose.