With the recent temperature drop and temperatures dropping close to zero. On those short 1-2 hour hikes, it sure would be nice to have a cup of hot coffee or cocoa. Just a little something to warm me up when the temperatures drop.
That got me thinking, can you put hot beverages in a hydration bladder? I wash my bladder in water that’s way hotter than I’d ever drink, so I doubt it would do any damage. After thinking about it for a while the only problem I couldn’t see a reason why I couldn’t fill up my Camelbak Hydration Bladder(this is the one I have) with hot coffee.
Putting Coffee in My Camelbak
After extensive research that didn’t lead anywhere, I decided to give the Customer Service line at Camelbak a quick phone call. The women on the other end of the line although very helpful had absolutely no idea.
All she could say was according to the company, hydration paks are not intended for hot liquids. Unconvinced, I had to give it a try, but I didn’t want to ruin my favorite hydration bladder with hot coffee. So I went on Amazon and picked up a cheap generic hydration bladder(this is the one I used).
Although it’s not recommended, you can put coffee in your Camelbak. The only problem is it quickly goes from boiling to freezing cold. So let the coffee cool before drinking and add additional insulation to your hydration pack to keep it hot in cold weather.
How to Put Hot Beverages in a Hydration Bladder
Camelbak doesn’t recommend putting hot beverages in their hydration bladders. With a bite valve, you don’t have enough control to prevent burns.
However, if you let your coffee/cocoa cool it should be safe to drink. Just make sure you insulate your bladder to keep your beverage hot.
Let The Beverage Cool First
After pouring coffee into my hydration bladder, I quickly realized the error of my ways. I took what I thought was a small sip and burned my mouth badly. It’s just so much harder to control the amount of coffee that comes out.
Maybe you like piping hot coffee, but I always need to let my coffee chill a bit. Finding the perfect temperature is almost impossible. There’s a fine line between scalding hot and just right!
Use Non-Dairy Creamer and Sugar Substitutes
Don’t add cream and sugar to your coffee(unless you like the taste of mold and bacteria). Hydration bladders are the perfect breeding ground for mold growth. Think about it, it’s a warm, dark, wet environment.
Instead, use Non-Dairy Creamer and sugar substitutes. I don’t have any science to back this up, but I know bacteria/mold feeds on sugar, so removing sugar will slow down bacterial growth.
Wash out your hydration bladder immediately, or you’ll end up with mold. Do yourself a favor and just buy a cleaning kit and specialized cleaning tablets. Without them, you’ll end up with mold overnight.
Throw your water reservoir in the freezer if you can’t wash it out immediately. Cold temperatures significantly slow down bacteria growth.
Keeping Your Coffee Hot
Hydration packs come with built-in insulation, but it’s not very good. In freezing weather, your coffee will stay warm for 20 minutes at best. The exposed tube and bite valve will be even colder.
If you want to keep your coffee hot you need additional insulation. Personally, I would just buy an insulation sleeve(like this one), but some people make their own insulation with closed-cell foam or bubble wrap
Check out my post on insulating your hydration bladder. The post is focused on keeping your drinks cold, but it will keep your drinks warm as well.
Don’t Forget to Insulate The Tube
For easy access hydration packs always have the tube on the outside of the pack. If you’ve ever used a hydration bladder in the winter you know why this is a problem. In cold weather, the tube and bite valve quickly freeze.
Even if the inside of your pack is nice and hot your first couple sips will always be cold. The only way to prevent this is to insulate the tube. Camelbak sells thermal insulated tubes for their products or you can buy one of these generic tube socks.
Those tube sleeves are cheap and they really work, but some people are cheap. I know people that have made their own out of soft foam insulation and a whole lot of duct tape.