Water Bottle Choices for Backcountry Skiing

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 25, 2006      

In the comments for previous post about Trooper Traverse gear, Ginger wrote that she used a Desani ( bottled water) bottle to save weight over a Nalgene. That sounds like an interesting idea. Downside is that the bottled water container has a small top, and during ski touring traverses you need a bottle you can easily fill from a pot of snowmelt. Also, one wonders how they’d hold up in the cold. Nonetheless this is something to consider for ski traverses, and certainly an option for day trips. Just how much weight does it save? Read on.

Water bottles for backcountry skiing
One liter bottle weight comparo. From left to right: store-bought bottled water, 1.6 oz – 46 g; Nalgene lexan, 6.2 oz – 176 g; Nalgene poly, 3.9 oz – 108 g. BINGO! Just carrying a Nalgene poly instead of a Lexan nets a couple of ounces, but check out the difference between carrying the bottled water container vs the lexan: a whopping 4.6 oz, or more than 1/4 pound!

If you have your master’s in weight control and are going for a doctorate, this kind of thing can help you qualify!

I’ll be experimenting with carrying the bottled water container for day ski touring trips (when I’m not using a drinking bladder), and will try to figure out a way to use it for overnights. At the least I’ll be using Nalgene poly instead of lexan.

Department of bonus weight nerding:
Am I crazy or not (comments are on)? The other day I was playing around with trimming ounces, and realized my car keys were kind of heavy. Out to the WildSnow modshop they went, and came back looking like this! They fit on a mini-biner without a split ring, and really do have less mass. My family thought I was nuts, but then, drilling speed holes in keys is better recreation than watching television, isn’t it? The only question I kept asking myself was, if I skipped one 7-11 buritto on the way out to Utah tomorrow, wouldn’t that save more weight than messing around with my car keys? Then I realized, how about both? Skip the gut bomb, and drill out the keys. Now there is a concept.

Car keys for backcountry skiing


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22 Responses to “Water Bottle Choices for Backcountry Skiing”

  1. Ginger Goodwin January 25th, 2006 9:46 pm

    More on the topic of weight nerding (and I love the drilled keys!).
    Who hasn’t got 1/2 a day in on a long trip and realized they have bunch of loose change jingling around in the depths of their pack? This can really add up particulary for us Canadians. The one dollar coin (Loonie) and the two dollar (Toonie) each weigh 7 grams (1/4 ounce) – yikes! Tip the burrito girl at 7-11 and dump that change.

  2. Woolph January 25th, 2006 10:10 pm

    That’s cool. I dig the oblong hole. Interested to see how it affects the key strength. Knowing your honesty, I’m sure you’ll blog about it when a key tacos on you on a cold morning.

    But wouldn’t leaving the keys at the trailhead, strategically hidden on your truck, save even more weight?

  3. Pierce January 25th, 2006 10:37 pm

    Aquafina-type bottles make good flasks, too.

  4. Shane January 25th, 2006 10:43 pm


    Drilling weight-saving holes in my car keys seems like a good idea to make my keys less noticable when I’m walking around town but for BC purposes why not just leave them stashed somewhere near the vehicle?

  5. George January 25th, 2006 10:45 pm

    How about hiding the keys at the parking lot? Seems easier than drilling holes in all your keys.

  6. Jon Fredericks January 25th, 2006 10:53 pm


    I have been using 32 oz. Gatorade bottles in the backcountry for years, and have never had one leak or break. They are super-light and indestructable. I’ve used them on muti-day spring ski trips as well as summer backpack trips. The opening isn’t as wide as a Nalgene, but it just takes a couple extra seconds of patience to make a clean pour from a pot. No biggie. They are so light that you can throw a couple of extra ones in your pack for use around base camp. Leave your heavy, bulky Nalgenes in the car at the trailhead!

  7. RobinB January 25th, 2006 11:03 pm

    Now lose the biner and use a piece of 3mm cord.

    Check out some of the platypus bottles distributed by Cascade Designs for your water. They are light, and they fold up when empty, which is great when you have a small (read light) pack.

    I don’t think you need a pen and a pencil!

  8. Pat Essig January 25th, 2006 11:10 pm

    Yes, drilling speed holes in keys is a vastly superior activity compared to TV. But your family may still be right, you could be crazy, crazy like a fox. Just be careful you don’t snap off those now thin keys in any locks. Although my guess would be you a have a tool to get those out too. Have fun in Utah.

  9. Ron January 25th, 2006 11:11 pm

    Another issue to consider is the retention of flavors. In my experience, the Nalgene poly bottle retains flavors. For example, if you mix some orange juice in with your water, and then later put just water in the same bottle, you’ll still have that orange juice taste. The Lexan bottles do not retain flavors. I don’t know if the bottles from the store-bought water retain flavors.

  10. Lou January 25th, 2006 11:20 pm

    Wow, thank for the excellent comments everyone! Indeed yes, we do leave the keys hidden at the car sometimes, and we have a hidakey that’s always on the car, but I’ve always liked having the keys with me so I can hand them to another person in an emergency, rather than trying to describe where the key hide is, in the midst of a weather event or medical emergency. Also, I’m in the habit of carrying them most places, so sometimes I simply forget the idea of stashing them and end up with them in my pack or pocket, so having light weight keys is nice for that as well.

  11. Lou January 25th, 2006 11:22 pm

    P.S., I’ve used the cord instead of biner idea, but like to be able to clip the keys to my belt while in civilization. But I might drill out the biner (grin).

  12. Frank January 26th, 2006 12:46 am

    I’ll have to get the balance back out (last used for Pinewood Derby prep) and weigh my lock picks – my preferred choice over keys since I usually arrive at the trailhead with nothing but fumes left 🙂

    For day trips, I enjoy using the bladders that some folks are selling water in, Park City Icewater, for instance. Not sure of the weight, but certainly less than my trusty Nalgenes. Best, I like that they essentially disappear as you empty them. Second best, I like that I can tuck one into a pocket and get a cushion instead of a hard lump should a tumble sneak in. Not sure how they’ll do as far as odor retention. Downside, they take a funnel to refill.

  13. Kevin January 26th, 2006 1:03 am

    I was surprised to see you’d you left the label on the Aquafina bottle – even more savings!!! Unless, of course it’s a sponsorship deal 🙂

  14. Mark January 26th, 2006 1:17 am

    You must have titanium keys and wire gate mini biners (have ’em at EMS and they hold up much better than the standard ones).


  15. Beau L. January 26th, 2006 3:41 am

    Neat ideas, but better make sure your car keys don’t have one of them fancy security micro-chips (that won’t allow you to start your car) or you’ll be stranded at home and making all that weight savings somewhat pointless ;~)

  16. Sean January 26th, 2006 3:45 am

    “Am I crazy or not”

    Of course you are, aren’t we all. 🙂

    What kind of scale do you use for your weight nerding?

  17. Dmitriy Yegoshin January 26th, 2006 5:05 am

    Maybe cheese hole the lexan bottle…. will help reduce some wieght?

    Do you really need all those keys? Realisticly you only need your car key, leave all other in the car.

  18. Lou January 26th, 2006 6:38 am

    Good methods all! Thanks for the ideas!

    Scale is a Pelouze digital postal scale, it seems to work fairly well.


  19. Chris January 26th, 2006 8:13 am

    A further consideration pertains to your comment Lou, about filling snow melt. Weak little plastic spring water bottles and on occasion, Poly bottles, do not hold up to snow melt brought to a boil. An issue if one puts a “hot bottle” into their sleeping bag at night (if you are saving wieght a lighter bag is helpful; thus a hot bottle is key). These bottles, the spring water in particular, leak and spew heated water.


  20. Lou January 26th, 2006 8:28 am

    Wow, good tip Chris!

  21. cjw January 25th, 2006 11:07 pm

    I’m with Ginger, but I started using tonic water bottles because I kept loosing or breaking nalgenes, and at $7 a pop….

  22. Ian January 27th, 2006 12:44 pm

    Two health factors to keep in mind:

    1) bottles need to be cleaned frequently to prevent bacterial growth…narrow mouthed bottles are very hard to clean, so don’t keep them for too many repeat uses.

    2) rumor has it that lexan leaches toxic nastiness into water, especially as the material ages – and exposure to high temperatures accelerates the aging, so avoid putting hot water into lexan nalgenes, and don’t put them in the dishwasher.

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