One of the many challenges winter cyclists face is trying to keep their water bottles from freezing on long rides. Riding three or four hours in freezing temperatures is not all that difficult, but having to drink slushy cold Gatorade doesn’t exactly make you feel warm inside! While there are several good ways to keep the contents of your water bottle warm, the Outdoor Research Water Bottle Parka is one of the best I’ve tried.
The Outdoor Research Water Bottle Parka is a container made of a water-resistant, coated nylon fabric with a polyester knit lining. The closed-cell foam insulation in this parka does a tremendous job at keeping the temperature of the liquid in your bottles steady. I know I’ve not tested this product to its limits, but after five hours outside with the temperature in the single digits my drinks were still plenty warm. I have not tried this product in hot weather, but all indications are that it will excel.
The Water Bottle Parka comes in three sizes. Size #1 is for water bottles like the 1L Nalgene. Size #2 fits a .5L Nalgene or 21-ounce Camelbak Podium Chill bottle (like the one you probably use in the water bottle cage on your bike). Size #3 fits bottles like the 40-ounce Klean Kanteen, the 40-ounce CamelBak or the 1L Sigg. I use the Size #2 and it is 12.25 inches tall and 3.75 inches wide (exterior dimensions).
The biggest challenge to using the Water Bottle Parka for winter biking is finding a good way to attach it to your bike. The Water Bottle Parka comes with a reinforced nylon strap with a hook and loop closure, so you could just attach it to your handlebars. However, if you ride in the winter you probably already have a rack of some sort on your bike that you could use. I use two Salsa Anything Cages mounted to the front forks of my Surly Necromancer Pugs.
Outdoor Research makes gear and clothing for a variety of outdoor sports, including rock climbing, ice climbing, hiking, backpacking, paddling and skiing. While none of their products are cycling-specific, they do have a lot of products that should be of interest to any winter cyclist.
The Outdoor Research #2 Water Bottle Parka is available in two colors (Red or Dark Grey), and retails for $24. This is not the type of product you are likely to find at your local bike shop, but you can order them from Amazon.com if you can’t find them at a local sporting goods store.