Camelbak failure and a close call on a cold night

9:05 a.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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Howdy folks, just wanted to take a moment to let everyone know of a camelbak failure that I had recently which resulted in a fairly bad situation.

So I will start off by saying that I have been using camelbaks for probably 10-11 years now. I started out using them in the military and they were a godsend. I have been using the black military issue  heavy duty camelbaks until recently when i bought a new camelbak pack which came with one of the new blue omega water beast resivoirs. Esentially the same item from what i can tell except its blue.

I used this new pack and bladder probably 10-15 times and had no issue. On my last night hike this past Wed. I was about 8-10 miles away from a road following fairly rough terrain. I had been dropped off by my wife and she was going to pick me up 12 hours later in the AM when she got out of work.

I was roughly 8 miles into my hike and it was around 1 or 2 am, and all of a sudden I start to get really cold but couldnt really tell why(i was still actively moving). I kept on moving for another 10-15 minutes and all of a sudden I could feel water running down my legs. The stupidest thing i did was instead of dropping the pack i swung it around my front to investigate, at the same time a huge deluge of water came out of the bottom of the pack and soaked alot of my front side as well. I dropped the pack and investigated and sure enough my camelbak was leaking badly.

I have already returned it and wish I would have taken a picture to show yall but i forgot. The plastic ruptured/tore/failed however i should word it at the top of the bladder on the left hand side of the main opening. If you look at the main opening just past the threaded area you will see a small section of plastic extending out maybe 1/4in that goes around the entire opening area. I assume this is some sort of reinforcement for when you are carrying the bladder by the handle. In any case the bladder sprung a leak right there on that line where the bladder material meets that plastic. The leak was about 3/4in-1in in length and only very thin like a typical tear etc would be.

With every step i would take water would come out of the top of the bladder, and spray out into my pack, which eventually soaked through to my shirt and ran out of the drain holes in the bottom of my pack and thoroughly soaked the back of my pants.

Ok so it was about 0F outside, with a 15-20mph wind. AKA bloody cold. Being a "day hike" I did not have too many supplies with me. Basically all i had was a map, compass, headlamp, camelbak w/3 liter water, knife, fire starting kit, few snacks, thermos with 4 cups coffee, first aid kit, hard shell jacket and a nano puff.

Ok so there I am with  soaked clothes(the entire back side of my pants is soaked, as is the back  and front of my wool sweater and shir, as is my gloves)t., its freezing cold, and I can rapidly feel the feeling in my hands and legs going away, and i am starting to shiver violently. No one knows where I am really except for my wife, but she isn;t expecting me for another 5-6 hours when she gets outa work and will meet me at the TH. I have no cell phone signal. I quickly strip down and put on my nano puff and hardshell. I quickly prepare an area for a fire, and get one going in short order thanks to my emergency fire starting kit. By the time my fire was going well enough to be self sufficient and provide enough warmth I was really nearing the edge of hypothermia i believe, and my entire body was shivering violently and my hands were very very numb. Like so bad you cant even use a handheld item bad, i broke probably 6 matches before i was able to successfully light one, and there was no way i was going to be using a lighter.

I was able to dry out all of my clothing with the fire, and warm myself back up and still get to the TH for the appointed time, but it sure turned out to be an interesting night!

So the lesson learned here, is to always have the appropiate gear with you even if only on a day/night hike. I never usualyl carry spare clothing on a day hike, but think i will carry a spare set of baselayers from now on during the winter as I do on winter overnight backpacking trips. The reason i was reluctant to take off my pack earlier when i first started to feel cold on my back was because i had the camelbak tube run under my shirt to keep it warm. So if i would have taken it off at the first sign i could have prevented getting soaked, running the hose under the shirt is good to keep it warm, but makes getting the pack off more difficult and time consuming.

Also, i strongly urge any of you that use camelbaks to thoroughly inspect them for this wear around the main opening. A total of about 2 1/2 liters leaked out in my case i am guestimating and it really made an impact! And no, nothing in the pack poked a hole or rubbed a hole in it. This was purely a failure of the bladder material itself.

10:55 a.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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WOW! What a NIGHT! I agree and always get flack from my pals about what I carry even on short, populated hikes. I always have a dry bag with extra stuff and as long as I do I will probably never need it! HA! I have never even considered a failing of the bladder and your report is another helpful one as I will be inspecting mine and getting a back up!

10:57 a.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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TheRambler,

Thanks for the heads up and great reminder.

My experience has been (yours too I'm sure) that if you spend enough time out, sooner or later things go wrong that a reasonable amount of planning doesn't always take into account, so having the emergency items with you fills that gap. (gap insurance?)

I had a similar but more embarrassing wetting a few winters ago while I was out scouting fishing spots, I slipped on a log and fell into a creek. It was just plain carelessness.

Now my daypack has extra clothes & a lightweight bivy for winter hikes. I like to call it my halo pack since my baptism in a mountain stream was the inspiration.

Very good post!

11:06 a.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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I had never had an issue with a camelbak ever before, and I used them in the military with heavy heavy loads in my packs and all kinds of sharp pointy objects, and never a leak. So i never felt the need to have a pack liner. However, now i think I may start to use a pack liner whenever I am using a bladder. Would have prevented most of this disaster.

11:13 a.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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Another good tip! Gonna look at pack liners now!

11:46 a.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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I forgot to say that I started the fire with a 3in piece of a fireworks sparkler and lit the sparkler with a match, i also used a strip of birch bark from my kit. I had done some testing with the sparkler pieces last year and since that have been carrying them in my kit. They proved to work like a charm just the same as they did in my tests.

This time of year just drives home the point of being prepared both with the gear and knowledge to be able to start a fire under adverse conditions, whether its if you slipped and fell in a creek, fell through the ice, or got soaked by your own camelbak! Being able to start a fire with your body shivering uncontrollably and being barely able to feel your hands is challenging and can be down right impossible IMO if your relying on a lighter.

This experience has me closely evaluating what I carry in my fire kit. As I stated i broke quite a few matches before i was able to actually light one without breaking it due to my body shaking/shivering. I think if I was more than a few minutes later getting a match lit it could have developed into a much worse situation.

I am trying to think of something that is easy to light without much fine dexterity. A road flare is lit by just slamming the end on the ground right?

12:15 p.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

I am trying to think of something that is easy to light without much fine dexterity. A road flare is lit by just slamming the end on the ground right?

 How qbout one of those trigger pull lighters for lighting the BBQ?


lighter.jpg

12:25 p.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks for sharing.  

I stopped using bladders a few years ago and only use Platypus bottles when it is warm.  They are so light that I bring a couple of extras should one spring a leak and carry them on the outside of my pack.

In the winter I carry Nalgenes. I have never had one of them fail.

1:26 p.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks for the information, I have never used bladders because of the site and other sites telling about bladders breaking.  I carry 2 Platypus bottles, but when full I use them first, one on my shoulder strap and one hanging down on my ice ax loop.  I like the klean kanteen which I use 2 40oz and 1 16 oz insulated which I carry on the outside of the pack during the winter.

2:19 p.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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I don't typically carry a bladder on overnight hikes unless it is summer. In the winter i typically use 2-3 nalgene bottles. Only on day hikes do i use a bladder all the time.

3:42 p.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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As for easy to use fire starting check out the glycerin-potassium permanganate method in this thread.

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/gear-selection/topics/77183.html



4:15 p.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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The PP and glycerin trick is definitely a good option for anything above 70F or so as it is almost instant. However, the colder it gets the longer it takes. I have timed the reaction at 0F and it takes almost 20 minutes! I believe it is around 10 minutes even at 50F.  That is a no go for winter emergency use. Yes, it requires little dexterity to use, just pour the two together. As long as you use glycerin and not sugar all you have to do is pour them together. Using sugar is a little safer from the reactivity stand point, but all you have to do is grind the sugar into the PP with a stick etc.

 

4:21 p.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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i haven't had a camelbak fail like that, and we have 3 of various ages - one is at least several years old.  things do have a habit of failing at bad times, and it makes sense that short of a puncture, a water bladder would fail at a point where the material already ends - the top or the hose entry point.  

good recommendation re: carrying spares.  even on day hikes, i have spares of some items of clothing (extra shirt or baselayer, socks, glove liners/hat in cooler weather) squashed into a dry bag.  anticipating unexpected rain more than a bladder failure.

given that this was a day hike, i assume the top didn't somehow ice up. hypothetically, i could envision icing plus friction from a well-stuffed pack playing some role in a failure, but i'm speculating.  

i don't use bladders below 30 or so b/c the drink tube tends to freeze up. 

if you carry decent tinder, a fire steel can ignite them, and it's easier to use with fumbly cold fingers.  

4:28 p.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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I agree that a fire steel is fairly easy to use. However, have you tried it with cold, shaking, numb hands? I think that being able to direct the sparks or even create a good spark would be exteremely difficult.

4:47 p.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
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i have started stoves w/frozen fingers plenty.  not with the shakes, i haven't experienced hypothermia to any really significant degree, and not a fire.  i agree, nothing is easy when one is cold, shaking, depleted.  just observing that it's really easy to break a wood match, but very difficult to break a steel sparker.  i have never had terribly good control over where all those little sparks go.  having good tinder hopefully helps with that - store bought or home made balls of wood shavings blended with paraffin, something like that, so sparks firing in the general direction will hopefully do the job.  if i have a stove, i'm not above splashing a little white gas on a ball of toilet paper.  hard to find something easier to ignite with a random spark.  

sounds like you worked it out well despite the mishap.  

1:45 a.m. on January 9, 2012 (EST)
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Has anybody ever used one of these.


440

It's advertised as one-handed. It's from Ultimate Survival Technologies. The people who make WetFire.

6:48 a.m. on January 9, 2012 (EST)
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What is that, the blast match ocala?

@leadbelly

I am an avid winter backpacker, and too have started stoves with frozen fingers aplenty. However, this was definitely leaps and bounds beyond that. I did not try to use my flint and steel because i thought it a useless endeavor. You have to have some amount of grip to be able to effectively use a fire steel IMO. In this case, i don't think i could have had a good enough grip on the fire steel to use it, though i didn't try so i don't know for sure.

The only issue with using white gas etc to aid in a situation like this is the shakes, a good idea in theory, but you need to be darn careful that you don't accidentally douse yourself as well due to the violent shaking. You becoming a human fireball probably wouldn't help the situation.

I try to always use a more primitive method to start a fire under normal circumstances, this includes my fire steel, fire piston etc. However, as i am sure anyone knows that has done it , it is fairly easy but does take prep of proper tinder and somewhat good conditions. IMO a fire steel is not a valid choice for an emergency fire, though i am sure it would work eventually.

Luckily in my case everything(the tinder, fuel wood etc) wasn't wet, which made things somewhat easier. I view an emergency fire starter as something that can easily and effectively start wet or damp tinder, kindling, and fuel wood. That is why i went with the sparkler pieces as my emergency starter.

10:25 a.m. on January 9, 2012 (EST)
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That is a different model.  It's called a Sparkie.

2:09 a.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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giftogab said:

.. I always have a dry bag with extra stuff and as long as I do I will probably never need it! HA!...

Oh I am a firm believer that certain totems, like tents, rain gear, and stuff for emergencies wards off the angry gods that seeks to soak our clothes and ruin our outings. It seems every time I decide to bring only the most minimal of protection is when nature decides to deliver its full measure.   Keep bringing that dry sack of back up stuff; hopefully the only use it will see is to support someone else less prepared. 

----------------

To that end when I go on winter day hikes I bring enough gear to bivouac the night, even though I intend to be down the hill by sunset.
---------------- 

I know I sound like Chicken Little, regarding the foibles of camelback style canteens, but bladder failure has always worried me.  That and the hassles of potable water hygiene with this device.   Hence this old bird still prefers the poly water bottles with a cap.  Even these can fail, however.  I sterilize my bottles with a solution of bleach.  Pickle these bottles enough times thusly, and the accumulated pickle time will brittle the bottle walls, causing them to eventually split.  I retire bottles that lose their suppleness.  Perhaps this seam failure the OP describes on his camelback is age/use related, alluding the prudent should retire old bladder style canteens before they too result in seam failures?

Ed

3:59 a.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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ocalacomputerguy said:

Has anybody ever used one of these.


440

It's advertised as one-handed. It's from Ultimate Survival Technologies. The people who make WetFire.

I had the misfortune/stupidity to experience hypothermia twice.  Ken is correct in his assertions your hands are pretty much useless.  For example upon returning to my camp I could not summon the strength or coordination in my fingers necessary to unzip my tent (I used my teeth).  Thus I don’t think I could have operated any flint spark fire starting tools, including the BlastMatch and Sparkie.  But I sustained a full on chill, past the point of shivering.  I also agree with Ken that poor coordination makes working a white gas stove under such a situation more dangerous than foregoing the stove.  If you are using the stove for warmth, build a fire or get in your sleeping bag.  If using it to melt snow or ice for drinking water, warm yourself up first, then deal with dehydration once you are re-warmed.

Karen is closer to the solution, IMO, with the trigger lighter wand.  After my experiences, I started carrying a piezo-electric  hurricane lighter, and a dozen ¼” Diameter, 2” long tubes of rolled up newspaper soaked with paraffin in my survival kit.  Three tubes provides about a five minute flame big enough to start a fire.  I think few other solutions are as effective as the hurricane lighter.  The paraffin tubes can be substituted for other materials, as long as the alternative can be immersed and still be fit to ignite and sustain a flame for several minutes.

Ed

7:06 a.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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This camelback was 23 days old exactly when it failed. It was essentially brand new

10:01 a.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

This camelback was 23 days old exactly when it failed. It was essentially brand new

 Wow, that has to be a really freak occurance.

Ed

10:19 a.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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I never leave home without the dry sack, Ed....you can bet the first time I do will be the time I need it most.

11:06 a.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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I've experienced the same spiteful fates :)

These days, I pretty much always have the basics and at least a warm jacket in a day pack when even just on a short day hike. Especially when I start from the town trails, I often get looks that say "what's up with that nut?" from people who don't even have a bottle of water.  Oh well, they also think the old spill way is Rainbow falls, when in fact the real deal is a fantastic 80 footer that is a 1/4 down the canyon.  I also get looks of "where the heck is he going?!" when I head off into the gorge on my way to choice spots they'll never enjoy.

11:40 a.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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Whomeworry said:

giftogab said:

.. I always have a dry bag with extra stuff and as long as I do I will probably never need it! HA!...

Oh I am a firm believer that certain totems, like tents, rain gear, and stuff for emergencies wards off the angry gods that seeks to soak our clothes and ruin our outings. It seems every time I decide to bring only the most minimal of protection is when nature decides to deliver its full measure.   Keep bringing that dry sack of back up stuff; hopefully the only use it will see is to support someone else less prepared.

Careful there...  You'll anger the gods flaunting your magic charms and they'll make you sacrifice them to see if you actually know how to use them.

__________________________________________

Does that lighter have one of those child safety locks on it? The trigger type that gift showed probably has one that you have to push on with your thumb.

6:12 p.m. on January 10, 2012 (EST)
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gonzan said:

I've experienced the same spiteful fates :)

These days, I pretty much always have the basics and at least a warm jacket in a day pack when even just on a short day hike. Especially when I start from the town trails, I often get looks that say "what's up with that nut?" from people who don't even have a bottle of water.  Oh well, they also think the old spill way is Rainbow falls, when in fact the real deal is a fantastic 80 footer that is a 1/4 down the canyon.  I also get looks of "where the heck is he going?!" when I head off into the gorge on my way to one choice spots they'll never enjoy.

 I get those looks too!

I figure I have learned the hard way I'd rather have enough stuff with me to survive a cold night than to leave it at home.

My daypack could certainly be lighter, but then again it helps with training for backpacking the way I look at it.

I was once called "Mr survival dude" by some teenagers on the trail wearing blue jeans & cotton hoodies.

I just smiled and waved back remembering when I did the same things.

12:04 a.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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I like that fire kit, Ed.

I took an unexpected dunk in a creek once, during a day-hike in winter, and ever since then I carry one of these:

http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/product.php?product=146&catname=Shelter&prodname=SOL%20Thermal%20Bivvy

in winter, an AMK SOL Thermal Bivy, and in summer, one of these:

http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/product.php?product=144&catname=Shelter&prodname=SOL%20Emergency%20Bivvy

the AMK SOL Emergency Bivy.

12:52 a.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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I have one of those torch lighters that use a push button it start it.  I have not been as cold as you were, but I was able to use it with numb hands, I just had to be careful were the flame was (blue torch like flame) because it will take your skin off in just seconds.  But it's great for starting fire jell or something like that.  In fact I am sure you could light it with just using a finger and holding it in your other hand. 

I try to stay a way from matches and roll lighters and stuff that take a lot of work in a survival situation, not that I don't carry stuff like that, but I try to always use the easy stuff first.   Ever try to strike a strike any where match on a wet rock!!

Very Glad everything worked out Rambler and that your OK.

Wolfman

1:28 a.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

now i think I may start to use a pack liner whenever I am using a bladder. Would have prevented most of this disaster.

I've been keeping my water bladder inside one of those heavy-duty grocery bags.  I guess it wouldn't help much in a catastrophic failure (it would overflow) but at least if there's a small leak, or even condensation, it should help keep my other stuff dry.

I guess the safest bet would be to use a pack liner as you described, and keep the bladder on the outside of that...

I know this is off the topic of the OP, sorry, but I'm actually curious about the hiking at 1am, especially when it's 0F with a 20mph wind.  I don't think it's ever occurred to me to do this - except maybe to get in to a campsite at the start of a trip.  I guess that's one way to avoid crowds on the trails :).

3:43 a.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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I check my reservoir before each trip, and it is protected in an Unbottle case (from Camelbak). It also insulates it from the cold. I have a tube wrap and have been fine into the teens without freezing (unless I leave it out all night).

Rambler, so glad you made it out okay. Despite my precautions, I still take at least (1) 1L bottle, often two - if they're not holding water, I'm storing other things in them (wide-Mouth tops).

I repaired my son's off-brand reservoir cap with an epoxy glue, and it's held up for the last 2 years.

5:37 a.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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Lol, maybe I am just a nut case to go hiking in the middle of the night in winter. What can I say. I guess I just really like night hiking and the winter season in general.

6:57 a.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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pillowthread said:

I like that fire kit, Ed.

I took an unexpected dunk in a creek once, during a day-hike in winter, and ever since then I carry one of these:

http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/product.php?product=146&catname=Shelter&prodname=SOL%20Thermal%20Bivvy

in winter, an AMK SOL Thermal Bivy, and in summer, one of these:

http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/product.php?product=144&catname=Shelter&prodname=SOL%20Emergency%20Bivvy

the AMK SOL Emergency Bivy.

I have not tried the lined membrene bivi of your first link, so do not know how well that works.  But I do carry the basic space blanket, have used it before, and was very impressed how much shelter per ounce that product affords.

Ed

10:59 a.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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Glad you are ok.  You survived so you must have done it right.

I wonder what Camelback will have to say after reading about your epic.

 

Jeff

11:04 a.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

Lol, maybe I am just a nut case to go hiking in the middle of the night in winter. What can I say. I guess I just really like night hiking and the winter season in general.

Haha! If  that makes you a nut case, I am one as well. I have fallen in love with night hiking. There is nothing more wonderful that making your way in the mountains by moon and starlight alone! I hiked four miles at 9k+ by moonlight in the Tetons, the only hairy moment was when I disturbed a bull moose. He REALLY didn't like that I was in his "bedroom" in the middle of the night. 

pillowthread said:

http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/product.php?product=144&catname=Shelter&prodname=SOL%20Emergency%20Bivvy

the AMK SOL Emergency Bivy.

  I just got one of the SOL bivys to replace my ubiquitous mylar space blanket. I was glad to have the cheap mylar blanket on my last trip, though, as I accidentally left my sleeping pad, and I was in the snow. If you have one of the mylar ones, be sure to check it's condition from time to time; I was shocked to find the "chrome" coating was fading in large sections.

11:15 a.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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I've experienced the precursors to hypothermia on a number of occasions:leaden feet and hands, severe shivering, etc., but only had more severe onset once when I was 18. I was fortunately never in any real danger, as it was late summer in the Slick Rock wilderness, I was with competent friend, and had the gear and experience to handle it. The culprit, however, was playing and swimming in 55-60F water for a couple hours. I was already bluish and chilled when the sunlight left the deep gorge, and the temp fell pretty quickly. This left all of us with uncontrollable, nearly convulsive shivering, which was a new experience for me. I mad my way back up the waterway to camp, built a fire, and was in the clear pretty quickly. Just getting out of the water and climbing back up to camp warmed me up quite a bit. Even still, it took a couple hours to feel completely warm again.

2:49 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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Kinda on-topic:  If you could experience hypothermia, in a safe, controled environment, in order to get to know its symptoms and how to cope, would you try it?

I might.

 

Jeff

3:02 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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This could have been a really bad situation. I'm glad to see ya made it back ok.

Just goes with the whole thought that anyone can have the best gear in the world but its the knowledge of how to adapt and over-come adverse situations that really matters when you know what hits the fan. 

4:09 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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@Sage Well, i didn't really want to, but was subjected to near hypothermia and actual hypothermia dozens upon dozens of times while going through BUDs when I was in the Navy. It was a very brutal, but enlightening experience.

4:14 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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BUDs?  Were you a SEAL? Weren't you also in the USAF? SERE?

TheRambler, international man of mystery!

4:33 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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@sage

Yes.  Near hypothermia, nothing that requires hospitalization. But definitely enough to get severe shakes and try to start a fire. 

7:37 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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I was not in the USAF , however I did go to SERE school, many branches go to SERE. I was on a SEAL SDV team, was in the Navy for 9.5 years.

8:42 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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bheiser1 said:


I know this is off the topic of the OP, sorry, but I'm actually curious about the hiking at 1am, especially when it's 0F with a 20mph wind.  I don't think it's ever occurred to me to do this - except maybe to get in to a campsite at the start of a trip.  I guess that's one way to avoid crowds on the trails :).

 I love love love night hiking, particularly when its bright out in the middle of winter.  Very different experience.  The senses switch and compensate here and there.

8:50 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

Kinda on-topic:  If you could experience hypothermia, in a safe, controled environment, in order to get to know its symptoms and how to cope, would you try it?

 It's probably a great idea.  I know people are skeptical about its affects, so they have to learn for themselves.

I don't have the time to go into all the details, but I experienced it on the Superior Hiking Trail.  I took the wrong trail, even though I knew I wasn't supposed to take that turn.  I thought about it specifically as I was in that location, and I still made the wrong move, knowing I should be always  headed downhill and this turn took me up a long ascent.  I bivied that night, and when I woke up in the morning, I was only a few feet from a 100ft cliff.  If I'd rolled over in my sleep, I would've died.  With that experience, I learned full-well how mountaineers simply walk off the sides of mountains amidst hypothermia.  My brain was working and recognizing, yet I was making senseless decisions one after the other.

9:18 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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my college outing club had a tradition of skinny-dipping in streams, if available, after hiking all day in the winter.  the more ice bobbing in a pool the better.  a shock to the system.  gave more than a few people the serious hypothermic shakes.  having warmed people up over the years, it's no fun sharing a sleeping bag with a freezing, shuddering person.       

to quote a favorite saying, "just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid." 

10:40 p.m. on January 11, 2012 (EST)
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"Lol, maybe I am just a nut case to go hiking in the middle of the night in winter. What can I say. I guess I just really like night hiking and the winter season in general." - Rambler

I'm with you on night hikes, in the cold. It's exhilarating. I've always loved mountain biking at night too. My favorite adventure of all time was sneaking on a ski run at Big Bear Resort on my mtb - snow flying everywhere.

12:03 a.m. on January 12, 2012 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

Lol, maybe I am just a nut case to go hiking in the middle of the night in winter. What can I say. I guess I just really like night hiking and the winter season in general.

Oh, I didn't mean to imply there was anything wrong with it :).  I just found it interesting because it wasn't really something I'd considered doing, especially on a cold windy winter night.  I've considered night hikes to reach a camping destination - but not a night hike for the sake of a hike (like a day hike).  Well, only very short hikes... like to get to a moonlit vista near my campsite.  Just not a real "hike" per se.

But on further thought, it's just an extension of being out like I am anyway when camping ... maybe I'll try a night hike ...  I can see how it would be pretty cool on a moonlit night.

I guess there's a higher chance of running into wildlife at night... for better or for worse depending on the circumstances :).

9:29 a.m. on January 12, 2012 (EST)
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Rambler said:

I was not in the USAF , however I did go to SERE school, many branches go to SERE. I was on a SEAL SDV team, was in the Navy for 9.5 years

 

Very cool!  I appreciate it.  Thanks. 

12:07 p.m. on January 12, 2012 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

Lol, maybe I am just a nut case to go hiking in the middle of the night in winter...

Often a day in the snow begins while it is still dark, so you can be finished hiking/climbing by mid day, when sun softened snow becomes an avalanche risk.  On high altitude climbs, summit days start in the dark so you can return from a long day and do so while it is still light – or at least that is the plan. 

 FromSagetoSnow said:

Kinda on-topic:  If you could experience hypothermia, in a safe, controled environment, in order to get to know its symptoms and how to cope, would you try it?

I might.

Jeff

I don’t think there is much to learn by purposefully submitting to hypothermia for two reasons:

  1. It is difficult to self diagnose before it has progressed to where it is already an emergency.
  2. Your mental state also degrades, and you may not be capable of intelligently managing the crisis.

You really don’t know if you have hypothermia until you degrade to the point it is already an emergency.  Somehere along the way you reach a point of severe shivering and uncomfortable chill, but that is not hypothermia.  In fact you can often remain at that status for sometime and warm back up fairly quick if placed in a warm situation.  You can’t tell when you have been chilled for too long, going on these symptoms, but at some point your core temp has dropped enough that you will not recover quickly without help.  Then you are hypothermic.

The obvious symptoms that indicate you are in serious trouble is when your limbs start going numb or your mental disposition degrades.  Unfortunately your mind can go before your limbs numb up, so hypothermic victims often are unaware they are slipping away.  There is no training that can help the individual address this situation.  The best solution is third person observation – attend to the wherewithal of your companions - for you will notice your companions are in decline often before they will, if they notice at all.

Even if you can self diagnose you have become hypothermic, it doesn’t mean you can do anything about it.  In the instance described earlier, where I opened the tent zipper with my teeth, I had just returned to my camp after being soaked for two hours in near freezing temps.  I stood outside, knowing safety was at hand in my warm sleeping bag in that dry tent.  But I was so stupefied I stood listless in the rain, mentally inert.  I would prompt myself – get in the tent Ed – but could not get the brain to turn that into action.  My apathy was absurd and dangerous.  I knew it, but it was as if this was happening to someone else, and I didn’t feel the sensations of fear that compel one to action.  This self-cajoling and abstinence went on for probably a half hour more in the cold before I somehow, like a sluggish engine finally cranking on a freezing January morning, found the juice to physically get in that tent.  Lucky for me, my battery still had a charge and my peanut brain a flicker of life.  Many victims are found in circumstances that indicate apathy and dullness of mind played a part in their final demise.  For example:  Many hypothermic victims are found half naked.  Apparently they mistook the warm flushing feeling one gets as shock causes the capillaries in the skin to dilate, and shed their clothing in response in order to cool off!  So even if you train for this advent there is no preparation that will address what occurs once you lose the capacity to reason and act in a normal manner.

Ed     

3:48 p.m. on January 12, 2012 (EST)
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Ed, I have to disagree with you. You can train for hypothermia, and that includes self diagnosing yourself. Ask any Navy diver(a real navy diver, not just a scuba certified one).

Some of the main ways one is taught to self diagnosis is to monitor yourself for changes in pulse and breathing. Now you might say that's impossible, and ok that may be true for your average joe. But a good navy diver can just about tell you their pulse and respiratory rate on command. When you notice this changing from your baseline its a huge warning flag. The other common way is to smell your breath, its a medical symptom called acetone where in your breath takes on a very sweet and kinda fruity smell, also a huge red warning flag. Other things such as simple math problems in your head are a good warning sign. You are taught to keep doing simple problems, such as 2+2 etc, if you catch yourself slipping up, its a huge warning sign. Touching your thumb and pinky finger together, if you begin to get a headache. Lots of little things to look for. And its not something you can just read about and all of a sudden be an expert on it, you truely have to experience it dozens of times.

It takes alot of training, and it is not something that your average guy/gal should attempt to do on their own. This training is very intense and is conducted under controlled conditions with safety personnel on standby.

Here is some information on some military studies if your up for a read, the 2nd link has alot of good information on how hypothermia effects the body, the symptoms, and lots of graphs and thermal images of the body in different stages.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/51318605/US-Military-study-in-Hypothermia

http://www.bordeninstitute.army.mil/published_volumes/harshEnv1/Ch11-HumanPhysiologicalResponsestoColdStressandHypot.pdf

6:53 p.m. on January 12, 2012 (EST)
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Just wanted to give an update. I sent an email to camelbak a few days ago to let them know about the failure i had with the bladder so that they could try to improve/fix any issues that may be out there.

 Matt from Camelbak called me today to discuss the failure i had. It's not everyday that a company will call and actually take the time to talk to you. So wanted to tip my hat to them and their superb customer service. Matt also offered to send me a few camelbak bottles to try out.

Camelbak actually reads their emails, So if you have an issue, don't be quaint about reaching out to them.

2:53 a.m. on January 13, 2012 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

Ed, I have to disagree with you. You can train for hypothermia, and that includes self diagnosing yourself. Ask any Navy diver(a real navy diver, not just a scuba certified one)...

The problem is a mountaineer has no baseline to measure pulse and breathing against.  Respiration and heart rate change as you go from sea level to 11K’ then up to 17K’ and higher.  So what standard does one go with?  Likewise anyone who has been to high altitude will tell you mental function is compromised, even when you are relatively warm and at rest.  Exertion further degrades mental performance at altitude.  Mental capacity can be so compromised that some climbers make really stupid mistakes, like unclipping from the line and subsequently falling off the mountain.  That’s without hypothermia.  And touching thumb to pinky finger is some feat when wearing bulky double mittens or rigid technical gloves.  In any case most climbers will rightly hesitate to remove their gloves and risk frost nip, just to perform this drill.   A headache would not be a reliable indicator either; headaches are common up high.  Now perhaps if we did all these things a dozen times each for a selection of designated altitudes, then one may develop standards for all the various self-checks, but then you pretty much will spend your entire climbing career on this project, not to mention expose yourself to considerable risk, all in the name of minimizing risk on the day you actually get around to doing a real climb. Thus one theoretically may be able train for managing hypothermia in the flat lands or in water, but the situational nature of mountaineering make this unpractical, not to mention a dangerous venture in its own right.  

8:04 a.m. on January 13, 2012 (EST)
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Good point about high altitude. It may be more difficult at high altitude due to the changes the altitude itself has on your body. But it would be effective from sea level up to probabally 8,000ft i would guess, maybe 10k. I have rarely ventured up high, so i can't speak to personal experience there.

 Over here on the east coast, people rarely get that high unless they fly out west for a trip. 2k-4kish is about the average over here.

5:57 p.m. on January 13, 2012 (EST)
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Another thought occurred to me.  What would be the point of monitoring one’s self for hypothermia in the back country?  It isn’t like anyone would voluntarily remain in the conditions that would affect them so adversely.  If one had the means to do anything, one would have been doing so way before he gave himself a black eye from thrashing and shivering so violently.

I can see the merits of monitoring for tissue damage, due to cold.  Eveyone who goes outdoors in cold climates is taught this precaution.  Having suffered both frost bite and hypothermia, they are different animals, normally the result of different environments.  (Most hypothermia cases occur at temps above freezing.)  It is not uncommon for people who have sustained frost bite to have done so on their own volition, given they usually have the means at hand to prevent such injury in the first place.  On the other hand most every hypothermic episode I am aware of the person blundered, and exposed themselves to a set of circumstances where they did not have the means to protect themselves once it became apparent they were in jeopardy.  In any case the suffering one endures on the way to a frost injury is nominal, compared to the discomfort suffered on the way to being hypothermic. 

Ed   

1:35 p.m. on January 16, 2012 (EST)
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arrrr water

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