Hydration in Antarctica
February 11, 2013Written by Vapur Pro Team member, Eric Larsen. 'What is your most important piece of expedition equipment?' It's a question that I am often asked, but a tough one to answer. To put all my gear and a pile and separate out just one item that is the ultimate factor in success is difficulty to say the least. There is no way I would have made the North Pole without snowshoes. A DeLorme inReach beacon and Iridium Satellite phone are critical to my safety and 'on ice' logistics coordination. And while I may only wear one pair of underwear for two months straight, I hate to think of 40 below without them on. In the end, each piece of equipment I use plays a vital role in my ability to live, travel and even survive in some of the most extreme environments on the planet for weeks on end. Because of this critical link between my safety and my gear, I spend an inordinate amount of time, researching and testing different products. Once I find something I think might work for an expedition, I evaluate it on this simple hierarchy: weight, durability and ease of use. Since I have to carry (or pull in a sled) everything that I need to live and survive, my goal is to always have the lightest gear possible. Of course, the lightest gear isn't always the strongest so that brings me to factor number two. Durability. My last North Pole expedition? 51 days. I'm out on the trail for weeks and months at a time and I can't always treat my equipment with kid gloves. Things get dropped, kicked, frozen, burned, banged, smashed and more. I need reliable gear that will not break so durability generally trumps weight. On an expedition, I try to be as efficient as possible. I have a limited amount of resources and supplies so anything I can to save energy is important. Therefore, I need to have equipment that is simple and easy to use. Things that require complicated steps or procedures to use end up being more of a hassle then they're worth. Besides, at 40 or 50 below everything breaks so the more parts, the greater the failure rate. So this is the mindset, that I take into every expedition and especially, my recent Cycle South expedition. Of course the stark reality of Antarctica is that it is a desert. Even though it's cold, it's very very dry. Therefore, staying healthy, keeping strong, metabolizing food and more are all related to being hydrated. Hydration is so important to my expeditions that I probably spend more time thinking about all the ways to stay hydrated than I do about all my other gear. After all, not only is it dry, but it's also really, really cold. For many years, I've used a pretty reliable system. I have a cup for drinking, a thermos, a soup thermos and two Nalgenes with insulated covers. I take the cup because I don't really like drinking out of Nalgenes. The Stanley thermos and soup thermos are required gear. No way out of either of those. However, there is definitely redundancy with the cup and I've always felt a second Nalgene adds unnecessary weight and bulk. What to do... Enter Vapur. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit skeptical of the Vapur Anti-Bottles at first. I felt they would break in the cold, and despite being so lightweight, I really couldn't afford to have water leak over all my gear and freeze. Still, the Vapur Anti-Bottles are super easy to use so drinking out them is a breeze which is definitely an energy saver. And being able to eliminate 3 pieces of gear (cup, Nalgene and insulated cover) would reduce my overall weight considerably, so I decided to do some testing and in the end added a Vapur Anti-Bottle to my kit list. Overall all, I was completely satisfied with my decision. Drinking out of my Vapur in the tent was easy and convenient. Additionally, I never had to worry about spills as I just clipped the carabiner on one of the drying lines above me. Each morning, I filled up my Vapur with hot water and then placed it in my front pannier on my bike. Even though my Vapur was uninsulated, I drank out of it first, and because the water started out very warm, was able to finish it before it froze. Lightweight, durable and easy to use. Vapur is now a permanent item in my gear list. Need I say more?