Granite Gear Aquatherm
By Raymond Estrella
November 14, 2006
Orange County, California, USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.
Manufacturer: Granite Gear
Web site: www.granitegear.com
Product: Aquatherm insulated water bottle holder
Year manufactured: 2004
MSRP: $17.00 (US)
Weight listed: 4.3 oz (122 g) Actual weight: 4 oz (113 g)
Height stated (closed): 10 in (25.4 cm)
Diameter stated: 4.5 in (11.4 cm)
Warranty: (quoted from web site) “If you're not satisfied with one of our products for any reason, even after years of use, return it to us. If there's a problem with the materials or craftsmanship we'll repair or replace it. If it's normal wear, we'll repair it for a reasonable charge.”
The Granite Gear Aquatherm is an insulated holder for a quart/liter sized Nalgene or other similar sized and shaped water bottles.
The insulation is provided by a half inch (1.25 cm) thick tube of very dense closed cell foam sitting on a base of the same material. The inside of the foam has a layer of foil over it to add a heat-reflecting component to the mix.
The whole thing is covered inside and out by 210 denier nylon. The top of the nylon cover has a drawstring that runs through a large brass grommet and then through a cord-lock. 1.5 in 3.75 cm) down from the top is a ring of reinforced edging sewn around to form a gasket. A fabric hinge of this same material attaches to a nylon covered foam lid with the reinforced edging sewn around the rim of it. When the lid is pushed down past the interior edging gasket it locks the lid into place after the draw-string is tightened. The manufacturer uses this type of closure to avoid having a zipper freeze shut. A pull loop is sewn to the lid to pull it up past the gasket when opening.
On the outside of the Aquatherm is the Granite Gear name and logo. Running full length down the back directly behind the hinge. It is made of 1.5 in (3.75 cm) wide hook-and-loop that is connected at the top and bottom. Pulling the pieces apart allows a hip belt or pack strap(s) to be run through to carry the Aquatherm. Pushing the pieces back together locks it into place.
These have been on all of my winter trips for the past two years. They have been on at least ten trips that I can remember. I have used them at elevations ranging from 7,000’ to 13,300’ (2,100 to 4,000 m). The temperatures seen on these trips were in the teens to twenties F (-9 to -4 C) as a norm, but saw near 0 F (-18 C) on occasions. I do most of my winter hiking in the Sierra Nevada and White mountains, along with local stuff in the Mount San Jacinto and San Gorgonio areas. But I also used them on Mount Shasta where it was a balmy 13 F (-10.5 C). I just took a couple of them to Minnesota for use this winter.
I had been using two other brands of insulated covers prior to buying these. A friend did a controlled test of the Aquatherm and one of the type I was using at the time. The Aquatherm did so well that I ordered six of them the next week. (Three were for Dave.) They have lived up to my expectations. While I have had water eventually start to freeze while in them, it has taken longer than when in my other covers.
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I always use wide mouth Nalgene bottles with them, and store them upside down in the Aquatherm so as to keep the top ice-free. Unless it is extremely cold I do not put the Aqatherms in my bag at night, but rather wrap them in my fleece and put them in my pack, inside my tent.
I do wish that they had a loop to which I could attach a caribiner so that I could then clip it to my sled or pack. I tried to use the loop on the lid but the weight of the water bouncing around will eventually pull the lid past the gasket. A small loop of cord run through the top of the hook-and-loop closure does the trick.
I can not say for sure that the reflective foil works or not but since the Aquatherm does insulate better than my other covers I am willing to give them the benefit of doubt on it.
An added use I have made many times is as a little cooler in summer. I often take very long hard day-hikes and have found that I can put a sub sandwich inside the Aquatherm along with a few ice cubes in a ZipLock bag. When I get to the top of whatever peak was the day’s goal I have a nice cold lunch and a few mouthfuls of cold water.
I am very satisfied with the Aquatherm covers and plan to keep using them for a long time.
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Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella