Sunday, January 13, 2013

DIY Bottle Insulator, in about 29 steps

Keep your water from turning to ice on those cold winter rides.
Handmade by you is better than made in China.  
The construction is basically a series of nesting cylinders consisting of an inner layer of Insulbrite material to retain and reflect radiant heat against the bottle, intermediate layer of synthetic pre-quilted polyfill insulation to keep the cold out, and outer-layer of rip-stop nylon for durability and water restiance.  This is similar to products offered by Outdoor Research and Nalgene.  The O.R. product uses closed cell foam as the insulation, but I had extra pre-quilted synthetic insulation from another project lying around so that's what is used here; Any sort of other insulation could easily be substituted.

  The O.R. case of similar size weighs 163 grams, and the final weight of the DIY case with the cheapo plastic zipper was 109 grams, so it's weight weenie approved.
Stay tuned for a controlled comparison freeze test of this case vs the O.R. Water Bottle Parka.  

Materials needed:
Water Bottle
Ripstop nylon
Synthetic insulation (like primaloft)
7" zipper
Colored thread
Sewing machine
Measuring tape
Chalk/ Marking

1.  Measure the outside circumference of water bottle, and determine desired height  you would like your zipper to be for the top/lid of the case.

2. Cut Insulbright fabric to demensions determined above, adding 1/4 inch in length and width to compensate for the seams.  

3. Wrap Insulbright material tightly around water bottle, pinning along vertical seam line. 

4. Remove water bottle from insulbright; straight stitch along vertical line, removing pins as you stitch.
Cut away excess material, reinsert water bottle to test fit.  

5. Keeping water bottle in the newly formed insulbrite cylinder to maintain the form,
 trace out a circle of insulbrite for the base.
 Make this circle a 1/4" larger circumference than outside edge of insulbrite cylinder.  
As seen below:

6.  Pin insulbrite circle to one open end of insulbrite cylinder, matching up the edges.

7.  Straight stitch carefully along edge, joining the circle to the cylinder, removing pins as you go. 

8.  Next create the insulation layer, with same methods described above.  Wrap insulation around water bottle with insulbrite layer to determine dimensions.  Pin along vertical seam line, and straight stitch.

9.  Trace and cut out circle of insulation, using the insulation wrapped around water bottle as guide; again making circumference of circle larger than outer edge of insulation cylinder by 1/4 inch.  

Then holding scissors at about a 45 degree angle towrard the center of the circle,, cut around the top edge of the circle of insulation resulting in the top edge being 3/4 of an inch smaller than the bottom edge.  
10. Pin circle into cylinder matching the edges as best as possible.  
11.  Straight stitch the circle of insulation to the cylinder, removing the pins as you stitch.  

Now create the outer most layer of rip-stop nylon, using same methods as first two layers.
12.  Measure outside circumference and height of first two layers, adding 1/4 inch to length and width of final dimensions.  Measure and cut rip-stop nylon.  
13. Pin nylon around bottle and first two layers to ensure a snug fit, remove cylinder, straight stitch along pin line.  

14.  Slide your new nylon cylinder over first two insulating layers, and trace out circle of nylon, again adding 1/4 inch to dimension.  

15.  Note: Make sure the vertical seam stitching is exposed (on the outside) for this step.
As before, pin the circle to the cylinder matching the edges carefully, then straight stitch, removing pins as you go.  Now turn this cylinder inside out, so all the stitching is hidden inside.  

16.  This is a good place to repeat steps 1-15, to create 3 cylinders for the top part of the case, the lid.
I left a little bit of room in my top part to house a chemical heat pack if needed.  

17. Now time for zippers!  Nest all the layers together and pin your zipper into place along the exposed edges of where the two halves meet.  

18. Put a zipper foot on your sewing machine for this step.  Remove the nylon layer and top stitch the zipper to the nylon, I used red thread for style.

(A happy coincidence was that the nylon cylinder fit over my sewing machine fine, allowing to top stitch, this may not be possible if you are making a case for a skinny water bottle)

You may now notice that there is an ugly open gap in the zippers at the back of the case.
19.  Mark off this area at the ends of the zipper with your chalk, and measure up 2.5 inches above and below the zipper line.  Measure out this rectangle and then cut out the same dimension in insulbrite.  Then cut two rectangles of nylon of with a 1/2 inch added to the length and width.  

20..  Top-stitch the insulbrite between the two layers of nylon.  folding the edges of the nylon over and top-stitching a second time.  
21.  Now take the the two outer-layers of nylon and pin this rectangle onto the open area between the ends of the zippers.  Then top stitch in black thread around the edges.  

For extra style points try to stitch with red thread in line with the zipper attachment stitches.  
If every stitch is crooked, people might think you did it on purpose.  

  Now to cover the exposed insulation with nylon.
22.  Trace two concentric circles on nylon: the inner circle with same circumference of water bottle; the outer circle with same circumference of insulated case.  I shaded the areas between the circles below.
23.  Cut out the shaded area to make a doughnut shape,
Repeat Steps 22 and 22 to create two doughnuts. The inner edge of the doughnut will be stitched to the edge of the insulbrite layer, and the outer edge of the doughnut will be stitched to the inside of the zipper.
See Step 25 for illustration of this. 

24.  Pin  inner edge of nylon doughnut to open edge of insulbrite, carefully matching the edges, then straight stitch removing pins as you go.  

25.  Nest the insulbrite layer back inside the lofted insulation and nylon layer, taking outer edge of nylon doughnut and pinning it to the inside of the zipper.  Straight stitch carefully removing the pins as you go.  

26. Create 2 inch extension cylinder to overlap inside of zipper.
Now take a 2 inch wide piece of insulbrite and cut to a length equal to circumference of water bottle.  Straight stitch the 2 inch ends together, creating a short cylinder.
27. Place this small extension cylinder into the top of the lower insulbrite layer, overlapping 1/4 inch, increasing the height of lower insulbrite layer by 1.75  inch.  DO NOT STITCH TOGETHER YET.  

28.  Taking the second nylon doughnut, place it over the 2 inch insulbrite extension cylinder that you made in Step 27.  Pin the inside edge of the doughnut through both layer of insulbrite (existing bottom cylinder and 2 inch exetnsion cylinder).  Top stitch all three layers together, removing pins as you go.  

29.  Pin the outside edge of the nylon doughnut to the inside edge of the zipper of the lower part of the case.  Stitching carefully, removing pins as you go.  

I like to burn off my excess threads, but I do not recommend this as materials used are highly flammable. 

BOOM!  You're done.


  1. Is that one of the 1.5L nalgene bottles?

    That's what I need a parka for 1L isn't enough, and carrying 2 1L bottles is usually overkill.

    Let me know when you start taking orders.

    1. Yes I used the 1.5L Nalgne as the template, and it also fits my 1.5L Sig bottle nicely. I encouraged tracing and test fitting in the instructions to adapt these methods to any size of container.