The Best Booze For Backpacking, And How To Pack It

The Best Booze For Backpacking, And How To Pack It

Hiking through the mountains, riding dirt bikes, catching fish or chasing critters can be thirsty work. But, outdoors activities also put huge restrictions on the weight and size of what you can carry with you. Here’s how to relax around a campfire with a nice drink at the end of a long day, without breaking your back.

Beer: With a very low alcohol-to-volume ratio, beer is the least optimal drink for adventuring. So, you’ve got two options: 1) Pack a can or two of high alcohol content craft beer. 2) Make your own beer in camp using a concentrate.

Pat’s Backcountry Beverages produces a beer concentrate that you add water to, then carbonate yourself using a special container. Each package of concentrate weighs just 2.1oz and can produce a 16oz beer. So, for a total weight of 8.4oz, you net yourself a growler’s worth of either a pale or dark ale.

The carbonator bottle can double as one of your water bottles during the day, but at 9.8oz, does weigh slightly more than an equivalent Nalgene. Still, that’s a minimal additional weight penalty.

When you’ve reached camp, you just fill that bottle with the coldest water you can find, add a packet of beer concentrate, plus .4oz of CO2 activator and work the bottle’s little pump for about 60 seconds. The reward is a frosty beverage.

Ashley likes it less than I do.

How’s it taste? Compared to an equivalent craft beer, my end results have all felt a little flat and syrupy, but it’s definitely still better than drinking something like a Budweiser. Pretty damn good considering the additional weight and space are so minimal.

Wine: 12% or stronger, now we’re talking. If you want to take a nice bottle along, just fill a Klean Kanteen or Nalgene with it. Most of those are 32oz in size and a bottle of wine gives you 25oz, so you can either top them up with part of a second bottle or just deal with not maximizing your potential volume. If your tastes don’t run so fancy, buy box of wine and remove the baggie holding the actual liquid. So long as you protect that from sharp objects, it will hold up in your bag just fine and, after you’ve drunk it all, an inflated wine bag can make a great camping pillow. Red obviously travels better than white, but you can cool the latter down in a stream just fine.…

Liquor: My own personal preference is whiskey, so I pack a flask of that. The bonus of whiskey over other hard liquors is that it tastes good in coffee, so you can polish off the remnants in the morning; a little hair of the dog for your hangover.

But, the single most weight conscious way of packing booze is to take Everclear or a similar very strong grain alcohol. The 190-proof stuff is 95% alcohol. To make it drinkable, pack Tang, Kool Aid or Gatorade powder, add some water to that, then the liquor to taste. If you’ve got a multi-day trip and want to keep your weight down, this is the most effective method, even if the taste isn’t exactly going to be…sophisticated. I suppose purists would insist on moonshine.

Cocktails: The individual packets of frozen margarita of daiquiri mix they sell at supermarkets are perfect for camping trips. Freeze them ahead of time and they will stay frosty in your pack during a day-long hike. You’ll need to pack the tequila or rum separately.

Vessels: I use a surplus pilot’s flask that you can find in any surplus store for about $US3. Amazon lists it for $US9, which is still great value considering how tough these things are. I’ve taken mine camping for the last five years or so and, last summer, a friend who plays bass in the Naked and Famous stole it right before he went on world tour. It survived 6 months of partying in his hands and was returned earlier this year unscathed. Fits a pint of liquid and has never leaked a drop.

Weight weenies might prefer the smaller, 8oz Titanium Funnel Flask sold by Vargo Outdoors. That includes a fixed silicone funnel on its spoud, making pouring liquor into or out of it a spill-free affair. Titanium has the added bonus of not impairing the taste of your booze.

But any heavy duty water bottle will work just fine. Use one you have already or buy a cheap bottle of water and drink its contents before reuse.

Or, just take weed, its inebriation to weight ratio can’t be beat and it won’t give you a hangover.

How do you take booze camping and what recipes do you have to make it taste good?

Top Photo: Matt Dale

IndefinitelyWild is a new publication about adventure travel in the outdoors, the vehicles and gear that get us there and the people we meet along the way. Follow us onFacebook,Twitter and Instagram.