Nature Libations – 5 tips and tricks for packing the best backcountry booze

There are few things greater in life than a backcountry success story. Whether you just finished a harrowing day of whitewater, finally sent that longstanding 5.10 in the canyon, or summited your most recent bucket list peak, you probably deserve a drink.

Granted, the  deeper you are in the wilderness, the more difficult that may be to achieve. When your pack is already loaded down with 15 lbs of water, it can be hard to justify even a single 12 oz beer can.

Luckily, there are a few tricks of the trade that can assure you that epic celebratory stoke experience:

Make it as light as possible: 

It should go without saying but whatever alcoholic goodness you intend to consume doesn’t have to be packed in the same container it came in. Consider the platypus system.

In our arsenal of beverage vessels, there stands one eternally stained peppermint schnapps platy from ski season ’08 (Yeah, they’re durable). Its user is guaranteed a bitey memory and faux-minty breath experience.

Pour that sweet nectar in it’s appropriately weighted 1.3 oz bag and appreciate how much more room you have for activities!

Make compromises or be a man:

In my opinion, beer is going to be the most difficult bugger here. I’ve heard rumors of a lightweight beer concentrate that can be mixed with water at the campsite…but horror stories of syrupy, flat, warm grain water have deterred me from serving as a test subject.

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Definitely packed all that nonsense in, including boxed mac.

When it comes to your favorite brew, sometimes its best to consider the circumstances of your trip and man-up by packing the can. If your knees really start buckling around mile 4, you can always go for the chug and crush.

Change your transport vessel:

And if you’re going for the can system, why not go all the way?  Burton makes an absurd yet epic beeracuda beer sling that may be used to replace the typical daypack. Strap on a fanny pack first aid kit and throw all your beverage and snack needs into your insulated shoulder beer cooler (with room for 5 beers) and you’ve got all the necessities. Always a classic conversation starter.

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Class up cocktail night: 

While I recognize that the mini shot bottles of whiskey, esp. fireball, are a classic, lightweight trail favorite…the older I get, the less appealing this has become. Cocktail mixes and powders pack just as well as any other. AND…limes and lemons definitely fall under the “durable veg” list for backpacking.

If you’re feeling generous and looking for a holiday gift, or just really want to break the bank, W&P Design has made a Carry On Cocktail Kit complete with anything and everything you need to make your favorite drinks – from the old fashioned to the bloody mary to the moscow mule. While designed with the frequent flyer in mind, it’s not a bad set up for the frequent trail blazer either.

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Remember what you like and don’t settle:

The worst mistake I’ve made during a backpacking trip is packing alcohol that I knew I would never want to drink. The mini shot bottles may seem enticingly lightweight with a high ABV, but if you’re never going to touch it – you’re just carrying extra empty pounds.

The Classic Car Camping Dinner Sprawl

The last time we did this, it resulted in a very short, unpleasant drinking game that consisted of throwing pebbles at a camp mug in the center of the circle. Whoever made the shot didn’t have to take a swig. Certain members became way too good at the game way too quickly. We all quickly opted out of our drinks and hopped in our bags. (Maybe we’re just not hardcore enough anymore, who knows?)

Happy hiking, boozehounds!

And remember, calories don’t count when you’re out in the woods.


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