18 Boozy Tips for Your Next Hike

Cook and imbibe better by learning how to shop, transport, and use your spirits, wine, and beer.

A tasty cocktail in camp is a great ending to a good day on the trail. We consulted backcountry-savvy bartenders for their top recipes and tested dozens of varieties of beer, wine, and liquor to find the most pack-friendly picks.


Beta Potent and lightweight, liquor is the time-honored backpacking libation. And while the scientific evidence is mixed, some stuides have suggested that drinking alcohol in moderation benefits the heart and circulatory system and protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Whiskey, scotch, cognac, and brandy also contain antioxidants. Forgot the hand sanitizer? One hundred-plus-proof liquor kills germs.

Packing We like the tried-and-true Stanley Classic Flask (on sale for $19 at Moosejaw now), but any light bottle will do.

Cooking Simmer a dash of scotch or whiskey with a pinch of salt to drizzle on meats for a smoky taste, or add a tablespoon or two of fruit brandy to a sweet-and-sour stir-fry. 

Top pick High West Distillery Rendezvous Rye ($50) is spicy and warm.


Beta On short trips, a river-cooled brew after a hot day is worth its weight. Perks: Up to 1 percent of beer’s weight comes from dietary fiber (seriously), and a serving supplies 10 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin B.

Packing Two 12-ounce cans of beer weigh 1.5 pounds. Make up for it by leaving your wallet, excess food packaging, a camp pillow, and extra cooking pot at home.

Cooking Add a splash or two of dark beer to hearty stews for a sweet kick, or sub a mild lager for water in pancake batter.

Top picks Leave the Bud in the store (or in the trash): Melvin Heyzeus Mexican-Style Lager is an easy-drinking brew that pairs well with hot summer weather. For hops-lovers, Upslope’s India Pale Ale is a balanced, classic approach to the style.


Beta Studies show antioxidants in red grapes reduce the risk of heart disease, lower levels of harmful cholesterol, limit blood clotting, and, when consumed with a high-fat meal, reduce blood vessel inflammation.

Packing Our go-to tote: the Platypreserve wine pouch ($10; 27 fl. oz.). Alternative: boxed wines.Cooking “Deglaze the pan to make tasty wine reductions,” says Anthony Giglio, FOOD & WINE Connoisseur Club Wine Expert. After cooking a meal like fresh trout, pour a splash of wine into the hot pan to loosen any flavorful bits left in the bottom; simmer until reduced and pour over pasta or meats.

Top picks Black Box’s Cabernet Sauvignon ($18) packs strong aromas of vanilla bean and raspberry with a smooth finish. Pair with meat dishes or dessert.

Bartender Secrets

Take your camp cocktails to the next level with these tips from Crystal Sagan, owner of 3 Chicks Bartending and our Backcountry Bartender

Pack: “Pour fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice, simple syrup, or premixed cocktails into small juice bottles and freeze. They’re not as messy.”

Infuse: “Pick berries on the trail and soak them in vodka overnight for a fruity flavor. Or try infusing with fresh herbs for added complexity in your cocktail.”

Experiment: “You’d be surprised at all the lightweight options out there, like sparkling wine in a can (Francis Ford Coppola Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs) and mini bottles of flavored bitters (The Bitter Truth Travel Pack).”

Cool it: Dig into snowbanks or glaciers to gather clean snow. Chill wine or beer by submerging in a river or stream (in swift water, place drinks in a stuffsack and tie the sack to a tree or rock on shore).

Bonus: Use Wine to Help You Sleep Better 

Inflate your empty plastic wine bag and use it as a pillow. (Not for use in bear country.)