Four essential items for backcountry beverages.
Dakine, Rail Belt
There are plenty of ways to open a longneck, but nothing gets a conversation started like tucking your bottle under your shirt near the nether regions, then producing an opened beer. The opener, combined with the classy but sporty buckle and stylish lime green color, make this belt a go-to for any occasion. Don’t leave home without it. Dakine.com; $15
Loading up for the beach can make you feel like an under-clothed Sherpa with all the chairs, books, coolers, and bocce balls. It is easy to let an opener slip through the cracks but Reef makes it as easy as slipping on your flops with the Fanning sandal, which features an opener in the sole. Too much walking around can gum up the system, but you know what they say: “A little sand in your beer is better than no beer at all.” Reef.com; $50
Hydro Flask, Growler
The Hydro Flask Growler is the most deluxe way to carry your beer on the trail. The double walled, vacuum insulated construction keeps your liquid hot or cold all day and at 64 ounces, this bottle is big enough to quench the thirst of the whole campsite. Load it up with a hot toddy or cocoa in the fall and winter. More of a wine guy? The 24-ounce version fits a bottle of vino perfectly. Hydroflask.com; $50
Yeti, Roadie 20
Yeti coolers are the most respected in the industry and are used by outfitters and guides across the continent. Bomber construction will last a lifetime and extra thick insulated walls keep ice cold for days. Plus, Yeti coolers are certified bear-proof so there is no chance Yogi will sneak your picnic basket full of brew. You will certainly pay a little more for these coolers, but can you put a price on cold campsite beer? I think not. Also, there is a 5-year warranty. Yeticoolers.com; $200.
How to Pack a Beer
Nothing beats a cold beer at the campsite, but how do you get it there? There are numerous options for packing beer into a campsite—if you are willing to put in the effort.
THE CAN Bottles in the backcountry are a serious faux pas. Glass can break all over you at any moment and allows light into your beer, which can affect its flavor. Plus, bottles are a pain to pack and aluminum cans are much lighter. With so many craft breweries canning their best products, there is no excuse to not opt for the old fashioned can.
The Cooler If you are pitching your tent near the car—no shame in that!—then the cooler is the obvious choice. Don’t skimp on the ice and be sure to cool everything down before loading up; this includes the brews and the cooler. The warmer at the start, the more ice wasted cooling it down. Pro tip: a couple handfuls of salt mixed with the ice and water will lower the temperature.
The Growler Consolidate with a growler. Even a classic thermos would do in a pinch. The key here is to get as much into the container to maximize your effort and to keep the beer from sloshing around. Sloshed beer is no good.
The Mini Keg Think of this as grabbing the biggest aluminum can of beer available. Most run about 5 liters, which gets you about 14 beers at the campsite. Sure, this may be the most cumbersome to haul down the trail, but you will be the ultimate hero if you break out a mini keg as the sun goes down.
The Sack If you’ve managed to lug cans of your favorite brew into the campsite, they are probably warm. Grab a pair of socks out of your pack, toss the beers in, and then toss them in the river. Just like the old Busch Beer commercial, you’ll be pulling out cold ones in no time.
The Future In the very near future you may be able to skip packing the liquid part at all. Pat’s Backcountry Beverages is working on a dehydrated beer concentrate system. Simply mix the concentrate with water and a carbonation agent in their bottle, and you have a full flavored, alcoholic microbrew….in the middle of nowhere. patsbcb.com