Drinking in the backwoods has its challenges.

Enjoying an adult beverage at the end of a long day paddling, can be a well-earned guilty pleasure. When you are 3 days from your car, and lounging on a rock overlooking a beautiful pristine lake….it is very hard to describe the cocky decadence that blankets your body as that first sip of bargain merlot warms your guts. 

Out here, even the cheapest wine and spirits taste like liquid gold. This is one of the wonderful magical mysteries of the backwoods.   


Unlike the simple life of the big city, backwoods consumption has its challenges, charms and issues. Let’s break it down.

backwoods boozin 2
A long day on the River – Time for a drink!

How to drink

  • Don’t get drunk – Rule # 1. Overindulging in the safety of your own home is one thing…however, in the backwoods, it can be unforgiving. Hypothermia, impaired judgement, sprained ankles, hostile wildlife, firearms and biting insects to name just a few. 
  • Light is right – When you are portaging between lakes or backpacking over mountains…consider taking the lightest booze available. This translates to the highest alcohol per volume ratio (APV). Some rums and whiskeys boast between 40-60% APV…this means you can get that warm feeling by drinking less…or for the weight conscious campologist “carrying less”
  • No cans or bottles – Many parks prohibit cans and bottles in the backwoods… and for good reason.  Our parks are littered with cans and bottles discarded by irresponsible campers. These seriously challenge the ecosystem. Also, quality aftermarket leak-proof and virtually unbreakable containers like Nalgene and Platypus, are better than the original wine and whiskey bottles. Simple…transfer your beverages into quality containers before heading out.
  • Only bring what you need –  For 2 reasons…it weighs less, plus you will be less likely to overindulge. 
    Measure your drinks – When you drink directly from a bottle, your consumption quantity can easily sneak up on you…and if you share a bottle with friends, you will have no idea how much you have had to drink at the end of the night. Consider a shot glass or cup with measurement hash marks.
  • Diuretic – Alcohol dehydrates you…and so does a rewarding day on the river or trails. So drink plenty of water before, during and after you enjoy a “Yukon Jack”. 

What to drink

  • Spirits – Whiskey, rum, vodka, etc… have the highest APV (30-60%) and therefore the greatest bang for your buck…plus it doesn’t need to be chilled before serving.
  • Wine – Wine has an APV of 11-14% and can be extremely tasty paired with a delectable BackPackers dehydrated cuisine. White wines are best served chilled so consider switching to red wine.
  • Beer – Three negatives…first it has the lowest APV (4 – 6%) so weighs 2-3 times more than wine and 10 times more than spirits. Second…it is packaged in non-camper friendly cans or bottles…and finally, it is best served chilled…a difficult task in the backwoods.  If you must bring beer…consider cans over bottles… and crush and return all your empties with you.
  • Mix – If you want a mix for your spirits… any powdered drink will do, however, consider NUUN. These light and well-packaged tablets are primarily intended as a hydration/electrolyte replacement drink…however, they come in many light-tasting flavours that pair nicely with your spirit of choice. I call these mixes “High Nuun”… consider Kona Cola mixed with rum (rum & coke), citrus fruit and vodka (Cosmo), orange & vodka (screwdriver) Canadian whiskey and lime (whiskey sour)…etc etc.

However, if you enjoy your adult beverages in the backwoods…moderation can save your life. Drink responsibly.

backwoods boozin 3
Drinking in the backwoods has its challenges – bugs, bears and harsh environments
Plastic and never glass bottles in the backwoods


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