How to enjoy happy hour while camping and the 10 items you need

It’s always 5 p.m. somewhere, and why should sleeping under canvas be a reason to miss happy hour?

Group of young Caucasian friends sitting next to the bonfire and toasting with beer bottles in the w...
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Nothing screams ‘holiday’ quite like enjoying a cold drink with a spectacular view. But for those of us that frequently spend holidays under canvas, the reality of happy hour camping is a far cry from a chilled martini by the pool. It’s more a lukewarm beer stashed optimistically in our backpack, well-shaken and ready to explode all over your (probably already filthy) sports clothes. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Things to know

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Are there laws around drinking while camping?

Not many! If you’re staying in a designated campground, respect their rules. Remember that different countries have different laws on alcohol consumption. Respect the legal drinking age, and don’t pack a six-pack of Carlsberg to consume under canvas in a dry country or state.

Fly-tipping and littering, however, are often illegal, not to mention unpleasant for campers that come after you. Take all your trash with you and recycle it when you can. Broken bottles are dangerous for people and wildlife alike.

Are some drinks more practical than others?

Unless you’re camping in a van or driving to your campsite, one of your biggest considerations will be weight. Glass bottles are heavy, even when empty, and take up lots of room. If packing wine, a screw top is more practical than a cork (unless you’re confident that the whole bottle will disappear in one sitting); also box wine is best of all. Leave the cardboard casing at home and just pack the bag.

If the idea of a warm beer has you retching, that craft ale you’ve been saving isn’t going to taste good at room (or rather, tent) temperature on a summer hike. Small bottles of hard liquor are good in all weathers, and can also double up as antiseptic for wounds, or be used to help get a fire going (who said happy hour was all about hedonism?).

Premix drinks and decant them into flasks or pouches to reduce weight and waste. Cocktails don’t taste bad lukewarm, which often makes them better than beer. Embrace the hot toddy! A cooler is heavy, but camp stoves can be really lightweight, and you’ve likely packed one anyway for enjoying your camp noodles. An Irish coffee in the wild is a real treat.

Don’t forget a multipurpose knife with a bottle opener and corkscrew. You don’t want to lug a bottle of white wine the temperature of bathwater up a mountain only to find that you can’t even open it.

Drink responsibly.

You knew this was coming, didn’t you? At the risk of stating the obvious, getting hammered isn’t a good idea anywhere, but the dangers are tenfold in the wild; there are cliffs to topple off, bears to hug, or even just guy lines to navigate, which act as lethal tripwires for merry campers. Plodding up a mountain with a sore head isn’t much fun either.

For me, there’s no joy comparable to finding a mountain refuge serving cold beers after a sweaty day of hiking (and I’ll admit that I pay over the odds for that chilled, hoppy goodness). But what if you could take the bar with you? Ultralight fans, avert your eyes, I’m about to teach you how to enjoy happy hour from the comfort of your tent.

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A bottle of wine weighs about 2.6 pounds, which is more than some tents. Decanting your wine into a pouch instead saves weight and is much less prone to breakage. The Accmor Portable Wine Bag Flask holds a whole bottle of wine per pouch, is foldable, leak-proof, and comes with a funnel for easy filling.

Sometimes when setting up camp, I have the impression that I don’t have enough hands, and this is certainly the case when juggling a can of beer while pitching your tent. The Nite Ize Travel Drink Holster attaches to belts, waistbands, or even backpack straps using a rotating clip. Stash anything in it —– beer, spare tent pegs, peanuts to accompany happy hour…

Granted, the Huski Wine Cooler won’t be going in your backpack for a thru-hike, but for overnight camping trips or van trips, it’s lighter and more efficient than taking an ice bucket and bag of ice. The cooler is vacuum insulated and double-walled, and will keep wine chilled for up to six hours.

The Highball Cocktail Shaker keeps liquids hot or cold for up to 24 hours, so it doubles up as your coffee thermos too. The three-piece set comes with an integrated strainer, double-wall, and leak-proof seal, so there’s no risk of spilling a sticky mojito over your gear.

You probably didn’t think you’d actually be blending up frozen margaritas in the backcountry, but it's possible with the GSI Outdoors 2 Speed Hand Cranked Blender. The blender holds 1.5 liters, is completely operated by hand, and has two speeds, so you can even crush ice. The wide base and C-clamp attach it to your camp table.

Clumsy drinkers rejoice, the Siliprint Silicone Unbreakable Wine Glasses are, as the name suggests, pretty robust. They’re insulating, dishwasher-friendly, and come with a lid and straw to prevent spills, but the best thing is the bright, jazzy design.

Dehydrated meals are a backpacker’s best friend, and now you can even get dehydrated fruits for cocktails. Fruits for Drinks have a varied selection of oranges, limes, and even raspberries, which can be added dry or rehydrated in liquid. Unopened, they’ll last for two years, and come in a resealable bag.

With an alcohol content of 22.5 percent, the Post Meridiem Into the Night Espresso Martinis are strong, and best served with ice to dilute it so that it doesn’t blow your (hiking) socks off. Post Meridiem has an impressive range of flavors, from mai tais and daiquiris to cosmopolitans to enjoy in the wild. It’s like Bear Grylls and Carrie Bradshaw had a baby.

Victorinox makes some of the best-known Swiss army knives in the world, and the Evowood is no exception in terms of quality. Along with a strong, stainless steel knife blade, it has 12 functions, including scissors, a screwdriver, and even a nail file (your hands need to look good in those happy hour Instagram stories). Most importantly though, there’s a corkscrew and bottle opener.

What better way to regale friends and family with tales of intrepid treks than over a drink served in a glass commemorating the trail? The Appalachian Trail Whiskey Glasses are sleek and simple, with the design engraved on frosted glass. Choose from a plain or bubble base.