When hiking with friends or even by yourself, few things are as satisfying as reaching your destination and then cracking a few beers. Just one problem – Lugging around a big, unwieldy cooler can suck a lot of the fun out of nature and make everything more of a pain.
So how do you keep your beers frosty on a hike without a cooler?
Here are a few suggestions that just might work out for you.
Find a Stream or other running water
Physics is an amazing science that effects every single part of our lives, and here you can use the science of heat distribution to cool down your IPAs and stouts without fighting with a coolers.
Leaving your beer in any body of water that’s cooler than the bottles themselves will, over time, disperse the warmth and replace it with cold refreshment.
However, moving water is much better than still water, as it will carry away the warmth as the water flows over the bottles, attempting to equalize the temperature, and then replacing it with fresh, just as cold water while the warmer water moves away.
While you could just sit them in a stream, it’s usually a better idea to find some sort of bag to place the beers before submerging them. Solo bottles might have a tendency to get swept away, and trying to weigh down each and every one of them will take a lot of time.
If they’re all in a bag that will still allow them direct contact with the cool, flowing water, you can tie that bad to something sturdy or anchor it under a larger rock to make sure the brewskis don’t escape.
No water nearby? Time to bury some treasure.
A warm beer is obviously no fun (well, at least it’s less fun than a cold one), but if you’re nowhere near a stream or other running water source, the ground can be your all natural beer cooling system.
Only a few inches below the surface temperatures are already several degrees cooler than what we’re experiencing in the air, and that goes double during the middle of the day when the heat and sun are at their worst.
The best place to look is somewhere with shade and soft earth, so there’s less hard digging necessary. The shade also ensures that direct sunlight won’t heat up the surface soil and radiate down below, stunting the effectiveness of your dirt coolant. Look for a big tree or some shrubbery with nice, soft, easily movable dirt and bury them in there. It’ll take a while, but the beers will be nice and chilled in time to drink them.
Because this method takes a little more time, it can be a good idea to bury a few every so often as you’re hiking. If you plan ahead like this – and remember where you buried them – you’ll have delicious pick-me-ups ready and waiting for you your whole hike back to the trailhead. You can also feel like you’ve leaving a trail behind you like some sort of fairy tale hero.
Invest in an insulated growler
This tip is especially helpful if you’re more of a craft beer person.
Your local taphouse will gladly fill up a growler for you with anything they have on tap. Normally you’d need to keep these cold just like any bottle or can, but a new class of vacuum sealed insulated growlers, often using multiple outer and inner walls to keep the warmth from radiating in.
Twenty-four hours is the minimum amount of time a properly sealed vacuum insulated growler will keep your suds frosty, with many users reporting cold brews 48 or more hours after the initial pour! These take up far less room than a cooler, are more environmentally friendly than leaving cans and bottles around, and much less of a hassle than bringing all of them back with you to dispose of properly.
Prices range from the $30 zone to over $100, but do your research and you can have a beautiful conveyance that you’ll be able to keep your beer chilled for decades to come.
Insulation is the gift that keeps on giving
If you’re going on a hike, odds are you’re already going to need to pack some essentials, and a strong, comfortable backpack is a great way to bring everything you need without slowing you down and taking up even more space.
Specially made insulated cooler backpacks add cold beer technology to this already indispensable piece of equipment. Much like the insulated growlers, the prices on these bad boys can vary greatly – but if you invest in a top quality one, not only will it keep your cold things cold and your room temp things room temp, you’ll have a piece of equipment that looks fashionable and will last ages.
Many of these insulated cooler backpacks look no different from any regular backpack as well, meaning they can be used for all sorts of activities other than hikes – even if you don’t want to advertise you’re carrying cold, refreshing beverages around with you.
Just make sure to do your research and find the one that’s right for you – few things are more frustrating than finding out you’re not going to be able to fit all your normal gear and your brews all at once.
From low tech to high tech, from expensive investments to cheap as free hacks, from the most complicated microbrews to light refreshing lagers, there are plenty of ways to tackle the awful problem of warm beer on your hike or other outdoor trip. Just be sure to use this info to plan ahead and you’ll be the hero of the group when you bust out some cold ones at the end of the trail.