5 Reasons Why You Should Always Carry Whiskey In Your Pack

Do you really even need a reason?

By: Jen Weir + Save to a List

When you’re gearing up for your next adventure and organizing your pack, you may want to consider making room for one more item – a flask of whiskey. It’s not only handy to have for an impromptu mountain party (or working up the courage to wrestle with Sasquatch or talk to that hottie you passed earlier on the trail), but whiskey could also be your saving grace if you find yourself up a creek, so to speak. Aside from its recreational qualities, whiskey has a few, more practical, applications. Let’s be honest, though...the small potential for practical application is just an excuse to have it on hand for the recreational qualities, right? Works for me.

Winter Camp Near Coulson Gulch | Photo: Ryan Mckinney

1. Hydration

Unfortunately drinking whiskey is not an effective way to hydrate; however, you can use that goodness to make less-than-stellar water a little less nasty. The alcohol in the whiskey may kill, or at least subdue, some of the troublemakers, reducing your risk of waterborne illness. Add a shot of your favorite whiskey, the higher the proof the better, to a liter of water and wait at least 20 minutes while it does its thing. Note: Use this method only in emergency – if you’ve got a water purifying system use it, and drink your whiskey separately.

2. Warmth

Whether it’s twenty below or twenty above, a pull off the bottle will light a fire in your belly. Alcohol is a vasodilator, causing your blood vessels to dilate and your circulation to increase. If you’re actually on the verge of hypothermia, whiskey isn’t a good way to fight if off since it will pull the cool blood from your extremities into your core, further lowering your body temp. If, on the other hand, you’re relaxing next to a roaring fire after a day in the cold, by all means, drink up to warm up, my friend.

3. Fire

If you find yourself in need of some flames and you’re not exactly Bear Grylls, pouring some whiskey on your firewood can up your chances of ignition. Whiskey can also be used in areas barren of kindling or anything else that will burn – fill a small can and light it up.

Camp at Coulson Gulch | Photo: Ryan Mckinney

4. Antiseptic

Nature is pretty dirty and if you find yourself with a cut or scrape while you’re out enjoying it, you can bet it’s going to be pretty dirty too. If you’re feeling the need to prove your (wo)manliness, pour some whiskey on it to kill the topical germs (or you can wash it off with clean water). After cleaning your wound, you can use the whiskey to sterilize any instruments you may need to use to close the laceration. Whiskey is also a proven pain killer – throw back a couple shots to dull the pain.

5. Medication

Whiskey is one of those multi-purpose cure-alls – if you’ve got a problem, whiskey just might be the answer. If you’re feeling a little under the weather while you’re heading down the trail, a little hooch may be just what you need. Researchers out of Oregon found alcohol can help boost your immune system and fight off infection – not to mention the vasodilation properties of whiskey can improve the function of your mucus membranes, upping their chance of dealing with infection. Although I personally haven’t tried it, I’ve heard whiskey is also a good treatment for bug bites and poison ivy – pour some directly on the affected area. It may just be an old wive’s tale, but it’s worth a shot – or two.

Cover photo: Steve Yocom

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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