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Awesome Hot Drinks for Your Next Campfire

​Do you know what makes everything better in the backcountry when it’s freezing cold? A sweet, hot drink and a snowball fight.

By: Tara Schatz + Save to a List

 Here in Vermont, we have six months of winter (at least for now), and hibernation is out of the question. We’re always on the lookout for ways to make winter camping, hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing a bit more fun. One of our favorite secrets? Sharing a yummy cold-weather drink outdoors! 

At the very least, I always try and remember a thermos of hot chocolate for our outdoor adventures, but I also love getting creative. Here are a few amazing hot drink recipes for winter hiking, camping, and exploring, including kid-friendly drinks and alcoholic variations for the big people.

Morning Drinks to Fuel Your Adventures

Whether you want to pop out of bed for sunrise or enjoy a leisurely morning around the campfire, you need a special pick-me-up to help jumpstart your day. These hot drinks are so easy to make, you can whip them up while your eyes are still shut!

Easy Mocha Lattes

Morning coffee is even better when camping. Photo by Tara Schatz

I’m one of those people who can’t give up coffee when camping.  I usually make it with freshly-ground coffee beans using the pour-over method, but if we’re backpacking or trying to lighten our load, I opt for this super easy mocha latte mix.  It’s just what I need to get going on those cold camp mornings. My teens love these as well.

Mix at home:
2 cups instant dry milk powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
½ cup instant coffee or espresso granules

At camp:
Add 2 – 4 tablespoons mix to a mug with boiling water. Enjoy with a morning walk and a sunrise.

Spiced Chai Lattes

Tea time! Photo by Tara Schatz

This tea is perfectly spiced and quite sweet. Feel free to cut down on the sugar if it’s too sweet to your liking. When we’re pressed for time, we buy Oregon Chai powdered mix to bring camping, but if we want a real treat we mix our own camping Chai at home.

Mix at home:
2 cups instant dry milk powder
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground cardamom

To avoid sediment in your finished tea, grind all the ingredients to a very fine powder in a food processor. Pack some black tea bags to use when you get to camp.

At camp:
Add 2 tablespoons of your chai mix, a teabag, and a cup of boiling water to your favorite camping mug. If you’ve got your spice kit with you, add a tiny bit of vanilla.

Hot Campfire Drinks for Kids and Adults

Hot drinks and campfires go together perfectly, especially in cold weather. If you’ve got your campfire lit, you need these winter warmers! The following hot drinks are suitable for kids and can easily be tailored to adults who want something a little stronger. 

Peppermint Hot Chocolate for Camping

Candy canes are optional with this awesome hot cocoa! Photo by Aleksandra Tanasiienko

Hot cocoa is a camping staple in our family. Kids love to dip their roasted marshmallows in it, and it’s such a classic winter warmer.

A few caveats though — hot cocoa may keep some kids up well past bedtime – all that sugar isn’t the best for sound sleeping. Also, it can be a pain to clean hot chocolate mugs when camping. Be sure to add hot water to the empty mugs as soon as you’re finished drinking for the best results. Whatever you do, don’t leave the empty mugs until morning – what a mess!

First, a basic hot chocolate mix that you can create at home For fewer lumps, use a flour sifter to sift together:

2 cups powdered sugar
2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

After sifting, add 1 cup of powdered milk.  2 – 3 tablespoons of this hot chocolate mix will make one cup of cocoa.

To make peppermint hot chocolate while camping, steep a peppermint tea bag in a cup of boiling water for five minutes. Remove the tea bag and add the hot cocoa mix. Adults, if you want a little extra kick, add a shot of peppermint schnapps to taste.  Enjoy your peppermint hot cocoa with your favorite ghost story and roasted marshmallows.

Mulled Spiced Cider for Camping

Hot mulled cider is one of my favorite things in all the world. If you’re car camping, just pop a gallon of sweet cider into your cooler for an easy after-dinner nightcap.

If you’re backpacking, you’re going to want to buy powdered apple cider. It may not taste exactly like farm-fresh cider, but it’s pretty good, especially after you’ve spent the day adventuring. 

At home:
Pack apple pie or pumpkin pie spice into your homemade camping spice kit, along with your apple cider.

At camp:
If you’ve got the real deal, pour it into a saucepan and mix it with a few teaspoons of apple pie or pumpkin pie spice. Let it sit on the back of your campfire until you’re ready to drink it. If you’re of age, try your spiced hot cider with a wee bit of bourbon. Yum!

Nutella S’mores Hot Chocolate

Everyone loves s'mores while camping. Photo by Alex Holt/Unsplash

Here’s a seriously rich dessert/drink for those special camping celebrations:

At home:
Prepare basic hot chocolate mix (recipe above). Pack Nutella, marshmallows, and Bailey’s Irish Cream for the adults.

At camp:
Boil water (1 cup per person) over your campfire and add a couple of dollops (2 tablespoons per person) of Nutella to the pot. Stir to dissolve. When the Nutella is mixed in, remove from heat, and stir in 2 tablespoons of hot chocolate mix per person, and a shot of Bailey’s (for the adults). Top it all off with a roasted marshmallow.

Ready to get out there and brave the winter ‘round a raging fire? Bring along our hot drink recipes and you’ll never want to come home!

A version of this story first appeared on Back Road Ramblers

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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