Is Caffeine Helpful For Backpacking? (Let’s Find Out)

Is Caffeine Helpful For Backpacking

Backpacking is an outdoor recreation that involves going on a hike while having gear on your back. This activity involves using energy, strength, and essential cognitive skills. 

Caffeine is a stimulant known to have specific beneficial effects on the body system but also disadvantages. 

You might be wondering if you could take caffeine to help when you go backpacking. Well, here’s an answer for you.

Yes, caffeine is helpful for backpacking. Caffeine acts as an antioxidant by improving the health of brain cells and increasing strength and energy. However, although caffeine is beneficial, it has its downsides, including dehydration and stomach irritation.

In this article, I’ll list the benefits and disadvantages of taking caffeine before hikes, how to get caffeine when backpacking, and the difference between caffeine pills and coffee.

Is It Beneficial to Take Caffeine Before Long Hikes?

Is Caffeine Helpful For Backpacking

Yes, it is beneficial to take caffeine before long hikes. However, although taking caffeine is beneficial, it also has its downsides.

Here are some advantages of taking caffeine before going on long hikes:

  • Caffeine helps to boost adrenaline and increase energy. To go on long hikes, you require a large amount of strength and energy, and caffeine is just the thing to help with that.
  • Caffeine serves as an antioxidant that promotes a healthier mindset.
  • Caffeine helps boost cognitive function, thereby boosting skills such as concentration, problem-solving, decision-making, etcetera.
  • Caffeine acts as a natural stimulant for the body
  • Caffeine helps in burning fat.
  • Caffeine helps to increase your endurance.
  • Taking coffee is generally a healthy take. 

Here are some disadvantages to taking caffeine before long hikes:

#1. Caffeine Is Diuretic

Diuretics help your body lose water – taking a large amount of caffeine before a long hike can cause dehydration and the constant urge to pee along trails.

#2. Caffeine Can Be Irritating to Your Stomach

Caffeine can cause gastrointestinal discomfort meaning that it causes the movement of the bowels by stimulating your intestines. Caffeine may also cause acid reflux and heartburn.

How Much Caffeine Should You Take When Backpacking?

You only need between 3 and 6 mg per kg of caffeine, and you should take it for about an hour before going backpacking.

Research shows that taking lower doses of caffeine improves cognitive performance compared to higher doses.

Taking as much as 600mg of caffeine per serving can be detrimental to one’s health, so it is best to take between 300mg to 400 mg per serving to be safe.

How Do You Get Caffeine When Backpacking?

Knowing the different coffee-making methods is essential to quickly get your energizing dose of caffeine when hiking. 

Here are different methods for making coffee when you’re on the go:

#1. Cowboy Coffee

Here are the guidelines for this method of coffee making:

  • Heat water for as long as you want, and add your desired amount of ground coffee
  • Allow the mixture to sit for about two to four minutes 
  • Decant the mixture to remove the coffee grounds and then drink up

Although the method is straightforward and requires no equipment, it is the worst-tasting coffee compared to all other methods.

Even after decanting the coffee, there’ll still be a lot of coffee grounds at the bottom of the coffee.

#2. DIY Coffee Bag

Here’s a guide to making this type of coffee:

  • First, get a paper coffee filter and put the ground coffee in it. 
  • Then, use unflavored dental floss to tie the knot and seal the coffee.
  • Heat water in a cup to the temperature you want, and then put the bag into the cup
  • Leave the mixture in the cup for about two to four minutes.
  • The coffee is ready for drinking.

The method of making coffee is straightforward to follow. However, one slight downside to this method is that you can taste the coffee filter when drinking the coffee.

#3. Single Serve Paper Pour Over Filter 

Below are the steps for this method of coffee making:

  • First, get a single-serve filter paper and place the ground coffee.
  • Heat water to the desired temperature and pour it into the coffee filter
  • Your coffee is ready for drinking

This method is easy to go about, but it has a downside. The downside to this method is that you can taste the paper when drinking the coffee.

#4. GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip

Here are directions on this method of making coffee:

  • Put the ground coffee into the mesh basket and clip the device to the side of your cup
  • Heat water to the desired temperature and carefully pour the hot water over the grounds.

This coffee maker is lightweight, collapsible, and easy to use, but you must be careful. If you are not careful enough, the coffee might not make it through your trip.

#5. MSR Coffee/Tea Filter

The steps below guide you on this method of making coffee:

  • First, put the ground coffee into the mesh container.
  • Next, heat the water to the desired temperature and slowly pour the hot water over the ground coffee.
  • If you like your coffee strong, let the mixture sit on the filter before you drink it up for a while.

This method makes delicious coffee and has a filter that does not need to be changed constantly.

One downside to this method is that removing the ground from the filter can be pretty tricky.

#6. GSI Outdoors Coffee Pocket Maker

Here are directions on this method of making coffee:

  • Pour the ground coffee into the stainless steel in the blue base unit
  • Attach the water hooper to the top
  • Carry the device and place it on your coffee cup
  • Heat water to the desired temperature and gently pour it into the hopper

This coffee method makes the best-tasting coffee; however, it weighs about 77 grams. The weight and bulkiness of this coffee maker could be better for backpacking.

#7. Wolecok Collapsible Pour Over Coffee Dripper

Here are directions on this method of making coffee:

  • Get a standard paper filter and place it into the device after you expand it
  • Add ground coffee to the filter to fit your taste.
  • Heat water to the desired temperature and gently pour it over the ground coffee. 

This method makes a great-tasting coffee, can handle -40 to 446 degrees of temperature, and the silicone is flexible. However, this coffee maker has several downsides.

This coffee maker weighs about 84 grams, which is not suitable for backpacking, and it also requires a standard paper filter explicitly to get the best result.

GSI Outdoors Collapsible Java Drip

Here are directions on this method of making coffee:

  • First, expand the device and place a standard paper filter into it.
  • Pour ground coffee into the basket according to your taste
  • Heat water to the desired temperature and gently pour it over the coffee. Pour the water carefully to avoid overflowing the cup.

The downside of using the device is that it has a breakable plastic base and weighs up to 135 grams, making it unideal for backpacking.

Here is a table to show various coffee makers based on specific features:

Coffee Maker TypeTastePaper FilterWeight in GramsCost
Coffee tied up in a paper coffee filterOkayYes0.9$ 0.02
Paper single serve to pour over coffee dripperGoodYes1.9$ 0.14
GSI outdoors ultralight java dripGoodNo11$ 8.98
MSR mug mate coffee/ Tea filterGoodNo17$ 12.54
GSI outdoors coffee rocket makerBestNo77$ 9.95
Wolecok collapsible pour-over coffee dripperGoodYes84$ 7.64
GSI outdoors collapsible java dripGoodYes101$ 12.95

Caffeine PIlls vs. Coffee; Which Is Better For Backpacking?

Here is a table to differentiate caffeine pills and coffee:

FeaturesCaffeine PillsCoffee
Caffeine contentMore caffeine contentLess caffeine content
Health LevelLess healthyMore healthy
ConvenienceMore convenientLess convenient

Here are the disadvantages of using caffeine pills:

  • It is easier to overdose on caffeine pills
  • Caffeine pills do not come in different flavors and aromas
  • Caffeine pills can be pretty expensive

Here are the disadvantages of using coffee:

  • Coffee requires the investment of time and effort
  • Coffee may cause dehydration and irritation in the stomach
  • Coffee-making requires brewing equipment

Overall, both caffeine pills and coffee are good. However, coffee might be better for you if you want something healthy, tasty, and inexpensive.

Caffeine pills will be better for you if you like something convenient, more potent caffeine, and you don’t mind paying more.

How Long Does Caffeine Last While Backpacking?

Caffeine wears off after about ten to twelve hours of initial intake.

The above statement means that if you take about 100g of caffeine within 6 to 7 hours of your backpacking, only fifty percent will work in your system.

If you are to take caffeine content before backpacking, take it very early in the morning to be safe. If you take it later than that, it can distort your sleeping pattern.

Pros and Cons Of Caffeine During Backpacking

Consuming caffeine during backpacking has both advantages and disadvantages you should be aware of.

Here are the pros of taking caffeine during backpacking:

  • Caffeine helps to improve strength and boost energy to help you achieve the goals you planned
  • Caffeine helps boost cognitive skills such as alertness, quick thinking, decision-making, etc.
  • Caffeine serves as an antioxidant to bring about healthier brain cells
  • Caffeine serves as a stimulant to improve body functions

Here are the cons of taking caffeine during backpacking:

  • Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it can cause dehydration and increases your urge to pee more frequently than usual
  • Caffeine can cause temporary headaches and dizziness
  • Caffeine can irritate the stomach
Josh Matthews

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