Friday, January 10, 2014

Pat's Backcountry Beverages - The Ultimate Travel Accessory?

As a frequent backpacker (using both meanings of the word: the trail-hiking type and the world traveling type), I've always been working to find ways to lighten my pack.  At the same time, I love to have a beer when I'm on the trail or on the road.  But, until now, that's always been difficult if not impossible.

Enter Pat's Backcountry Beverages, a company that makes a portable carbonator bottle and "brew concentrate", which is real microbrew beer in concentrated form.  Now I have a way to make carbonated water and real beer when I'm on the road or trail.

My wife got me one of these for Christmas, and admittedly I'm pretty impressed!  This thing actually works!  Basically, you put a packet of citric acid and potassium bicarbonate into a little bottle within the bottle, activate it with water, and shake the bottle to produce (and mix) CO2 into the water bottle.  A simple valve makes sure the salty liquid in the CO2 chamber doesn't go directly into your water (or beer).

In the end, this works just like a SodaStream carbonator, only it's fully portable and costs a lot less.  Plus it uses a simple acid/base reaction instead of expensive CO2 cartridges.

What are some possible uses?
  • Taking beer on long backpacking trips.
  • Sneaking beer on a cruise ship.
  • Making gourmet soda on an airplane or in an airport -- all you add is plain water (Pat's sells soda concentrates).
  • Making inexpensive carbonated water and soda using SodaStream concentrates.
  • Making carbonated kool-aid or Tang.
As you can see, the sky is the limit.

How can I do it cheaper?

Pat's wants to you buy their little activator packs which contain citric acid and potassium bicarbonate.  They are quite convenient for traveling and backpacking.  However, they easily cost between $.50 and $1 if ordered online, not to mention the shipping waste and wait time.

Fortunately, it's easy enough to make your own solution using powdered citric acid and baking soda.  Citric acid can be purchased inexpensively in the canning section at larger grocery stores -- I use the stuff made by Ball which costs about $3.  A box of baking soda can be acquired for about 75 cents.

To make your own solution, mix 1 tsp. citric acid with 1.5 tsp. baking soda.  Put it in the carbonation cup and viola, a carbonated water factory for pennies.

What's the Verdict?

I love this little bottle, and I've had fun making all kinds of beverages in it.  I highly recommend getting one!

1 comment:

  1. We are interested in traveling to Seattle April 4 to 11. Alaska Airlines out of Chicago appears to be the best option. We are likely to be making 1 to 2 trips per year to Seattle. Do you have any thoughts about better options that would have of us either saving more money or being able to travel out of GRR?