Caffeine While Hiking – Pros/Cons & Best Sources

As any coffee-lover knows, caffeine can be a great pick-me-up when you’re feeling tired. But what about when you’re out on the trail, trying to enjoy a hike? Is caffeine while hiking still a good idea then?

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of caffeine while hiking, as well some of my favorite sources should you decide to have it out on the trails.

caffeine while hiking

Pros Of Consuming Caffeine While Hiking

Energy & Mood Boost

This is easily seen as a huge benefit to consuming caffeine. It helps me clear my morning fog and gets me amped up for day of hiking.

It also helps me feel more focused and alert. I’ve even had my fair share this morning while writing this article to help me concentrate.

According to this study doses of 250mg produced more favorable results such as elation, peacefulness, pleasantness as well as improved motor functioning.

Avoid Withdrawals

If you love your fix and get withdrawals if you go a day or two without it. Don’t let going out to the mountains for the weekend or longer stop you.

I’ve listed a bunch of different sources below, some can be easily found and stashed in your pack to help you avoid withdrawals (plus enjoy all the other benefits).

Quick Pick Me Up

It’s been a long day on the trails, but you still have another 6 miles to go and you are dragging! “This hike is taking forever! But I have to get to that shelter/town tonight so I can fully enjoy my rest day tomorrow”

Caffeine can help provide a solid boost and pick me up. I like using gels for this purpose. As they’re a quick source of easily digestible calories that will not slow me down like a full meal might.


Possible Dehydration

This a common belief and while I try to limit my caffeine intake during intense activities such as hiking or trail running. It was found not to be the case for those who regularly consumed caffeine. And only minimally affected those who have not had caffeine within a period of days or weeks.

Headaches, Dizzyness, Etc

According to this study on the effects of caffeine, over 500mg of caffeine caused unpleasant effects such as “tension, nervousness, anxiety, excitement, irritability, nausea, palpitations, restlessness”

Basically monitor your caffeine intake. Aim for 1 big source of caffeine or maybe spread out smaller sources throughout the day.

Messing Up Goals?

Maybe you actually wanted to enjoy nature more and hit a reset on your caffeine dependence or use hiking to help your caffeine withdrawal.

If that’s the case, good luck with that. I have experienced withdrawal on a few occasions and know that it’s really hard to quit caffeine. Maybe I’ll try that one day….someday….eventually…maybe.

How do you get caffeine when hiking?

As a caffeine addict I always try to bring mine with me. I know it can sometimes be a challenge to find exactly what I’m looking for while out on the trail. Some sources simply aren’t as effective as others. (Yes, I’m aware I likely need a caffeine reset myself)

If on the Appalachian Trail, just be on the lookout for convenience stores, grocery stores, etc. Make sure to double check the packaging to make it lists that the product has caffeine and its quantity.

What Is Your Favorite Source Of Caffeine While Hiking?

5hr Energy

Easily my favorite source of caffeine, whether hiking, going on a road trip or even waking up early to write this blog post. They have a bunch of different flavors and you’ll eventually get used to the taste. I like any of the orange’ish flavored Extra Strength versions. And with barely any calories and no sugar or extra BS, they beat out some of the more traditional energy drinks like Monster, Red Bull, etc.

Just watch carrying a bunch of these guys as the containers can take up a little extra space in your pack, food bag or trash baggie.

These can also be a little expensive when compared to other sources, and will quickly add up. I normally buy in bulk or deals at 711s. (Telling you, I’m an addict)

caffeine while hiking
5 hr Energy Best Flavor Ever!!!!

Voke Energy Tablets

Something I only recently started to buy. These little guys pack a decent amount of caffeine, take up minimal space, and are pretty cheap.

The website claims it to be a “superfood chewable” that helps you “maintain all-day mental energy, laser focus, upbeat mood, & clear thinking.” I primarily like the 77mg of caffeine per tablet, can’t really speak for the rest of the claimed benefits.

They taste great in my opinion, reminds me of a Flintstone vitamin from my younger days. A friend of mine said they were not a fan of them because of the chalkiness. But they also definitely didn’t grow up in the Flintstone vitamin era, so I think that was their problem.

Gel, Gummies, Gum & Bars

I’ll clump these all together because there are so many of them. Each one is quick to consume and provides quick energy for the body, with or without caffeine.


Gels are basically pre-digested food, taken 15-20mins before your activity. I’ll often have a few stashed away on a multi-day hike. Grabbing one after lunch or mid-afternoon when I start to drag a little bit.

Most brands have a few flavors with caffeine, but they’re generally not as high as a 5hr energy or other energy drinks. Hovering around 25mg or so. Except for maybe Espresso or coffee-related flavors.

The Double Espresso flavor of CLIF Shots contains a pretty solid amount of caffeine at 100mg, while the Gu Energy Gel – Espresso Love flavor has 40mg of caffeine.

Gummies, Gum & Bars

Gummies and gum are exactly as they seem. Gummies’ nutrition wise is gonna be about the same as gels but maybe with a little more calories depending on your servings.

They also can be a little easier to consume. Sometimes gels have an odd texture and you just can’t stomach it.

Gu also what they call Energy Chews while CLIF has their Blocs

Gum would have less nutritional value than gels and gummies but can provide a quick hit of caffeine. I like MEG (Military Energy Gum) – A spearmint flavor from Amazon. They’re relativity cheap and each piece packs a whopping 100mg of caffeine.

REVGUM is another popular energy gum. Providing 100mg per piece as well, but they’re a little more expensive than the Military Energy Gum brand.

Certain energy bars like Clif Builder’s Bar Cookie Dough Flavor have a 65mg dose of the wonderful drug, as well as a bunch of protein to help muscle recovery while out hiking.

Electrolyte Or Flavored Drink Packets

This was my go-to while section hiking back in 2013. I had a stash of Crystallite Energy powdered packets that I would just throw in my water every morning. I looked forward to that every morning. It hit the spot!

Liquid IV is another great brand of flavored drink packets. The Lemon Ginger Energy Multiplier flavor has 100mg of caffeine among other premium ingredients and antioxidants. They also have a new flavor Yuzu Pineapple that I’ll be trying here soon.

caffeine for hiking
Liquid IV – Lemon Ginger Energy Multiplier Flavor


The classic source.

You can never go wrong with a freshly brewed cup of joe.

Unless you are in a rush. Or it is raining. Or you don’t have water to boil. Or you forgot your mug. Or you didn’t even bring a stove to boil said water in.

You get the point.

But if you love the process or the zen-like mood making coffee puts you in, there are a few different methods for it here.