Tuesday 10 November 2015

A Wee Dram Under The Stars: SWIG Hip Flask Review

A wee dram of a good malt whisky can be be relaxing and warming at a remote camp. Or even on a cold mountain top - as long as it's only a small dram. Alcohol and hill walking don't really mix. Sharing a drink is also very pleasant when socialising, especially round a bothy fire. I rarely carry alcohol on solo trips though. One time I did was one New Year's Eve long ago when I ended up in a Cairngorms bothy with several others, all taking shelter from a blizzard. I was surprised and disappointed to discover I was the only person with any alcohol. My whisky didn't last long!

A proper metal hip flask is of course ideal for carrying whisky. I have met people who've decanted whisky into a plastic bottle - I would regard this as sacrilege with a decent malt! Recently I was offered a SWIG stainless steel hip flask to test - a nice change from outdoor gear! It's small, neat and well-made, holds 175ml and weighs 163 grams. It has a secure screw-on lid - I filled it and shook it vigorously upside down. No water came out (well I wasn't going to risk whisky). The little cap isn't attached though so care is needed not to mislay it (spare ones are available). Each flask is individually numbered and that number gives you entry to the SWIG Society.

As well as 'naked' the SWIG hip flask is offered with a variety of pouches including hand made leather ones from Morar in the Highlands, moulded leather ones from Spain and genuine Harris Tweed ones in several patterns. I chose one of the last as it seemed the most appropriate and because I thought it would be pleasant to hold. It is. It's warm and rough to the touch - good for cold nights when bare metal can be unpleasantly chilly and for ensuring you don't let the smooth flask slip. It weighs just 11 grams. You can buy extra pouches if you fancy different ones for different occasions. There are gift sets too and you can have flasks engraved. Prices range from £41 for just the flask up to £159 for a Scottish Heritage Gift Set. My flask with Harris Tweed pouch is £49.

I like the SWIG flask. It's light and compact and tucks away easily into a pocket or a corner of the pack. It is a luxury item, but then so is a good malt whisky.


  1. There are much more affordable, purpose made hip flasks available without forking out £50 for something like the above. Sorry Chris but no way would I be suckered away from my gaelic runecrafted Scottish flask for this!

  2. Nice post Chris - very different!
    It would be interesting to know what other backpackers sneak into their packs for a wee drop at night time. I've certainly noticed some of those small bottles of red or rose wine (25cl) appearing on our shorter trips of 1 or 2 nights. We bring mini wine glasses rather than drinking out of a mug. A shot of rye would probably knock me out completely!

    Cheers, Dave Porter