Ten Backcountry Recipes That Will Keep You Energized and Eating Well on the Trail
Despite the rigorous demands of our sport and the amount of energy we expend doing it, many trekkers and hikers tend to have a fairly lax approach to nutrition when on the trail. Compared to other sporting enthusiasts – cyclists, long-distance runners, and weightlifters, for example – we tend to be, with some exceptions, altogether less fussy about what we put in our bellies. Part of this ‘anything will do’ mentality derives, no doubt, from the fact that when we’re on a long hike or thru-trek, just about anything tastes good, and it is also one of the few times when a little bit of extra-calorie intake and comfort eating is unlikely to see us pile on the pounds. Nevertheless, when hiking our bodies require a wide range of nutrients to keep us energized and healthy. While we’re not recommending you go as far as the early British expeditions which carted along dozens of crates of home delicacies and hundreds of bottles of champagne on treks to the K2 region, we’d like to help you enjoy a few nutritious, tasty, satisfying and energizing trail meals without resorting to the often expensive pre-packaged, ready-made camping meals found online and in outdoor stores – and without scrimping on taste and enjoyment. Let’s take a look at how it’s done with our custom-made backpacker and thru-hiker’s menu!
1. Apple-Banana Oatmeal
Ingredients: Instant oatmeal (100-200g), dried apple and banana, dried milk (40-80g), water, a pinch of salt, sugar (to taste), protein powder.
Instructions: Throw all of the ingredients in a zip-lock bag, give it a shake, add to boiled water when ready to eat…simple!
We say: An easy, effective way to boost energy levels and get in some potassium and vitamins in the process.
2. Dehydrated Yogurt and Granola
Instructions: Spread plain, low-fat yogurt on a dehydrating tray on non-stick baking paper, bake at 135F for 5-7 hours (or until crispy), leave to cool and then break into pieces and seal in a zip-lock bag. When ready to eat, add water until you have the desired consistency and then add your granola.
We say: A super-tasty, energy-rich snack that won’t weigh you down or take up too much backpack space. Well worth the effort of dehydrating and preparing!
3. Scrambled Egg and Cheese
Instructions: Pour boiled water into the bag, throw in your cheese, allow the cheese to melt and eat up!
We say: Egg crystals may not exactly taste as good as the real thing, but with a pinch of salt and pepper and few slices of cheese, they’re tasty all the same!
4. Rye or Mountain Bread and Jelly, Honey, Cheese or Nutella
Instructions: Pack in safe, air-tight containers and spread when ready! Or if you’re not in a hurry, you can stop to concoct yourself a grilled cheese!
We say: A great, long-lasting and slow-burning source of protein, fiber, carbs and fats, and a real treat for when you need to boost your spirits or for a quick, super-tasty sugar hit.
5. Peanut Butter Cracker Sandwiches
Instructions: Seal your peanut butter in a plastic jar or bag to save on weight and pack your crackers in a plastic tub to avoid breakage. Spread, stack and savor!
We say: A great, simple, calorie-dense source of protein and fiber that keeps things fun and, for peanut-butter lovers, lets you enjoy a yummy treat, guilt-free – there’s no need to be counting calories in the backcountry!
6. Dried Fruit Smoothie
Instructions: Crush your favorite fruits down to a fine granule, add to your protein powder and dried milk, rehydrate with water on the trail.
We say: A convenient way to add some vitamins and variety to your personal fueling strategy, not to mention mightily tasty and providing a great protein boost.
7. Ramen and Jerky
Instructions: Before leaving home, grate your jerky down to a fine, easy-to-chew size. At you camping spot, boil noodles with water, add the jerky, cheese, almonds and cashews to add flavor.
We say: An old backpacker’s favorite which can be varied and flavored in multiple ways to suit your tastes and provides a healthy hit of protein for muscle recovery.
8. Rice and Tuna
Instructions: Remove your tuna from the can and store it in a zip-lock bag to save on weight and add a pinch of salt to your rice prior to setting off. Boil your rice, sieve, throw in the tuna and eat!
We say: A great source of protein out on the trail that requires very little storage and weighs a mere 250-350g. You can add flavor to this meal with other herbs, spices or condiments or simply use a flavored rice packet.
9. Macaroni Cheese and Salami
Instructions: Italy’s finest. Add the macaroni mix to boiling water, cook for ten minutes and then add the salami.
We say: Just about as good as anything you could make at home, this filling, protein and carb-rich meal will leave you feeling satisfied and weighs in at only 35O-400g in total.
10. Vegan Couscous
Instructions: throw all of your ingredients in a zip-lock bag, add to boiling water at your campsite and cook for 10-15 minutes. Sieve ingredients, leave to steam-dry for a 3-4 minutes and then enjoy!
We say: a very tasty, carb-rich meal that gives you a good fill of vegetables and can be made protein-rich with a small handful of cashews, almonds, pine nuts or walnuts.
Hopefully, the above recipes have shown that nutrition, taste and variety do not need to be sacrificed while exploring the backcountry and that our provided ‘menu’ choices will help keep you energized and healthy on the trail—without offending your taste buds or emptying your wallet in the process!