If food is fuel, then ultralight backpacking recipes should essentially be high octane rocket fuel, right? High mileage days, thru hikes and self-supported expeditions demand a lot from our bodies. But when it comes to generating backcountry food ideas, all too often we put calorie counts and filling our bellies above building a solid metabolic base for high exertion.
So let’s get back to basics. We’ll start with fundamental nutrition information from verified, professional sources. We’ll build guidelines and recommendations for protein, carbohydrates and fats, and translate those into ultralight backpacking recipes with an eye towards efficiency and nutrient density by weight.
In our community, there’s a lot of ambivalence about whether or not we can or should consider ourselves “athletes.” Regardless, we all stand to benefit from eating better—on the trail, and beforehand in the preparation phase. Your body is the most important piece of gear you own. It’s time to start treating it as such. Otherwise, if it’s potato chips in, it’s potato chips out.
Our new REpack freezer bag cook system will elevate your dining experience out on the trail.
Some might argue that the most significant side-effect of backpacking, thru-hiking, and multi-sporting is being able to eat like a pelican. But we don’t all do it as well as we could with nutrition, caloric intake, or even just the pure enjoyment of eating some food the way it is intended to be consumed – hot for starters! When your home and kitchen sit on your shoulders in vast, disconnected expanses, goals like these aren’t always easy to achieve.
What to eat, however, isn’t the only consideration for the meticulous hiker and explorer. Ponder the size and weight of pre-packaged food bags and containers, times that by the number of days you’re out or between resupply, and subsequently, how the size of your garbage bag grows. That’s a lot of wasted space.
Celebrate without limits. From deep in the Grand Canyon backcountry, ambassador Rich Rudow demonstrates his preferred way to mix up some ultralight margaritas while offering personal speculation into what ancient agave roasting in the region was really about. Recipe: Backcountry Margaritas Ingredients: Water Tequila Crystal Light (or similar) Lemonade Mix Instructions: Mix water + tequila. […]
Your daily food intake should include a mix of complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Breakfasts are no exception. Breakfast is commonly believed to be the most important meal of the day because you need to resupply the calories that you consumed while you were sleeping. Of course, if you’re on a trip, you also need to lay a solid foundation of calories for your upcoming aerobic endeavors. That means finding backpacking breakfast recipes that are delicious and pack a nutritional punch.
Quick and Easy Backpacking Breakfast Recipes to Keep You Going
When I’m on a longer trip, like a thru hike, I fire up the stove immediately after waking. Before I’m even out of my sleeping bag I am sipping on a hot cup of coffee and have breakfast re-hydrating in my cozy. This provides me an ample amount of time to eat my breakfast, pack my pack, and embark on my first segment of the day, typically a two-hour push.
Most trainers don’t recommend exercising for any longer than that without refueling. If you are going to exercise for longer than two hours, be sure to eat at least 100 calories per hour of mostly simple carbohydrates.
For those of you that can’t stand the thought of eating breakfast in bed or are committed to the “10 before 10” mantra, I recommend eating at least a couple hundred calories before walking. A simple snack of medjool dates and cashews should do the trick. You might want to consider assessingyour protein needs, too.
Below you will find three of my favorite breakfast recipes to try out on your next trip. As with all of my meals, I like to mix these up in bigger batches, and parcel them out into individual meal sizes. That makes it easy to build menus on a grab and go basis, and get out the door and into the backcountry.
Vegetarian Parmesan Spinach Grits
½ cup Nestle Nido
¼ cup instant grits
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup dehydrated spinach
1.5 tbsp ham TVP (textured vegetable protein)
1 tbsp butter powder
4 packets Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
pinch cayenne pepper
1 cube veggie bouillon
1 tbsp olive oil
Directions: Mix all the ingredients together at home apart from the veggie bouillon, Parmesan, and olive oil. In the field, add a splash of boiling water and the bouillon to your cozy. Dissolve the bouillon cube. Then add the rest of the ingredients and enough water to re-hydrate the mixture, approximately ½ cup. Let “cook” for approximately five minutes.
Savory Breakfast Scramble
1 cup freeze dried sweet potatoes or dehydrated potato slices
½ cup freeze dried pork crumbles
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp air dried green onion
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp Herbes de Provence
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup freeze dried scrambled egg chunks (not egg powder) (Optional)
Directions: Mix dry ingredients at home. Olive oil can be packaged individually or in larger quantities in a leak proof container for a longer trip. Add approximately ½ cup boiling H2O to mixture. Re-hydrate for 5-8 minutes. Potato slices with eggs take about 15-20 minutes. Stir once. Check potatoes for doneness, you may need to add a little bit of hot water–and it goes without saying that the cooking time makes this a backpacking breakfast recipe that works best for leisurely mornings in camp.
2 packets instant grits
2 tbsp Nestle Nido
2 tbsp cheese powder
1 tsp air dried red chili pepper
1 tsp air dried green onion
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
2 tbsp Real Bacon bits
Directions: Mix everything but the bacon bits at home. Add approximately one cup of boiling H2O to mixture. Let sit inside of a cozy for 3-5 minutes.
Words & Photos by Matt Jenkins A critical component of every trip into the wilderness is food. Whether going out for a couple of hours or a couple of months, some attention needs to be paid to nutrition in order for your physical output to be sustained for the duration of the activity. With that […]
For this series of posts on ultralight nutrition, we tapped Boulder, CO-based sports nutritionist Brian Rigby. Brian holds a Master of Science in Applied Clinical Nutrition and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist through the ISSN (International Society for Sports Nutrition). As the owner of Boulder’s Elite Sports Nutrition, he consults athletes of all stripes on […]
Text & photos by Chris Atwood. Chris Atwood did a 57-day thru hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon with Ambassador Rich Rudow (Read “The Grandest Walk: A 700-Mile Thru Hike Below the Rim“). During the trip numerous adventurers accompanied them, including Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre. The length and severity of […]
Matt Jenkins and Elyssa Shalla, backcountry rangers at Grand Canyon, have been exploring the southwestern deserts together since they met in 2008. After living and traveling extensively abroad, the couple’s next adventure will combine many of the backcountry routes near their home on the Coconino Plateau into one, extended, mostly trail-less adventure. They planned and […]
Push Through Cold Weather With These Ultralight Backpacking Recipes Matt Jenkins and Elyssa Shalla, backcountry rangers at Grand Canyon, have been exploring the southwestern deserts together since they met in 2008. The couple’s next adventure will combine many of the backcountry routes near their home on the Coconino Plateau into one, extended, mostly trail-less adventure—a […]
Stripped Down Home Packaged Ultralight Backcountry Breakfast Recipes, By Mike St. Pierre In preparation for 16 days of extreme thru hiking through the Grand Canyon, Hyperlite Mountain Gear CEO Mike St. Pierre spent countless hours developing ultralight backcountry breakfast recipes. He weighed, measured and then vacuum sealed all his creations. Two of those recipes are included […]
Words by Mike St. Pierre Prep Makes Perfect: Ultralight Backpacking Food Best Practices I will soon be heading into the Grand Canyon for 16 days with Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Rich Rudow. Rich will be thru hiking about 700 miles down river and then back up the other side, all below the rim of the canyon and […]