Ultralight Backpacking Recipes For Cold Weather

A photograph of an assorment of foods commonly used in ultralight backpacking recipes for extended hikes.

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 winter thru hike of ‘The Canyon’ from the Grand Wash Cliffs to Lees Ferry. For the occasion, they’ve worked up an assortment of the kind of nutrient and calorie-dense ultralight backpacking meals that keep them moving when the temperature drops.

The raison de etre for this long walk centers around an urge minimize their belongings, live a simpler lifestyle and get better acquainted with the vast wilderness that lies in their backyard. As rangers, they constantly seek ways to share their passion and enthusiasm for traveling lightly and efficiently through wild places.

Big winter days require a larger than normal stockpile of food to fuel. Here is a single day menu with two of our hearty ultralight backpacking recipes for colder weather. We strive to eat nutrient rich and hearty meals by including ingredients with a high number of total calories, a mixed variety of food sources and a sufficient number of calories per ounce. Mix, match and shuffle to cater to your dietary needs and wants.

Calories: 3813
Calories/oz: 129
Weight (oz): 30
Price/day: ~$15.00
Fat (g): 163
Carbs (g): 490
Protein (g): 110

Pre-Trip Prep:

  • Breakfast: Mix oatmeal, shredded coconut, chia seeds, chai powder and
    sugar packet in a small Ziploc bag. Store unopened coconut oil
    pack inside the Ziploc bag.
  • Dinner: Mix ramen noodles and all dry ingredients inside of a medium size
    Ziploc bag. Dispose of the Ramen spice packet. Store beef jerky
    and olive oil packet separately.

To cook breakfast:

  • Dump all ingredients into a cozy. Add approximately 1 – 1.5 cup of
    boiling water (to desired consistency). Stir, cover and let sit for 1-2
    minutes.

To cook dinner:

  • Dump all ingredients into a cozy. Pour approximately 1.5 cup of
    boiling water into the cozy so that all ingredients are covered with
    water. Cover and let sit for approximately 5 minutes.

Matt shared another day’s worth of his recipes for ultralight backpacking trips here. Looking more recipes ideas? Check out our collection of Backcountry Food + Backpacking Recipes blog posts.

BREAKFAST AMOUNT CALORIES FAT (g) CARBS (g) PROTEIN (g) WEIGHT (oz) PRICE  
Via 1 pack 8 0 1 1 0.1 $0.67
Coconut Chai BREAKfast 1 meal 651 35 72 13 4.5 $2.64
Instant Oatmeal 1/2 cup / 1.5 ounces 180 3 29 7 1.5 $0.22
Coconut Oil Packs 1/2 pack 151 18 0 0 0.8 $0.82
Shredded Coconunt 3 Tbsp 110 10 4 1 0.5 $0.60
Chia Seeds 1 Tbsp 60 3 5 3 0.5 $0.15
Chai Tea Latte Powder 2 Tbsp 110 1 24 2 1.0 $0.80
Sugar Packet 2 packets / 2 tsp 40 0 10 0 0.2 $0.05
SNACKS AMOUNT CALORIES FAT CARBS PROTEIN WEIGHT PRICE  
ProBar Superfood Slam 1 Bar 380 19 46 11 3.0 $1.98
Sheffa Everything Bar 1 package 150 6 23 4 1.3 $1.25
Coconut Peanut Butter Spread 1 package 190 16 8 7 1.2 $0.93
Dried Mango 3 ounces 300 0 78 0 3.0 $0.65
Raw Cashews 3 ounces 570 45 24 18 3.0 $0.99
Snickers Bar 1 Bar 250 12 33 4 1.9 $0.71
Via 1 pack 8 0 1 1 0.1 $0.67
Serious Mass Protein Smoothie 1/2 serving 625 2 126 25 5.9 $1.51
DINNER AMOUNT CALORIES FAT CARBS PROTEIN WEIGHT PRICE  
Faux Pho 1 meal 681 29 78 27 5.6 $3.03
Instant Ramen 1 packet 380 14 52 10 2.8 $0.17
Beef Boullion 1.5 tsp 20 0 4 2 0.4 $0.52
Ground Corriander .5 tsp 0 0 0 0 0.0  (0.00)
Onion Powder .5 tsp 0 0 0 0 0.0  (0.00)
Garlic Powder .5 tsp 0 0 0 0 0.1  (0.00)
Ground Star Anise .25 tsp 0 0 0 0 0.0 (0.00)
Ground Cinnamon .25 tsp 0 0 0 0 0.0 (0.00)
Ground Cloves .125 tsp 0 0 0 0 0.0 (0.00)
Ground Ginger .125 tsp 0 0 0 0 0.0 (0.00)
True Lime .125 tsp / 1 serving / .7 grams 0 0 0 0 0.0 $0.03
Dehydrated Onions 1/2 Tbsp (4 grams) 14 0 3 0 0.1 $0.11
Dehydrated Mushrooms 1/8 cup (4 grams) 12 0 2 1 0.1 $0.36
Beef Jerky 1/2 package 135 1 17 14 1.5 $1.39
Dehydrated Cilantro 1 Tsp 0 0 0 0 0.0 (0.00)
Olive Oil 1 Tbsp / 1 package 120 14 0 0 0.5 $0.44

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