Best Recipe for Trail?

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  1. #1

    Best Recipe for Trail?

    I used to go to summer camp in the Adirondacks, it was sports camp but there was an emphasis on hiking. Last year was my last year there but this summer they offer a backpacking/sea kayaking trip to the rocky mountains or the cascades out west (they haven't decided yet). I'm pumped, as the trip sounds awesome, and it's with a group of people I have spent my last 5 or 6 summers with. Each person needs to bring a recipe for good, lightweight food on the trail. I'm a good cook at home but I'm clueless when it comes to cooking on the trail, with the weight of the ingredients being a factor. Any suggestions?


  2. #2
    Unfortunately, I've got nothing. I've actually given up trying to keep my food lightweight, because I had little success with it.

    That said, you've got a long time to experiment. Pasta is a good choice, though it can get heavy depending on how many you have to cook for. Good old Mac-n-Cheese, if you have a brand that works well with powdered milk and no butter, is an option.

    Another one that I've done is a bag of baby carrots, one of those sealed foil packs of chicken, egg noodles, and boullion cubes. Whip up a nice hot soup.

    Pre-cooked bacon is another handy item. There's no microwave on the trail, but it only needs a few seconds in a pot or pan and it's done and ready to go with no mess. Livens up sandwiches or breakfast nicely.

    The other suggestion I have is for dessert - if you'll be near any cold streams, take instant pudding packets, make the pudding at the campsite with (filtered) water in a jumbo zip loc bag, then submerge the sealed bag in the stream. It will set up nicely during dinner and everyone can have some afterward.
    Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face. - Dave Barry
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  3. #3
    Good news! I'm full of backpacking advice and I know cooking. I was a lead guide for several seasons and had to re-adjust the menu many times.

    Don't think of food as needing to be light weight, but think of it as needing to be dense. For example, if you make trail mix out of Cheerios, you'll notice it's light, but you'll need to eat ten bags of it to get full. If you make trail mix using Grape Nuts, it'll fill you up with half a bag. The best rule of thumb is to pack 1.25 pounds of food/day (or more) and you should be ok. You can't go lighter, it's against the rules of hunger.

    That said, the less actual cooking you do, the better. Stoves and fuel can become a pain and operating a liquid fuel stove in high elevation is risky; sometimes they flair up from the low air pressure making it impossible to cook. I would lean more toward dry goods such as trail mix, beef jerky, cheese (extra sharp chedar should last about a week), and trail bread (find a good recipe). A good alternative to trail mix is to use the Rice Crispies Recipe, but to use a more hearty cereal instead and then add mixed nuts, dried cranberries or raisins, and m&m's. The trail bars are yummy and filling.

    If you have to cook, I have some advice as well. Go to the grocery store and look either near the spice section or near the soups. There should be a miriad of small kool-aid-sized packets of powdered sauces. These are what the world of backpacking depends upon. These sauces can be added to either pasta or rice (buy the minute rice). I suggest buying a bunch and then running your own taste-test. The next step would be buying freeze-dried chicken or beef and vegies. You can get this from the internet and can be bought seperately from pre-made recipes. For added flavor, you can bring small packets of butter (the kind you get at restaurants) or a tiny bottle of olive oil as well as salt & pepper or any other spice.

    Don't experiment on the trail. Cook-up your ideas at home using fresh meats just to try your ideas. Once you get a good meal, write down the steps replacing the fresh meats and vegies with freeze-dried. The freeze-dried goods will taste remarkabley fresh on the trail. Also, don't forget desert. The best think you can prepare is a cheesecake from a powder. You can use crushed graham crackers for the crust and add fruit preserves on top for added flavor.

    I've backpacked in both the Rockies and the Cascades; they're both amazing.

    Good Luck and Have Fun!
    Find me at www.ctxguide.com Connecticut Explorer's Guide

  4. #4
    Thanks for the tips man!
    lets go snowboarding

  5. #5
    hammer's Avatar
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    One of the things that the Boy Scouts seem to be big on are "foil meals" that you can cook right on an open fire...has anyone had any experiences with those when backpacking?

  6. #6
    Foil meals will only work on the first night for backpacking because the fresh meats will go bad. You can take rock-hard frozen meats for the first night, but they are heavy and bulky. Honestly, I would steer clear of foil dinners though.
    Find me at www.ctxguide.com Connecticut Explorer's Guide

  7. #7
    hammer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by czimborbryan View Post
    Foil meals will only work on the first night for backpacking because the fresh meats will go bad. You can take rock-hard frozen meats for the first night, but they are heavy and bulky. Honestly, I would steer clear of foil dinners though.
    Thanks...I know that the scouts are big on those for camping trips but it's a lot different when you're at a car-accessible campsite and can put your perishable food in coolers.

    One good thing about the foil dinners on camping trips is that the clean-up is a lot easier...what have you found works well to reduce clean-up hassles?

    Thanks again for the tips...

  8. #8
    ive always used the quality freeze-dried meals....they suck but its decent
    I'm at home and at ease on a track that I know not,
    And restless and lost on a road that I know.
    --Henry Lawson

  9. #9
    Skier75's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=hammer;147091]

    One good thing about the foil dinners on camping trips is that the clean-up is a lot easier...what have you found works well to reduce clean-up hassles?

    QUOTE]


    I don't like the idea of foil for making cleanup easier. You gotta pack the foil out, and it's greasy and dirty, and can get heavy, for the rest of the trip.

    We do like a hot meal and will boil up about anything and serve it lexan bowls and wash them out.... er rinse them out. So we are carrying weight, but we re use it frequently. We try our best to just boil water and "cook" it in the bowl, like oat meal. Typically, we look for lipton creamy noodle meals for the trail, and good ole mac and cheese. Always looking for a cooking time of 5 minutes or less (less gas to carry). Also want creamy sauce. It tastes good, but it is more filling after a day on the trail.

    I have been know to soak the noodles before boiling and letting them rehydrate, then just bring them to a boil and serve. Even less gas.
    \"J\"

  10. #10
    Cooking specifically for backpacking should be simple, non-perishable, fast, and tastey.

    The foil dinners reminded me of something we had done as guides in the Bighorns. We would take 4X4's up an off-road jeep trail to a spot way the heck up into the mountains to set up a base-camp. We would have a modern campsite with lanterns, simple showers, canvas tents, and fresh food kept cold in coolers. We would use the base camp as a staging ground for several short backpacking excursions and long day hikes into the higher mountains. This gave us an opportunity to refresh the troops for extended exploring.
    Find me at www.ctxguide.com Connecticut Explorer's Guide

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