You Are Going To Starve Out There!

Person Walking Alone

Whether you are a thru-hiker, section hiker, ultralight or heavy weight, one constant every backpacker will face is, “What will I eat on the trail?”

Boys Eating Around Campfire

Our challenge is finding something that tastes better than cardboard, can be made from a few ingredients, and requires less than a commercial kitchen to make!

Here are a few trail meals that are light to carry, easy to make and actually taste good!

Dr. Peach

The name came about when I made a shopping list that my wife took to the store. I wrote dr peach on the list for dried peaches. She called me from the store asking what doctor peach was?

This high protein breakfast tastes great hot or cold and is easy to make. Add to a zip lock bag:

1 cup (or more) High Protein Granola Mix.
Sliced Dried Peaches to taste (2-3 per bag).
Chopped Pecans
Brown Sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons Powdered Milk

Just add hot or cold water and breakfast is served! Dr. Peach can also be eaten dry from the bag while walking!

Bacon Cheese Grits

This recipe can be made hot, or cold soaked depending on time or season. I confess, cold soaked grits are nasty!

2 packets of Quaker Instant Grits
¼ cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
3-4 pieces of Bacon Jerky chopped up.
2 tablespoons Powdered Milk (optional)

Add hot water for desired consistency. I like my grits to be almost a solid lump!

The cheese will keep for several days under most conditions.

Speed Breakfast

While not truly a breakfast by most standards, this is a quick way to get up and walking on a cold or rainy morning.

1 packet Carnation Breakfast Essentials
2 packets Instant Coffee

Add both ingredients to 12-16 oz of water in your water bottle and shake!

You could also down a bag of Dr. Peach while walking and sipping!

Dry Mix in a Ziplock Bag

Sundried Tomato Tuna Couscous

½ cup of dried Couscous
1 package of EVOO Sundried Tomato Tuna
1 sliced Avocado
Fritos to taste.

Add the couscous to your cold soak jar along with enough water to fully cover the couscous. Allow it to soak for 20-30 minutes before adding the tuna and avocado.

This recipe can also be made using hot water instead of cold soaking. If you are making it hot, add the tuna along with the water.

Slice the avocado into small chunks. Don’t cut the avocado before you are ready to use it because it will turn a very nasty brown color.

Top it off with a chunk of cheese and you are a trail gourmet!

Hot Spicy Chicken Red Beans Rice

Feeling a little Cajun on the trail? This is one of my favorite recipes.

½ cup Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice
1 package Starkist Creations Buffalo Spice Chicken
Fritos to taste.

Add the red beans and rice to your cold soak jar along with enough water to generously cover the mixture. I would recommend 3-4 hours of cold soaking. I usually prepare the mixture at my lunch break and let it soak until dinner time.

Just add the chicken, Fritos and an optional chunk or two of cheese and dinner is served!

Zatarain’s makes several different varieties of rice so take some time to experiment!

Leave a note below and share your favorite recipes for the trail!

Is Cold Soaked Couscous And Tuna Really A Romantic Dinner?

I asked a Facebook group, “What’s the coldest weather you have cowboy camped in.” The answer was, “Minus 28 in an ice cave.”

And I was wondering if I could risk it at 30 degrees…

Most of us are mortal so we will never be found outside at 28 degrees below zero!

How do we get our backpacking fix when every outdoor option involves death by hypothermia?

Other than a trek in New Zealand (its summer there), here are a few options to fill our time.

Try New Recipes

What spouse would not be thrilled with a romantic candlelight dinner complete with cold soaked couscous and tuna!

Let’s use this time to step our food game up a notch. A little work on Google will reveal offerings like Andrew Skurka’s Peanut Noodles or Coconut Cashew Curry.

If you carry a stove and canister, you may find some stoveless options that will work for you when the weather warms up. I actually like cold soaked couscous and tuna!

Are there new ingredients you could add to your current recipes that will move them to the trail gourmet level?

And… where the heck can you get the precooked, dehydrated pinto beans that Jupiter likes?

Learn A New Skill

For instance, how does Erik Normark build a campfire on a frozen lake? Even more important, why would you ever want to camp on a frozen lake?

Fire on a lake

YouTube is our friend on this one!

Maybe you have thought about using a tarp on the trail instead of a tent. There are hundreds of videos on setting up a tarp on trail.

Maybe it’s time to forsake Guthook and learn how to read and triangulate your position on a topographical map. Even better than YouTube would be taking a class through a local outfitter if you have one near you!

How about building a soda can alcohol stove and learning how to use it? Just not in the kitchen trying new recipes!

Ask the question, “Will this work for me?” Then look for opportunities to test or practice on a local trail or in the great outback (yard)!

Practice Consistency

Spread a clean tarp on the floor (because your spouse will not want all your dirty stuff on the carpet).

Separate your gear into systems, cooking, sleep, clothing etc. Think through how you will use each system on the trail.

Pack, unpack, re-pack until you feel comfortable doing it before you have coffee!

Think through questions like, “Is this item quickly accessible if it is raining? Could I find this in the dark? Is this item in the wrong system?”

Practice until you can find something in your pack with your eyes closed!

While it seems like a silly exercise, those who have successfully completed a through hike have one thing in common, a simple system that can be replicated daily over an extended period of time.

Research A New Trail

I stumbled across one of my favorite trails while doing research on another trail.

Where are the trail heads? What is the water situation? If the trail is longer, what about resupply? What additional skill sets will I need to hike this trail?

Most trails have a wealth of information available to us online.

Facebook has a multitude of groups dealing with specific trails. I  have about five groups that I enjoy sharing and receiving information from.

Just watch out for fear mongering with social media! Don’t assume someone else’s experience, make your own!

Leave a comment below if you have ideas for hibernation days!

Where Do You Pack The Kitchen Sink?

Stove & Bowl

I recently posted on Facebook hiking groups asking what kind of content they would be most interested in reading or watching. There were two common responses, pack out information (what’s in your pack) and gear reviews.

One area we can significantly reduce our base weight, is cooking gear. I have two basic setups depending on the time of year or conditions we will face on the trail.


In summer months I carry a minimal setup. Breakfast is usually pop tarts, bacon jerky and Breakfast Essentials with instant coffee mixed in. Lunch and dinner consists of cold soaked or other no-cook options.

But there are occasions, like a cold morning, or a tired evening, where hot coffee or a warm bowl of Ramen would be morale building to say the least. This is my summer kit.

1. Zpacks Titanium Wing Stove for Esbit (0.4 oz) – see full review here.



2. Esbit Cubes (0.48 oz) – These cubes will provide two boils of two cups each. Hint: the leftover portion of the cubes make great fire starters.

3. Snow Peak Titanium Bowl (1.6 oz) – This bowl can be used to heat water or food and doubles as a coffee cup, just be sure to let it cool a little before that first sip!


4. Sea to Summit Titanium Spoon (0.4 oz) – Spork or Spoon, let the debate begin! My preference is a spoon because it works better for scraping the remnants out of a cold soak jar or bowl.

5. Talenti Cold Soak Jar (1.8 oz) – You cannot say you are a real ultralight backpacker without one! It also comes with free ice cream!

6. Bic Lighter (0.7 oz) – if I was serious about backpacking it would be a Bic Mini! Insert shame here…

This kit packs out at less than 8 ounces and is more than adequate for the summer months.


Months with an R’s in them require a more robust setup. Warm coffee on a 30-degree morning means the difference between hiking with friends or quickly being abandoned…

1. MSR Pocket Rocket (3.1 oz) – There are newer less expensive alternatives out there, but mine is 10 years old and has never failed me yet, so it comes along.

2. Small MSR Fuel Canister (8.1 oz) – One area we can quickly reduce weight is how much fuel we carry. A large fuel canister can weigh over two pounds and will be good for 30-50 boils. A minimal canister will weigh in at about 8 ounces and will be good for 10 boils, more than enough for a weekend hike and a significant weight savings!

3. Aluminum Cook Pot (3.8 oz) – A gift from my in-laws over 40 years ago, this pot is a comfort item for me. While it is overkill for the amount of water I need to boil, it can be set in a campfire to save fuel. It weighs in at a whopping 3.8 ounces… gasp! However, I am convinced that food tastes better from this pot!

4. Sea to Summit Collapsible Cup (3.2 oz) – To be transparent, I bought this because Dixie had one! It’s great for coffee, or scooping water from a shallow water source. Did I mention Dixie has one!

I may or may not toss in my cold soak jar. Some items cook better when they are cold soaked before heating.

My winter pack out weighs in at 1 pound 2 ounces.

What does your kitchen look like?

If you found this post helpful in any way, please leave a comment below or share it with someone who might need it!

Thanks for stopping by and we will see you on the trail!