Backcountry Recipes: How to Gain Weight On Even the Most Grueling Thru Hike

A photo of meals prepared using backcountry recipes developed by extreme hiking expert Chris Atwood.

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 the hike meant that the group had to eat a lot of calories to have the energy to continue hiking. But with proper planning of his backcountry recipes, Atwood managed to gain around five pounds while still exerting himself to the limit every day and hiking a grand total of over 600 miles. In this post, he shares backcountry recipes he used as well as an example daily ration of food.

Gaining Weight on a Grueling Thru Hike? All it Takes is the Right Backcountry Recipes

Before the trip began, Rich Rudow jokingly said he wanted to be the first Grand Canyon thru hiker to gain weight. I thought it a lofty aspiration, considering the challenging food logistics of this fully self-supported trek. We all knew it would be tall order to fuel the two months of hard work required to walk from Lee’s to Pearce in one push. And although gaining weight was not my goal, staying completely full and charged, at all times, by nutritious and healthy food that I loved to eat was. And with an eye toward carrying the lightest load possible, I didn’t want any more food than would be necessary. My idea was ample daily eating with an extra ration or two to cover any delays due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Read More

Lightweight Backcountry Recipes for Thru Hikers & Backpackers, Part 2

Two Rangers Share the Calorie-Rich Food Recipes They Use for Winter Adventures in the Grand Canyon

Clay Wadman eating dinner deep in the backcountry of the Grand Canyon while on a section hike with Mike St. Pierre.
Clay Wadman eating dinner deep in the backcountry of the Grand Canyon while on a section hike with Mike St. Pierre.

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 succeeded in becoming two of just 16 people to hike the length of the Grand Canyon below the rim (and they did it in the winter!). Their thru hike of “The Canyon” took them from the Grand Wash Cliffs to Lees Ferry. The trip took place during the 2015-16 El Nino season (Read about their adventure and gear in our blog, “Lightweight Gear for The Grand: Ideas for Winter Canyon Country Hikes.”) The raison de etre for their long walk centered around a quest to reduce their belongings, live a simpler lifestyle, and better know the vast wilderness that lies in their backyard. As rangers, they constantly sought ways to share their passion and enthusiasm for traveling lightly and efficiently through wild places. This series of articles Hyperlite Mountain Gear follows Matt and Elyssa as they outline winter travel tips and lightweight backcountry recipes for thru hikes and long backpacking adventures. This week’s recipe focuses on high fat levels so you can better be prepared for snowy conditions.

During high-output, overnight, winter backcountry adventures people often need to increase their fat intake to meet the additional demands of traveling through snow and sleeping in frigid conditions. Compared to a typical three-season, high-carb menu, these backcountry recipes significantly increase the ratio of fat to carbohydrates by incorporating large portions of summer sausage and macadamia nuts, two calorie dense backcountry foods. Vegetarians, vegans and die-hard ultralight enthusiasts can easily modify this menu by increasing the amount of nuts or nut butters, which typically have even more calories per ounce.

Calories: 4090
Calories/oz: 121
Weight (oz): 34
Price/day: ~$17.00
Fat (g): 250
Carbs (g): 348
Protein (g): 124 Read More

Lightweight Recipes That’ll Satisfy The Hungriest Hikers

Lightweight Recipes: Breakfasts, Snacks and Dinners Developed by Two Expert Rangers who Recently Thru Hiked The Length of the Grand Below The Rim
Backcountry recipes.

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. Their plan, a winter thru hike of ‘The Canyon’ from the Grand Wash Cliffs to Lees Ferry, will take place over the 2015-16 El Nino season. The raison de etre for their long walk centers around a quest to reduce their belongings, live a simpler lifestyle, and better know 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. This series of articles Hyperlite Mountain Gear follows Matt and Elyssa as they outline winter travel tips and lightweight recipes for thru hikes and long backpacking adventures.

Big winter days need a large stockpile of food to fuel them. Here is a single day menu for one hungry ultralight backpacking enthusiast. 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 Read More

2 Calorie-rich, Ultralight Backcountry Breakfast Recipes

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 below. Read more of his recipes in his article “Food Prep & Recipes for Ultralight Thru Hike Adventures.” Share your recipes with us at info@hyperlitemountaingear.com.

Ultralight backcountry breakfast recipes: oatmeal

Thru Hiker’s Oatmeal (620, weighs 4.7oz)

  • ¼ cup dried instant oatmeal
  • 2 tbsp. sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp. Pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp. raisins or other dried fruit
  • ½ cup freeze dried apples
  • ¼ cup powdered milk

Grand Canyon Granola (600 calories, weighs 5oz)

  • Cup of granola Bulk bins from Whole Foods or your local grocery store
  • ¼ cup powdered whole milk
  • 2 tbsp. raisins
  • 2 tbsp. nuts (pine nuts have a lot of calories)

For more recipes ideas, check out our Food & Recipes blog posts.

Food Prep & Recipes for Ultralight Thru Hike Adventures

Stripped Down Ultralight Recipes, By Mike St. Pierre

I live for adventure. I love owning and operating a growing ultralight outdoor gear company (even the stress and chaos!) But I thrive in the middle of nowhere. The backcountry is where I perfect our packs and shelters, come up with new product ideas and continue to hone my lightweight/minimalism skills. This fall I’m heading into the Grand Canyon for 16 days to accompany the foremost expert on that natural wonder of the world, Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ambassador Rich Rudow. Rich is thru hiking about 700 miles down river and then back up the other side, all below the rim of the canyon and all off trail. The route is roughly mapped out, but the terrain will dictate the path; some days we’ll be walking (or bushwhacking) by the river and other days we’ll be scrambling 4th– and low 5th-class terrain through the seven layers of rock that make up the cliffs of the canyon; we may hike up to 6000 feet on any given day, gaining 3000 to 4000 feet in elevation. In this Series of blog posts I’ll be focusing on what it takes to prep for a major expedition like this. This first post is about ultralight food preparations for a multi-day thru hike in the backcountry. Plus, I’ve included some of my recipes.

Table2

Read the rest of the article & get some backcountry recipes, including our favorite,

Ultralight Backcountry Breakfasts

Mike St. Pierre cooking breakfast in the White Mountains.
Mike St. Pierre cooking breakfast in the White Mountains.

Two Quick Backcountry Breakfast Recipes

By Max Neale

Starting the day off right is crucial for extended ultralight backpacking, thru hiking or mountaineering adventures. Waking up, your body is deprived of protein and carbohydrates and needs nourishment for the day ahead. Two of my favorite ultralight backcountry breakfasts are hot chocolate oatmeal (ideal for cold weather and slower starts) and energy bars (for hitting the trail quickly). Read the rest of the article here!