Ultralight Backpacking Recipes For Winter and Beyond

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

Backcountry Recipes: Nutritional Breakdown

Backcountry recipes: various breakfasts that vegans and vegetarians can easily modify.

Backcountry recipes: various snacks that vegans and vegetarians can easily modify.

Backcountry recipes: various dinners that vegans and vegetarians can easily modify.

Pre-hike directions:

  1. Store all of the coffee ingredients separately.
  2. Mix all of the breakfast ingredients together into a Ziploc bag, except for the hot sauce.
  3. Mix, or don’t mix, the nuts, banana chips and chocolate chips.
  4. Mix all of the dry, noodle ingredients into a Ziploc bag.

To make coffee:

  1. Slowly stir in the Nido to at least 1 cup of boiling water. Stir in Via packets and Sugar.

To make breakfast:

  1. Dump all of the ingredients into a cozy. Pour approximately 1 to 1.5 cups of water into the cozy and stir the ingredients together.

To cook dinner:

  1. Dump all of the ingredients into a cozy. Poor approximately 1.5 cups of boiling water into the cozy so that all ingredients are covered with water. Cover and let sit for approximately five minutes.

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