5 of the Best Trailhead Foods to Fuel the Pack In
Whether you got a last-minute invite, an unexpected time frame opened up in your schedule, or you took the opportunity to bail on work early, we’ve all been in the situation where we’re able to get into the woods even earlier than we expected.
Packing can be a stressful event even when there is enough time, but packing food for a weekend trip can seem almost overwhelming when time isn’t a luxury you have.
Rather than rushing around frantically trying to piece together a menu of leftovers that are still in your pack from the last trip, look no further than your fridge.
Food is fuel. Period. You could easily survive a trip that reached several miles into the backcountry on a load of snacks you picked up at the hole in the wall convenience store you passed before the turnoff for the trailhead.
But, most of the folks I’ve met aren’t just interested in making it. They want to enjoy the trip and add some variety into the mix that extends beyond a bag of jerky, granola bars, and trail mix.
Here’s a list (and why they’re good options) of solid options to toss in your pack before your next adventure:
Breakfast Burrito- That’s right; yesterday's breakfast can be a solid option to toss in some foil and into the lid of your pack for the dive into the backcountry. We rank how good a protein is by its quality. Top-quality proteins have nearly all of its protein absorbed, whereas lower quality proteins aren’t as readily absorbed. Eggs are literally the standard by which all other proteins are measured. Combined with a highly cured meat like bacon or sausage, this can be a powerhouse you toss on a tortilla before heading out the door.
Foot Long Sando. They’re cheap. They’re delicious. And they’re loaded full of energy giving carbs to cover more miles than any two legs could ever desire covering.
The meat isn’t great in terms of quality, but we’re not serving the queen. It’s processed enough (meaning it will be highly resistant to developing bacteria when not refrigerated) still be eaten after sitting out of the fridge for a bit. If the makings aren’t already in your fridge, you can easily spare the 5-minutes it would take to waltz into your local grocer on the edge of town to pick one up.
PBJ- PBJs are genuinely the best performance food on the planet; excellent slow-digesting carbs for slow energy-delivery is found in the bread, while there’s rapid-digesting carbs available for immediate energy in the jelly. If you do have some time to plan, you could pick up a case of pre-made PBJs in the freezer section of your local supermarket (known as “uncrustables”). But, if you don’t have that luxury, there’s no shame in robbing the family pantry from the last drop of Jif for a pre-adventure meal.
Pizza- That’s right. Pizza. Excellent carbs. Shelf-stable after cooking and highly processed cheese make this one of the most attractive options on the list. And, who wouldn’t opt for a slice or two of Dominoes in the place of a package of energy blocks at the trailhead?
Frozen Casserole(s). My mom makes killer lasagna; truly delicious. For the last couple of years, she’s made me a large pan of the stuff just before hunting season. I’ve developed the habit of cutting it into squares, wrapping it in clear wrap, and freezing it to last the duration of the season.
I pull a piece out of the fridge just before we leave for the trip and have found it’s the perfect amount of time to thaw by the time we arrive at the trailhead a couple of hours later. It’s delicious cold, but you could easily toss it in a pan of boiling water (inside of a baggie) for a warmer meal if you desired.
Specific goals require specific plans. That’s true of finance, hunts, training, and nutrition. However, we’re not always afforded the opportunity to have extensive planning for some of these trips.
It doesn’t mean all is lost or that you have to choke down another bag of jerky. With these tips, you can raid the fridge and find excellent options for fuel to get you as deep into the backcountry as you desire to go.
Have other questions about preparing for or performing well in the backcountry? I’d love to chat more; send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.