Master The Wrap

I think wraps are one of the best, most versatile foods for the backcountry - you can use a lot of different things to create awesome combinations. Tortillas last long and pack pretty well in your pack, just make sure they aren't somewhere where they can get torn up by your gear. Pitas also are a good alternative for wraps. 

Peanut Butter and Jelly
Pretty classic and straight forward. Try to use any little packets of jelly you might have, also honey is a good substitute. Peanut butter packets like this are great, or if you can find "skippy squeeze" it is a great peanut butter for the backcountry
Grab some chicken in pouches in the tuna section at the grocery store, they don't require draining and are pretty convenient to use.
Tuna pouches are your best bet because they save weight and are clean and easy to use. Also if you want to mix your tuna with stuff before you make your wrap you can mix in the pouch.
Hard Pepperoni and Salami last long and can be bought in various sizes that can suit your trip length. Already cooked bacon are good in wraps as well. Sausages are also a great choice for wraps as well.
Beans go good in wraps and have a lot of good protein, just get instant or already cooked beans. Also dehydrated beans make for faster cooking time. Hummus made from chickpeas is a tasty protein packed dip to serve on your tortillas or pitas as well.
Rice adds a filling touch to a lot of wraps, I especially like it for dinner because it's usually a meal where you really want to fill up substantially. Recently,  I picked up the 90 second Uncle Ben's Rice pouches that were meant for the microwave, then added a little bit of water and steam it in a pot till it was ready in two or three minutes.
Toppings/ Condiments
Check out the condiment article for other condiment ideas for your wraps. Canned olives, pickles, peppers are also some good toppings for wraps. Open and drain them at home and put them in ziplocks before heading out. Cheeses go well in almost all wraps so try some different cheeses out, just be carefull with temperatures and cheeses, and know that soft cheeses will spoil a lot faster than hard cheeses. Salsas in little pouches are great for wraps too (Chick-fil-a has them for their breakfast burritos) and can usually be subbed in place of fresh tomatoes. Don't forget seasonings too, they can improve the flavor of any wrap.
Caesar Chicken Wrap (makes two)
1 Chicken pouch
1 packet of caesar dressing
2 mozzerella cheese sticks(shred them on top)
1/4 cup sweet red peppers (from a can, drained and stored in a ziplock prior to use)
Mix the chicken with the caesar then spread on tortilla or pita, top with peppers, and shredded cheese then wrap it up. (I usually will season this with some salt pepper and garlic powder)
Tuna Wrap (makes two)
1 Tuna Pouch
2 packets of mayonaise
2 packets of relish
1 packet lemon juice
2 Cheedar Cheese sticks shredded on top (Optional)
Mix everything except cheese together (I usually will season this with some salt pepper and garlic powder), spread on tortilla or pita, then top with the shredded cheese and wrap it up
Photo Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/acoustic_punk_sound/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Condiments can make any dish taste better instantly and the great part is that you can get small packets for free or el cheapo from restaurants, deli's, fast food places, or takeout. Go ahead and dedicate a box or bag to hoard all of the little packets of useful stuff somewhere where you can access them when you are packing your food for trips. Here are some things that are good to hold on to and are pretty common to find:
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard 
  • Mayo 
  • Relish
  • Barbeque Sauce
  • Hot Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Salad Dressing Packets
  • Special Sauces
  • Jelly/Jam
  • Honey
  • Lemon Juice
  • Coffee Creamer
  • Sugar/artificial sweetener
  • Salt/Pepper packets
If you want to avoid the lag time in collecting these packets or can't find some of them that you want or need I have found that this site is great and has all of those mentioned and then some. I especially like their peanut butter packets!


Sites that Backcountry Cooking Digs

Here's a list of cool sites that pertain or relate to backcountry cooking, more will come with time!

Blogs and Reference Materials


Quinoa pronounced "kin-wah" is a an amazing grain that should be on your menu the next time you head out on a trip. Let's face it, oatmeal can be good at times with some fresh fruit or nuts, but it gets boring. Quinoa can replace your oatmeal once in a while and make your breakfasts a little more interesting again, or even become a savory dish for dinner. Some benefits of quinoa are that it is a "complete grain" and has a protein content that is very high, around 12%–18%! It is becoming very popular for vegetarians and vegans recently and it is easy to see why. Quinoa contains essential amino acids for humans, it is a good source of fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also gluten-free to add to the perks. Quinoa originated in South America where it was a sacred crop for the Incan civilization.

Quinoa is typically cooked like rice with a 2 to 1 water to grain ratio and simmered quite a while till soft. When we are in the backcountry simmering can use up valuable fuel and time. To adapt to this, we need to soak the quinoa to reduce the cooking time. If you are going to be eating your quinoa for breakfast and you're already at camp, put your 2 to 1 mixture of water and quinoa in a pot and cover and soak all night while you are sleeping. However, if you are not at camp yet or want to have quinoa for dinner, I recommend using a water bottle with the mixture so it can be soaked in advance and transported with you neatly. This technique also will work if you are in freezing conditions because you can keep your quinoa water bottle soaker in your bag to thwart freezing.

Quinoa Recipe
One cup dried quinoa Makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups cooked quinoa

1.While your at home rinse your quinoa off before you pack it into a ziplock or your water bottle soaker.
2. After soaking overnight or all day, strain out the soaking water at camp. Place the drained quinoa in a saucepan, add 1 cup fresh water, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of oil, bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Allow to steam, covered, for about 5 minutes or until it can be fluffed with a fork. Then serve.

Breakfast Variation
Add 1/4 cup of dried or fresh fruit of your choice while cooking
Use a small amount of maple syrup, brown sugar, or honey to sweeten (your call)
Dash of cinnamon
Couple tablespoons of nuts
Blackberries, pecans and honey is a great combo!

Dinner Variation- Curry Chicken Quinoa

Add one package of Chicken in a pouch (found near tuna in the grocery store)
teaspoon of curry powder
pinch of garlic powder
chopped onion and pepper are great if possible to pack in and use, if not try adding some dried chopped onions and some dried pepper flakes
any veggie you can find dried would work well in this too just add in the beginning so it reconstitutes
dried cranberries can be good in this as well!


Coffee In The Woods

Who doesn’t love a hot cup of coffee in the morning? And coffee on cold/rainy mornings while camping is the absolute best. There are plenty of options out there for the backcountry now, to compare them it’s important to consider weight, ease of use, and quality of the coffee. If you go out and search coffee on camping and backpacking retailers, you will see there is quite a plethora of gizmos and gadgets that can be used to make your morning Joe. Each comes with their advantages and disadvantages, and they will all suit different people and different situations better, But here's what I've found.

Instant is pretty straightforward.... you add a mix to some hot water and your coffee is ready. Advantages are weight savings and the easy cleaning of your coffee cup because there are no messy grounds that you have to deal with. At my local grocery store I found instant mixes such as Folgers, and Nestle. These offer a warm cup of coffee but are not quite there flavor wise, if you are a coffee connoisseur. Recently, Starbucks released its VIA™ which I had the chance to taste a couple days ago.  It tasted a lot better than the other instants but is pretty pricey (around $10 for 10 packets). There is one other type of instant I have tried, it's called Java Juice ®and it is similarly priced to VIA, except there are a few flavored options if that floats your boat.

Cowboy Coffee
You have to be a little hardcore to enjoy this one, I decided to mention it because I have tried it on several trips and have enjoyed it. Basically, this process just adds coarse coffee grounds to hot water, the mixture is stirred then allowed to rest, where the grounds hopefully settle to the bottom of your cup. Some people believe that adding a tiny bit of cold water during the settling process helps the grounds settle but it is debated by cowboy coffee makers. Check out this video on youtube to get the idea down.

There are several French presses aimed towards campers and backpackers. There are ones that are uni-taskers for coffee or there are designs that fit nalgene bottles, or jetboil stoves. I think that I like the  Jetboil Coffee Pressbest because you confine cleaning to cooking supplies, and avoid leftover coffee taste in your water bottle. Remember when using a French press that grounds should be coarser than usual to achieve the best results. If you grind your own or have a place grind your beans for you, go for a coarse ground. I really prefer the flavor of a french press over most methods so if I was going on taste alone, I would choose this method. Most of the presses for backpacking also collapse to a smaller size to make carrying them in your pack easier.

At the grocery store you can find "tea bag" individual coffees in the coffee section and these can be pretty nice because they use grounds but keep cleanup simple because the grounds are contained in the "tea bag". Another option filter oriented is to just buy some cone shaped coffee filters and a filter holder or just fold over the edges of the filter around a cup and slowly pour your hot water into the cup. There are also filters that fit on the top of mugs that are reusable.  Finally there are tea balls that can be used; there is one designed like a spoon that you stir in coffee or tea into your mug, or another that is just a small cylinder canister to add grounds to and place inside of a cup. This method can be simple and still give you good flavor because you can use the coffee of your liking inside of your selected filter. 

So what it boils down to is your personal preference and the type of trip you are planning for. Each method suits different types of trips, it just depends on what you like, and find works best for your system.