Steps for packing food for backcountry trips

While planning large trips, either for a week of climbing in the desert or a hut-to-hut ski trip, one of the first considerations is gear. Is a double rack needed? What type of stove should be brought? Is my sleeping bag warm enough? Where is my sleeping bag? Lists get made, gear gets piled into hap hazardous mounds of “should bring” and “maybe bring” — or cool, organized lines if you are on Instagram — and almost everything gets packed. Simple, easy, done; just like that. Food, on the other hand, is almost taken care of as an afterthought. “Oh right, we’ll be away for a week, what should we eat?” While a struggle to plan and organize, food doesn’t always have to be so complicated. By following these tips, you too can make packing food for that week in the desert an easy and joyous experience.

Step 1: Food shop when hungry

Without a doubt, go to the store to buy food when you’re hungry. With all the wonderful advertisements on boxes nowadays, a hungry stomach will ensure that you buy those dried mangoes and the extra jar of peanut butter. Shopping lists don’t matter too much when you are starving; if it looks good, get it. You’ll be thanking yourself later (or not, see step four) when you bought the pound of caramels that looked fantastic in the store because you were hungry. There is no bad food for the backcountry shopper. Let your stomach control you.

Step 2: Shop at Costco

Since you’ll be hungry when shopping for food, Costco is the place to be. While thinking, “Yes, I will probably want Poptarts at some point on this trip,” it helps to not just buy a few poptarts. Reaching for the mandatory 48 pack of pastries is clearly the better way to go, and therefore Costco is the place to be (they don’t sell Poptarts in lower than a 48 pack). The bulk-only option of food consumption is perfect for guaranteeing that you won’t run out of food. Personally, packing for spring break I ran into such a phenomenon. Shopping at Costco when hungry, my climbing buds and I decided that we wanted some pickles for spring break. Now I have a half eaten jar of pickles in my fridge because we could only force our way through a jar and a half while in the desert. Bulk food makes the game of yum-yum so much more exciting and needed, especially for backcountry trips.

Step 3: Food shop at the last possible minute

Why waste all the time you spend on packing your climbing gear worrying about what food you’re going to eat at camp? Instead, wait until you are on your way out of town to stop by the store. Backcountry meals are not meant to be glamourous and luxurious. On the contrary, a calorie is a calorie and whatever you stuff down your gullet will do. Plan out your dinners in advance? Pshaw. Why not make a poptart and pickle sandwich, which you have in bulk? Do you think that the prominent Master Chefs learned to cook out in the woods with a bunch of random ingredients, two burners, and pots with no pan? Probably not, but you’re no Master Chef. Getting food into your belly is more important than the quality.

Step 4: Forget your food

Forgetting food and relying on others is a great way to bond with friends. No one loves it better than having to share meals. Plus, if they brought bulk pickles then you’re golden. By forgetting your food, you guarantee a better opportunity for having a better story, which is much more important than eating. Having no food is a problem in the backcountry, which leads to epic-ing, which leads to cool storytelling. It also allows you to eat all the poptarts and pickles you left at home in the comfort of your sofa watching House of Cards as opposed to shivering outside.