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Backcountry Nutrition Pt. II

In a recent article for Eastman’s, I wrote about the three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) and how all three play an important role in your backcountry nutrition plan. Here, I’d like to outline the wide range of foods you can choose from when assembling your backcountry menu. All of these foods will contain nearly 100 calories per ounce or more, so you should be able to assemble 3,000 calories per day in less than two pounds of food.


When picking out carbohydrate rich foods for your adventure menu, you want to look for sources of carbs that are complex rather than simple. The reason for this is that complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and assimilate, so you’ll find that your energy levels are more stable after eating. In contrast, eating mostly simple carbohydrates such as refined sugar, can cause a sharp spike in your blood sugar levels, followed by a subsequent blood sugar crash. If you’ve ever felt the 3 pm energy slump, you’ve likely experienced this blood sugar drop.

Here’s a wide range of foods that are a dense source of carbohydrates.

Quick Cooking Oats


Instant Rice

Cous Cous


Carbohydrate Rich Vegetables (Green Beans, Carrots, Parsnips, Yams or Sweet Potatoes, Potato Flakes, etc.)

Dried Fruit (Apples, Bananas, Prunes, Apricots, Berries, Pears, Mangos, Pineapple, Tomatoes, Plantains)

Beans & Lentils

Whole Grain Bread or Crackers

For more simple sugars, the ones you might use when you need a quick dose of sugar before a horrendous climb, choose from the following:

Maple Syrup


Candied Ginger

Candy Bars

Energy Gels


Protein is one of the more difficult macronutrients to fit into your backcountry diet. This is because most processed foods are made up of primarily refined carbohydrates and fats. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re getting protein into each meal or snack if you can.

Jerky (ideally made without high fructose corn syrup)


Tuna Packets

Smoked Salmon

Chicken Packets

Freeze Dried Meats (Beef, Chicken, Pork, Turkey)

Dehydrated Meats (Biltong, Jerky Bars such as EPIC Provisions)


Powdered Whole Milk

Whey Protein Concentrate


Fats are going to be the biggest caloric bang for your buck. Fatty foods can contain nearly 190 calories per ounce (such as powdered coconut milk), and will give you sustained energy to burn while you’re putting in the miles (or sitting and glassing). As with all foods, you’re better off to reach for whole foods sources of healthy fats. Below is a list to choose from that pack pretty easily.

Coconut Oil Packets

Coconut Chips

Powdered Coconut Milk

Nuts (Almonds, Pistachios, Cashews, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, etc.)

Nut Butter

Hard Cheeses


Olive Oil Packets

Hemp Seeds

Chia Seeds

Sesame Seeds

Pumpkin Seeds

Avocado Oil

Dark Chocolate

Cocao Nibs

Energy Bars

Clearly, lots of energy bars are going to contain a mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats. My only word of caution is to make sure you taste test all of them before you hit the trail, you want to make sure you bring food that you actually like to eat. These are some of my favorites.

RX Bar


Lara Bar

Picky Bar

R Bar

Primal Kitchen Bars

Honey Stinger Bars

Heather’s Choice Packaroons


Dehydrated Meals

You can also look for dehydrated or freeze-dried meals that contain a mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats. These are more widely available than ever online and at your local outdoor store. Look for brands that have plenty of whole foods protein, ideally 25 grams of protein per serving. Keep an eye out for unpronounceable ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, inflammatory fats such as canola oil, and any allergens that you’re trying to avoid such as wheat, dairy or soy. You likely want a minimum of 400 calories per four ounce serving, so be sure to read the nutrition facts.

Peak Refuel

Off Grid Food Co.

Good To-Go

Heather’s Choice

Wild Zora

Mary Jane’s Organics

Backpacker’s Pantry

Alpine Aire

Mountain House

Adventure Appetites

Backpacker’s Bistro

Pack It Gourmet

Heather’s Choices

Here’s an example of all the food I packed for a four-day solo trip, where I planned on covering a lot of miles and sweating a whole bunch. I tend to pack a little extra food, just in case I end up staying for another day or need to share my food with a fellow adventurer.

Day 1

Heather’s Choice Cherry Cocoa Nib Buckwheat Breakfast

Vital Proteins Collagen

Starbucks VIA

GoLive Probiotics


EPIC Beef Habanero Bar

Almonds 1 oz

Plantain Chips 1 oz

Heather’s Choice Black Espresso Packaroons

Blueberry Muffin Lara Bar 

Country Archer Beef Jerky Mango Habanero 2 oz

Wild Friends Vanilla Peanut Butter Protein

Primal Kitchen Hazelnut Macadamia Bar

Wacky Apple Fruit Leather

Ginger Chews

Heather’s Choice Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder

Three Mint Tea and Honey Packet

Natural Calm

Approximately 2800 Calories

269 Carbohydrates

144 Fat

146 Protein

Day 2

Heather’s Choice Banana Buckwheat Breakfast

Vital Proteins Collagen

Starbucks VIA


GoLive Probiotics

EPIC Bison Cranberry Bar

RX Bar

Country Archer Siracha Jerky 2 oz

Wild Friends Vanilla Protein Almond Butter

Veggie Go’s Fruit Leather

Turmeric Almonds 1 oz

Plantain Chips 1 oz

Blueberry Packaroons

Larabar Superfoods

Heather’s Choice Dark Chocolate Chili

Good Earth Sweet and Spicy Herbal Tea and Honey Packet

Approximately 3200 Calories

340 Carbohydrates

151 Fat

155 Protein

Day 3

Heather’s Choice Banana Buckwheat Breakfast

Vital Proteins

Starbucks VIA


GoLive Probiotics

EPIC Beef Bar

Peanut Butter Co. The Bee’s Knees

Ginger Chews

KIND Pressed Bar

RX Bar

Veggie Go’s Fruit Leather

Almonds 1 oz

Plantain Chips 1 oz

Heather’s Choice Orange Vanilla Packaroons

Heather’s Choice Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder

Nibmor Drinking Chocolate

Mint Tea

Natural Calm Magnesium

Approximately 3200 Calories

326 Carbohydrates

149 Fat

162 Protein

Day 4

Heather’s Choice Blueberry Buckwheat Breakfast

Vital Proteins Collagen

Starbucks VIA

GoLive Probiotic


Justin’s Maple Almond Butter Packet

Lawless Beef Jerky 2 oz

Heather’s Choice Lemon Lavender Packaroons

Pressed Kind Bar

Veggie Go’s Fruit Leather

Almonds 1 oz

Plantain Chips 1 oz

RX Bar

Country Archer Cayenne Bar

Heather’s Choice Dark Chocolate Chili

Mint Tea and Honey Packet

Nibmor Drinking Chocolate

Approximately 3200 Calories

356 Carbohydrates

148 Fats

162 Protein

Remember to have fun planning your backcountry menu! Include a wide range of healthy, delicious foods that you like to eat, and make sure you test everything before you head out into the field. It’s a good idea to bring a mix of salty and sweet foods, or you can find yourself burnt out on too many sugary, sweet treats. Of course, make sure you have some sort of luxury waiting for you back at the truck, such as a cooler full of beer and a bag of chips.

About Heather Kelly


  1. The only thing missing is the total weight. How did all of this weigh?

    • Hey Vann! That’s a great question and something that I should have included. Assuming a minimum of 100 calories per ounce, 3200 calories worth of food would be two pounds per day. If you get a blend of carbohydrates, proteins and fats with 100 to 190 calories per ounce, you can get it closer to 1.5 lbs of food per person per day. I hope that helps!

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