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5 Sure-Fire Ways to Elevate Your Backcountry Cooking


Compiled by Tera Swanson

We asked our readers, contributors and team at Crowfoot Media for their favourite ways to go gourmet in the backcountry. Turns out, you don’t need to pack in your kitchen or have five-star restaurant cooking experience to turn your meals up a notch. Here are five sure-fire ways to elevate your cooking the next time you set out to sleep under the stars. 

1/ Do your prep work at home

The pleasures of front country camp cooking don’t have to remain roadside. If properly prepared and efficiently packed, fresh fruit and vegetables can make their way to the most remote of places. Vacuum-seal peppers and carrots in a Ziploc bag with a straw, and throw them in with a pack of instant noodles. Or, throw in some mixed berries for a more colourful breakfast oatmeal.

2/ Celebrate with shared charcuterie

This was our top response! While the heavy weight of this appetizer could be off-putting for some, splitting items between the group could make the effort well worth it. Depending on your numbers, your celebratory arrival snack of olives, cheeses, sausage, cured meats and crackers could turn buffet-style in no time. Plus, some of your common backcountry snacks that you bring along anyway (fruit, nuts or chocolate) will pair perfectly.

3/ Don’t skimp on the beverages

Whether you’re pushing through your last 5K, winding down for the evening, or mentally prepping for the day ahead, a piping hot or icy cold beverage is often the perfect remedy for any stage of your journey. 

  • Mountain-dwellers love their coffee! Upgrade from your instant coffee and shell out for an Aeropress. There’s nothing quite like the smell of fresh brew in the morning mountains. Remember to pack out your grinds!
  • Celebratory peak ciders or beers sound like a great idea until they explode all over your pack. Avoid smelling like a pub by packing ice (or a warm beverage for mixing) in a tightly-sealed thermos and your mixed drink or hard liquor in a spill-proof bottle or flask. 
  • It wouldn’t be worth bringing up all that cheese without a nice pairing of wine! Avoid the hassle of carrying in two litres of wine and carrying out half of it by dedicating a specific Platypus bladder for the occasion. A personal .5-litre size will do quite nicely.

4/ Bring the bakery-quality backcountry desserts

Baking in the backcountry may sound daunting for some (or baking anywhere, really), but these easy recipes are painless to whip up and require nothing more than a cast-iron pan. Serve them up for your buds at day’s end, and you won’t hear the end of their gratitude.

  • Fill Pillsbury crescent rolls with Mini Rolo’s and Nutella and cook them in a cast iron pan!
  • Browse through the history books and you might read about bannock as a staple in backcountry cooking. This bread can be cooked over a fire on a stick or in a pan. Google it and you’ll find about a hundred recipes. Here’s one.
  • Warm a small flour tortilla and sprinkle chocolate chips, cinnamon, and fresh raspberries inside, and roll it up like a burrito. Raspberries can last a few days in a tupperware, so don’t hesitate to surprise your friends with this fancy dessert a few days in!

5/ Spice things up with lightweight extras

If you just can’t justify sacrificing your extra weight room on a hunk of cheese or bag of Merlot (we do have camera, climbing, hiking, skiing, and mountaineering gear to think about, after all) consider bringing along a few lightweight extras instead. Herbs (dried or fresh), dried veggies and spices will make you feel like you’re cooking from the comfort of your own home, without compromising much extra weight in your pack. We’re thinking dried exotic garlic or mushrooms, truffle salt, or basic herbs like rosemary and oregano.

Still hell-bent on bringing along your dehydrated meals? Try out this extra-long spoon to get to every penny’s worth (and to keep the food off your knuckles). 

What are your favourite ways to elevate your backcountry cooking? Share them with us on Instagram by using the hashtag #MountainCultureElevated.

Thanks to these people for contributing their backcountry tips!

Erin McKinnon (@squirrel_tattoo), Melissa Huizenga (@meowlisssa), Ryan Taylor (@ry605), Devaan Ingraham (@devaaningraham), Tracey Peet (@traceypeet), Victoria Valchev (@vvalchev), Meghan Ward (@meghanjward), Abby Cooper (@abbydells), Dee Larosa (@phaneric), Lynn Martel (@mountainlynn), Paul Zizka (@paulzizkaphoto).

Tera Swanson is a freelance writer and graduate from Mount Royal University’s Journalism undergraduate program. Whether laced into hiking boots or clipped into skis, her favourite way to explore the mountains is on her own two feet. She’s always up for anything that will end in the telling of a good story; be it through photography, from pen to paper, or over a locally brewed amber ale.

The views and opinions expressed in the articles on are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.

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