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The Great Gorp Contest

From "good old raisins and peanuts" to trail mixes spiced with hot peppers, Michigan cherries, beer nuts, and dried carrots, the ultimate backwoods snack comes your way, courtesy of Backpacker readers.

Best Oatmeal Booster

Superior Hiking Trail Gorp

Chef: Donna C. Zimm,

Duluth, Minnesota

“A veritable berry-fest,” enthused one editor, but after a few days in our packs, this mixture started to lose its visual appeal. That’s when we stirred it into our oatmeal and discovered the true calling of this fruity gorp: to add punch and pizzazz to blah bowls of morning gruel. And darn it if it ain’t good for you. “This gorp is for all the fans of Rice Krispies Treats,” creator Donna Zimm says, “but it’s high in fiber, low in sugar, and made from all-natural ingredients.”

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 10 ounces marshmallows
  • 3 cups brown crisp rice cereal

    (found at health-food stores)

  • 2 cups cooked wild rice
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried blueberries

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the marshmallows, and stir until melted. Add the crisp rice cereal and cooked wild rice and mix well. While the mixture is still warm, pinch off 1/2-inch bits and allow them to dry on a cookie sheet. Mix 4 cups of these rice crumbles with the rest of the ingredients. Yield: 8 cups.

Best Substitute

Fritos Gorp

Chef: Ken Horstman,

Terre Haute, Indiana

“Fritos in gorp! What an interesting combination,” said one tester. And chef Ken Horstman has good reason to use this unique ingredient. “I can’t eat nuts,” he says, “so I use Fritos for the salty part.”

  • 7 ounces yogurt-covered raisins
  • 7 ounces mixed dehydrated berries
  • 5 ounces Fritos Corn Chips
  • 8 ounces Crispy M&M’s

Mix ingredients in a zipper-lock bag. Yield: 13/4 pounds.

Best M&M’s Alternative

Semi-Sweet Gorp

Chef: Lisa M. Johnson,

Citrus Heights, California

This sounds very similar to the original, but it has a different taste. “I’m not a fan of milk chocolate, so the semi-sweet chips make it taste more like a dark chocolate mix,” commented one picky tester.

  • 1 part dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1 part raisins
  • 1 part semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix ingredients in a zipper-lock bag.

Quickest Mix

You Forgot the What? Gorp

Chef: Wayne Limberg,

Arlington, Virginia

“You’ve been planning for weeks and are halfway to the trailhead when you suddenly remember that you left the gorp at home,” Wayne Limberg recounts from experience. “Don’t panic. The ingredients for the mix below can be found at any convenience store and result in a more-than-acceptable gorp.” Acceptable, indeed. Just the right combination of crunchy-chewy-salty, said our testers.

  • 1 part peanuts, cashews, or mixed nuts
  • 1 part Raisinettes or M&M’s
  • 1 part corn nuts
  • 1 part pretzel nuggets or sticks
  • 1 part Reese’s Pieces
  • 1 part dried tropical fruit mix (optional)

Mix well and enjoy!

Animal Lover’s Mix

Vegan Gorp

Chef: Tania Brown,

Kanab, Utah

If you thought eating vegan meant gnawing on bark, wait ’til you get a load of this mix. “Crunchy, sweet, salty, and free of animal-derived products. It tames hunger quickly, but doesn’t leave you with that brick-in-your-stomach feeling like some trail mixes,” said one tester. Tania Brown developed the recipe and uses it to introduce others to a healthy diet. “I meet people who want to adopt a health-conscious menu and don’t know where to start. Usually, I find these people with candy bars, MSG-coated, artificially flavored snack chips, and guilty looks,” Brown says.

  • 1/2 pound Roasted Tamari Nut Mix (available from Summercorn Foods, 888-328-9473; www.summercorn.com)
  • 1/2 pound vegan carob chips (available at health-food stores)
  • 1 pound fruit and nut harvest mix (a blend of mixed nuts, dried apricots, dried figs, and raisins available at groceries and health-food stores)
  • 1/2 pound dried papayas
  • 1/2 pound dried mangoes
  • 1 pound hemp seed granola (available from Nature’s Path, 604-940-0505; www.naturespath.com), or any honey-free granola mix and a handful of hulled hemp seeds (optional)

Mix ingredients in a zipper-lock bag. Yield: 4 pounds.

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