How to Have the Best Backcountry Dinner Without Hiking in Food

Get in touch with your inner hunter-gatherer and have the best backcountry dinner that's entirely from nature. It's the ultimate survival test.
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Get in touch with your inner hunter-gatherer and have the best backcountry dinner that's entirely from nature. It's the ultimate survival test.
Have the Best Backcountry Dinner

Fish can be a decadent treat in the backcountry—if you can catch one. Photo by Ano Lobb/ Flickr

Prep Work

Have a Kick-Ass Backcountry Dinner

Planning isn't always fun, but if you are foraging edible plants it's a necessity. Photo by Florin Gorgan/ Flickr

PLAN: Pick a short trail to a lake, river, or stream. Make sure the fishing is allowed, you have a license, and that there are lots of plants near by. Basically, unless you’re an expert, don’t wander into a desert with the intention of foraging your own food.

PACK: Due to the diverse amounts of flora and fauna in the world, any book that lists every plant you could eat would probably be heavier than your backpack itself. A good start would be to print out and bring the Universal Edibility Test. Also, get a guidebook on edible plants related specifically to the area you are going to hike in. Pack a fishing pole, bait and knife to catch your entrée. You can bring a stove and eating utensils along. Or go Bear Grylls and cook your food over a fire and eat with your hands.

LEARN: Familiarize yourself with endangered plants in your area and avoid eating them. More importantly, learn specifically what IS poisonous. Also don’t eat unhealthy/dying plants. They may have diseases or fungi in them that could make you sick.

Fish Your Main Dish

Have a Kick-Ass Backcountry Dinner

Fishing your own dinner can be a great way to connect with nature. Photo by Sam Beebe/ Flickr

The first and most difficult task will be to catch your main course: fish. Leave one person to this, while the other gather natural herbs and seasoning such a pine needles. Cook the fish on a rock over the fire. Vegetarian in the group? Gather some edible mushrooms and apply the same seasoning for a filling main course- but make sure you know your stuff, there’s a high risk involved in mushroom hunting.

Harvest a Salad

Have a Kick-Ass Backcountry Dinner

You can find nasturtium flowers along the Pacific Coast and harvest them for a tasty salad. Photo by Deb Nystrom/ Flickr

Next, find some greens. Rinse them thoroughly with potable water. If you want to be extra cautious then boil them to make sure there are no bacteria. Edible flowers and plant seeds are a great accent to this dish. Drip some berry juice on top for a sweet dressing.

Drink Pine Needle Tea

Have a Kick-Ass Backcountry Dinner

Varieties of pine trees are found throughout North America. Research the species closest to you. Photo by Quinn Dombrowski/ Flickr

Pick some pine needles and steep them in boiling water until the water is light green and smells like Christmas. Be sure not to pick from a ponderosa pine tree- they’re poisonous.

Pick Your Dessert

Have a Kick-Ass Backcountry Dinner

Huckleberries are commonly found in the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest. Photo by Laurel F/ Flickr

A berry fruit salad is the perfect desert to satisfy any sweet tooth. Make sure to wash them thoroughly with potable water- happy munching.