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Mountain House Chicken Salad
This dish is way tastier than it looks. Just add cold water, wait 10 minutes, roll it in a tortilla, and bam, you’ve got a savory chicken salad wrap, even on day five in the backcountry. Our crew enjoyed it as a clifftop lunch treat in Capitol Reef National Park. Tip: Add onion powder to spice it up a little, or some salami and cheese for extra heartiness. $6 (1 serving); mountainhouse.com
Packit Gourmet Apple Waldorf Salad
Crunchy pecans, sweet apples, and savoy cabbage in the backcountry? Believe it.
Though this tasty entrée isn’t what they serve at the Waldorf, “it’s a welcome dose of raw veggies, and the tangy herb dressing is great when you’re working hard,” says one editor. Caveat: A few people found it a bit too sweet and mushy. $7 (1 serving); packitgourmet.com
Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie
“Best snack ever,” says one tester. “I ate so many, I swore I’d get sick of them, but the usual protein-bar fatigue never happened, which is a miracle.” With 15 grams of protein and five grams of fiber, the cookies were devoured by all, and held up well on the trail. Still, stow them on top to limit squashing. Flavors: chocolate chip, double chocolate, lemon poppy, pumpkin, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter. Whey lovers: Try the Muscle Brownie ($2). $2; lennylarry.com
Yumnuts Naturals Cashews
While everyone agreed that these all-natural jumbo nuts are awesome, they disagreed on their favorite flavors. Some championed spicy Cajun and chili lime, while others thumped for toasted coconut. Whichever you pick—there’s also chocolate, sea salt, and honey—the protein, healthy fats, and salt are perfect for the trail. $5 to $5.50; yumnutsnaturals.com
GU Mint Chocolate Energy Gel
Let’s face it: Some gels taste like nectar and some like glue. This flavor reminded our editor-in-chief of a melted Peppermint Pattie and got his thumbs-up as a go-to energy booster that tastes like real food. $1.50; guenergy.com
Dark chocolate, coconut spice, honey, raisins, almond butter, and sesame seeds equal spicy-sweet satisfaction. $2.50; katesrealfood.com
Honey Stinger Organic Waffle
Light, flaky, and sweet, these insta-energy treats go down easier than heavier bars and are more freeze-resistant in cold temps. Try them with coffee in the morning, slathered with peanut butter for lunch, or paired with a Scotch nightcap. $1.50; honeystinger.com
See all “essential” reviews from the 2011 Gear