Camp Chef Makeover: Mr. Lite, Fast, & Drab

Backcountry cooking doesn't have to mean bland.
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Steven Roy, 35, Milton, MA

Unnecessarily sacrificing taste for weight “When on an extended backpack [he thru-hiked the AT in 1998], I stick to very lightweight food,” says Steven. “I usually have oatmeal for breakfast—often five days in a row—beef jerky and goldfish for lunch, ramen, Lipton Noodles, or a Mountain House for dinner, and GU and Clif Shots for snacks.”

Makeover by Pearson. Philosophy: “More variety equals more fun. Plus, the better you fuel your body, the faster and farther you’ll go.”

Meal Rx We ramped up the menu variety—but not the weight—by adding a range of textures and flavors; we also threw in protein, vegetables, and a treat-yourself-occasionally recipe designed to fortify (physically and mentally) a relentless thru-hiker.

Humdrum Helpers

For extra variety and nutrition that doesn’t require a lot of menu-planning, add these tastes and textures to your one-pot meal:

Sweet Coconut flakes, raisins, and dates

Salty Smoked or tamari-seasoned nuts, Brewer’s yeast, Parmesan, squeeze packets of Justin’s Nut Butter (, or toasted seaweed such as nori

Crunchy Nuts, sunflower seeds, pretzels, sesame sticks, dehydrated peas, Frontier Bac’Uns (vegetarian bacon bits made of soy protein)

Tangy Unsweetened cranberries, lemon juice, honey mustard

Best Meals In a Bag

>> Packit Gourmet’s Nawlins YaYa Gumbo and Tortilla Soup

>> Mary Jane’s Farm Chilimac

>> Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai

>> Coleman’s Potato Leek Soup

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