Pilot Crackers

A long-lasting bread that handles the rigors of backpacking.

"My husband and I used to take pilot bread backpacking, but now we can't find them anywhere. Do you know where to buy them?"

T.L., Seattle, Washington

Pilot bread goes by a variety of names--pilot biscuits, pilot crackers, ship bread, hardtack, hardbread--but all refer to a dense, unleavened bread that lasts a long while without spoiling and can handle the rigors of backpacking. Considered the first "cracker," most pilot breads are thin wafers but some are thicker, like biscuits. Either way, they taste decent plain, but are better with a swipe of peanut butter, honey, or other spread. Look for pilot bread in the cracker aisle of your local grocery store. If you can't find them there, you'll have to mail order them. Mountain House (800-547-4060; www.ofd.com/mh) sells a #10 can (70 crackers for $12.31. Richmoor (800-423-3170; www.richmoor.com) offers 16 biscuits for $2.75. Or you can make your own. (see Hardtack recipe below)