Trail Chef: No-Cook Oatmeal

Everyone's favorite breakfast staple doesn't necessarily require a stove.

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Maybe you’re doing an alpine start—crawling out of your tent in the cold, pre-dawn dark to climb a siren peak before afternoon thunderstorms hit—and you don’t want to waste time boiling water. Or perhaps you forgot your stove, fuel, or matches (or all three!). Or it simply could be that you’re camping in the dead of summer, it’s already 90 degrees at 8 in the morning, and the thought of a hot breakfast turns your stomach. In any case, you can still have fast, beloved oatmeal to fuel your day—without lighting a single burner—with one of these tasty methods.

Infant oatmeal

The instant oatmeal, barley, or rice made for infants and toddlers is formulated to be prepared with cold water. Pack some in a zip-top bag, pour it into a bowl in the morning, stir in cold water and any toppings you want (walnuts, brown sugar, raisins, honey, cinnamon, chocolate chips), and dig in.

Apple juice oatmeal

In a bowl, add 1 cup water to a packet of powdered apple juice or cider, and stir. Then mix in 1/2 cup of a quick-cooking grain, such as rolled oats, barley, or rye. Let it sit for 20 minutes. By the time you’ve gotten dressed and readied your pack, it will be ready to enjoy.

Oatmeal soup

The night before, soak 1/3 cup rolled or steel-cut oats in 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup skim milk (you can also use powdered milk; just add more water). Let soak overnight. In the morning, add a handful of raisins and whatever else you like (one idea: shredded carrot). Depending on preference, you might also want to add a bit more milk.

If all of that still sounds like too much work, just do like Scottish soldiers on the march once did: Place 1/2 cup oats in a bag and add enough water to make a paste. Not very gourmet, but it does the trick.

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