Escape the Snow: Where to Hike, Bike and Climb this Winter

EDITOR’S NOTE 12/20: The gist of this article is travel – the safety of which is questionable right now, given the current and uncertain trajectory of COVID-19 pandemic. That said, we are dreamers and optimists at heart and we trust there will be brighter days ahead. In the meantime, read on to make some great future plans. As always, please do what’s best for you and those around you by follow current guidelines for travel from the CDC, state and local authorities.    Not everyone embraces the onset of winter. If you’re hardcore about warmer weather outdoor pursuits, from hiking, biking, trail running and climbing to paddling, there are parts of the western U.S. that offer respite from the polar vortex. Whether you’re looking to escape the snow entirely or just avoid hauling extra gear, the following places feature exceptional- and diverse- terrain…

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Soba Noodles With Wilted Greens & Spicy Peanut Sauce

Raise your hand if you’ve ever prepared Top Ramen on a camping trip. Raise both hands if you’ve ever been so famished that you’ve eaten them uncooked. We’ve all been there. And with all due respect to the ubiquitous fried noodles, there are other, healthier options available—ones that won’t crumble to dust in your pack or add a heaping dose of MSG to your dinner. If you’re willing to allow for the additional prep and cooking time, you can throw together a pot of soba noodles dressed with a fiery peanut sauce in just 10 minutes. These slender Japanese noodles are named after their main ingredient, buckwheat, which is a fruit seed related to rhubarb, rather than a cereal grain. Buckwheat is a good choice after an intense workout, as…

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Building Your Backcountry Kitchen, Part 1: Storing, Stashing & Stocking

Even if you’re content to subsist primarily on reconstituted meals in the backcountry, there’s always room for improvement (it’s amazing what a dash of soy sauce or a dollop of peanut butter can do, for example). If you genuinely enjoy the challenge of creating healthy, delicious fare while out in the back of beyond, having a well-stocked portable kitchen will serve you well. The following are tips on storing, stashing, and stocking your backcountry kitchen. I’m not going to address cookware here, as what you carry depends upon the type of trip, destination, and your personal preference/weight-bearing capabilities. (See Part 3: Cookware and Stove Pairings.) One of the main considerations is keeping your kitchen kit lightweight and compact. If you’re going to be on the river or in a clime…

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MSR BACKCOUNTRY CAFÉ: PENNE WITH TUNA, CAPERS, & GREEN OLIVES

Story And Photos By Laurel Miller It’s a well-documented fact amongst my family and friend that I’ll eat anything, as long as it makes for a good story or I’m getting paid (aka “working”). I’ve eaten everything from dog to witchetty grubs in the name of travel and research, and frankly, I don’t understand why people make such a big deal about the Donner Party’s diet. I draw the line, however, at freeze-dried backpacker meals. I was a seriously picky eater as a kid, and the two lingering scars are the aforementioned- what I like to refer to as “crap in a bag-” and airline food. I know people who actually think both are tasty; as someone who’s eaten man’s best friend, I’m certainly not in a position to judge….

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Trail Treats, Part 2 – The Parking Lot

Story and Photos by Laurel Miller Some of us eat to live, others live to eat (admittedly, it’s a First World luxury to be able to make such a distinction). If you’re of the latter persuasion, it’s hard to dispute the psychological and satiety benefits of high-fat/protein/complex carbohydrate post-exercise snacks that go the extra mile. Want to ensure a surplus of stoke at the end of your next outing? Take some inspiration from the below list, and make the traditional parking lot scarf-session just as memorable as the rest of your trip. Obviously, you’ll need to menu-plan and store or pack accordingly, depending upon climate and duration of trip. If you’re feeling especially motivated, fire up a grill if there’s one available at the trailhead, or use your camp stove….

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Easy Appetizers for the Exhausted

Story and Photos by Laurel Miller American gastronomy has been responsible for some memorably mediocre finger foods (or canapés, hors d’ouevres, or appetizers, if you’re so inclined). Despite this, we’re all familiar with the ubiquitous cheese ball, spinach dip (served in a hollowed out loaf of sourdough) pigs in a blanket, and, if you’re of a certain age, rumaki. Having inhaled my share of spinach dip in this life, I’m not trying to be an asshole. But it is possible, even in the backcountry, to create starters that are easy, on-trend, and free of processed ingredients. The point of appetizers, as the name suggests, is to stimulate the appetite. Providing a balance of flavors and textures is the key to making them work, as are good-quality ingredients (which don’t require…

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Trail Treats, Part 1

Story and Photos By Laurel Miller Shoulder season may be over, but whatever outdoor pursuits you’re currently enjoying, you still need to eat. There’s nothing wrong with traditional trail/slope snacks: I love jerky, GORP, and energy bars just as much as the next person. But sometimes, when you’re really busting your butt out there, it’s nice to up the ante a little bit and treat yourself- and others- to something special.

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