Everything You Need to Know About Cold Soak Backpacking Meals

I was thru-hiking the Colorado Trail when I attempted to cold soak my food for the first time. I pulverized the ramen noodles in their package, dumped them into an empty peanut butter container, covered them with water and waited beneath the drooping sun. About a half hour later, I opened the lid to find lifeless noodles bobbing to the surface. It looked like something you’d find in a science lab, limbs splayed in every direction. But I was in the middle of the woods where calories couldn’t be wasted, so I dug into my cup with a grimace. My first bite was surprisingly soft. But it wasn’t bad. I was a little bit more eager for the second bite, which I decided tasted like your typical ramen—only cold. Maybe…

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MSR Backcountry Café: French Press Coffee

A French press can produce rich, strong coffee that will supercharge your day in the backcountry.  Collapsible presses, available as accessories for our Windburner® and Reactor® stoves, allow you to use your cooking pot for a brewing vessel, saving weight and space in your pack. Best of all, French press coffee is simple and delicious: get the grind and water temperature correct and you’re likely to have a great cup (or three). The Coffee You’ll need about one ounce of coffee per finished cup. It should be coarse-ground and stored in an air-tight container. With French press coffee, an even grind is important—use a burr grinder rather than the blade type. Tip: Normal drip coffee will work if you can’t find the proper grind; MSR presses are designed to work…

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Building Your Backcountry Kitchen, Part 2: The Essential Ingredients

I grew up in a family that embraced the convenience of freeze-dried meals and deviled ham when it came to camping trips. It wasn’t until a college spring break trip to Baja’s Bahia Concepción that I discovered it’s possible to actually, you know, cook while camping. We’d procured some scallops from the bay. My friend Caroline, an avid cook, sautéed them with garlic and chili flakes, adding a splash of her beer and a squeeze of lime to finish. I was gobsmacked—left to my own devices, I’d been subsisting on canned frijoles refritos and tortillas. That pivotal moment not only inspired me to go to culinary school, it redefined what I thought of as camping fare. Today, there are certain ingredients that are staples in my home and backcountry kitchen….

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Real Food for Mountaineering

When I began my journey of exploring the wilderness, initially I didn’t put much emphasis on meal prep, primarily focusing on the physical activity.  During one college summer, I was working as a volunteer for the National Forest Service and my meals consisted mostly of Top Ramen® and Mountain House®. I had a personal stove, which I only used to boil water, and a variety box of Clif Bars® to fill in the gaps. I’m certainly not the first to survive on such a diet, but over the years I have learned to value quality nutrition and I now enjoy real cooking as part of my outdoor experience. These days, I train quite frequently for skiing, climbing, etc., and my body craves more legitimate nutrients. I am also a creature…

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