I’ve been testing different backcountry centered food for years, always striving for the best pairings. One of the most common questions I get asked from backcountry skiing locals is what food I choose to take on backcountry skiing tours. While that answer has changed dramatically overtime, and I still haven’t found the “perfect” combinations (yet), it’s the time of year when being confident in what you consume to give you sustenance and energy in the backcountry is as crucial as ever.
Here are a few things I’ve been loving the past few months:
Power To Go Energy Charged Chocolate Trail Mix
I first stumbled upon the Power To Go booth at the Outdoor Retailer Trade Show this past January. After having used a 5-Hour Energy shot recently for a big Eastern Sierra mission (with very little sleep the previous night) with great results I figured this might be a perfect fit for big days. Since I’ve first used the product I haven’t done a large day without it. I still can’t say 100% if it’s going to be locked into my routine or not, however the trail mix tastes great and has basically all the same ingredients as a 5-Hour Energy shot. My thought is instead of eating a regular trail bar early in the day I eat this to get needed calories with the added benefit of an energy boost. It doesn’t have the sugar like a Red Bull does, so I haven’t really felt a crash since I’ve been eating it, which is key. I then supplement eating the trail mix with the products I’ll talk about next. So far so good, but I would be happier to see other reviews out on the Internet or from some of you who also are getting after it in the Tahoe and Eastside backcountry as to how the trail mix fits or might fit into your big day routine. Till then I’m happy to keep eating it, find it’s been a great addition to my quiver, and believe it’s been a great tool in my fuel tool-box on bigger days.
What can I say about GU? As a company they continue to refine their already thoroughly tested recipe for making edible snacks on the go that taste great and give you a boost. My biggest problem with energy products like these is there’s often a poor taste. I’m also not a fan of the frequency and quantity that you have to consume them while charging on your given adventure. However, enter GU’s Roctane offering, specifically the Cherry Lime flavor and you have what I feel is the best energy gel on the market. Not only is the taste far superior than other energy gels I’ve tried, but the Roctane boost feels almost twice as strong as most other brands. It’s designed to perform that way, and it works. My favorite pairing of the season thus far is to start eating Roctane’s en route to my objective, and supplement those with GU Chomps. I’ve found Chomps are the easiest of all the trail foods I consume to stomach, even when you’re at altitude and don’t feel like eating because quite simply they taste good. I’ve been pretty much hooked on the Watermelon flavor and find a balanced intake of Roctane and Chomps will help get you through just about any mission, often with energy to spare. A pure must for everything from getting you through a mid-day slump at Squaw, to getting a little boost for your second lap on Tallac, to having to be on it all day on the Eastside.
AlpineAire Foods No Cook Entrees
Let’s be real here. Most backcountry enthusiasts cringe at the first thought of eating a food that comes to life with boiling water and is “cooked” in a pouch. Although we’d all almost always rather fresh food after a long day out in the mountains AlpineAire is leading the charge on putting out quality food that tastes good, is easy to prepare, and is at least free of preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, as well as MSG. It’s been a long time coming, and I’ve certainly tried just about every brand that makes these sorts of meals, but I think AlpineAire is putting out some of the best choices on the market today. Face it, if you’re going backpacking or backcountry skiing and sleeping out for anywhere from one to thirty nights you need food and you need it to be as lightweight as possible. On my most recent trip to Alaska, even though we had a care package filled with amazing food from the epic chefs at Points North Heli-Adventures, my partner and I still ate AlpineAire deserts each night, and even supplemented our already big dinners with an extra serving of Garden Risotto or Mushroom Pilaf with Vegetables just because we needed the extra calories and they all tasted so good (especially the Bananas Foster). Take a look at their website and check out the numerous offerings they have. You’re bound to find something that’ll work with your taste buds.
The proper combination of food in the backcountry is a necessary aspect to any successful adventure. While getting your fuel system down can be tough you need to experiment with what works best for you, and always be on top of listening to your body so you can give it what it needs and get maximum performance. Like I said I’m still working on it, and I look forward to continuing to test and report on what I find works well for anything from a day at Squaw, to a few laps on the West Shore, to 7k foot runs on the Eastside. If you have anything to share about your own methods for keeping the fire burning in the backcountry please fire away. We’re only as knowledgeable and on-point as our greater community supports us to be.