Whether you’ll be kayaking or canoeing, crushing kilometres on portage trails or making miles on the river, backcountry camping trips burn major calories. Staying properly fuelled is necessary to keep you moving, and, perhaps more importantly, to keep “hanger” at bay (therefore allowing you to maintain a good relationship with your tripping partner).
Everyone has their guilty pleasure backcountry snacks, whether it be gummy bears or chocolate bars. But these healthy camping snacks will ensure you get the nutrients you need in addition to the calories.
1. Energy balls
All kinds of healthy and delicious ingredients can be incorporated into these delicious bundles. Most contain nut butters, nuts, dried fruit and some kind of sweetener. Energy balls are great for paddling trips because they can pack a lot of calories, protein and fibre into a small package. You can throw a dozen into a small container and break them out on portages or for a quick floating snack.
Paddling Magazine’s energy ball recipe
1 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup peanut or almond butter
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1/3 cup hemp hearts
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup soaked dates
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse for about 10 seconds, until ingredients are mixed together but not too fine. Remove from food processor and form mixture into small balls. Place on a plate in the fridge for one to two hours.
2. Ultimate trail mix
Trail mix is the classic backcountry trip snack. Make it your own and ensure you will eat it by skipping the prepackaged variety and adding in healthy and scrumptious ingredients. Our favourite additions?
- Brazil nuts
- Yogurt-covered raisins
- A dark chocolate bar cut into pieces
- Skor bar chunks
- Slices of dried mango
- Roasted almonds
- Dried apples
- Peanut-butter M&Ms
- Chocolate-covered goji berries
3. Homemade beef jerky
Beef jerky is a satisfying and high-protein snack perfect for paddling trips. Most beef jerky you find in stores, however, is full of sodium, chemicals and unhealthy additives. Make a healthier and more delicious version at home in large batches and grab some each time you go on a backcountry adventure.
We like The Healthy Foodie’s recipe, which calls for lots of spices, a lean cut of meat and a few other pantry staples.
4. Salt and vinegar roasted chickpeas
Chickpeas are a nutritional powerhouse. They contain 15 grams of protein, 45 grams of carbohydrates and 12 grams of dietary fibre per serving, allowing you to stay satisfied and fuelled on your paddling trips. Roasting them with salt and vinegar infuses them with lots of flavour.
We like the Oh She Glows easy salt and vinegar roasted chickpea recipe; the simple preparation and four-ingredient list means you can whip up a tray or two the night before your trip as you pack.
5. Backcountry smorgasbord
For something in between a snack and a meal, the backcountry smorgasbord is king. Buy your favourite cheese, crackers, olives, cold cuts, raw veggies, hummus or other dips and assemble on a plate or cutting board during a break from paddling.
To make this a quicker snack, pre-cut items as necessary and store near the top of your food hatch or pack. Our favourite combination? smoked gouda, turkey, Wheat Thins, black olives, sliced red peppers and baba ghanoush.
6. Dehydrated yogurt
Plain Greek yogurt is a high-protein snack that will keep you full for hours. To dehydrate Greek yogurt, spread a thin and even layer over parchment paper laid on a cookie sheet. You want the yogurt in a thick enough layer that you can’t see parchment paper. Dehydrate at 135 degrees for approximately seven hours.
When the yogurt is done it should peel off the parchment paper easily. Pack it in a plastic bag in pieces. Once you are on your paddling trip, add water to the dehydrated yogurt in a bowl and mix. Keeping adding water gradually as needed. Top with nuts, hemp hearts and honey.
7. Ants on a log
This classic kids’ snack is perfect for a day on the water. Pre-cut three stalks of celery into two-inch pieces. Spread all-natural peanut butter in the hollow space and top with raisins. If you want to get really wild, opt for dried cranberries.
8. Rice cakes with peanut butter and banana
This delicious snack gives you carbohydrates, protein and fibre. Swap the peanut butter for almond or another nut butter if preferred. Make sure to have a knife handy to chop the banana. Tip: Pack the rice crackers in something solid to prevent crumbling.