Enter maple sugar.
I knew it existed from my days in upstate NY, where maple sugar producers were local and I
even had a friend whose husband bottled syrup and made other maple treats. I remembered sampling maple candy and maple butter (!) at the downtown chili cook-off, so maple sugar was surely a cinch. The idea had crossed my mind a few times on trail, but I had never gotten around to looking for it in a grocery store. I found by accident during a quickie grocery stop at Trader Joe's in Fresno. One of the employees happened to be stocking it, so it caught my attention. (I was, for a change, not browsing the aisles as I tend to do at TJ's and similar stores.)
So maple sugar is going to be my "test food" on our upcoming backpacking trip over Memorial Day weekend. The stuff isn't cheap: 6 oz. cost me about $4.99. But I'm looking forward to finding out whether it will be something I can take from time to time, especially on short trips where there's plenty of room for items that don't compress (sugars being one of them).
Why not just buy packaged oatmeal with maple flavor? Well, we generally buy foods in bulk and pack our own to cut down on packaging waste, and those pre-flavored oatmeals have never really been high on my list of likes. Some of them are too sweet even for my raging sweet tooth. So let the test begin, and I'll report back to let you know how it worked out!