The most favorite meal in the backcountry at Tardigrade Outdoors is homemade biscuits and gravy. It may take a little time, but I'll savor every moment of preparing this delicious vegan meal in the backcountry while sipping on some estate-grown home roasted coffee.
But, this backcountry breakfast is actually easier than one may expect.
Although even the simplest meals seem, to me, to taste gourmet after a day of hiking or on a calm morning by a high-altitude lake, every now and then I find myself wistfully longing for food items or condiments that would be too cumbersome or heavy to bring on trail or cannot easily be prepared as a backpacking meal. On a two-week trip in 2011, I remember hankering for fresh produce or fruit in the final days of the trip and being delighted to bump into the cook for a trail crew who invited us to stop by the base camp where she had apples to share. Maple syrup is another item that I often find myself wanting on trail. It's easy to bring liquids in a bear canister in small, tightly sealed containers, but because we carry other liquids (vegetable oil, for example) that are integral parts of some of our meals, luxuries like maple syrup don't make the cut. In addition, I'm not sure I could carry enough to satisfy my sweet tooth for more than one breakfast, let alone pack enough for two.
Enter maple sugar.
I knew it existed from my days in upstate NY, where maple sugar producers were local and I
I've had my aluminum Bugaboo mess kit for more than a decade. After I bought it, I used it for a bunch of years, and then it sat idle after I bought a titanium cookset. I set it aside in favor of a 5" SnowPeak 900 (30 fl. oz. at 6.2 oz.), which was perfectly suited for a lonely man of the mountains.
This cookset was also set aside in time because it was too small once I started backpacking frequently with a partner. Nancy and I initially carried the 5.75" SnowPeak 1400 cookset (47 fl. oz. at 7.4 oz.; MSRP $55.99), which is sized just right for two (don't forget the additional 14 fl. oz. in the lid/pan!), but we found it limiting—namely, it wasn't good for baking. And baking in the backcountry is something that we came to embrace with zeal.
We've been dehydrating our backpacking food for years. We started because we found few vegan backpacking meal options. At first it took a little time to learn the temperatures and time needed to dehydrate various foods, how to prepare food for dehydrating, and what we could and couldn't dehydrate. But after a short time, dehydrating became second nature and we now happily and easily dehydrate most of our backpacking meals.
Overall, we want our meals to be as whole as possible, without preservatives and chemicals. We want food that is nutritious, devoid of animal products, ethically produced, inexpensive, and readily available. We also want our food to be tasty and meet our desire for variety. But as backpackers, we also seek meals that are lightweight, compact, durable, and unlikely to spoil. By dehydrating our own food, we can easily meet these criteria.
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