• Good Team at Switchbackr

Bomb Backcountry Meals

Updated: Jun 29

I've been working in Yosemite for the past three summers, a lot of my job is taking people out into the backcountry for a few days at a time and cheffing up some incredible meals. It adds a fun twist to a backcountry expedition, creating home-cooked meals with whatever tools you can bring on your back. From my backpack to yours, here are some of my favorite meals!


backpacking in mountains
Photo courtesy of Alexa Romano

Tastiest Backcountry Scramble


A hot breakfast is one of the best ways for me to start the day in the backcountry. It gives me energy, stoke, and a happy stomach. After years of backcountry adventures, I can no longer stand oatmeal. This scramble is a great treat for car camping or your first night (or second) in the backcountry of a longer backpacking trip. It's filling, tasty, and easy!


WHAT YOU NEED

Girls cooking backcountry food
Photo courtesy of Marina Neal

1 x backpacking stove

1 x pot or pan, doesn't really matter which

1 x backpacking cutting board

1 x knife

1 x stirring utensil

1 x container of oil

3 x eggs**

1 x small bag of cherry tomatoes

1 x bag of feta cheese

3 x cloves of garlic, diced

1/2 x onion, diced

1 x bag of mushrooms, as many as you want, sliced

salt & pepper!


** for backpacking purposes, I crack eggs into a plastic water bottle before I head out. This can be adjusted to however you prefer to carry eggs with you, and what you are doing.


HOW TO MAKE

  1. Heat up the backpacking stove with a little oil in the pan.

  2. Sauté the diced garlic and diced onions in the oil until soft and fragrant, but not burned. Once onions are softening, toss in the sliced mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until all is cooked well.

  3. While this is happening, mix the eggs up in a separate bowl and pour into the pan when veg is done.

  4. This is a great time to through in the sliced cherry tomatoes as well (I cut them in half). Salt & pepper that baby and mix it around!

  5. Once it's almost done, throw the feta cheese in, and voila! You have the perfect breakfast. You're welcome.


girls backpacking in wilderness
Photo by Ambassador Alexa Romano.

Backcountry Beans & Rice


This recipe goes beyond your typical dehydrated beans and rice. It's a lifestyle and my favorite thing to eat on the trail. Works for breakfast. Works for dinner. Put it in a bag and make it lunch. It's always good.


WHAT YOU NEED

1 x backpacking stove (I use an MSR Whisperlite)

1 x pot

1 x pan

1 x stirring utensil

1 x small container of oil

1 x backpacking cutting board

1 x knife

1 x bag of instant rice

1 x can of black beans (I usually open and empty into plastic Ziploc before trip)

1 x spice container with cumin, chili powder, S&P, and garlic powder

1 x half an onion (diced)

1 x red bell pepper (or green or yellow or poblano-- diced)

1 x small bag or container of Worcestershire sauce (This is the secret ingredient!!!!!!)


HOW TO MAKE

  1. First, sauté the diced onion and red bell pepper until well cooked. Put aside.

  2. Start making the instant rice by combining that plus equal parts boiling water. Add a little extra water in there and cover off the heat.

  3. In about 5 minutes, go ahead and add the veggies, and drained beans. Mix this well, turn the stove back on and add a solid dash of each spice and around two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce. Mix well again.

  4. Cook and stir until your desired temperature and then, enjoy!

Backcountry Veggie Tacos


It's 5 pm. The sun is getting lower in the sky and your body is sore from a day of walking with 40 pounds on your back. Suddenly you remember what you planned for dinner: veggie tacos. This is going to be a good night.

WHAT YOU NEED

1 or 2 x backpacking stoves (I use a MSR Whisperlite)

1 x pot

1 x pan

1 x spatula

1 x knife

1 x backpacking cutting board or surface you can cut on

1 x little container of oil of your choice

1 x little bit of garlic powder, salt, pepper, and taco seasoning

1 x bag of canned black beans or dehydrated refried beans

Pre-chopped red peppers, zucchini, jalapeno, and onions.

1 x bag of instant rice

1 x container of hot sauce

1 x ziploc full of as many tortillas as you want

HOW TO MAKE

  1. The first step, empty all of the veg into the pan on the stove.

  2. At the same time, if you'll start up the other stove with boiling water for rice.

  3. Sauté veg until limp and well cooked (I like a little crispy!)

  4. Towards the end, add all of the spices and mix through the vegetables thoroughly.

  5. Add drained beans at the end and mix them around!

  6. Rice water should be boiled by now, add the same amount of rice as you have water and cover for ~10 minutes.

  7. Open up your tortillas, fill with goodies and hot sauce, and enjoy the masterpiece you have created!

Cooking on coleman
Photo courtesy of Marina Neal

Backcountry Pad Thai


Have you ever finish a long day of hauling gear around through the mountains and think... dang... what I would give for some Thai takeout right now... then you've come to the right place. This recipe can be used for backpacking or car camping, I generally make it at night one or two backpacking, but the maker's preference!


WHAT YOU NEED

1 or 2 x backpacking stoves (I use a MSR Whisperlite)

1 x pot

1 x pan

1 x spatula

1 x knife

1 x backpacking cutting board or surface you can cut on

1 x little container of oil of your choice

1 x little bit of garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

1 x block of tofu

Pre-chopped carrots, onions, and red peppers

1 x bag of rice noodles

1 x container of THE SECRET SAUCE**

HOW TO MAKE

**How to make THE SECRET SAUCE:

Add your preferred amounts of peanut butter, water, lime, chili garlic, and soy sauce to a bowl and mix it up real good. I like to use crunchy peanut butter for the pizazz. Mix this up the day before and put in a plastic bag or little container.


  1. Dump those veg in the pan on top of your stove and start sautéing. Sprinkle some spice on top and take a good long sniff.

  2. This is a good time to start boiling water for the rice noodles.

  3. While the veg is cooking, go ahead and cube your tofu.

  4. Once the veg has finished cooking, go ahead and put those aside and put the tofu in the skillet.

  5. Tofu can be left for a couple of minutes on one side. Salt, pepper, and garlic that baby! Once the bottom of the tofu is crispy, flip them to the other side.

  6. At this point, noodles should be boiled and drained, and set aside.

  7. Once both sides of tofu are crispy, and it tastes hot and done, go ahead and combine veg + tofu + drained noodles in the noodle pot.

  8. You can either dump the sauce in the pot and mix it all together, or put sauce on top of individual servings, up to you! Enjoy the world's best gourmet backpacking dinner and go climb some mountains!

Backcountry Vegan Buddha Bowls:

Some of my favorite experiences in the backcountry are with yoga and dirt. Something about stretching with dirt between your toes and a wide-open sky above you... nothing feels better. I always crave healthy and filling food when I do yoga, and being in the backcountry is no exception. This recipe is great for night one of your backpacking trip! As always, this can completely be modified to fit your weight/diet/group preferences. Here's my favorite backcountry buddha bowl recipe- it's a little complex but tasty and protein-rich. WHAT YOU NEED: 1 x pot 1 x saucepan 2 x backpacking stove (I use a MSR Whisperlite) 1 x knife 1 x backpacking cutting board 1 x bag of microwave quinoa (or just uncooked quinoa if this is for more people than just a couple) 1 x zucchini 1 x bag of frozen greens 1 x bag of garbanzo beans (I empty a can into a ziploc the night before and double bag it) 1 x bag of al dente diced sweet potatoes 1 x container of pre-made special tahini sauce!** 1 x bag of garlic, salt, and pepper. I like to bring a little cumin + coriander as well. **The special tahini sauce: The day before your trip, make this. Put tahini into a bowl. In a separate bowl, put chopped garlic and the juice of one lemon- make sure the garlic is completely covered by lemon juice. Leave this for 10-15 minutes. After this, drain lemon juice into the tahini sauce. Put several spoonfuls of ice-cold water into the bowl (important that it is cold!!) and stir until fully mixed. Add more flavors to your desire. Start out by cutting up your zucchini however you want. I like to dice it into quarters for quick cooking. Empty zucchini + chickpeas + sweet potatoes into the pan with a little water and begin to sautee. Add garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. In the other pot, begin to boil water to make quinoa. Either make it the classic way (2 parts water, 1 part quinoa- simmer for about 15 minutes) or bring a microwave bag of pre-cooked quinoa. Submerge bag in boiling water for 5 minutes, and voila! Quinoa! The zucchini, beans, and sweet potato should be nearly done by now, add in greens and cumin + coriander. Sautee until entirely cooked. Put quinoa at the bottom of the bowl, add veg mix, and drizzle sauce on top. There you go! Vegan buddha bowl delight!


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