As colder temps slowly begin to descend upon us, some people prefer to hang-up their gear in favor of slippers and a warm bed. But for other backpackers, they really get excited about the new challenges and experiences hitting the trail over the next few months provides.

Backpacking in the Fall and Winter not only gives way to new experiences, it’s also a great opportunity to try out new recipes and work on your cooking skills, and there are a lot of recipes available to keep you warm when the snow starts to fall. Here are 5 hearty recipes for cold weather backpacking to help fuel the long hikes during those cold weather trips.

Recipes for Cold Weather Backpacking
Image courtesy of via Chase Dekker


Recipes for Cold Weather Backpacking
Photo by the.waterbird

Breakfast: Turbocharged Oatmeal

A hearty breakfast to provide the energy for keeping warm and for hiking during the day. It’s an easy meal to prepare in the morning, but its benefits last well into the day. By adding in some Muscle Milk® powder, you’ll get a nice little boost with the extra protein – Serves 1.


  • 2 pkt Oatmeal
  • 1 tbsp Dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp Golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp Pine nuts
  • 1⁄3 cup Powdered milk
  • 2 scoops Muscle Milk® “chocolate caramel pecan” flavored drink or similar


  • At home: combine all ingredients into a quart sized freezer bag.
  • On the trail: if you are using the freezer bag cooking method: Add 1 cup near boiling water and stir well. Add more water as needed.
  • If you are cooking with one mug: Add 1 cup boiling water and stir well. Add more water as needed.



Lunch: Beef & Bean Chili

This recipe requires putting those food dehydrating skills to use. But after rehydrating the contents on the trail, you’ll have a tasty, warm meal in the middle of the day and all the extra preparation will be a big payoff – Serves 3-5.

Recipes for Cold Weather Backpacking
Image courtesy of


  • 1 to 1¼ Pounds lean ground beef or turkey
  • ½ cup Bread crumbs, finely ground
  • 1 Large onion
  • 1 – 2 Cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 15 oz. Can kidney or red beans, drained
  • 1 10 oz. Can tomato puree
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes


  • In the kitchen: Work bread crumbs into ground meat with your fingers and set aside for a moment. I add bread crumbs because dehydrated meat infused with bread crumbs rehydrates better on the trail. Also, the bread crumbs absorb and lock in more of the chili flavor. If you are not planning on dehydrating this chili recipe for backpacking, there is no need to add bread crumbs to the meat. You can make your own bread crumbs by dehydrating bread. Sautee onions and garlic in a little olive oil using just enough to coat the pan. It really helps to use a non-stick pan.
    • Add ground meat and cook for about ten minutes until browned, stirring continuously.
    • Add chili powder and cook for one more minute.
    • Add tomato puree, diced tomatoes and drained beans.
    • Cook until bubbling and then reduce heat to a simmer for one hour.
  • Dehydrate: Have a taste and put the rest in the refrigerator overnight. The extra time enhances the flavor. Hitting the trail in the morning? Start dehydrating immediately. Spread chili out on the dehydrator trays covered with non-stick Paraflexx® Sheets or parchment paper. Dehydrate at 125° for 8 – 10 hours. This recipe took up three 15 x 15 Excalibur Dehydrator trays. After about four hours in the dehydrator, break up any meat and beans that might be stuck together with a spoon or your fingers to expose pieces to more air circulation. Once dry, divide dehydrated chili into one cup or larger servings and pack in plastic zip-lock bags. Yield: Five cups weighing about 12 ounces dry.
  • On the Trail: Combine one cup chili with one cup water and let sit for about five minutes. If you are cooking a larger serving, just add an equal part of water to your dried chili.
    • Light stove, bring to a boil and continue cooking for one minute.
    • Remove from stove and place pot inside insulating pot cozy for ten minutes.



Recipes for Cold Weather Backpacking
Photo by awordmonkey

Dinner: Chicken Gumbo

You’ll have those dehydrating skills put to the test again, but a hearty bowl of chicken gumbo is a tasty reward and a great way to provide some added warmth for a good night’s sleep when the temperature drops – Serves 2.


  • 1 cup Instant brown rice
  • 1/4 cup Onion, dehydrated
  • 1/4 cup Bell pepper, dehydrated
  • 1/4 cup Corn, dehydrated
  • 1/2 cup Okra, dehydrated
  • 1/4 cup Tomato sauce leather
  • 1/2 cup Chicken or sausage, dehydrated (shredded chicken dehydrates the best)
  • Spices:
    • 1/2 tsp Garlic
    • 1/2 tsp Basil
    • 1/4 tsp Thyme
    • 1/2 tsp Pepper
    • 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
    • 2 Bouillon cubes


  • At home: Combine all ingredients in a 2-quart ziplock bag.
  • On the Trail:
    • Combine all ingredients with the 3 cups of water in pot and soak for five minutes.
    • Light stove, bring to a boil, and continue cooking with the lid on for one minute.
    • Remove pot from stove and wait ten minutes. Insulate pot if possible.



Snacks: Energy Bars

Recipes for Cold Weather Backpacking
Image courtesy of

Nothing provides a good pick-me-up any time of year like homemade energy bars. Packed with nuts, dried fruit and maple syrup, these energy bars will provide you with good, healthy fats and replenish those calories lost from keeping your body warm.


  • ½ lbs Chopped dates
  • 3 tbsp Maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 tsp Fresh orange zest or Grand Marnier, or
  • ¼ tsp Orange extract
  • ½ tsp Sea salt
  • ¼ tsp Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Cardamom
  • ½ cup Dried currants or other dried fruit
  • ½ cup Chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds
  • ½ cup of your favorite granola or toasted oats


  • Chop the dates and combine them with the maple syrup, vanilla, orange, salt and spices.
  • Stir in the currants, nuts and granola until you have a firm consistency.
  • On a lightly oiled baking sheet, roll out the mixture to a uniform thickness of about ½ inch.
  • Chill in freezer for 15 minutes, then cut into bars.



Drinks: S’mores Cocktail

Before turning in, a s’mores cocktail is a delicious drink. Adding a little whiskey doesn’t hurt either when relaxing and keeping warm by the campfire before bed – Serves 1


  • 1 tbsp Cocoa or carob powder
  • 3 tbsp Dry milk
  • 1⁄2 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 oz Chocolate liqueur, Kahlua® or Amaretto liqueur
  • 2 tbso Mini marshmallows


  • Pack the mini marshmallows in a small bag. In another small bag, add in the cocoa and dry milk, seal tightly. Take the liquor in a small bottle.
  • Add 1 cup hot water to the cocoa mix, stir in the liquor and top with marshmallows.


  • A packet of hot cocoa mix can be substituted for cocoa/carob and milk powders.


Recipes for Cold Weather Backpacking
Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

While the weather may be chilly on your trips, you’ll be able to stay warmer with a little extra planning and preparation. So cosy up next to a campfire, grab your favorite hot drink and enjoy those cool crisp nights with a belly full of good food!

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