The backcountry is the one place where having an unlimited amount of chocolate 24 hours a day is socially acceptable. For one, chocolate provides ample calories and fat. More importantly, though, that squished Snicker’s Bar in your pocket or frozen bag of chocolate chips in your pack’s brain is an essential morale booster to which the most inspiring words from Thoreau or Jack London cannot compare. So reward yourself after a hard (or easy!) day on the trail with one of my top five favorite chocolate recipes for backpacking.

Photo by Greg Walters

1. The Luke – One 16 oz Nalgene

The Luke is the instant fix for frozen boots in the morning, fading energy in the late afternoon, and grumbling stomachs watching water refuse to boil for dinner at night. Named after the mad scientist who created it on our NOLS backpacking trip in Alaska, Luke Cleary, The Luke fuels the body and warms the heart on a 3-day or 30 day trek.

2-3 tbsp hot chocolate mix

1 tbsp butter

¼ tsp cinnamon

1 ½ tbsp powdered milk

2 cup boiling water




2. Kitchen Sink Granola – Serves 2

At the end of a trip or ration cycle, this granola on steroids is perfect for getting your body the calories, fats and proteins it needs for the day, as well as for ridding your pack of portions of food that add weight, but are still too small to make a whole meal. Another NOLS concoction we originally called “granola mush,” this breakfast was a close second to cheesy biscuits.

2 tbsp butter

¼ cup peanut butter (or any other type of nut butter)

1/3 cup chocolate chips

1 ½ cup granola

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)


In a fry pan, melt butter, peanut butter and chocolate chips, and stir until smooth. Be sure to stir constantly so that the mixture doesn’t burn. Sprinkle in granola, cinnamon and vanilla. Continue stirring over the flame until fully incorporated and the granola is slightly toasted. Serve as is or cooled in yogurt.


3. Banana Boats – Serves 2

Banana Boats are a car camping favorite with the scents of childhood wafting out of the creases of the tin foil. I was first introduced to them in 4th grade at sleepaway camp and have yet to have a summer pass without digging into the better version of the classic s’more.

2 bananas

1 Hershey’s Bar, broken into the individual rectangles

15-20 mini marshmallows

tin foil


Peel one side the banana, leaving ¾ of it unpeeled. With a spoon, scoop out half of the inside of the bananas. Press half the Hershey Bar squares into the banana and top with the mini marshmallows. Fold the unpeeled side back over the chocolate-marshmallow mixture and wrap the entire banana in foil. Repeat with the other banana. Place both bananas on top of a griddle over the fire, or a pan over the stove, for 5-10 minutes or until marshmallows are golden brown.


4. Mexican Chocolate Ganache Apples – Makes 8 Apple Slices

Every backpacker knows Sriracha, Tabasco and any other hot sauce instantly elevates a dinner in the backcountry. Heck, they do in the frontcountry! So, why not add some spice to dessert, too? These apples are the perfect balance of sweet with a touch of heat for a night around the fire or tucked away in the tents.

1 tbsp butter

1/3 cup chocolate chips

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla (optional)

small pinch cayenne pepper

1 apple, cored and cut into slices


In a pot over a stove, melt together butter and chocolate chips until smooth. Stir in cinnamon, vanilla, and cayenne pepper. Dip apple slices in the chocolate mixture. You can eat them as is or, if you want them more like a candy apple, make them before dinner and let them set for an hour.


Photo by Mary



What would a list about chocolate in the backcountry be if GORP wasn’t included? GORP, or “good old raisins and peanuts,” is backpacker slang for trail mix. This version of GORP is my personal favorite, although there are a million variations out there. I normally use raw almonds and cashews.

1 part cashews

1 part almonds

1 part Pretzel M&Ms

1 part dried cherries

1 part banana chips



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