Good hikes require great food 

Packing food into the backcountry requires creative thinking

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The long days and short nights are here and this is the time for big hikes. Big hikes means backcountry eating.

Walking through a beautiful setting calls for flavourful food, but food options are limited by the need to pack light, so here are some food idea for hikers and campers from people who have given hiking and culinary creativity in the backcountry a great deal of thought:

Chef Vickram Vij came to Canada and first landed in Banff, where he reportedly developed a love of the outdoors. So we start with something totally different.

Vij has come up with a line of curry products that are packaged in bags and designed to be heated either in the bag or in a saucepan. This is a good option for those who have a small gas stove and a light saucepan. The Vij's At Home products, which fit well into backpacks, include Punjabi Lamb Curry, Coconut Beef Curry, Curried Chickpeas, Mild Chicken Curry and Mother-in-law's Pork Curry.

A number of stores in Squamish and Whistler carry the grab-and-go products from the man behind Vij's Restaurant and Rangoli in Vancouver.

The website at was created under the premise that backpacking food doesn't have to be boring, nor does it have to be difficult to make. The recommendations on this site are a little more work than Vij's solution to backcountry cuisine.

"Lightweight, hearty and tasty backpacking meals are at the heart of this project — simply delicious trail food that will make your trips even more enjoyable," author Laurie Ann March and her husband Bryan write in the introduction.

What follows is a goldmine of recipes, menu plans, articles, discussions, book reviews and gear reviews.

The couple lives in Ontario and she has written two backcountry cookbooks.

March is a big fan of dehydration. One of her recipe highlights is White Bean, Tuna and Mango Salad. This one calls for dehydrated beans, jalapeno pepper and grated ginger. Pack along dried mango, tuna in a pouch, some chives, lemongrass, salt and pepper. Rehydrate the beans, jalapeno pepper and grated ginger in the backcountry and enjoy the result in a wrap or with tortilla chips.

Pinterest is also a goldmine of ideas for hungry backpackers.

Posters have pinned everything from trail mix ideas to drink recipes and full meal plans. One example from Pinterest sharing is a recipe for cranberry pistachio energy bites made with honey, chia seeds and flax seeds (or wheat germ), salt and oats. The truly adventurous are invited to add white chocolate chips to this simple recipe.

One Pinterest poster recommends repurposing Tic Tac containers by filling them with spices while another user has pinned instructions for making a camp stove using an empty cat food tin.

Let your eyes feast on the scenery this season while, with just a little work, treating your appetite to a creative backcountry food festival.


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