Eat Better on Trail with These Tasty Foods Made in the NW
How do you like to eat on your hiking journeys? We grew exhausted with standard trail foods a long time ago. Now we like to mix it up with a variety of small-brand, small-batch food items, in addition to creating some of our own. As such, we’re always on the lookout for new, out-of-the-ordinary foods that may not be made specifically for hiking, but still pack as much trail energy as the other stuff—and often taste a whole lot better! Here’s some of our current faves we’re hiking with this season—and all of them are made locally in the Northwest! Check ’em out, and try a few yourself. You’ll be glad you did!
SNACKS & TREATS
Not too sweet, and just the right size for a quick snack on the trail.
We recently stumbled across Trailnuggets energy bars at one of our local foods stores. We picked up a few, threw them in our pack, and forgot about them. Then, on a particularly bad hike a few weeks later, we were tired, cranky and hungry, and found a Trailnuggets bar in our food bag. It was so good, we devoured the whole thing in just a few bites. Then suddenly the hike wasn’t so bad. The sky was bluer, the flowers brighter, and our spirits lifted. When we got home, we went right back to that store and bought more of these magic bars. Our favorite flavors are Lemon Almond Hot Date, Apple + Hazelnut, and Peanut Coco Apocalypse! Most flavors are available in the original GO! energy formula, and the energy + protein PRO formula. All are made with all-natural ingredients, and are vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO.
Great for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert!
We’ve been longtime fans of Trail Butter, and it’s still a staple in our packs—because it’s that good! These peanut- and gluten-free nut butter blends employ an almond butter base and real-food ingredients in tasty flavors that provide slow-burning fuel for long days on the trail. Our favorite, Dark Chocolate and Coffee, mixes in crunchy chunks of dark chocolate and ground coffee, with just a touch of sea salt and vanilla. It’s great on bagels, tortillas, dehydrated apples—or straight out of the pouch. Maple and Sea Salt uses pure maple syrup, and Original Trail Mix is packed with sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and chocolate. Each 4.5-ouce pouch contains four servings—so try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting!
Great trail dessert or mid-day pick-me-up snack.
Last year, we discovered these delicious gluten-free macaroon treats at Portland’s Eat Oregon Now! holiday food fair. After sampling—and loving—every single flavor, we wound up buying Roons for everyone on our shopping list—and for ourselves to pack as tasty treats to enjoy on the trail. Each Roon is a delicious mound of sweet and chewy coconut dipped in Guittard chocolate. But it doesn’t stop there. There’s Chocolate Espresso Roons made with Stumptown espresso—our favorite!—and Lemon Roons made with zesty white chocolate. There’s even limited-edition and seasonal flavors. Each Roon is individually wrapped for easy portability, or you can pack along a bag of Lil Roonies. These miniature, bite-size Roons are easy to just pop in your mouth and enjoy as you hike. Can you resist eating the whole bag at once?
A delicious NW candy made with organic and fair-trade ingredients.
If you’re a fan of the chocolate-and-peanut-butter combo, then you might be packing some popular commercial candies in your pack. Well it’s time to step it up a notch. Another discovery at last year’s Eat Oregon Now! event were the incredibly tasty Tom Bumble bars from Portland-based Oregon Bark. Available in Smooth and Nutty variations, these heavenly little nuggets are made with all-natural organic ingredients, including, fair-trade chocolate, Oregon sea salt, and pure vanilla. And more than a treat, each little bar packs 160 slow-burning calories, which is great for a pick-me-up—and better than most energy gels. Chocolate this good melts easily, so we reco keeping them cool inside your pack for the best eating enjoyment.
MEALS & SUPPLEMENTS
Small-batch meals with great flavor and all-natural ingredients.
If you’ve been following us for a while, you already know we’re big fans of Portland-based Backpacker’s Bistro. These locally-made dishes bring some real Northwest foodie flavor to our trail meals, with faves like Risotto Primavera, Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf, and our all-time favorite trail breakfast, Sweet Potato Hash. New to their menu this year is Espresso Porridge, packed with whole grains, expresso, cinnamon, shredded coconut, dried cherries and chocolate—a real flavor punch in the mouth! The espresso and coffee-soaked grains make it a bit strong, so we reco adding a sprinkle of raw sugar to sweeten it up a bit. They have also introduced a vegan version of their Sweet Potato Hash, subbing out the sausage for maple-fennel lentils and mushrooms. Steep time is 20 minutes, so use a cooking cozy for the best results.
A savory take on oatmeal that mixes things up nicely.
You may have heard of Picky Bars, the tasty trail snacks with flavors like Blueberry Boomdizzle and Smooth Caffeinator, but have you heard of Picky Oats? Now the folks at Picky offer a selection of flavorful and nutritious oatmeals that are a far cry from the pasty and over-sweetened instant oats you’re probably familiar with. Our favorite flavor is Game, Set, Matcha!, a savory blend of oats, chia seeds, pepitas, goji berries, cardamom, and matcha green tea powder. Also available are How ’bout Dem Apples, a spin on apple-cinnamon oats with chia seeds and ginger, and Can’t Beet Chocolate, a sweet and earthy concoction of oats, almonds, chocolate chips and beet powder. All Picky Oats are made with organic ingredients, and are packed with calories, carbs and protein to get you moving in the morning. Plus, they’re all gluten-, dairy- and soy-free!
A big step above ordinary trail meals.
If you’re burned out on the same-ol’ packaged trail meals, you need to give Food for the Sole a try. We did, and our food bag will never be the same. Each of their dishes are a flavor explosion. Our favorite is the Garlic Green Bean and Cashew Stir-Fry. Seriously, it’s as good as the Chinese take-out we get at home! It’s packed with veggies, noodles, Asian spices and just the right amount of red pepper for a little zing—so good! Another fave, the Triple Peanut Slaw is packed with veggies, a bit of cilantro, and a tasty peanut dressing. Packed with calories, this one makes a filling meal by itself, or a great side dish to share with a piece of foil-pack salmon. And their Cinnamon Cherry Crisp is a delicious breakfast or end of day treat. Most Food for the Sole meals steep for 15–20 minutes, so we reco using a cooking cozy to keep them hot while waiting.
A great way to spruce up bland trail meals.
Choking down a flavorless bowl of instant rice or potatoes at the end of the day is hardly a reward for a long day on the trail. And most “flavored” meal packets are more chemicals than real ingredients. That’s why we’ve been stoked since discovering Oomph Cooking Blends at a recent Portland food fair. These lightweight seasonings are made with finely-milled veggies and spices, with no salt, preservatives, or chemicals—just real foods. All it takes is a spoonful of Oomph to punch up everything from eggs to rice to ramen. Their uses are endless! Our favorite is #6 Shiitake Umami, a mix of mushrooms, shallots and ginger—we put it in everything! We also like the #4 Refogado, a mix of onions, tomatoes and garlic—great added to powdered eggs! Add to your home-prepped meals, or pack some to use on trail. A little goes a long way!
Looking for more great trail food selections? Check out our Food Bag section, which highlights some of the tastiest trail snacks, meals, treats and beverages we’ve found. Each of our selections are made by PCT: Oregon’s taste-off and gear review teams, because we won’t promote anything we won’t eat ourselves. We’re always interested in what others are eating on trail as well. Leave a comment below with your favorite out-of-the-ordinary trail food choice.
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