Go Outside: The Winter Snack Edition
Five tips to ensure you are satiated while exploring the great outdoors in winter
One of the best parts about going outside (in addition to the fresh air, the mental boost, that reassuring feeling of calm) is the food. A difficult hike or ski tour to a summit is always made better knowing you’ll have something tasty to munch on once you reach your destination. And thinking about that delicious meal you’re going to have for dinner makes a long trek to a backcountry campsite or hut a whole lot easier.
But food and snacks while adventuring can be especially tricky in winter. Stopping to sit or stand and eat causes both of us to get chilly and uncomfortable quickly. Biting into a frozen sandwich is no fun, and your fingers can get cold if you have to take gloves or mitts off to consume food. To that end, this week we’re providing you with winter food advice to ensure your bellies are still satisfied while going outside. And, don’t forgot to comment below if you have a favourite tip of your own.
#1 Figure Out Your Snacking Style
While some people obsess about the weight of the food on their back while hiking, biking, skiing, trekking, etc. that person is not Annalise. While some people pick lunch and snack items based on sheer calorie count and care for not a second about taste, that person is not Annalise. Annalise’s motto: It’s always worth carrying a little extra weight for a better meal or snack in the backcountry. Trust me.
While Cailynn has taken to calling Annalise’s outdoor snacking tastes “backcountry fancy,” the fact of the matter is, life is short and food is good. Also, a little thought while prepping for a trip from the comfort of your home goes a long way when you’re spending day(s) outside. It’s well worth the effort, especially when you’re cold, wet and exhausted. If you’re one of those people who care only about the lightest possible/highest calorie outdoor food, you should probably stop reading now.
Lots of room for snacks in those backpacks!
#2 Make It Easy
Between packing layers and technical gear, checking the weather, planning a route and driving to a trailhead, a lot of work can go into going outside. There’s no point adding this to your long list of pre-trip To Dos: brainstorm backcountry food, buy food, prepare food. The solution? Annalise has a spot in her pantry specifically for outdoor snacks (we’ll detail said snacks in a minute). Cailynn adopted this method this winter (after hearing about it extensively from Annalise for years), and can confirm, it works! It makes it much easier to grab a selection of items and be pretty set for a day of skiing or hiking. In the summer, this spot in Annalise’s pantry also includes homemade dehydrated meals and desserts, which make prepping for backcountry camping trips way easier…and tastier.
A thermos full of miso soup on a -29C ski tour
#3 Think Snacks not Meals
Given that both of us get so cold so easily, we’re not big fans of the ‘bring a foam mat to plop your butt on and get comfy for a 20-minute lunch break’ style of outdoor adventuring. It works well for some people, but not for us. Instead, we prefer to pack multiple snacks and munch on them throughout the day. Shoving nuts or chocolate in your mouth every time you stop to adjust layers is a good way to ensure your stomach is satisfied and your body doesn’t get cold. Also, just as you should stop every time your layers need adjusting instead of ploughing through, the same goes for food. Don’t hesitate to take a lot of snack breaks.
A snack break during a moonlight ski.
#4 Don’t Forgot The Car Snacks
Given that getting to a trailhead usually takes an hour or two of driving, we’re big fans of fueling up on the drive out. Fueling up your stomach, that is. Starting a hike or ski hungry is simply no fun. So, bring a hearty breakfast to eat in the car when you’re getting close to the trailhead. Same goes for the drive home. While we’re both pretty meh about chips in general, Car Chips After A Day Of Outdoor Adventures are simply delicious. Trust us. Having water (or whatever you like to drink after exercise) in the car is also a good idea. On extra cold days, we’ll keep a water bottle insulated in the car to ensure we don’t return to a block of ice.
#5 Give Us The Goods! What Snacks Do You Pack!?
We have a friend who went skiing on a chilly day last year with someone who packed a 500 ml container of ice cream. Ice cream!? On a ski trip?! While we laughed at the anecdote at first, the more we thought about it, the more we thought, ‘What a good, albeit slightly weird, idea!’ The point is, find food that works for you, that make you happy, and that will satisfy your hunger. There’s a lot to pay attention to when adventuring outside, and your growling stomach shouldn’t be on that list. While neither of us are big granola/Cliff/Lara bar fans, we have friends that are perfectly content eating those all day on outdoor trips. Another friend swears by gourmet sandwiches. Find what works for you. Here’s a list of our favourite backcountry snacks:
Dried fruit like apricots, mango, coconut or apples
Nuts (Annalise buys Costco-sized almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds and makes her own trail mix)
Gummies (Gummy bears or worms provide a quick sugar rush when moving outside. If it’s an extra cold day, keep them warm in a chest pocket or eat them earlier in the day)
Roasted chickpeas (You can buy these at the grocery store, or make your own and put whatever spices you like on them. The salt is especially nice while exercising)
Peanut M&Ms or chocolate-covered almonds (The combination of nuts and chocolate is a nice boost while adventuring)
Dehydrated cheese (There’s different brands including Moon Cheese and Whisps and we’ve heard you can also make your own — though Annalise has tried and it didn’t go so well. Cailynn enjoys Moon Cheese on outdoor trips so much she once panicked when she learned her grocery store was discontinuing it and bought two cases — so 24 packs — for future adventures. And in the end, the ‘discontinuation’ turned out to be a rebrand)
Beef Jerky (Vegetarian Annalise enjoys Vegan Jerky)
Fig Newtons (You might be like Cailynn and associate fig newtons with your grandparents… but they’re now a go-to winter snack for her, after hearing a friend rave about how they’re similar calories to other bars, but cheaper and they don’t freeze)
Snickers Bars (This is another snack Cailynn picked up years ago from someone else… a hiker she met while backpacking in Patagonia whose only trail snack was Snickers bars. Turns out this hiker knew what was up — the caramel/peanut/chocolate combo is very satisfying)
Miso Soup in an ultralight vacuum bottle (Annalise swears by the salt and warmth of miso while exercising outside in the cold and has perfected an easy homemade recipe.)
Happy trails! We hope these tips help to keep your hunger at bay while adventuring outside this winter.
Have you embraced going outside during this long, lonely, bizarre COVID winter?! Bought or rented gear and tried a new activity? Visited a park for the first time?
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short bread cookies. I would eat them frozen out of the freezer right by my bedroom door. Shhh don't tell granny about that.
We sometimes fill our Yeti with hot water, lemon wedges, and honey. It's refreshing, easy to digest, and more comfortable than sipping ice-cold water on an already freezing day.