There’s nothing quite so marvellous as fighting your way to the top of a summit and feasting your eyes on the exquisite tapestry of the natural world while feasting the rest of you on a humble, half-squished ham sandwich pried from the dark depths of your humid pack. Somehow, no matter its simplicity or questionable quality, food earned and eaten outdoors tastes better than Gordon Ramsay’s best expletive-blessed gourmet plate. However, it can take some practice and planning to strike a good balance between flavour, nutrition and weight – cue our team of lovable mountain goats to the rescue. We happen to be particularly skilled at both being outside and eating, so we’ve put together a little collection of our favourite adventure snacks and hacks to see you nicely fed up from point A to B:
Early risers about to clean up the rangers’ hut area, near Tugela Falls, Drakensberg.
Mini Food Reigns Supreme
My goodness, does our team love tiny foods! And understandably so – they are lightweight, delightful and objectively more delicious than conventionally sized ingredients. A favourite of Cally, Jael, Chev AND Kirsty is the humble mini cheese block/wedge: high in energy, low in weight and, as Chev points out, the more processed the cheese, the longer it’ll last out of the fridge! Other tiny classic include salami sticks, mini pitas, mini biscuits (Eet-Sum-Mors win by a landslide), and biltong (a.k.a. small dry steak).
Jetboil, your perfect boiling assistant.
Just Add Water
As is to be expected, many of our staff reach for good ol’ instant or dehydrated food for its lightness, nutrient density and simplicity. Oatsoeasy, Pronutro and Futurelife are go-tos for Kent, Jael, Cally and Chev, with Jael adding some powdered milk into her morning porridge for some extra protein and kilojoules. On the savoury side of things, Smash, instant rice, 2-minute noodles and quick pasta are often the star of our team’s hiking dinners. For longer expeditions, Roald recommends freeze-dried meals such as those offered by Trek ‘n Eat and Back Country Cuisine. He explains, “For dinners, there are a few freeze-dried foods available that are light, nutritious and taste as good as a home cooked meal. All you need to do is add boiling water to the bag, stir and seal the bag, let it stand for 10 minutes, and dinner is served! This saves space and also makes cooking dinner a breeze after a long day’s hike. Once you are done, the packet can be folded up or used as a little trash bag thanks to its convenient ziplock system.”
An example of a base camp banquet.
We Want Candy!
Considering we all work in a literal oversized jungle gym, it’s no wonder that sweeties are on most of our lists for go-to adventure supplies. Among our team’s favourites are speckled eggs, jelly babies, chocolate bars and Oreos. Of course, if you want to keep things a little more nutritious, you can opt for nature’s candy – i.e. dried fruit, trail mixes and fresh fruit. Also on the list are Bakers Breakfast Biscuits (chocolate flavoured, of course) and granola bars, a.k.a. candy pretending to be adult food.
A classic crag lunch of peanut butter and apples (don’t eat the warmup putty)
Think Outside the (Lunch)Box
Half the fun of adventure food is figuring out just how creative, thrifty and dirt-baggy you can be. We’re not going to reveal all of our secrets, but we will say that a certain manager (whose name rhymes with Smichard) advises repurposing tuna tins as a breakfast bowl the next morning. Cally points out that taking tins at all is misguided, as the sachets are far lighter... but we have to consider Chev’s rebuttal that tuna tins are a great way to level up your training. It’s all about priorities, really. On the other end of the scale, some of us do love to bring some fanciness to the party. Chris, for example, describes his perfect adventure snack as “a hot cross bun with butter, avo, forest ham, cheese and a tad of French mustard”. A contentious combination of ingredients, certainly, but no one can deny that it’s a bold choice.
And, of course, no adventure is truly complete without the sweet nectar of life: coffee (or, if you’re Tarryn, whiskey). We don’t claim to be experts in nutrition (clearly), but we do hope that this gives you some ideas for your mountain meals. Happy hiking and bon appétit!