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The stoveless backcountry hunting food list

The stoveless backcountry hunting food list

The stoveless backcountry food list…sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But sometimes I like to embrace a little challenge, especially if it involves further simplifying my backcountry meals. This goal came to mind when I was sitting out a rainstorm in the mountains of Wyoming last September. Here I was with all this food in the backcountry…and I didn’t eat it all.

First off, to successfully accomplish this stoveless endeavor I need to let go of the “comfort meal” in the evening—aka my freeze-dried dinner. Most of the evenings after I get to camp I’m really never in the mood to sit down and make dinner. Sure, freeze-dried meals taste good and all, but a hot meal at the end of the day is not that essential for me. To me, food is fuel and in the backcountry I just want to get the fuel I need in my body and go to sleep. Also, variety is thrown out the window. I’m fine eating the same thing day after day. Going stoveless also reduces the time required to cook dinner (I agree that freeze-dried meals are super quick and easy to make). Also, you can't eat your cookware, stove, and fuel, so the stoveless method allows for a unique way to add more items that you can actually eat.

My goal is to go lighter and faster this year in the mountains. If you read my gear list article last year, “The ultimate backcountry hunting gear list breakdown,” you’ll love my round two of that, which I’ll be releasing later today.

Part of my light and fast goal was to modify some areas of my backcountry food list. Last year, on a nine day/eight night mule deer bowhunt I carried 14.44 pounds of food which equaled 1.58 pounds of food per day or 3,102 calories of food each day, also I had to carry around 13.25 ounces of cookware. After running that same setup for the past two years, it finally stuck with me that I was carrying too much food weight into the backcountry.

With this new system, I can also ditch my stove, cooking container, fuel canister and spork. This saves me another 13.25 ounces! Plus I'm not burning away precious water (due to evaporation and in the meal itself) to cook a freeze-dried meal in the evening. I'd rather drink that water to rehydrate.

For 2017, I dropped my nine day food weight down to 13.14 pounds, at 1.45 pounds of food per day. But here is the big part... even with the almost 1.5 pound reduction in food, I still increased my calorie intake to 3,222!

Insight into my backcountry food list

Food items used for the stoveless backcountry food list

Food is something that I am constantly working to improve for a backcountry hunt. I always shoot for high calories per ounce; I prefer to be at least 160 calories per ounce (this is a very difficult thing to accomplish without just trying to drink olive oil the entire trip). I honesty don't get burned out eating the same thing each day. I just pack what I feel is the best item and eating that each day because in the end, food in the backcountry is just calories and it’s main purpose is to keep me going. Again, my main consideration is calories per ounce. I've been testing this system out throughout the summer on multiple scouting trips. For my style of hunting, it's going to be perfect!

Right now I’m at 3,222 calories per day for the backcountry.

You’ll notice that my food list is mainly "snack" items. Throughout a hunt I feel it's hard to have dedicated “meals.” I feel like I’m struggling to force food in my body throughout a day of hunting due to glassing, making a stalk or waiting out a buck. This is why my items are fairly simple and quick to eat and really pack on the calories. This also seems to be a more consistent source of energy for me having lots of small "meal" throughout the day.

A quick, easy and lightweight way to add fat calories to your backcountry diet is to carry a small water bottle full of flax seed or MCT oil to keep your fat intake up. An alternative would be olive oil at 251 calories per ounce. I will either add these items to my protein shake, or suck it up and just drink them. There are a lot of great options for ways to carry these fat calorie oils in the backcountry, you can either use a collapsible water bottle like a small Platypus, or my favorite, small water bottles.

Table one: Food items and basic info

Function Description Quantity Calories
(per 1
serving)
Ounces
(per 1)*
Consume
(oz)
Breakfast Protein Shake Mix 9 1,063 7.79 70.11
Breakfast
(Fat Content)
MCT Oil 9 200 1.00 9.00
Lunch Pro Bar Meal
Peanut Butter
Chocolate Chip
9 390 3.22 28.98
Lunch Phat Fudge 9 200 1.26 11.34
Afternoon
Snack
Honey Stinger
Honey Waffle
9 150 1.15 10.35
Afternoon
Snack
Justin's Chocolate
Hazelnut Butter
9 180 1.22 10.98
Afternoon
Snack
Justin's Maple
Almond Butter
9 190 1.25 11.25
Dinner Macadamia Nuts 10 204 1.00 10.00
Dinner Greenbelly Meals 9 645 5.35 48.15
Subtotal 3,222 23.24 oz 210.16 oz
  1.45 lb 13.14 lb

* Ounces per one includes the weight of the wrapping or vacuum seal bag.

In summary, with my stoveless method I consume 3,222 calories per day. And the weight of my daily food items is 1.45 pounds and in total my food weighs 13.14 pounds.

Table two: nutrition and calories per ounce

Function Description Calories per
oz of weight
Fats
(g)
Proteins
(g)
Carbs
(g)
Breakfast Protein Shake
Mix
142.50 24.8 73.4 144.2
Breakfast
(Fat Content)
MCT Oil 200.0 14 0 0
Lunch Pro Bar Meal
Peanut Butter
Chocolate Chip
130.07 22 10 43
Lunch Phat Fudge 177.18 20 3 6
Afternoon
Snack
Honey Stinger
Honey Waffle
141.75 7 1 21
Afternoon
Snack
Justin's Chocolate
Hazelnut Butter
159.47 14 4 12
Afternoon
Snack
Justin's Maple
Almond Butter
168.32 16 6 8
Dinner Macadamia
Nuts
204 21.3 17 100
Dinner Greenbelly
Meals
117.97 21.3 2.2 3.7
    Avg: 160.14 Total: 161.1 Total: 116.6 Total: 337.9

The table above showcases how many calories per ounce of weight of each food item, as well as the fat, protein, and carb content of each item. I'm really happy with this setup. Especially the 160.14 calories per ounce of food average.

I will also supplement some of my water with some GU Hydration drink mix. In total I'll bring 6.30 oz.

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Breakfast

Breakfast for backcountry hunting

Just like in years past, my breakfast items are premade ahead of time by mixing all the items into a blender and then vacuum sealing. My breakfast is a combination of quick oatmeal, cinnamon, peanut butter powder, hemp seeds, protein powder and chia seeds.

Making high calorie protein shakes for backcountry hunting

  • Protein powder (Universal Nutrition Real Gains): 3.5 scoops - 601 calories - 52g protein
  • Hemp seeds: 2 tablespoons - 80 calories - 10.6g protein
  • Cinnamon: 2 teaspoons - 12 calories - 0.2g protein
  • Peanut butter powder: PB2 - 2 tablespoons  - 45 calories - 10g protein
  • Quick oats: 3/4 cup - 225 calories - 7.5g protein
  • Chia Seeds: 1 tablespoon - 68.5 calories - 4.0g protein
     
Preparing to blend high calorie backcountry breakfast
Preparing to blend high calorie backcountry breakfast.

Blending high calorie backcountry breakfast

All of these items are blended together at home.

In the field I add the protein packet, some water and 1 oz of MCT oil (adds another 200 calories) into my shaker bottle.

Vacuum sealed high calorie protein shakes

Total breakfast calories: 1,063
Total with MCT oil: 1,263

Lunch

Lunch for backcountry hunting

Total calories: 590

Afternoon snack

Afternoon snack for backcountry hunting

Combining Justin’s Hazelnut and Almond butter on a Honey Stinger waffle is, by far, my ultimate snack. I crave these in the backcountry! This combination packs in 530 calories. These Justin’s packets are the perfect size and you don’t have the bulk of larger plastic tubes of peanut butter, which can cause you to overeat. Another great option is Yumbutter Almond packets at 190 calories per two tablespoons. They are packet with tons of calories and come in resealable container. Plus they have chia, hemp seeds and goji in them.

Total calories for afternoon snack: 530

Dinner

Dinner for backcountry hunting

  • Greenbelly Meals: 114.28 calories per ounce or 645 calories
  • Roasted Macadamia nuts: 204 calories per ounce and also 19 grams of fat.

Total calories for dinner: 849

Food breakdown graphics

What you’re seeing in the above graphic is the percentage of my total daily caloric intake by meal. You’ll notice that I start and end each day with the most calories. I do this to kickstart my body in the morning and then to recover in the evening.

Weight savings going stoveless

2016 food/cook kit weight

230.97 ounces in food + 13.25 ounces for the stove, cook pot, titanium spork and fuel + 5.3 ounces for shaker bottle = 244.22 ounces or 15.26 pounds

2017 food/cook kit weight

210.16 ounces in food + 5.3 ounces for shaker bottle = 215.36 ounces or 13.46 pounds

When comparing my 2017 and 2016 food/cook kit, I saved a total of 28.86 ounces or 1.8 pounds! I will gladly run the stoveless method for that weight savings plus an increase in calories.

Conclusion

This backcountry food list may seem crazy to some. But, for backcountry hunts, I can trade comfort food for a food item formulated to contain just the fuel I need. Note: I highly suggest you test out any combination of backcountry food before you jump on a hunt. You need to feel out what your body needs and what flavors your body needs. If you're a freeze-dried meal person, then grab a handful of flavors and test them all out ahead of time.

Hopefully, this stoveless food list might help you think outside of the box. There are still some items I might modify after this season, but after saving 1.8 pounds from my 2016 setup, increasing in total calories and increasing my average meal to 160.14 calories per ounce, at this point in the game this backcountry food list is a winner for me. Let me know your thoughts or if you have any suggestions on food items that I could add or remove. I’m always trying to evolve my setup and hopefully this will help you create your own food list. Feedback is always welcome.

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13 Comments

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Jonathan G. - posted 1 month ago on 10-03-2017 11:05:10 am

Any updates on how this worked out? How did you feel, did you have any issues...umm...going? Very attractive option not to have to mess with a stove.

Eric G. - posted 2 months ago on 09-10-2017 07:34:52 am
Madison
goHUNT INSIDER

Really like the greenbellies and the probars. One of the issues I have at elevation is a lack of appetite and having food that tastes good really help with getting back some calories.

Ron Z. - posted 2 months ago on 09-06-2017 08:46:24 am

But what about..... coffee!?

Bill_Day
Bill D. - posted 2 months ago on 09-03-2017 09:40:35 pm
OK and CO
goHUNT INSIDER

Excellent article, thank you!

I too am a big fan of Honey Stinger waffles, my favorite flavor being strawberry. I've used those plus Gu gels on long training runs and hikes, plus the occasional Clif bar or Exo bar when my gut wants something more substantial. I love the idea of supplementing my waffles with nut butters, definitely going to look into that!

scott.lewis60
Scott L. - posted 2 months ago on 09-03-2017 08:48:52 pm
Mohave Co., Arizona
goHUNT INSIDER

Great Article Brady,

Although 16oz/lb seems a bit on the low side, particularly given the altitude work that's going to be done scouting and hauling out an animal. However, that number of calories should be sufficient. Do you think the calorie count should be adjusted based on a hunter's age?

Scott

Nfitzhugh
Nathan F. - posted 2 months ago on 09-03-2017 06:51:03 pm
Midland, TX
goHUNT INSIDER

Brady, another option is sunflower kernels. Maybe a little high in sodium if store bought, but a 2 ounce package from the gas station is $0.50 and has 380 calories (300 calories from fat, 190/oz), 230mg salt, 10g carbs, 12g protein, and 4g fiber. If that's not a super food for the price I don't know what is.

Jim H. - posted 2 months ago on 09-03-2017 06:30:07 pm

Howdy.
Thank you Brady. I like the way you have though outside the box! It looks like it is a great idea for early season(archery) hunting. But, I hunt elk in mid to late November when there is possibly cold and snowy conditions to say the least. I just need some occasional hot coffee or hot tea. Even a warm cup of soup, stew, or hot meal can just be a life saver when one needs to warm -up while recovering. Maybe I can do little of both if I also think outside the box. Thanks!

Justin R. - posted 2 months ago on 09-03-2017 03:26:30 pm

Hey Brady. Love reading your breakdowns. Any chance of a price comparison between the styles for us poor folk? ; ]

Bill S. - posted 2 months ago on 09-02-2017 06:25:39 am
Napa, Ca.
goHUNT INSIDER

Brady
I wish you a successful and healthy hunt. Thanks so much for a detailed article. Keep up the great work! I cannot wait to see/hear about your hunt.
Shoot straight!
Bill S.

JT L. - posted 2 months ago on 09-01-2017 09:18:56 pm
Aledo TX
goHUNT INSIDER

My plan is to bring way less food than I need and force my body into Ketosis over my 10 day elk hunt. Im fat surely it will start burning it. LOL

Brady Miller
Brady M. - posted 2 months ago on 09-01-2017 07:10:51 pm
Las Vegas, NV
goHUNT Team

Glad you enjoyed the article, John! Honestly I really enjoy the Green Belly meals. They kind of remind me of Pro Bar Base meals. I will agree with Doug... I found the Chocolate/Banana flavor to be lacking the amount of banana flavor I was hoping for. My favorite is also the apricot/peanut butter meal. I wish that flavor had some chocolate in it... but it's very solid.

Doug G. - posted 2 months ago on 09-01-2017 01:52:18 pm

I like the greenbelly apricot peanut flavor alot and have ordered it multiple times. It has a slightly sweet and salty flavor. Neither the chocolate nor cranberry flavors were something i'd want to order again.

john f. - posted 2 months ago on 09-01-2017 01:18:53 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

Great content, thanks for posting this.

How are the Greenbellies taste wise ? I am with you regarding eating the same thing everyday, as long as I like eating it.