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6 Next-Level Backcountry Snacks

There’s nothing like a cold, plasticky energy bar to bum you out on even the most epic day of touring. Sometimes I swear I’d rather bonk than eat another mealy, chocolate-esque conglomeration that’s more pretending to be food than actually being it. Well, enough is enough. (You don’t have to throw out your old energy bars, just leave them in your pack. You know, for emergencies.) We can eat better in the backcountry, and it starts here and now.

French Toast PB&Js

Never heard of a French toast PB&J before? That’s because it didn’t exist until just now. And while it’s exactly as easy as it sounds, there’s no denying the sheer glory that is this sandwich. Don’t have a sweet tooth? Use a savory herb bread, leave out the cinnamon and vanilla, and fill with ham and cheese for a killer Croque Monsieur.

French-Toast-PB-JPhoto Credit: Andrew Scarcella

Ingredients (makes one sandwich):

1 large egg
¼ cup milk
Dash of cinnamon
⅛ tsp. vanilla extract
2 slices of your favorite bread (brioche, right?)
Peanut butter

  1. Whisk together first four ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Butter skillet or pan
  3. Dip bread in egg mixture on both sides and quickly put on skillet
  4. Cook 3-4 minutes or until browned on each side
  5. Let cool and make your sandwich as you see fit

Black Forest Cake Bars

Recipe courtesy of The Cake Pedaler
There’s not much else to say other than these are the best “energy bars” I’ve ever eaten.

Cake Pedaler’s Note: I don’t measure when I make these, so I apologize for not listing measurements. These are so forgiving that you can add as much or as little as you want of just about anything. Also, it depends on how many you want to make. Just make sure your base ingredients (oats, rice puffs, or cereal/granola) make up the majority of the recipe.


Photo Credit: The Cake Pedaler

Dry Ingredients:

Rolled oats (not instant)
Rice puffs
Almonds, chopped
Sunflower seeds
Chia seeds
Dried cherries
Dates, chopped
Dark chocolate chips

Wet Ingredients:

Almond or peanut butter
Agave or honey
1 tsp almond extract
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 egg white

  1. Pick a dish that fits the quantity you’re making (9×9 or 9×13 baking dishes work great). Line with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a big bowl.
  3. Mix all wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in batches. Stir until moist but not wet. You want things to be sticking together. Too wet? Add more dry ingredients. And vice versa.
  5. Pour mixture into pan. It will be sticky, so coat your hands in coconut or canola oil. Press it down as tightly as you can, making sure to get into the corners.
  6. Put the pan into an oven pre-heated to 250 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes. Don’t let them brown. Remove and let cool.
  7. When firm, cut into 2in squares. Cut all the way through the paper so they don’t stick together when stacked. Bars will last weeks in the refrigerator, and months in the freezer. But you won’t have to worry about that.

Bacon ‘n Egg Salad Breakfast Bagels

Easy to whip up the night before, it’s the bacon that makes this odd take on a breakfast sandwich sizzle. No surprise there. Light and fluffy, egg salad is a welcome change from hot bagel sandwiches that invariably end up cold anyway.


6 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp mayonnaise
4 slices of bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
1 green onion, sliced thin
Dash of paprika

  1. Fold eggs and the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl
  2. Slice bagels and hollow out the bottom half
  3. Fill the hollow bottom half with egg salad, top, and wrap tightly in foil.

Mulled Wine

Similar to the cider of the same name, mulled wine brings a whole new dimension to backcountry beverages. With a thermos of this concoction in your pack, you’ll stay toasty and warm on even the stormiest of storm days.


1 bottle of red wine (merlot or cabernet sauvignon, nothing fancy)
1 cinnamon stick
1in fresh ginger, sliced
4 whole allspice
6 cloves
Peel of 1 orange, cut into strips

  1. Heat wine in appropriately sized pot over medium heat
  2. Add spices in a muslin bag or tea ball (or just toss ‘em in)
  3. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes
  4. Strain if needed and pour into thermos for later enjoyment

Sesame Date Bites

Packed with good fats, protein, and quick-digesting carbs, these glorious tidbits are what energy bars want to be when they grow up.

Date-BitesPhoto Credit: Andrew Scarcella


10 pitted Deglet Noor dates
½ cup roasted almonds, unsalted
½ cup cashews, unsalted
½ cup protein powder, chocolate or vanilla
Big squeeze of honey or agave
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup water

  1. Combine all ingredients except the sesame seeds and water in a food processor and pulse until thoroughly chopped. Add the water slowly while continuing to pulse, until the mixture has taken on a rough, paste-like consistency
  2. Pour sesame seeds onto a small plate.
  3. Using your hands, form paste into grape-sized balls and roll in sesame seeds to coat. (To prevent sticking, keep a small bowl of water handy to dip your fingers in.)
  4. Chill in fridge for at least an hour and preferably overnight before eating.

Breakfast Cupcakes

This is another incredibly versatile recipe that is more of a blank canvas than a masterpiece. Try sausage instead of bacon, asparagus instead of sausage, and whatever kind of cheese you’re into these days. You never have to make the same kind twice (though cheddar and bacon will never let you down). Best when hot, they’re still damn delicious when cold.


6 eggs
⅓ cup milk
Bacon, cooked and chopped
Shredded cheese (your choice)
Hash browned potatoes (frozen works great)

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Put cupcake liners in a cupcake pan and grease with cooking spray (optional)
  3. Beat eggs and milk in a bowl until fluffy and season with salt and pepper
  4. Place a small amount of potatoes in the bottom of each cupcake liner, then fill each half-way with egg mixture
  5. Add bacon and cheese and fill to just below the top of the liner with remaining egg mixture
  6. Bake at 350ºF for 40-45 minutes, or until egg is set and a knife stuck in comes out clean
  7. Cool in liners and refrigerate for up to a week