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There’s a difference between just eating outside and enjoying a nice meal in the wilderness. Here are a few tips to take your trail food to the next level.

Food Hacks from a Long-Distance Hiker

I’ll start this article off with full disclosure: I’ve only been on a few multi-day backpacking trips and I’m a bit of an over-packer—especially when it comes to food. However, I’m lucky enough to have several friends and coworkers who have spent months at a time in the backcountry.

I began with my friend Julie Hotz. She’s completed the Pacific Crest Trail and the Pacific Northwest Trail (which she prefaced with a bike ride from L.A. to the trail’s beginning in Glacier National Park, Montana). Needless to say, when she gives me advice about backpacking, I take it. Here are a few of her favorite backpacking food hacks she’s learned over the years:

1. Cook Effectively

Lightweight reflective insulation or backpacking stove windscreens makes an excellent cozy for your cookpot and lid, allowing you to cook more meals with less fuel. Julie said, “I’ve made a 4 oz. can of fuel last 10 days, cooking one meal a night and having one or two cups of tea a day!”

2. Dirt Don’t Hurt

Alright, this one may take some getting used to for hand sanitizer aficionados, but dirt makes a fantastic scouring agent. When cleaning your cookpot, clean it out as much as possible with your eating utensil, then add a little water and a handful of dirt, scrub around and rinse. Dirt absorbs oil and scrubs dishes clean like a champ. Plus, it’s all-natural and eco-friendly! (Note: Don’t use this method for cleaning on teflon-coated cookware. It could damage the nonstick coating.)

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