Backcountry Food with Adam Foss

From the famed Mackenzies of Canada to the towering Alps of New Zealand, there are few backcountry adventures this photographer and videographer has not been on. In that time, Foss has built a solid foundation of recommended backcountry foods and snacks to keep him operating at a high level while out for 5, 7, even 10 days in the backcountry. Between a foundation of food that has stood the test of time, and a willingness to try new things, Adam has his backcountry food dialed, which is why we jumped at a chance to hit him with a Q & A.

What’s the one food you crave when returning from the woods? 

Hot wings and pizza. Its just like, hot wings and a beer sounds so good after 10 or 15 days and that’s usually what I get. It’s amazing how the conversation on those hunts shifts to almost 95% to food and what you’d be eating right now.

What’s your system, what works for you, and give us some ideas on some new stuff…

The general rule of thumb is 160 calories per ounce. That’s kind of what the ultralight, backpack person doing a big thru-hike or just the general backpacker tries to follow and so that’s the foundation I build this food list out of and I go from there.

When it comes down to food, I think there’s stuff coming out all the time with different flavors and nutritional values. I think the best thing you can do is to test it out, whether that’s on a morning hike or a scouting mission, or just “I’m going to go for a bike ride and see if I like the taste of this gingersnap Honey Stinger,” or whatever it may be. Peoples' taste buds are so different, the last thing you want is for someone to do their research, find the number of calories they wanted, you have your list, and you’re in a situation where you have a dozen mint chocolate chip protein bars that you can barely choke down.

With all the stuff, gear, food, bows, rifles, and optics, if you can try them out before you go, you are setting yourself up for success. 

How do you think about testing before the season? How much of your stuff is new and how much is good ‘ol standby? 

It’s sort of evolving. There’s a foundational list that I know I can always go back to what's going to work. From there it’s swapping in new flavors or different bars. We are always trying new bars and trying to get some variety because I think you have a hard time forcing yourself to eat sometimes when your body seems to switch over into backcountry-mode after 3-5 days. Having that variety encourages you to eat more and more. You’re kind of excited about the new flavor and you have a certain number of a different brand or flavor of bar or gel. It just kind of keeps things interesting and keeps you eating more and more. 

It’s basically 80% of the same things, and then every year adding some new things and new flavors. At the end of 10 days, it’s always the same pasta primavera Mountain House left in your backpack. I just stopped eating original Clif Bars altogether, I just can’t choke them down. 

As much as you want to be that guy who pulls out the new cool piece of gear, you know the little Thermarest pump that blows your sleeping back up or whatever little gadget you had, you really want to be the guy who pulls out a new snack so your buddies are like, “are you kidding me? You’re eating THAT on the side of a mountain right now?” 

Walk me through your go-to list right now and what you use for meals day-by-day…

I’m bringing two or three Honey Stinger waffles per day, and a pack and a half per day of Clif Shot Bloks (those square gummies that are going to give you some quick energy). I go a little more than most guys need. I’m happy to carry the extra weight and I’ve been on the wrong side of it where you don’t bring quite enough. 

One Pro Bar per day and a couple of Clif Mojo bars, which are the smaller thinner bars. Also, 1 to 2 Justin’s Peanut Butter packets per day. I drink a lot of Nuun’s and Starbucks Via coffee.

And then we have some fruit bars, which are compressed fruit leathers made from a company in Canada called Sun Ripe. 

Also a little jerky, a little trail mix, and maybe 3 packages of ramen on a 10-day trip. That way if you get weathered in or you want a hot lunch if you had a rough day, you can add it to your meals. Then, one Mountain House (or other meal) package per day. Some other things I add are single-serve olive oil packets, which are super handy at 240 calories per ounce. It’s going to be right around 3400 calories, depending on what meal is the meal of the day. It comes out to right around 2 lbs of food per day. 

This is just a baseline, hot and fast food list. Later in the season, we’ll start to have some hot breakfast. 

How do you set yourself up for success with rationing? For instance, if I have jerky and set up to glass, the jerky is gone!

It’s never going to last. It’s like firewood, you should always bring more than you need. You also can do so many different things with it. 

We’ve been doing this thing we call “Poor Man’s Pad Thai” for a while now. It’s ramen, peanut butter packets, jerky, and Tabasco if you have it. It sounds weird, but its got a peanut flavor and the jerky rehydrates into almost a thinly sliced beef and the aroma from the delectable broth draws you in. It’s probably not as good as I’m making it sound. 

Interested in making "Poor Man's Pad Thai?" Check out the recipe here!

  • Dec 28, 2018
  • Category: Learn
  • Comment: 1
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Abe Henderson March 12, 2019

I love fossman, the dude has been around. His poor man’s Pad Thai had me cracking up! My only change to his list is that I like to take a whole jar of peanut butter instead of the little single serve packets.

When it comes to peanut butter, I don’t mess around.

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