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When it comes to performance in the mountains, quality gear and proper nutrition go hand and hand. Yet the discussion of what exactly to bring on a backpacking trip seems to get neglected. We all want to preform at the best of our ability when blazing trails and meal selection should be one of the most important topics, especially when preparing for a multiple day adventure.  

As an endurance runner with a background in health and nutrition, a certified personal trainer, and 5+ years as a competitive athlete; I know how imperative it is for your body to get proper nutrition for peak performance and quick recovery.  

Below I will highlight two heath-conscious companies you will want to pay attention too in the scope of ultralight dehydrated pack-meals. 

As most of us know, the body burns a lot of calories on a backpacking trip especially on a backcountry hunt. The physical demand of an adventure is comparable to an athletic sport (played day-after-day). You are the athlete pushing your body for days on end in the mountains. So when preparing for a hunt, an athletic game, a tournament, or long run, you owe it to yourself to consume the proper nutrition, just as true athletes do.

Sitka Nimbus Jacket 

Yet too many of us fail to do this and true peak performance is never revealed. So what is proper nutrition and how do we do this? 

First, you can start with quality over quantity. As hunters, we all like to know where our food comes from and with wild-game we obviously know we are getting lean, organic, quality protein. So why not apply the same principle with our dehydrated meals? This where I discovered PEAK REFUEL and HEATHERS CHOICE. Before I dive into each, let me help explain a little more on the “how”.    

Your body needs enough micro and macro nutrients with proper vitamins and minerals regularly to sustain the strength and energy levels in the mountains (This obviously varies depending on body type and how much effort is put in). During major hikes muscle fibers are breaking down causing mass microscopic muscle tears in the tissue and ligaments. The reason you get stiff after, tightens during, and experience soreness is because your body is already trying to repair itself. The swelling also known as inflammation occurs because of this. Simply put, your body is going in a “protective and repair mode”.

With a combination of rest and proper nutrition, your body can resume an active state and continue the next push or journey in the mountains. Like your body, a vehicle preforms best with premium gasoline. Your body is no different and can’t preform efficiently on cheap, low-grade, low-quality foods like most dehydrated meal sources on the market. So I’ve studied, tested, and reviewed a lot of brands and these two sources below are top notch.  



Why Peak Refuel

Peak Refuel is a health conscious company that care about the ingredients they incorporate into their meals. They also know that proper protein is crucial for proper muscle recovery in the mountains. They select 100% real meat (premium cuts) to put in the meals they provide. They are based in our neighboring state of Utah and the Peak crew are big supporters in all outdoor activities like hunting, climbing, camping, and fishing. Here are the fact about Peak Refuel: 

- No fillers or artificial flavors (Fake protein and ingredients). 
- 100% real meat from quality cuts from quality sourced farms.
- Premium ingredients - low sodium/ Non GMO.  
- Lots of quality protein, check their stats: 39-49 gram per entree.  
- Experts in the industry (background in the industry for over 50 years). 
- Produced and packaged in the US. 

- With less fillers and "additives" means LESS WATER and time waiting for meal to be ready. * This is a plus for those that are really hungry and for those with a limited water source.


 Peak Refuel

Lots to be said about Peak Refuel but now lets talk about Heathers Choice!


Why Heathers Choice

Heathers Choice sources high-quality, whole food ingredients to create amazing packable dehydrated meals. They also use less packaging (smaller diameter) then all competitors which means more space in the pack! Heathers Choice strive to inspire adventure, health, sustainability, and self-sufficiency. I cannot say enough about this Alaskan based company. They promote and use ingredients that are organic, natural, and from the best sources for a hiker in mind. You will notice they use a lot of coconut in their products which is a great source for healthy fats. These fats are then metabolized by your liver for energy, meaning they will give you a nice metabolic boost on the trail. Plus, coconut is loaded with fiber, manganese, potassium, and phosphorus, all vitamins and minerals that endurance athletes consume. 

The body needs fats to help recover; omega 3 fatty acids, DHA, EPA, ALA all reduce inflammation. Salmon, tuna, flax, walnuts, oil or supplements will help with this process. Take a look at Heathers Choice Smoked Wild Alaskan Salmon for example. Here are the ingredients: 

Cold Smoked Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon (Salmon, Olive Oil, Dark Rum, Brown Sugar, Sea Salt), Potatoes, Powdered Coconut Milk (Coconut, Tapioca), Dried Carrots, Dried Celery, Dill Weed, Cayenne, White Pepper, Sea Salt 
Contains: Fish (Sockeye Salmon) & Coconut. 


As you can see by their ingredient list, they too do not have fake fillers or added ingredients that nobody has ever heard of. 
Heather’s Choice backcountry meals and snacks provide an allergen-safe backpacking food option for individuals with a variety of dietary restrictions. Their dehydrated backpacking meals/ snacks do not contain artificial flavors, MSG, fillers, or preservatives. Made with all real ingredients, you will definitely enjoy their ultralight backcountry meals  with no surprises later.. if you know what I mean.



Additional food / nutrition tips for the backcountry:

When you boil it down, (no pun intended) here are just a few nutrition tips to think about when choosing additional snacks that will help you maintain peak performance while on the trail.

  • Fruits like berries (they are easy to digest and help regulate the electrolyte level in your body. You can also dehydrate them)
  • Protein powders for shakes: Add water to combine for a great carb / protein blend in liquid form for easy body absorption and light weight.  
  • Nut butters / almond or peanut butter- nutritious fats and contain less cholesterol than normal butter, also very light weight. 
    • Add seeds to your peanut butter: flax, sunflower, hemp, flax, chia, and or pumpkin seed to add some bonus calories and boosts energy. 
  • Lean protein, salmon or tuna- loaded with omegas to fight fatigue and muscle soreness and inflammation.
  • Stay tuned.. I have plenty more for you.. saving for another article. 


Give Heathers Choice and Peak Refuel a try, we promise they are worth every penny. We are always testing products and these two companies have really produced some amazingly delicious pack-meals that are not only ultralight but also hardy, health, and easy on your digestive system. For more information or questions feel free to reach out below or email us what you like to use on your backpacking adventures. 




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