Step up Your Backcountry Cooking

3 Reasons to bring a frying pan on your next adventure

Like most people new to backpacking, our first meals in the backcountry consisted mainly of freeze-dried packages, and required little more than a small pot for boiling water. The allure of their convenience is what drives many to never branch outside the freeze-dried bag. I mean, culinary extravagances, like a frying pan, or a homemade meal, are reserved for campgrounds and the backyard right?…WRONG!

If you’ve never experienced the trailside bliss of chocolate chip pancakes, warm pizza, or a sizzling fresh meal, then it’s time to step up your backcountry cooking game. Carry a small frying pan or skillet on your next trip, and you may find your meals transformed from bland to backcountry gourmet!


Scrambled eggs, omelettes, potato cakes, stuffed french toast, pancakes….need I keep going? Until you experience this joy, it’s hard to describe, but waking up in the backcountry, and being able to eat a meal you might normally order off of a brunch menu is a special way to start the day. All of the above meals are easy to carry, easy to make, taste absolutely delicious, but require a pan/skillet. Perfect for those chilly mornings where you wake up needing energy for the day’s hike.

Breakfast food, and the inherent joy it brings to hungry outdoor adventurers, is reason enough to add the frying pan to your mess kit. It will open up so many options that you simply don’t have without it. No need for the cold, hard meal bar, or the mushy bowl of granola. Pull out your frying pan, put on your chef hat, and forever impress your tent mates with a breakfast they won’t forget!

Food For Your Sanity

Warm pancakes cooking in the skillet
We used warm pancakes to celebrate the completion of Newfoundland’s notorious Long Range Traverse

Simply put, eating a fresh cooked meal from a plate or skillet has a unique way of tasting better than the same meal from a rehydrated bag. We, of course, haven’t explored the science behind this (actually, does devouring numerous meals along numerous trails count as science?), but the mental boost from eating a meal that feels more like home is definitely noticeable. Bring a pan on your next trip, and the ability to cook and sauté foods on it will help your backcountry meals instantly seem more gourmet. It really is amazing how a little rest, and a good meal can restore morale after a high-output day. After all, motivation for the final few miles of a hike is much easier to find when the result is a deliciously served meal, and not just mush in a bag.

Say Goodbye To Dish Duty

Who likes doing dishes in the backcountry, or really anytime? Start cooking more meals with a skillet or frying pan, and theres’s a chance you’ll never have to do dishes on a group camping trip again. Your hungry tent mates will be so impressed with the culinary bliss you have placed on their plates, that volunteering for nightly dish duty will seem like an easy trade. Voila! You have earned your place as the backcountry chef who makes great meals….and who never has to touch dirty dishes.


These are just a few of the reasons to consider improving your typical backcountry cooking routine. Meal planning, purchasing, and preparation is one of the most overlooked aspects of overnight trips. While meal prep is indeed a significant time, and often cost commitment, when done right it adds considerably to the experience. Sign up for one our adventures today, where not only do we handle the details of making great meals for you, we even take care of the dishes!




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