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Mountain Operations: Living Off Nature's Bounty

  • 3 min read

When heading out into nature for any extended period, nutrition is the most important element of preparation. We can belabor over what type of weapon to bring if we’re hunting, what kind of gear to pack given the weather and environs, and what cool new toys and gadgets to include in our pack.

But we can survive if we bring the wrong weapon. We can improvise if we under or overpack on clothes. We can fall back on our training if we haven’t got the proper materials with which to easily survive and thrive on an extend trip into the wild. And, as much as we’d hate to admit it, we’ll be just fine without all the cool new camping and survival toys available to us.

Without proper nourishment, however, we’re all fucked.

Every element of being outdoors for more than a little while comes down to planning. Knowing your mileage, your means of travel, the amount of time you plan to spend in the wild, and what kind of nourishment is plentiful in the area you’ll be spending time.

We talked to Chris… and Sean… about what kinds of preparation they take before heading out into nature for any extended periods of time, be it for hiking, camping or hunting.

Both agree that their main sources of food come from fishing or hunting when on camping or hunting expeditions.

“My food comes from hunting or fishing,” Sean says. “So I usually don’t plan on spending much time trying to find my own food.”

Though that doesn’t stop both athletes from preplanning a few meals. For field operations, Sean strips down two MREs per day to the main meal and packs high calorie snacks when he knows he won’t have time to hunt, fish or forage. Chris has a more metered approach to his nutrition pack, which includes some of the following, providing a daily schedule.

“For breakfast, I’ll pack a bagel, peanut butter and bacon,” he says. “Lunch, I’ll have a bagel, hard salami, sharp cheddar and for supper, usually Mountain House freeze-dried meals.”

In addition to his bedrock meals, Chris packs plenty of snacks, including Snickers, Clif Bars, coffee, some kind of drink mix like Endure.

But unlike life-saving clothes or hunting elements, there is more than enough nutrition that exists in nature to keep you nourished forever, if you know what to look for.

There’s a saying in the survival world that goes something like “go ugly early.” In other words, gather and eat the shit that’s gnarly and potentially gross but protein-filled and bountiful in nature while you still have your wits about you. Don’t wait until you’re several days in, low on food and delirious from lack of nutrition to decide that now is the time to forage for your survival.

Of course, we’re not heading out to simply survive. Being out in nature is recreation for many of us, meaning that we want meals we can at least tolerate, if not enjoy, while on expeditions.

“When I go into the mountains for a trip that’s longer than a few days, I always look closely at the area’s fishing with the intention of getting my protein and fat from fish,” Chris says. “Knowing that, I’ll usually pack dehydrated soup to which I add a little extra salt and maybe even bring some oil or butter if the air is colder. When you’re out in the wild, it’s carbs, salt and flavor that are most rare, so don’t be afraid to bring that stuff yourself.”

Both athletes pack tortillas, lauding them for their slim profile, thus easy packability, and as a huge source of both carbs and flavor.

“I love bringing tortillas with as well,” Sean says. “They provide good carbs and mix up your meals a bit. They pack great and often you don’t even know they are there.”

There’s nothing like some tortillas cooked on a rock to remind you why carbs are king,” says Chris, echoing Sean’s appreciation for the wraps.

So when planning your next extended stay in nature, keep these tips in mind, pack food that makes you happy, hope that you don’t have to go ugly early, but be happy knowing that you’ll be able to.