1. Casey
    Casey January 12, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Great article.

    I like to add the Mountain House freeze dried bulk meats to my meals. The added meat adds a great deal. Also Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry both make a vegetable package. Fire Roasted Vegetables from Mountain House and from Backpacker’s Pantry Sicilian Mixed Vegetables. Either one makes a big difference in a meal. You just use a little bit to enhance other meals.

  2. Paul
    Paul January 12, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Great suggestion Ray. When my wife and I hiked the JMT this past summer, we started blending our dehydrated meals and devising new twists. We also brought plenty of Tapatio sauce packets (smart and final iris) to blend into meals or tuna wraps as well.

    We enjoyed coating peanut or almond butter on Boba bars, Clif bars, etc., sometimes with a jam packet or honey added as well (great in oatmeal too), for breakfast, and loved using a little cocoa in our coffee at times.

    My experience with eating on the JMT was that I did not need to replace the total calories that I burned the day before. I just needed to learn to keep my engine stoked with regular small amounts of energy and hydration, especially before and during a big ascent. By not having so much food, the weight of the condiments were incidental.

  3. Inga Aksamit
    Inga Aksamit January 12, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Great tip! I’ve found that some red pepper flakes or dehydrated salsa can produce amazing results but I never thought of bringing fresh jalapenos. I’m going to try it.

  4. Vance
    Vance January 12, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Great idea Ray. We always bring heads of garlic, another fresh veggie that will keep for weeks in a bear box and will perk up any (or all) of your meals, whether freeze-dried or ‘”scratch-made”

  5. Richard
    Richard January 12, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Going stove less on the JMT was a poor choice for me this past September on my 13 day JMT thru. I will never do that again! You should check out Hawk Vittles dehydrated meals!!! Waaaaaay better than any of the many brands I’ve tried. No need to add anything. Great tasting and about the same price as the bland MH meals. Made by a retired chef…thanks for all the great info you provided in your book! It made my thru hike a pleasure with all the useful info.

    1. Kim
      Kim January 26, 2016 at 7:34 am

      Thanks for the tip on Hawk Vittles! The breakfasts I have had from MH are not my faves, and I get tired of my own granola and oats mixture every day. These look amazing and I am ordering my first batch!

  6. Chris
    Chris January 14, 2016 at 7:37 am


    Darn! I wish I had known this ahead of my hike. I don’t usually love jalepenos, but on the trail, even adding the smallest bit of variety can help morale, as you point out. I also wish I had learned about Hawk Vittles instead of what I brought. I am definitely going to try them in the future.

  7. John Ladd
    John Ladd January 14, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Shallots are also a good addition that can make a meal taste fresher. Pretty high ratio of weight to flavor though not as high as jalapenos. I think the biggest food is not so much carrying it as making myself eat it so flavor ideas are important to fight food boredom and the loss of appetite that can come with exertion. The JMT hiker surveys have shown fairly common problems of people carrying food but not being able to eat it.

  8. Keith Fultz
    Keith Fultz January 15, 2016 at 6:40 am

    Wow! This would not work for me at all. I have a low tolerance for spices in the mountains. And I don’t even eat any peppers except maybe bell peppers at sea level. I have to maintain a very bland diet in the mountains and to some degree even at lower altitudes. When ever I have tried prepackaged trail meals I have often had to vomit and waste the food.

    Instant Oatmeal in the morning, nuts, m&ms and snicker bars during the day and instant mashed potatoes in the evening and I can stomach spam quite nicely with the mashed potatoes. I can go all night saying to myself, ”
    wow, that Spam was good!” I wouldn’t eat Spam at home, but go figure.

    Did the JMT 2014 22 days same diet every day except for Tuolemne, Reds Meadow, Vermillion and Muir Trail Ranch, where I usually got a juicy Hamburger.

    I have hiked with guys who like to spice up the meals and it kills me. But I would hike with you as long as we cook separately.

    Hiking is not about the eating to me

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