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Exploring the boundary waters is a highly anticipated summer event for many folks across the midwest. The preparation phase alone can be both exciting and complicated, especially when it comes to planning meals and snacks you’ll need for the trip. On top of that, the usual camping staples can seem powdery, bland, and lacking in nutrients (cough, cough, the soup mix still in your backpack from last year, cough). Here you will learn how to optimize foods to create a more nourishing and flavorful foundation for your BWCA adventure. 

  1. HEALTHY FATS - From 400-rod portages to longer routes through tumultuous waters, these types of journeys demand a high level of physical exertion. During longer periods of physical stress, the body burns fat as its primary source of fuel. Boost your stamina in the long run by including foods high in healthy fats such as trail mix, nut butter, olive oil for cooking, fish, summer sausage, and blocks of cheese such as sharp cheddar and swiss.

2. PORTABLE CARBOHYDRATES - When it comes to short term actions such as paddling or setting up camp, your body favors carbohydrates as its quickest source of energy. If you’ve ever had the feeling of hitting a wall, it may be because you depleted your muscle carbohydrate stores, also known as glycogen. Avoid crashing by bringing snacks and meals that are rich in carbohydrates. Start by choosing items that will withstand transport such as a bag of wild rice, carrots, apples, dried fruit, whole grain crackers, grape nuts, and flatbread such as whole wheat tortillas or pita bread.    


    3. STAY FULL WITH PROTEIN - Along with healthy fats and carbs, protein also plays a crucial role in rebuilding muscles and generating energy for longer excursions. A big juicy steak is an example of a high protein food that could be a great dinner option earlier in the trip. Pack it frozen, let it thaw and cook it at the end of the first day. Don’t forget other options for the rest of the time such as nuts and seeds, beef jerky, steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, protein bars, or tuna and chicken foil pouches. 
      4. COFFEE, TEA, AND HYDRATION - Even when you’re away from the office, coffee and tea can still be a part of your morning routine at camp. Tea bags and packets of ground or instant coffee are extremely lightweight and can give your body the jolt it needs to get ready for the day. As an added perk, coffee and tea both have antioxidants that help repair the body from the physical stress experienced throughout the trip.

      With any amount of caffeine consumption, it is important to balance it with hydration by drinking water and other fluids throughout the day. Whatever your system is for purifying and carrying water, make sure to keep a water bottle or backpack bladder handy to sip on at all times. The body is constantly perspiring and losing fluid even without actually sweating. Avoid dehydration and consider adding electrolytes, or follow recipes for making your own electrolyte mix to avoid thirst and fatigue.


      5. SPICE THINGS UP - Salt, pepper, and a dash of paprika may just be all you need to brighten up mealtimes at camp. Packing spices can be as easy as measuring out taco seasonings in a pill container whatever blend you prefer to use. Pro tip: start with salt and pepper, then choose both sweet and savory options and build your mixes from there. Your taste buds will thank you.


      Food is fuel, and having as much fuel available in the lightest weight possible is key to boosting endurance and morale. Incorporating nutritious foods will keep energy levels high and hanger (hunger turned into anger) levels low, helping everyone to enjoy themselves and get the most out of your time up north. Remember to include all food groups, pack things in non-glass, portable camping containers, and don’t limit yourself on spices. May your time in the boundary waters be an energizing, rejuvenating, and enjoyable experience for all.


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