by Auntie Shelley
Today we’re going to talk about gifts for the Backcountry Cook.
My number one gift pick for the Backcountry Cook is a food dehydrator, especially if your cook is preparing food for a family. We got ours from Excalibur a few years ago and it is amazing (I’ll be doing some posts on dehydrating in the New Year). Excalibur dehydrators are known for being top notch, but they are a bit pricey (however totally worth the money in my opinion). Before we got ours we used one like this and it was adequate for just the two of us. If you have a family, then the dehydrator will pay for itself in the long run, allow you to save substantially on food weight and volume, and allow you to increase your camp food repertoire.
If you already have a dehydrator, or you’re getting one, then think about adding the GSI Ultralight Nesting Bowl and Mug as a little stocking stuffer. They are the perfect size for rehydrating things like pizza sauce, applesauce, salsa, etc. and the insulated sleeve does a good job of keeping the heat in which leads to faster rehydration.
While you're at it, you might as well pick up a cookbook on the topic. A couple of years ago our good friend and nature photographer, Mike Monaghan, leant me his copy of A Fork in the Trail by Laurie Ann March. I promptly spilled sauce all over it - oops. It quickly became by go-to dehydrating cookbook. Laurie Ann explains all the ins and outs of dehydrating for the backcountry. We have tried a number of the recipes, all with great success.
Since we’re talking about cookbooks, I will add Camp Cooking in the Wild: The Black Feather Guide to Eating Well in the Great Outdoors to our list. This book makes me want to go on an expedition led by Black Feather just for the food. It is packed with gourmet recipes and they also cover cooking/baking with a Dutch oven. For a long time I have wanted to experiment with baking in the backcountry, but unfortunately most backcountry ovens just aren’t big enough for a family of our size. After reading this book I have come to the conclusion that a Dutch oven might just be the solution.
So, I’m adding a Dutch to my list. There are some like these from GSI that are made of anodized aluminum and relatively speaking they are light (weights range from 3lb 11oz to 8lbs). If weight isn’t a concern then check out the selection of cast iron ones at Campers Village. Obviously this isn’t something I would bring on a backpacking trip, but for a canoeing trip with a family it would be reasonable to pack in, especially if it meant fresh bread, cinnamon rolls, cake...
If you use a food barrel like the ones from Recreational Barrel Works, then a barrel cooler, barrel bucket, and/or barrel pocket wraps are a nice addition to the camp kitchen. We've had our barrel cooler for about 10 years now and it's still holding up well. They make it much easier to keep the food barrel organized.
These knives are stainless steel and light weight. The plastic sheath protects your gear and will allow the knife to dry if it is damp when put away.
Loksak Opsak Odour Proof Barrier Bags
These are durable polymer bags that can be used to store food or toiletries. The best part is that they are odour proof. Dave and Lisa have a set of these that have lasted for several seasons. We use them a lot to store things that we might want to leave out, such as kid snacks and energy bars.
These are just a few practical gifts for the backcountry cook on your list. Tell us what's on your backcountry cook's Christmas list in the comments.